Monday, June 23, 2014

Great American Backyard, Er, Camera Out?

From the bean of Green Bean.

This weekend is National Wildlife Foundation's Great American Backyard Campout, which has the goal of connecting kids (and adults) with nature.  I wholly support the goal but, after back surgery last year, camping is not on the menu.

I've found an every-day way, though, to get the kids - and myself - outside and truly connect with nature.  Years ago, my kids saved up for a cheap-o digital camera for a National Park trip.  For the last year or so, those cameras have gathered dust.  Until genius - or desperation - struck!

On one long and activity-less weekend day, I handed my complaining 11 year old his camera and instructed him to go outside and take pictures of bugs. Why bugs?  Because they are easy to photograph.  Pollinators especially.  You can usually get a good shot of them while they are busy gathering pollen.  Throw in a few rollie pollies and maybe some flowers - which are even easier because they don't move!

My 11 year old's photograph of a Shasta daisy.

My son became enamored with nature photography and even started a blog.  He printed out his photographs and gave them as Fathers' Day gifts.  I started Spot The Pollinator - a weekly link up of bug photographs.  We rejoiced in a few hours of summer boredom sucked up by photographing nature.  But that's not the end of the story.

We regularly take our cameras into the back - and front - yard now. We snap pics of insects, birds, squirrels and our resident chickens.

Backyard Birding: A Western tanager feeds its juvenile in our garden.

A camera in tow gives hikes or even a walk down the street a new dimension.  Spot the rabbit, the deer, the butterfly, the lizard!

A lizard suns itself on a local hike. 

We pack up the cameras when we visit the grandparents, the aunts and uncles, go on vacation.

My 11 year old's photo of a honeybee in his grandparents' garden.

So, while it may not be a camp out, get your camera out this summer and explore the great outdoors - or at least your own backyard.

This post is part of the Homestead Barn HopBackyard Farming ConnectionMaple Hill Hop and Tuesday Garden Party.

7 comments:

Eco Yogini said...

this is awesome. One thing the 30x30 challenge gave us was our nightly walk about in our yard. Each evening we discover something new that we would have missed.

robbie @ going green mama said...

I love that your 11-year-old is getting involved! You never know where that will lead too... :)

daisy g said...

How fabulous that mere suggestion ended up being a wonderful hobby for him. That shasta daisy shot is fantastic! Thanks for sharing this on The Maple Hill Hop!

Green Bean said...

@Eco-Yogini - What a great remnant of the 30x30 challenge. I find that just a few minutes in my garden really calms the stresses from the day.

@robbie - That's what I'm hoping! :)

@daisy g: It's pretty good, huh? I'm hoping to get it as a birthday gift.

Betsy Escandon said...

This is a most interesting perspective. I love to take photos (esp. candid photos of my kids) but have to reign myself in and just enjoy the moment (without a camera) at times. The 30x30 challenge was a little tough for me, in fact, b/c I was taking my camera on all our walks --which meant I captured some great moments -- but honestly, I prefer walking without a camera. So, although I love photos and being able to remember amazing moments through them, sometimes I think a camera detracts from the experience.

SO, this is a great example of how a camera can enhance an experience, and make you look more closely! What could be more fun than a treasure hunt for bugs recorded on film?

Beth said...

You are lucky to have Tanagers around. I usually see one in May - once and that's it. I do have the lizards you have!

Green Bean said...

@Betsy- I do know what you mean. I notice that quite a bit with my kids and holidays. Getting the kids behind a camera, though, or at least my kids, gets them more interested and invested in being outside. It reminds me though of the photographer in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Have you seen that? He says that sometimes, he doesn't take pictures because he wants to just be in the moment.

@Beth: This was the first year we saw the Tanagers. I felt like it was a real blessing! There were many of them - 15 or so! They nested in my neighbors' overgrown yard (she's elderly and I fear what will happen should she move!). We have lizards on hikes but I've yet to attract one to my yard. Still working on it! :

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