Photo, Pencil, and Found Object Collage

Students make a collage by combining detailed observations (using writing, drawing, and numbers), a photograph, and parts of found natural objects. They then compare drawing and photography as ways of recording data. Photography and drawing are both powerful tools in the natural sciences. Neither one is necessarily better. They are different, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. Drawings are selective; the artist chooses which details to include or exclude. They also take time to produce and require deep observation. Photographs evenly record data across the image without bias, can be produced instantaneously, and do not necessarily require us to observe; however, photography can also become a valuable naturalist’s tool and an opportunity for observation. While waiting patiently to photograph a heron in a certain pose, you can notice its typical postures, preferred locations, and common behaviors. When photographing a streambed, you must decide how far away or close up to take the photograph, excluding or including different details. In the process, you are more likely to notice these details. When we discuss how to approach taking photos thoughtfully with students, cameras can become tools for active observation, used together with drawing and writing to create a powerful record of information. In this activity, students draw and take a photo of the same phenomenon, then compare the types of information that each method captures. Students engage in discussion about the strengths and weaknesses of each medium, and the types of information each is ideal for capturing.
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