MARQUETTE - "I think there's a lot more animals and plantlife here than in Texas," said Madison Page, 9, of Fort Worth, Texas, as she took a close-up photo of a beetle on a daisy behind the Moosewood Nature Center on Presque Isle. Page participated in a twice-a-week class throughout the month of June called "Hunting the Beasts of Presque Isle with your Digital Camera," as part of Moosewood's Summer Camp 2011.
Page along with other kids ages 7-13 explored Presque Isle's beach, forest, bog and everything in between to learn about the insects, amphibians, birds and mammals that they were photographing. Part of the time was spent in a classroom setting learning about animals and techniques followed by a trip outside to apply what they had learned.
Freelance photographer and Moosewood class instructor Scot Stewart said the main thing Moosewood tries to do with this class is "to educate our guests about nature and to appreciate the amazing resources we have at Presque Isle Park."
Instructor Scot Stewart teaches Torrey Cookman, Marquette, 7 photography fundamentals during the class 'Hunting the Beasts of Presque Isle with your Digital Camera,' as part of the Moosewood Summer Camp 2011. (Journal photo by Danielle Pemble)
Stewart shows students examples of photographs. (Journal photo by Danielle Pemble)
"It is one of the most amazing city parks," he added.
Stewart taught the kids how to sit quietly to listen and watch for wildlife, which is quite a feat for such a young crowd. They talked about finding clues that animals may have left behind, like footprints and feathers, or even frothy material on a plant.
"That's a spittle bug," pointed out Torrey Cookman, 7, of Marquette as they walked down a trail. They were able to identify other insects and plantlife while they toured the bog.
The kids also picked up some knowledge about photography. They covered the "rule of thirds," lighting, and depth of field among other things.
Jordan Matchett, 10, of Marquette snapped photos of geese, turtles and bugs of all shapes and sizes. He took photos of lichen from all different angles.
"I've learned a lot about cameras," he said. "With pictures, you can come back every day and take new ones," he added.
Page learned not to always put the subject in the center of the photo.
"It makes the picture more interesting," she said.
Stewart showed them how nature and photography go hand-in-hand. The kids' curiosity combined with encouragement resulted in some great images but also motivated them to have a complete hands-on experience with the landscape. Looking through a lens helped the kids to see nature in a different way.
Stewart also encouraged the kids to "tell a story" with their photos. He asked them what they wanted to tell their viewers with their story. At the end of the class, they chose which photos they wanted to print to make a scrapbook of their images.
"My goal is that they will want to get themselves a camera and show their families and share it with them," said Stewart.
Page said she will keep taking pictures long after the camp is over.
"I've always loved photography," she said, "I've even considered making it my job someday."
Danielle Pemble can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 256.