I’m really pleased with the progress my students have made during this seminar course. We’ve had five sessions and five field trips thus far (Whetstone Prairie, Mudhen Marsh, Highbanks Metro Park, Prairie Oaks Metro Park and Blendon Woods Metro Park). Everyone is making much better photos than they did during the first week, which is totally awesome. This week the students are organizing their thoughts about the theme of their portfolios, which which be posted on a blog site dedicated to scientific outreach. I’ll post the link here when the first articles go online. In the meantime, here are links to two photo albums showing the photos we have been making over the past month:

Week 4 field trip to Prairie Oaks Metro Park

Week 3 field trip to Highbanks Metro Park

The primary reason I offered this seminar/workshop format is that I firmly believe that scientists can reach a broader audience through photography, and there is a huge difference between taking a snapshot and making a photo. Most people have no clue about the latter. Writing about ecosystems, biological interactions, plants, animals, insects, etc. is great, but I think people are more attracted to beautiful imagery than words on a page.  Nature is such a rich subject for visual exploration. Combine beautiful photos with short essays about the natural world, and, voilà, we have achieved our goal of communicating science to broader audience. That’s what I’ve been trying to do with my “Penstemon of the day series.”

In case you’re wondering, we meet twice a week – Thursday evenings for lecture/demonstration/photo critiques, and one weekend morning for hands-on practice in the field. The topics we’ve covered include: 1) basics of photography, 2) the zone system and composition, 3) “know your subject”, 4) photo processing, archiving, and organization, and 5) macro photography (guest presentation by Bob Klips about photo stacking, equipment, and details of macro photos). We have three more sessions, which will include a guest presentation by Jim McCormac, a session about communicating science to a broad audience, and a session for sharing our portfolios and stories.