For Day 2 of May Term, we headed off to Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge for the Ornithology Science and Art Field Work class. It’s about an hour from Rochester, and right off the New York State Thruway. It is just short of 10,000 acres of both dry and wetlands set aside for the nesting, feeding, breeding, and resting of waterfowl and other migratory birds. We are fortunate to be so close and we will head back for another day tomorrow. No bald eagle sightings, but maybe tomorrow will be our chance. I’m so excited to go back. May Term is such an incredible experience, and I’m so glad I go to a school that doesn’t keep me sitting at a desk taking exams when there is so much out there to learn.
Today was the first day of May Term for us at Allendale Columbia. May Term is a time toward the end of the school year where we can choose coursework from a variety of different things and specialize to our interests. After seeing an offering for ornithology and photography, I was excited to sign up.
We spent a majority of the first morning with a refresher on how to use a camera for those who didn’t have experience from Mrs. Wun, the Upper School art and photography teacher. We also had a visit from former Allendale Columbia Biology teacher, Mr. Paul Amber, who was kind enough to give us a tour of campus and the nature trail while helping to identify birds. Mrs. Lisi, who is one of the instructors, also had a former student who is an ornithologist in Maryland who Skyped with our class. It’s great having my photography teacher Mrs. Wun and science teacher Mrs. Lisi team up in this course, which brings two of my favorite things together; wildlife and photography.
I’m very excited about tomorrow as we head to the Montezuma Wildlife Refuge. Hopefully, I’ll be able to see a bald eagle and get a good photo.
National Geographic has a great community site for sharing photography. I know there are many of these sites out there, but Nat Geo Your Shot by far has been the most influential to me. I have used the site for the past 2 1/2 years, and in that time and gotten great feedback from other photographers on my work. My favorite part about National Geo Your Shot are the assignments. I think it’s very easy for me to get caught up in taking only wildlife photography, which is a passion of mine. The assignments and stories part of the site let the editors give an assignment for photographers like myself to submit photographs to that fit a particular theme. I have enjoyed challenging myself on themes just as “The Gift of Life”, “Invisible Worlds” and “Facing your Fears”, After the editors close the entry period, they craft a story that is then published. I love reading these stories and seeing which photographs made the final cut. I haven’t earned this yet, but I hope to keep submitting my photographs, as my goal is to someday be part of a published story.
What has been really wonderful for me is to be selected as an “editor favorite”. These are special shout-outs from the editors for liking my submission, and some of these shots may have been at least considered for a published piece. The fact that a few of my photos were liked have kept me excited about trying to become better at my work. An even bigger plus is when an editor leaves a comment. For me, that is the best thing that can happen, as I know that a professional who liked my work took the time to let me know that.
National Geographic Your Shot also just added a “follow” feature, which allows a photographer to follow another photographer’s work. I do not have a large following at all, but the fact that 8 people decided to keep track of my work is a great start and something I think I hope to improve on. There’s no catch. It’s free, and for a high school student like me, the feedback is priceless.