Key Ideas about science photography
- A photograph provides evidence of what someone actually saw
and is useful, for example, in helping to identify specific creatures
- Photographs can record images beyond the narrow part of the
light spectrum we can see with our eyes, allowing us to know about
things we could not observe with our eyes.
- A series of photographs shows changes through time and can
identify cycles that happen faster or slower than we can perceive
with our own eyes.
- Photographs can be taken through telescopes or microscopes
to show images larger and smaller than we can see with the unaided
- Photography was invented in 1839, the year English migrants
started coming to their new home in New Zealand. Since then, scientists
have been able to photograph things as small as a single atom
and as big as the universe. In 1995 they photographed the "Big
Bang" that created the Universe 15 billion years ago. There
are photographs of galaxies 100,000 million light-years away and
pictures of events that happen in a billionth of a second.
- Motion pictures are actually a series of still photographs
shown so quickly they appear to be smoothly flowing movement.
If the number of pictures per second exceeds 18, the motion is
seems smooth to our senses. Most video and television images are
flashed on the screen at 25 pictures per second. Movies are usually
24 pictures per second.
- If pictures are taken at one speed and shown at another, we
see things happen in slow motion or in time lapse. If, for example,
we took a picture of a beach every four minutes and played it
back at 24 pictures per second, the tide would seem to come in
and go out very quickly - in fact, it would be at the same rate
that we breathe in and out. Time lapse of plants shows them moving
about and growing and gives us a whole new understanding of them.
Slow motion pictures are made with special cameras that take hundreds
or even thousands of pictures per second. When these films are
played back at 24 frames per second the movement becomes so slow
that the splash of a water drop seems to take forever.
- Modern computer techniques allow us to create even more exciting
images. The Sea Keepers for Schools poster was created by taking
thousands upon thousands of satellite images of our planet and
joining them together in a big computer. The resulting image shows
a three dimensional view of our world that can be turned any which
way and viewed close up or at a distance to reveal every aspect
of its terrain.
- Photographers have recorded behaviour of both plants and animals
that scientists never knew existed.
- Find old photographs (or paintings) of places near your school
and compare them to the same place today. Take modern photographs
from exactly the same place that the old ones were taken from
and compare them. Make a display showing change.
- Find examples of photographs that show environmental problems.
Discuss how photographs can be used to highlight important issues
and convince others of the need to act.
- Take photographs of a study area that can be revisited in
future seasons or years. Be sure to make an accurate log of exactly
where and how the photograph was taken, the kind of film and camera
used and the time and date. Put this information on the back of
the image and as a caption in a log book for the station.
If you use video to record the study area, have someone read the
location and date information while the video is recorded so it
is recorded along with the image.
- Take photographs of environmental problems such as animals
caught in beach litter, trash in waterways, silt laden water in
rivers near construction sites, group activities working to solve
environmental problems - such as tree planting.
- If participating in a clean-up activity, take photos before
and after to show the improvement.
- Pretend you are a photojournalist working for a newspaper.
Write an article about a local environmental problem concerning
water and use photographs to illustrate it. Publish this in your
school newspaper or local newspaper.
- Take a photograph (or video) through a microscope of tiny
creatures found in river water or sea water.