Print the entire article:




Photography is a wonderful tool with which to connect a child to nature. Not all kids will take to it, but in every group one or two will enjoy making pictures for a personal or group project.

This is not a how-to section on photography, although you will find a few basic guidelines in
the main article linked above.


A Trademarked initiative of the International League of Conservation Photographers, RAVE stands for Rapid Assessment Visual Expedition. Primarily used as a conservation tool, it works as follows:

A full visual and media assessment is carried out in a short period of time by a multi-disciplinary team that includes several specialized photographers (landscape, wildlife, macro, camera trapping, portraiture), writers and cameramen. Their job is to bring back a comprehensive media portrait of a conservation issue in a very short period of time.

The results are then collated into stories for release to the press. The aim is to draw attention to an area that is in critical need of protection. A simple photo of a pelican covered in oil can achieve more to inform the public than a scientific article.


You can do exactly the same with your class or family, or a few members of the group who would like to try this. And what a wonderful project to pull together: produce your own press release on the subject.

It’s not difficult to come up with an endangered species or habitat in our bioregion, but that’s not required. Any of the local sites listed in Hidden
Corner will work just fine.

Participants can focus on a species, a variety of species and their habitat, or on a landscape. It also helps to keep the RAVE specialties in mind—a few thoughts about those are provided below.

Landscape photographers look at the big picture, the vistas, the settings, the water bodies, mountains and forests. They are particularly attuned to what the weather is doing, and they will note processes, a flooding slough—when will the mouth break, building clouds—is a storm approaching?

Macro photographers look at the small picture. Most people do not have macro capability in their consumer level digital cameras, but that does not mean that they can’t focus on the little things. Photograph a deer print, raccoon scat, the shape of a leaf, light shining through a frond or a flower.


Camera trap photographers as the name implies, set up a camera that fires when movement activates a sensor. We can’t do that, but we can mimic it. The principle is patience. Sit quietly for 15 minutes in a chosen spot and slowly build a collection of photos that record passing life.

Wildlife photographers typically aim their lenses
at animals and birds. This can be difficult in Santa Barbara because birds are tough to photograph
and there aren’t many animals such as deer roaming about. But here’s where a backyard birdfeeder can help. Research the topic, set up a seed and hummingbird feeder in suitable locations and give the birds time to get used to them.

Portrait photographers capture the facial expressions of animals. An ideal place to practice this is at the zoo. As the name implies you want to photograph an animal as it looks at you, excluding the body. Try to keep the background clear of visual clutter and record the elegant facial markings that give that creature its character.

Please download the full educator's background in PDF format at the top of this page for more information on the photo essay approach, and nature photography technique.