YOUR PROJECT THROUGH PHOTO PLOTS
Monitoring is an effective
way to find out if your wildlife habitat project is meeting its goals
and objectives. Monitoring can show how well, or how poorly, a management
system is working. It can help you identify needed changes and can how
others can create wildlife habitats on school grounds.
Many kinds of monitoring
systems are used to document the results of school wildlife habitat
projects. Some systems, such as taking measurements and recording scientific
data, can be exacting and quite complicated. The data may take many
years to develop and analyze.
Other systems are quite simple.
Taking photographs is one of the most basic monitoring techniques. While
photographs cannot tell the entire story about a project, much information
can be gathered from photographs taken at the same point over a number
Photographs often reveal
changes that measurements miss. They serve as re-reminder of how far
you have come in establishing a healthy-functioning, natural resource
area. Photos are an easy way to make others aware of the benefits of
good land management practices. Furthermore, this is a great project
for your students to implement.
WHAT EQUIPMENT WILL I
You will only need a few
supplies to photo-monitor your project. You will need a camera, of course,
preferably 35 mm, and film. While not really a vital necessity, you
may also wish to have a camera tripod to get steady, clear shots.
For close-up photographs,
you will need four pieces of angle iron or rebar stakes about 16 inches
long (or any height you can see easily), and a hammer or post driver
depending upon ground conditions. For general view photographs, you
will need two stakes about 3-4 feet high. Brightly colored spray paint
for the stakes will help you find them later.
A wood or steel measuring
tape, photo identification labels, a map at an appropriate scale, and
a black felt tip pen are also necessary.
Close-up photos show specific
characteristics of an area, such as soil surface or the amount of ground
surface covered by vegetation and organic litter. Close-up photos are
taken periodically from permanently located photo points.
Usually a 3 ft X 3 ft. square
area is used for close-up photo plots. To mark the corners of the square,
drive angle iron or rebar stakes into the ground on all four corners
(Figure 1). Paint the stakes a bright color, such as yellow or orange,
to help you relocate them during subsequent picture taking.
If you have a camera with
changeable lenses, you should plan to use the same lens on your camera
during subsequent picture taking as you did when you set up the original
photo point and took the first pictures.
You and your camera should
stand on the north side of the plot. By standing on the north side,
photographs can be taken at any time during the day without casting
a shadow across the plot. Before taking the picture, place a filled-out
photo identification label (figure 2) on the ground next to the photo
Place a steel or wood measuring
tape across the sound side of the plot. The tape should be opened to
36 inches with the tape reading from left to right. The tape will provide
some relative scale to the photo. Stand about 6-8 feet back from the
center of the plot. Be sure you can see the label in the camera view
After taking the picture,
make the location of the photo plot on the map along with an arrow showing
the direction in which you took the photo.
GENERAL VIEW PHOTOGRAPHS
General view photos can be
divided into two categories: features and landscapes.
Feature photos document change
on or around large objects such as rocks, a part of the school building,
playground equipment, or fences. Feature photos are usually taken from
opposite ends of an imaginary line. For example, you many set up a photo
plot to monitor changes on opposite sides of a fence or sidewalk. To
do this, drive a stake or post into the ground on each side of the fence
or sidewalk. The two points should be about 30-40 feet apart. Place
the photo identification label in an upright position so that it appears
in the foreground of the photograph. Hold the camera over one state,
center the other stake in the middle of the photography. For the next
photo, reverse the procedure. Be sure to include the photo label and,
if possible, some sky in the photo to help set the scale of the objects
Landscape photos are an overview
of the area showing the feature and its relationship to the surrounding
area. A landscape photo might be taken from a nearby hill showing from
a distance the same section of stream where the feature photo was taken.
If you are concerned about
theft or vandalism of your photo stakes, take measurements of your stakes
from some fixed location such as the school building, a lamp post or
a large tree.
HOW DO I TAKE SUBSEQUENT
When you take subsequent
photographs, follow the same process used in taking the initial ones.
Include the same stakes and a new label in the close up photos. Match
up the same landmarks, and stakes in the subsequent general view photos.
Don't forget to make up a new label.
To give validity to your
photos and to really show the results, it is best to stake subsequent
photos at approximately the same time of the year as the originals.
Again, remember to keep copies
of all the photos for your school project files.