Finding beauty all around us on Nature Photography Day

Today, 15 June, is Nature Photography Day. Originally started by the North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA) to “promote the enjoyment of nature photography, and to explain how images have been used to advance the cause of conservation and protect plants, wildlife, and landscapes locally and worldwide”, I am sure it is a day that most photographers, amateur or professional, will have some affinity for.

Nature Photography Day was first celebrated in 2006, and it has been enthusiastically adopted around the world. As stated on their website, “NANPA encourages people everywhere to enjoy the weekend by using a camera to explore the natural world. A backyard, park, or other place close by can be just right. Walking, hiking, and riding a bike to take photos are activities that don’t lead to a carbon footprint. And fresh air can do wonders for the spirit!” And how true that is – nothing like spending some time in the fresh morning air, camera in hand, to capture the majesty of the natural world around us.

(© All Rights Reserved)
(© All Rights Reserved)
Whether it's a majestic vista or a tiny bit of natural magic in the corner of the garden, there's beautiful subject matter all around us for Nature Photography Day. (© All Rights Reserved)
Whether it’s a majestic vista or a tiny bit of natural magic in the corner of the garden, there’s beautiful subject matter all around us for Nature Photography Day.
(© All Rights Reserved)

And you don’t have to go far to discover something wonderful – an attentive eye is all that is required to find beauty all around us – plants covered in early morning dew, insects busily at work around the garden, animals small and large, birds of all shapes and sizes.

While Nature Photography Day is first and foremost a day for personal enjoyment, meant to bring each of us closer to nature, NANPA is also hosting a Nature Photography Day Facebook Page, where anyone is invited to upload their images – the only ‘rule’ being that all photos “must be taken on June 15, 2013, within walking (or biking) distance of wherever you are.”

By the time that this blog entry is published, I will be spending some time in New Zealand’s majestic Tongariro National Park, and I sincerely hope I will be able to capture some moments of natural beauty. Irrespective of the results of my photographic endeavours on the day, however, I am first and foremost hoping to have fun doing it – after all, that’s really what it’s all about, isn’t it?

Entomologists, the new investigative superstars

Today is the birthday of Steve Jobs. Definitely someone worth a write-up, but he’s probably been the subject of this blog before.

Instead, our subject for the day is insects. Actually, entomology, to be exact. Two big names in entomology share a birthday today.

I wonder what Bones' Dr Jack Hodgins would be able to deduce from studying these two critters?(© All Rights Reserved)
I wonder what Bones’ Dr Jack Hodgins would be able to deduce from studying these two critters?
(© All Rights Reserved)

Firstly, we have Asa Fitch (24 Feb 1809 – 8 Apr 1879), an American entomologist who originally trained as a medical doctor, but committed his life to insect studies, specifically the relationship (beneficial or damaging) between insects and agricultural crops.

Then there’s John Henry Comstock (24 Feb 1849 – 20 Mar 1931), another entomologist from America, who made a pioneering contribution to the classification of scale insects, moths and butterflies. One of the factors that caught readers’ attention in Comstock’s early books was the insect illustrations drawn by his wife, Anna Botsford, underlining the importance of good visuals in science communication. Comstock’s insect studies included research into the arrangement of the veigns in insect wings (also called ‘venation’) – an area where he made many fundamental contributions.

Entomology – the scientific study of insects. Definitely not an area where I can claim any special knowledge. But an area, I am sure, that must be fascinating when it’s your domain of expertise. What I find quite amusing, though, is how entomologists are lately becoming quite the celebrities in popular culture. Along with coroners, medical doctors and detectives, entomologists are more and more being displayed as part of teams of scientific geniuses who solve seemingly unsolvable cases. Think about the character Jack Hodgins in the TV series Bones, or Gill Grissom in CSI. Brilliant, driven and committed scientists who can practically solve a case by merely investigating the bugs found in or near the victim’s decomposing body.

Judging by characters such as these, I would not be surprised if there’s an increased number of bright young people inclined to pursue a career in entomology. It may not yet have the superstar status that IT enjoys (thanks in no small part to people like our other birthday star Steve Jobs) but it’s definitely got star potential!