One fun approach to this month’s theme would have been to assemble a series of photographs emphasizing the position from which each was taken. Another option would have been to photograph one subject from many different vantage points. I chose to make photographs reflecting my connection with nature, since, over the years, I’ve found that being in nature is essential to my well-being. A growing body of research shows my experience is not unique!
I’ve long been an advocate for spending time in nature, whether it’s back-country hiking, forest bathing, walking through the nearest urban park or heading to the backyard for a bit of gardening. In 2015, I wrote a monthly series about the benefits of spending time with nature, but dropped the idea from my editorial calendar when it didn’t gain traction with regular readers interested in our hiking and biking adventures.
I continue to follow the growing body of research attempting to quantify and explain the physical and mental wellness benefits of a daily dose of Vitamin N. To encourage others to head outside, I frequently use the hashtag #playoutside in my tweets and instagram posts (I think #playoutside sounds more fun and interesting than the vastly more popular, similar hashtag #getoutside).
In early April, I came across a call for submissions for a forthcoming book showcasing Canadian nature photographers, both new and established. Despite feeling vastly unqualified, I decided to submit ten “nearby nature” images: six from our Calgary backyard and four taken in Calgary parks. Going through the process of selecting images, fine-tuning the processing, and writing the accompanying artist’s statement and biography led me to be more purposeful about sharing photos intended to help people realize they don’t have to go hiking in Banff National Park to enjoy nature!
All the photographs that follow were taken at our suburban Calgary home, including a couple from inside the house!
1. Bumble Bee
Over the 20+ years we’ve lived at our current address, we’ve permitted our flower gardens to slowly naturalize. In other words, we’ve migrated away from annual plantings to self-seeding perennials, including the volunteer, fast-spreading Cranesbill geranium that’s popular with bees of all sorts. Every time I return home from a walk, seeing swarms of bees on the geranium and speedwell flowers makes me smile.
I spotted this May fly hanging on the outside of a window screen. Lucky for me, I could pop out the screen from the adjacent window and lean outside with my camera to get this lovely macro shot!
It seems like we have more than our fair share of American magpies. They’re noisy, messy and steal from my strawberry patch on a regular basis! It’s kind of fun watching their babies learn to fly this month, and the parent birds tend to perch somewhere they can keep a watchful eye.
Giant allium flowers are pretty interesting even after the flower petals transform to nascent seed pods. I used my macro lens to get super close and opted for a shallow depth of field, focussing on the nearest seed ends. I think of a field of asteroids hurtling through space when I look at this.
Our next door province, has been battling 150 – 200 wildfires all month and for the last half of the month there’s been a wildfire in Banff National Park. The resulting smoke in the air has made for some particularly amazing sunsets, including this one photographed from our back deck. The spruce tree is a little out-of-the-ordinary because it has no main top branch – magpies perching at the top broke it a few years back, so now there are three branches vying for the position of lead.
That’s it for photos. If you’re interested in learning more about current research on the topic of the benefits of nature connectedness, recent and informative articles on the subject include:
- This is Your Brain on Nature in National Geographic magazine; and
- Pretty much anything on the Finding Nature website/blog by psychologist and researcher Miles Richardson.
If you’re interested in more photographic interpretations of the theme of point of view, head over to host PJ’s post and look for the link up at the bottom of the page.
Thanks PJ, for continuing to host the monthly photo blogging challenge. The one-month time frame makes it a low stress “photo assignment” that motivates me to keep honing my photography skills. New participants are welcome any time, so please join us! The next theme will be posted at a ‘lil Hoohaa on August 2.