Tuesday, 1 March 2011

NSS Kids’ Fun with Nature Photography

By Gloria Seow, Education Group Chairperson
Photos by Lena Chow

Auntie Gloria gave a brief introduction to the basic functions of the digital camera.

Equipping kids as young as four years old with basic nature photography skills was not as easy as anticipated. These frisky little ones had great difficulty staying still long enough to snap a decent shot. Concepts like ‘framing’, ‘focusing’, and ‘macro’ were somewhat lost on them. Still they had fun running around capturing pictures of plants, insects, and other wildlife, as well as scenery. The older kids benefitted more from the nature walk cum photography session held at the MacRitchie Reservoir on 18 December 2010.

Every child had his own point-and-shoot camera.

Nature shots taken can be uploaded online to be shared with friends. This event was earlier highlighted in The Straits Times as part of a line-up of kids’ nature activities happening during the school vacation. As such, we had a deluge of registrations with up to 80 children wanting in on the action. In the end, 33 kids showed up together with an entourage of parents and caregivers.

Auntie Gloria gave a brief introduction to the basic functions of the digital camera. All kids present brought their own point-and-shoot devices. We then broke up into five groups led by Auntie Gloria, Auntie Lena, Auntie Mabel, Uncle Hang Chong and Uncle Timothy.

Auntie Mabel’s troop of older kids got to photograph carnivorous Slender Pitcher Plants, frolicking Long-tailed Macaques and soaring White-belled Sea Eagles. With his years of experience as a nature guide, Uncle Hang Chong naturally regaled his impressionable charges with nature stories and factoids while they snapped away at their subjects. Auntie Lena discovered that Singapore’s flies, if one cared to look at them at all, were a colourful lot, ranging from luminescent green to funky pink.

“Welcome to my lair,” said Mr Spider.

Uncle Timothy pointed out aspects of nature that one would normally miss, such as moss and lichen growing along pavement cracks, helping the kids appreciate these tiny life forms. By capturing close-up shots of what appears small and insignificant at first glance, one is usually surprised to find out that they are actually quite complex and beautiful.

While photographing a flowering shrub, Auntie Gloria’s group stumbled across two Green-crested Lizards resting amongst the foliage, right under our noses. These retiring lizards have been largely displaced by the invasive and non-native Changeable Lizard in many parts of Singapore. As such, it was our privilege that they turned up as perfect models for us. Flowers such as this Ixora were a favourite macro subject.

Being an excitable lot, the kids had to be constantly reminded not to get too close to animals, lest they flee or attack - their first lesson in nature photography etiquette. Indeed, we learnt that a nature trip can be enhanced by taking away memories of it in the form of photographs. Given today’s connectivity, these images can be uploaded almost instantaneously onto social media websites such as Facebook, as well as blogs and other online platforms. Sharing our nature shots with others is the best way to showcase Singapore’s Amazing Wildlife. This little step can help people realise that Singapore’s natural heritage is indeed diverse and wonderful, and ultimately, worth conserving. Uncle Timothy tutoring individual kids.