Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Fun of Being a Contributing Photographer

 Guest Contributor: Rosemary Taylor, Nature Photographer

As with many hobbies, one never knows where it is going to lead. In my case, a lifelong interest in the natural world, combined with a passion for photography, leads not only to increasing my own knowledge by getting better acquainted with flora and fauna through the lens of the camera, but also enables me to add to the learning of others by submitting images to the E-Flora BC/E-Fauna BC websites. At the same time, I benefit from images others have already submitted in any specific category, showing different aspects of the same plant, flower, bird or animal which I may not see for myself in the field. Unlike reference and i.d. books, excellent though they are, websites can show an unlimited number of images of the same thing, be it flora or fauna, so changes through various stages of growth, seasons of the year, and in a variety of habitats can all be included.

But, now that one has checked out the subject and learned much about it from the many images available, more gems of information await. The atlas pages (species page) on these sites are a source of almost unending knowledge and fascination.  Want to know where your subject can be found in B.C? Check out the many coloured dots which lead to a variety of databases. Remember, when submitting images, to add latitude and longitude and you will find a dot on the atlas referring to your photo. Need to know how the subject got its name? Hit the ‘Open all headings’ button and you can find this out for many groups. Have a yearning to dig deeper? There are references to further websites for both photographs and print sources. And when it comes to butterflies, about which I personally know very little, I can find out where the one I’m interested in can be found, what plants the larvae need, in fact its whole life history. This way I can discover that the ‘weeds’ around my garden should perhaps be left in peace if they are the favourite food of butterfly larvae, rather than wonder in a few years of ‘manicuring’ the landscape where all the butterflies have gone.

My own learning has greatly increased through my association with both E-Flora and E-Fauna. I love taking photos, especially in this digital age. And as a visual learner, by taking time to really appreciate an image once downloaded, I am more likely to recognize it and name it correctly next time I see it--whereas just to be told the name ‘in situ’ when out in the field will need hammering home many times before I remember it! But much enjoyment also comes from having a purposeful way of sharing photos with others - if images are just left languishing on a computer where no-one else benefits from them, much of their magic and value is lost.

In whatever way you learn, the more you know about the flora and fauna around you, their habitat, and role in the greater scheme of things, the more you will become interested in caring for, and conserving, the natural environment, be it a small patch in a garden, or in trying to save a precious piece of land from the ravages of development and destruction by those to whom natural areas are expendable wastelands waiting to be ‘improved’.

 A few of Rosemary's E-Flora contributions...

Fly amanita (Amanita muscaria)

 Big-leaf Maple Flowers (Acer macrophyllum)
Desert rock purslane (Calandrinia ciliata var. menziesii)

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