Pittsburgh Nature Photography Walk

Don Orkoskey | October 8, 2021
Nature photographers in Frick Park

Pittsburgh Nature Photography Walk

Join me every Saturday at 9:30 AM for my Pittsburgh Nature Photography Walk.

We meet at the fountain by the Frick Environmental Center near the meadow. I've been conducting these walks since March of 2021 and inviting anyone who wants to join me. It doesn't matter how old or young you are, what type of equipment you have, or how skilled as a photographer you are. The Pittsburgh Nature Photography Walk is for everyone!

Everyone is welcome

Everyone is welcome no matter what type of camera you have, (even just your phone), and regardless of what skills you have as a photographer. Kids are welcome too! Everyone can and should get out into nature, take a walk, breath in the fresh air, and enjoy the amazing wonders of the natural world. This is a great way to socialize safely given that the pandemic isn't yet over. It's also a great place to learn and exchange ideas. Even though I've taught photography for more than a decade I still learn new things from people all the time on our walks.

I adjust the walk to whomever shows up. If there are people with mobility concerns we stick to the paths, if there are adventurous folks searching for hidden gems we'll visit some of the lesser known parts where we might see foxes or other more skittish animals.

What to Expect

If you want to know what to expect on the walk here is a little information that might help. First, each walk is different than the rest. Even if we take the same route because of the progress of time, the position of the sun, what is in bloom, what animals are around, and more the walks are never the same. Sometimes we see foxes, deer, rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, and rare birds, some days we see a lot of pretty flowers and not much else. It's the natural world and I don't control it, nature does. In my experience patience and perseverance is rewarded. If we expect the world to put on a show for us we may end up disappointed but if we go looking for magic and we're willing to find it in unexpected places we'll find amazement.

My Advice

Here is my advice for how to prepare. Dress appropriately, wear the right footwear, bring water and a sense of adventure, and tell me what your limits are. There is so much nature to photograph we don't have to go far from the gatehouse or the perfectly flat paved trails in front of the Environmental Center to find an abundance of opportunities.

Dress for the weather

Dress for the weather. Wear layers. There are spots where it can be muddy even on the trails so wear a good pair of boots or shoes that have good gripping capabilities and that you don't mind getting muddy. Pittsburgh is a raining town after all.

As it's now fall the weather can be pretty wacky. Some of the areas we might walk can be bright and sunny. A lot of them are south-facing. This means that the sun can penetrate into areas where there isn't much tree-cover so it's helpful to have a lighter layer underneath. We may also explore some darker, cooler, or more windy areas. Plus clouds can blow in and bring cooler temperatures so having something warm to wrap up in is essential as it gets later into the year.

Bring Water

Bring water! Even if you only stay for a half and hour hydration is important. It's even more important if we're walking up and down some of the steeper paths, carrying heavy photo gear, and talking a lot. So make sure to fill up your water bottle. I recommend to bring at least 20 ounces of water. I bring a 40 ounce water bottle and have a second bottle in the car for when I return.

Frick Park is fun but it's also full of steep tall hills. Since we'll start from the top of one we'll need to return to it should we explore the valley's below. It's no fun to be dehydrated and need to climb a giant hill. On the other hand hydrating can often help you feel more energized when hiking back to the parking lots.

Know Your Limits

Please know your limits and don't try to exceed them even if you're having a great time. We don't often wander so far from the cars that it becomes too hard to get back but every body is different. Know when to say you've had enough and to turn around. If you're embarrassed you can always say that you have other things to do. I promise not to judge either way. This is a fun event here to encourage each other, not to make each other feel bad.

The longest Pittsburgh Nature Photography Walk that I've lead was two-and-a-half hours and we did around 4 miles of walking. That might not seem like a whole lot but it's a lot more than we normally do because we're carrying cameras, lenses, etc. Plus there are some sizable hills and the terrain can be rough.

Most of the walks last somewhere around 1.5 to 2 hours. A number of the walks we've not done more than a quarter of a mile of hiking due to the abundance of photographic subjects in and around the meadow. In other words it really depends on who shows up and what folks want to do. If you want to do a 4 hour hike to the Mon River to search for beaver and otter I'm game. If you want to spend 3 hours in the meadow taking macro photos I'm also very interested in that. If you want to come out, say hello, ask a few questions about taking better photos of flowers, that's awesome too! The Pittsburgh Nature Photography Walk is what you make of it. So come join me the next Sat. morning that you're free. I promise that you'll have a great time!

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7120 Harrison Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15218
Open by appointment

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