For the past 25 years, I have been getting paid to take pictures of rocks, trees, lakes, wildflowers, dragonflies, snakes, and nearly anything having to do with the outdoors. But I enjoyed taking photographs long before I became a professional photographer. Tucked in a book in my office is the first photograph I ever took. I used a Kodak Instamatic film camera, a birthday gift when I was 10. The photo is mostly green and has a brown blob in the middle. I think the blob was a toad or a frog hopping across the lawn, but I can't be sure because the picture is out of focus.

Today any photographer can take crisp photos using an inexpensive digital camera. Some cameras are small enough to fit in your pocket. Some are bundled in cellphones. These cameras are simple to use.

But a camera can't tell you what to photograph, what to include in your picture, or how to make the picture interesting. To make a good photograph, you'll need to look closely and add a dab of concentration and a sprinkling of creativity. Here are a few tips to help you see how to have fun and get photos you'll enjoy looking at for years to come.

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