Nature + Home

 Red Admiral ( Vanessa atalanta ) on garden valerian ( Valeriana officinalis )

Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) on garden valerian (Valeriana officinalis)

June 2018

I believe a part of me has always believed the nature photographs I make in my very own backyard are somehow less significant than those made in fields and forests. Yet, if I am being honest, most of what I have learned about natural history has come from observations within and attention to my own property.

Naturalist Gerald Durrell wrote, "Your garden is an excellent place in which to investigate the habits and behaviour of various small animals, since it encompasses a great number of micro-habitats." As if amateur naturalists needed additional coaxing, he added convincingly, "and, after all, you are living in the middle of it."

This spring, I began questioning my hesitation to make pictures in my own garden. Garden -  being defined by the Oxford Dictionary as, "a piece of ground adjoining a house, in which grass, flowers, and shrubs may be grown." At the same time I was thinking about my overall intentions - as a student of natural history, as a photographer - and pondering...what do I wish to achieve?  The words of William Albert Allard inspired me:

You've got to push yourself harder. You've got to start looking for pictures nobody else could take. You've got to take the tools you have and probe deeper. 

This advice, scribbled in one of my journals, challenged me to reconsider my relationship with my surroundings. My immediate surroundings. I embraced the phrase, 'pictures nobody else could take.' The pictures I am in the foremost position to take are those made in my own private garden. And what do I wish to achieve besides the obvious (composing and capturing powerful images)? I wish to survey (in words + pictures) my habitat. 

Using photographs, life lists, and more times than I would have imagined, my memory...I began thinking about the myriad species of plants, animals and fungi sharing our diminutive 6,686 sq ft property throughout the last fifteen years. I collected these memories (Flora, Fauna & Fungi) and though regrettably not alphabetical, my records have proven quite extensive - the plants alone number over 200 species! I was eager to probe deeper...

Beginning June 21, 2018 and continuing through June 21, 2019 (Midsummer to Midsummer) I will challenge myself to become disciplined in both my pursuit of natural history knowledge as well as my desire to improve my skills as a nature photographer. Each day I will set aside time (from as little as fifteen minutes to as lengthy as one hour) to focus my attention on a single subject. The subjects will vary greatly depending on factors such as the time of day, weather, light, season, etc. I will take notes, make photographs and ideally, share my experiences often...

In a relaxed, journal-like assemblage of Notes published here at Cattails & Cobwebs, I hope to collect one year's worth of observations and experiences - to celebrate the micro-habitats - within my home, my garden.  Visit the Notes tab above or click on a keyword below to search by subject...