Crow’s Nest: Taking a closer look…

October 26, 2021

By Alison Joyce, Stewardship and Education Intern. 

“Why are you taking a picture of that?” asked one of the kids during a Friday afternoon Nature Club.

I laughed understanding his curiosity; I must have looked silly. I was crouched on the ground behind a patch of juniper moss (Polytrichum juniperinum), shuffling oak and sassafras leaves out of the way, inching centimeters right and left until I had just the right sunlight…and the subject of my photo was an unrecognizable small, green splotch that most of the children had already stepped on without noticing.

“Well,” I answered with the satisfaction of a person who has just been asked the question that they were hoping someone else would ask, “because when I take a zoomed-in photo of this moss, it looks like this!”

Moss resembling a small Christmas tree with sunbeam in background

Photo: Alison Joyce

Delighting my heart, not only did that child say, “Woah, cool!” but also a few other kids crowded around the camera to look at the picture. Photography is a hobby that I love to share and children make an excellent audience; not only because their excitement is a joy, but also because it gives them a window into the small worlds that they may not be able to see with their eyes unaided.

Red-backed salamander body and tail with face hidden beneath brown oak leaves and pine needles

Photo: Alison Joyce

Another moment of wonder and awe occurred previously in the week when our teen helper found a tiny snail shell in the grass. The shell was about the size of a period in this blog post, so the kids and I were unable to get a good look at the intricate design. Fortunately, the camp camera has an amazing “microscope” setting which allows for a hyper-zoom. We took a picture and showed it to the kids.

Tan snail shell with serial patter rests on rock

Photo: Alison Joyce

Eyes darted back and forth from what appeared to be a speck of peach-colored dirt to the naked eye, but what was clearly a beautifully designed snail shell once viewed with a better zoom.

There is no replacement for climbing a tree, getting muddy, or splashing around in the creek. But in addition to those activities, try taking your child (or yourself!) on a “Photo Hunt”. You don’t need a fancy or expensive camera or the latest smartphone to take a dazzling picture. Some of these were taken with the little ten-year-old point-and-shoot camera that I “borrowed” from my sister. The others were taken with the Crow’s Nest camp camera (a slightly newer, more water resistant, point-and-shoot camera).

Closed petals of a blue flower form a white pinwheel

Photo: Alison Joyce

What worlds can you discover by using the zoom and macro settings on your camera and/or phone?

Maybe the gills of a mushroom:

Tiny bug sits on yellow gills of an orange cup-like mushroom

Photo: Alison Joyce

Small cluster of brown capped mushrooms stand before the green leaves of tall forest trees

Photo: Alison Joyce

Or the delicate stripes of a bee:

Two bees with yellow and black stripes pollinate a native sunflower

Photo: Alison Joyce

Or, perhaps, the Sputnik-shaped flowers of Enchanter’s Nightshade:

A stalk of white flowers resemble the Sputnik space satellite

Photo: Alison Joyce

Whatever you discover, I wish you all the joy that all the closer looks at flowers, bugs, and other wildlife have brought me throughout the years!

Red and orange leaves illuminated by sunlight shining through them

Photo: Alison Joyce