Friday, 19 October 2012

Insta Nature Love

I have always felt soothed by a walk in a natural setting, be it by water or through a thicket of trees. I love being outside year-round; in fact I love being outside in the cooler, wetter months almost more because there are fewer people around. With my young daughters I find we cannot spend a whole day inside during inclement weather without someone (or all) going a little batty.

Along the south arm of the Fraser River

When we lived in a small townhouse we had to get out for our walk and play at the neighbourhood playground everyday. On wet days we called it a "rainy day walk", on stormy days it was called a "windy day walk", and on. We love adding to our nature collection and I am constantly finding special rocks, acorns, unusual leaves, etc hoarded in bags, under pillows and in drawers.

Walking up to the west dyke of the Fraser River

My girls love noticing special things, or simple, beautiful things when being out in nature. This summer we spent time at the Terra Nova Sharing Farm, walking around and noticing the different crops in the community gardens, the fascinating insects on plants, and the variety of wildlife and farm animals we encountered.

Exploring around the Terra Nova Rural Area

Like many parents I have found that having children makes me stop and notice things from a different perspective, both literally and figuratively. I have to get down lower than I am used to being and I see things that I do not normally see at my eye level, and the phrase "stop and smell the roses" has even more meaning to me when I have to walk at a much slower pace than usual.

Watching bees pollinate flowers while we sit 
in a garden and talk about what we see: Victoria, B.C.

Unfortunately, as my family has grown and added more personalities and moods, it has become more difficult to get out on a daily nature walk. With two children I could always throw one into a stroller or back carrier to encourage a nap and head out with snacks.

A lovely early spring afternoon walk

With three children, for some reason it is that much more difficult to convince everyone to get out. I am back at work part time now and my oldest two, with additional extracurricular interests, are in school all day so our time is more limited. Also, we moved from our townhouse on the dyke which was a two minute walk to ducks, eagles, herons, cows, garter snakes and an endless river walk, so our easy access to nature is somewhat more limited.

The west dyke near Garry Point

We are now only a five minute bike ride or ten minute walk from the beautiful and historic scenery of Britannia Shipyards, and just a bit further afield is Steveston Village. So much to see and do; it just takes a little more effort.

A winter walk along the boardwalk into Steveston Village

It may seem counterintuitive, but technology has increased my awareness and desire to push everyone out the door and get outside. The media is always cautioning people about the dangers of technology in creating a sedentary lifestyle with the increase in screen time; however, because of online interests and apps, I have found a new way to connect with nature.

My garden

I am a straight up Instagram addict. I have always loved taking family photos and documenting our life with a camera (currently participating in Becky Higgins' Project Life by taking a Photo Of The Day) but Instagram has taken this to a whole new level for me. They say that the best camera is the one that you have with you, and for me this is my iPhone4. Of course I would love a fancy dancy DSLR camera  but I love being creative with photo editing apps on my phone and iPad.

St. Mary Lake, Salt Spring Island

The other thing I love so much about Instagram, which I did not realize when I first joined, is the social networking aspect. For me it isn't about numbers of followers, it is about making meaningful connections with other people who share my passion for photo taking and editing. I am fascinated by seeing the world through other people's eyes, and it is interesting to see different parts of the world (I follow people in South Africa, Australia, Dubai, Ecuador, England, Scotland, Indonesia, Russia, Croatia, and on). I have made Instagram friends in my local area and hope to have an InstaMeet sometime (I've met one Instagram friend in person, the talented and lovely Silly Guts (Instagram name).

We look for nature in urban environments too: 
the parking lot at Children's Hospital, Vancouver

Because of Instagram I have learned so much about photography, such as framing, perspective, texture, positive and negative space, and use of colour that has helped me grow (follower feedback has been very helpful as well).

Parksville, B.C.

But most of all Instagram has helped me develop a deeper appreciation and respect for nature. Where ever I go I am looking around me with the eyes of a photographer and looking for an interesting shot. I have been known to make my husband pull over or go around the block so I can go back and take a photo and I stop my bike ride or run to take a shot that catches my eye.

Garry Point Park, Steveston

But I also go outside now with the specific intent of hunting for interesting photos. Sometimes I go by myself (ok, usually with my two year old in tow), but often I take my older daughters with me. Modelling is very powerful, to the point that my oldest has an iPod and loves taking photos with it (I've even set her up with a private Instagram account so she can follow me), and my middle daughter has an old digital camera that she uses. I can imagine the funny sight we make, the three of us running around snapping pictures.

Manning Park, B.C.

Through photography, and Instagram, I am slowing down to notice things even more: the beauty of the sunlight through the leaves, the way light illuminates the petals of a flower, the insects at ground level, the patterns that pinecones make on the ground, the ripples from the wake of a boat or unique cloud formations.

My children's school playground

I have heard the criticism that I might not be enjoying life because I am too busy with my face staring at an iPhone screen. I am quite conscious of how much screen time I have when I am out and about with my children and I do honestly try to limit what I do so I can be present with them. Yes, I take a lot of photos, and sometimes it irritates my family, but I don't think that they feel I do nothing but take photos. I try to limit the time I spend reviewing, organizing and editing photos to the evening when the kids are in bed. However, now that my older daughters also enjoy taking photos, it has become a shared activity, and they will help me notice things and ask me to take photos of them.

Kite buggies at Garry Point Park

My love of nature and natural settings was not awakened by photography, but it has been nurtured in a new way because of this passion. It may even be because of social networking in general, and Instagram in particular, that the idea for this blog developed in my mind. I wanted to find a way to share my love of the visual and natural world, and when I thought about the efforts of my family to live a more ecologically conscious life the two came together into this blog where I want to document our journey. Of course I could have just kept a journal, much like my Project Life, but I have learned so much through social networking on line that I wanted to connect with people and seek out others who are following their own path.

Golden Island sunset, Parksville, B.C.

If you would like to connect with me on Instagram, I am crustyroll35.

I am looking forward to sharing what I have learned from taking macro photos in a later post!

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