You may not know it, but you have probably used a tool that is very helpful to scientists – a camera! Capturing images from the world around us is a vital part of the learning process and provides a reference when discoveries are made. Cameras are everywhere, so let’s put them to good use. No matter if you are using a phone, point-and-shoot, film, professional-grade or mirrorless camera, there are universal techniques that can help you get the shot.
What you’ll need
That’s all you need! It doesn’t matter what you use to document your discoveries. You can use a tablet or a phone or whatever you have available. You may even find your calling and, as your passion grows, so will your gear. More advanced set-ups include a camera “body” and separate lenses, depending on how close you need to get to your subject or the style you are going for. There are even underwater cameras to explore what lies beneath the water’s surface. There’s no limit to where your imagination can take you. Just be sure to bring your camera.
Have you ever seen a person form a rectangle with their hands and look through it, as if to frame a photo? That’s a very simple way of understanding composition. Think of it as the “big picture.” For example, if you were taking a photograph of a waterfall, would you want to see only the stream of flowing water (below right)? Or would you want the full scene, including the splash below and the clouds above (below left)?
Macro…and say cheese
Macro photography is when images are taken extremely close up. While not quite as powerful as using a microscope, macro images can be incredibly helpful, especially when combined with wider angles. Take a look at the images below. If you were trying to identify the fungus, the first image offers a couple of clues…we can see that the tree is dead and also near a stream. Now, when we take a macro image, even more clues come to light. We can really see the texture, shape, color, and pattern of the fungus to study it close-up.
Get up close and personal
You have probably noticed, or even laughed at, how animals can have a personality. We all know Grumpy Cat, right? Even wild animals in nature have their own unique traits. These are all moments waiting to be captured! Snapping a picture helps us feel connected to the natural world and can reveal animal traits and characteristics. Don’t be afraid to get a tight shot. When it comes to profiling a subject, zooming in is good, especially for camera-shy animals like this curious frog emerging from cover at Schenley Park!
Ready to share?
When it comes to sharing your photos online, there are seemingly endless options. For a scientific experience, www.inaturalist.org and its companion app, Seek, are fantastic resources. This global online network allows users to post their images and communicate with one another. Not sure what the name of that fungi is? There’s most likely someone out there who can answer the question. You can also help answer questions. iNaturalist is a great place to see what others have snapped and to get inspired. Remember to check with your parents before using a new online resource. For even more inspiration, Carnegie Museum of Natural History is currently hosting National Geographic: 50 Greatest Wildlife Photographs through May 25, 2019.
Maybe the best part of photography is that it is always in season. No matter the time of year, there is something happening in nature. Below is a checklist of seasonal themes. Snap a collection of each!
● Winter snow and ice
● Spring in bloom
● Summer flowing water
● Fall changing colors
Funny animal pics are not an invention of the internet. They have been around for 150 years! Since the dawn of photography, we humans have been unable to resist putting felines in humorous situations. British photographer Harry Pointer posed his cats for photographs as far back as the 1870s.
Learn more about nature photography for kids and many other topics in Nature Lab! Topics change monthly!