The other week while the girls and I were at the lake, we spied a track that disappeared enticingly into the bush. I promised we’d return another day and head along the path in search of adventure.
So last Wednesday afternoon we packed up our exploring kit. We grabbed a basket and tossed in small bars of chocolate (bushwalking requires lots of energy), a large thermos flask of hot chocolate (it was a cool day), a packet of almond fingers for dunking (because dunking is fun), and muesli bars (all that fresh air gives intrepid girl explorers a huge appetite).
And we hunted out our cameras: one for each person.
Basket packed, we set out. I parked the van alongside the lake and the girls tumbled out, cameras at the ready, eager to begin our Wednesday afternoon adventure. Soon we’d disappeared down the bush track. We left the lake, the cars and the people behind and were swallowed up by nature: tall gum trees stretching upwards between huge boulders, wildflowers a splash of colour amongst the greenery and a sandstone dotted trail winding its way through the bush .
It was a very slow walk. “Look at this!” Every few seconds someone discovered something that just had to be photographed.
“I need a photo of that wattle. What mode do you think I should use?”
We discussed different camera settings and how best to frame the photo, which angle to take it from... Buttons were pressed, the resulting images examined and shared and then we moved on.
“Look, here’s a different kind of wattle! The other one had the flowers arranged in globules. This one has them in spikes.” Of course, we had to take photos of every kind of wattle we could see.
Then we spied some banksias. With cameras in hand, the girls were noticing far more than if we were simply strolling along.
We crossed a few bridges and I remembered when Felicity was little, we’d taken loads of photos of bridges. We were constantly searching for yet another bridge to add to our collection: small bridges over creeks, wooden bridges, stepping stone bridges, railway bridges, arched bridges…
We rounded a bend in the track to find an area of flat boulders which looked just right for resting upon while we ate our chocolate. And as we ate, we talked. We talked about bushfires:
“Can you see those blackened trees? I bet this area was back-burnt.”
“It must have been a while ago. Look at how lush and thick the undergrowth is.”
“What’s undergrowth?” (That was Gemma-Rose.)
“All those plants that grow in the shade of the trees.”
We noticed the bush on one side of the track showed fire scars while that on the opposite side was untouched. And we remembered how our own bushland at the bottom of the road where we live, had been carefully backburnt last year. The rural fire fighters skilfully kept the fire confined to one side of the fire trail only. Afterwards, when the fires were extinguished, we walked down the track and it felt so eery walking alongside the bare bush studded only with blackened trees. And although the bush had lost its beauty, we weren’t sad but glad, knowing the back burn could possibly save our property and our lives if a bushfire ever sweeps through our village.
“Can you see how those branches have sprouted along the length of the burnt trees?” And someone remembered how native seeds need the heat of a fire in order to bring them alive.
It was soon time to head back to the van. The return journey was quicker as we didn’t stop so often to snap photos. Soon we were enjoying mugs of hot chocolate and other goodies by the side of the lake.
When I was a child I loved taking photographs. It seemed rather magical to be able to capture a moment in time forever. I had a large box-like Polaroid camera. I carefully selected my subject, pressed the huge button and then a square of film came sliding out of the front of the camera. I had to time the seconds carefully, before peeling back the uppermost layer to reveal the photograph hidden underneath. It was all a rather hit and miss affair. Too few seconds and my photo was much too light and if I left it longer than necessary, my photo was too dark. It was a disappointing experience because I hardly ever got it just right. Because film was so expensive, I couldn’t take many photos and had to be content with my handful of imperfect images. It was very frustrating.
But photography is no longer frustrating. Our children can snap away happily for as long as they like, enjoying the thrill of creating hundreds of images. Any mistakes can instantly be deleted.
“I wish I had my own camera!” sighed Gemma-Rose as we were on our way home. She’d borrowed Andy’s camera for the day. I’ll probably buy her one for her birthday. I bought Sophie a camera for Christmas from Aldi. I think it cost about $65.
“I’m going to transfer my photos to the computer this evening. And then I’m going to write a blog post,” announced Gemma-Rose.
I think about introducing the girls to the website Piknic. They would enjoy adding special effects to their images. Perhaps they could create a blog just to display their photos. Maybe we could find a library book especially written for children.
Should I plan a special lesson about how cameras work, or how the eye works, or the history of cameras or how light works or…? No! That would kill the girls’ interest in photography dead. I am sure the girls will ask questions or look things up for themselves, all in their own time.
It is the evening and Andy is home from work.
“We had such a great afternoon,” says Sophie. Would you like to see my photos?” And my photography girl grabs her digital photo frame. She inserts her memory card and stands back in triumph.
“Well, what do you think, Dad?”
Another photography girl appears.
"Wait until you read my blog post, Dad."
"I can't wait!"
None of us can wait. We can't wait until we go on another photography adventure. Perhaps next Wednesday afternoon...
Please share Gemma-Rose's post, "The Bush Walk"