This is my last blog post for the Lake Project! Over the last few weeks, I have been very busy and do not have any new pictures to show you (sorry). But, I have been making a lot of progress on the project which I will update you on now.
This week, as I am waiting to learn if the software will be a viable option to use, I have been working hard to increase the size of my catalog. So, on Thursday during my double block, I went down to the lake with the goal of taking photos of any wildflowers and the most prolific trees in the area.
From the beginning, the plan for my project has been to create a catalog of species that I photograph from around the lake. The idea was simple: take a photo, figure out what species it is, give it a page in the book. However, if things go well, I might be making a bit of a change to the finished product. I might have to call an audible, a term used in football to describe a play a quarterback decides on after everyone is ready to go.
When in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe for my Senior Project, I learned a lot about how to better use my equipment simply by taking thousands of pictures over the course of two short weeks. However, what I learned the most about was my photo-editing software: Lightroom. For this week’s blog post, I wanted to discuss how incredible and helpful Lightroom is as probably the best tool I currently possess, perhaps even better than my camera.
For my senior project, I traveled to Zimbabwe and did wildlife photography in the Zambezi National Park. I worked for an organization called African Impact, who upload the photos to their online database where they are sold to companies or accessed by nonprofits for free. For example, World Wildlife Fund used seven images from the database for last year’s calendar.
While I was there, the standard of my photos had to be extremely high. I was not turning on my camera and taking pictures of everything I saw. Being selective is difficult, and what is even more difficult is finding the best pictures, editing them to make them top quality, and then submitting them to be reviewed for the database. Of the roughly 750 photos I took, less than ten will be placed on the database.
For the past six months, I have been treating my catalog of the species at the lake like African Impact’s database. Every photo I took had to be of top quality for me to want to include it, and this has left me with an underwhelming group of photos to use for the catalog. So, when I came back from the project, it was my resolution to lower my standards a bit to fill out the catalog. Today, I did just that.
I have not updated this blog in over two weeks, and in that time, a couple of things have happened. I can break them down into three main parts: 1) My mentor, T. Tim, gave me a lot of interesting information regarding birds around the lake and which ones I should specifically be on the lookout for in my catalog; 2) I met with T. Ted Lutkus who, as one of the previous heads of the science department and a former biology teacher, would take students to the North Woods and analyze one meter “bio-plots,” and; 3) I went down to the lake and had an awesome interaction with a big red-tailed hawk.
This week I did not have the opportunity to go down to the lake because I attended a Model UN conference. So, I thought this would be a good time to talk about one of the more difficult photography techniques that has been especially difficult for me: macro photography.
This week, I spent some time down in the archives to explore past cataloging efforts around the lake. When I first showed up in the archives, I was a little disappointed because there were very few hand-drawn maps that would be useful for me.
However, a few days later T. Kevin and T. Mary managed to find some immense bird lists from the past seventy years. While I had been hoping for some catalogs that contained student-created drawings, I was excited because these documents showed a rich and detailed history of a thriving group at Westtown called Bird Club.
I woke up this morning at 6:30 and walked down to the lake before the ground had been warmed by the sun. Since it was grey and damp outside with no sunshine, I was freezing. I mean, I thought I could handle going down with just my hat and jacket and boy, was I wrong. Holding a metal camera lens for long periods of time without gloves on in below freezing weather is seriously painful. But it was worth it, because when I went down I saw the largest collection of Canadian geese on the lake I’ve ever seen.
For those of you who have never read one of my blogs posts before, let me quickly give you a brief description of what the Lake Project is all about. For the past semester (and some months before) I have been photographing and cataloging species around the Westtown Lake. My goal is to be able to present a finished catalog of as many species as I can identify to the archives at the end of the year.