Photography tips by Barbara Bowen Carr and Trina Turl
Family nature outings provide stress relief during these chaotic times as well as an opportunity to observe and appreciate the science of nature.
So if you're running out of ideas to keep the kids entertained, grab your phone, pack a snack, and head outside to explore. Give those walks a purpose! Let your junior explorers actively seek out and photograph the wildlife around you. Engage their love of nature and appeal to that natural sense of curiosity. Not only will the whole family learn, but those pics you snap can help scientists collect data.
You don’t even need to go very far. You can start with discovering life in your backyard.
We chatted with two amazing photographers -- Barbara Bowen Carr and Tina Turl -- who gave us 7 tips to help you take stunning photos with your phone.
Put the sun behind you.
Lighting plays a massive role in how your photos will turn out. Whenever possible, position yourself, so the sun is behind you.
Take several shots of the same thing.
Take photos of your subject from many different angles, Photography is a beautiful way to explore something, and when we try different angles, we can capture other details or characteristics we might not observe at first.
Wondering what to do with your photos?
To identify species (kinds of animals and plants), check out Seek by iNaturalist
Excerpt from https://www.inaturalist.org/pages/seek_app
"Open Your Camera and Start Seeking! Found a mushroom, flower, or bug, and not sure what it is? Open up the Seek camera to see if it knows!
Drawing from millions of wildlife observations on iNaturalist, Seek shows you lists of commonly recorded insects, birds, plants, amphibians, and more in your area. Scan the environment with the Seek Camera to identify organisms using the tree of life. Add different species to your observations and learn all about them in the process! The more observations you make, the more badges you’ll earn!
Kid-Safe and Fun for Families; No registration is involved, and no user data is collected.
Seek will ask permission to turn on location services, but your location is obscured to respect your privacy while still allowing species suggestions from your general area. Your precise location is never stored in the app or sent to iNaturalist.
Image recognition technology is based on observations submitted to iNaturalist.org and partner sites, and identified by the iNaturalist community. This is a great app for families who want to spend more time exploring nature together."
Share & learn
Have fun, and remember, keep practising your smartphone photography skills. Just remember to respect nature. For your safety and to prevent wildlife from getting stressed, keep your distance from wild animals.
About the photographers
Barbara Bowen Carr is a retired school librarian
based in Troy, New York. Before retiring, she worked with students from K-12 in a variety of schools & taught beginning computer skills in addition to library & research skills.
"I try to bring my camera or smartphone with me wherever I go. I like to move slowly, look closely, & notice the small things in nature. Many times, when I take a picture, it's as if I'm saying to a friend, 'Hey, look at that!' After I take pictures, I usually share them on my Flickr page or Facebook. I now have almost 7,000 photos on Flickr &, still, I am finding wonderful things every day!"
Check out Barbara's photos at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mudder_bbc/albums
Get kids outside and teach them about insect pollinator conservation to create connections to the science of nature and nurture empathy. Here is some background info to help you with your backyard observations.
What is it?
This species is the Silky Striped Sweat Bee, Agapostemon sericeus. Sweat bees are attracted to human sweat which they drinks to obtain salts and moisture.
"Halictidae are one of the six bee families in the order Hymenoptera. Halictids (sweat bees) are a very diverse group of metallic and non-metallic bees." Featured Creatures, Entomology and Nematology, University of Florida
Should you be afraid of getting stung?
Sweat bees are gentle solitary bees. They won't bother you. The female will only sting if you aggressively try to harm it. Don't swat it if its drinking sweat from your skin.
Where are they found?
This species nests in bare ground.
How do they help the earth (ecosystem services) and humans?
Native sweat bees are vital pollinators "for many wildflowers and crops, including stone fruits, pomme fruits, alfalfa and sunflower." Featured Creatures, Entomology and Nematology, University of Florida
Bee Conservation: How can we help Sweat Bees?
Have you seen sweat bees where you live?
Register kids, family, students in the dynamic, interactive virtual session: Meet the Pollinators (Pollinator Science).
Eastern Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa virginica)
In this blog, we'll investigate these gentle giants:
- how they help the earth (ecosystem services)
- why you shouldn't be afraid of them
- a simple tip to ensure they don't burrow in your wooden structures
- how to invite them and other pollinators into your backyard
How Carpenter Bees Help the Earth (Ecosystem Services)
Our pollinators (insect pollinators, birds, bats) provide us with one out of every three bites of food. Carpenter bees provide value as "great pollinators of native plants, gardens and even some crops."
(Source: Jordan Terpstra in "Meet Ontario's Pollinators" at https://www.uoguelph.ca/oac/news/meet-ontarios-pollinators
Why you shouldn't be afraid of Carpenter Bees
Observe the Eastern Carpenter Bee in the video above. You'll notice that it sort of looks like a bumble bee.
However, its abdomen is black and smooth (looks glossy) compared to the furry abdomen of a bumble bee.
They are not dangerous!
"They patrol the territory zealously chasing away other males that venture too close. In fact, sometimes they chase away almost anything that moves, including surprised human gardeners. Fortunately, they cannot sting (only females have stingers), so there is nothing to fear and you can let them be."
(Source: Bee Basics: An Introduction to Our Native Bees by Beatriz Moisset, Ph.D. and Stephen Buchmann, Ph.D. A USDA Forest Service and Pollinator Partnership Publication
A simple tip to ensure they don't burrow in wooden structures
Just make sure wooden structures are painted or sealed and they will not nest there. Ignore pest control companies that make money to poison our pollinators.
The female uses her mandibles (jaws) to drill through wood. She creates tunnels which branch out into cells. She lays an egg in each cell and supplies it with pollen grains to feed her larvae once they hatch. Finally, she seals each cell with chewed pulp. After providing for the next generation of carpenter bees, she dies.
How attract to carpenter bees into your backyard
Help scientists collect data
Have you seen carpenter bees in your yard? Take pictures and post them and your observations at inaturalist.org to help scientists collect data on pollinators.
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