A Walk in the Woods Through a Young Child’s Lens

We’ve taken our oldest grandson camping several times, and he loves it!  He attends preschool, but last week he got to come camp with us.  Although most days were chilly and showers were off & on, we still had a blast.  Benjamin’s favorite thing was gathering sticks, having campfires, and roasting marshmallows.  Our site and the others around us were stick-free by the time he left!  Ben will be five next month.


Before I share the rest of today’s photos, I thought you’d enjoy a little background if you don’t mind the read.

I’ve written in past posts that I’ve been working with Ben and the joy of photography.  He’s seen me with a camera in hand since he was born.  If he saw my camera laying within his reach, he was always trying to pick it up and bring it to me.

When Ben was 2 1/2, I bought him the $40 V-Tech  Kidizoom 1.3MP camera with a 4x zoom that has a dual view finder like binoculars and began teaching him some basics.  We’d download and review his photos.  I printed the ‘special’ ones for him to keep. The camera produced grainy photos and looked like a toy, but it did work.


It was amazing how quickly Ben began to understand what a camera did, why he had to hold his camera steady for each shot (focus), and why he needed to hold it level (straight).  With lots of practice, his photos began to improve dramatically.  So this time last year for his 4th birthday, I bought him a refurbished Nikon CoolPix S6800 16MP camera with a 12x zoom for $79.  It was overkill, of course, but great quality that I thought would benefit him viewing his work, get him even more interested.  Along with it, I bought a small case and then a small shoulder-carrying case to teach him to care for his camera from injury.  When he opened and saw his new camera, he beamed.  It was a “real one”, he said.  With the high cost of cheap toys, it’s the best $79 I ever spent on him!

On our nicest rain-free day last week, Ben and I went to a local county park that had a playground and walking trail.  We each had our cameras in tow.  Of course, we had to check out the the playground first, and I can’t help but share this next photo as he bounced on the tractor with such determination.  All boy!

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Ben had been working on trying to photograph the Blue Jays alongside me at our campsite; but wasn’t successful, they took flight before he got them in his camera frame.  (“They’re too fast!” he’d say frustratingly.)

So when we arrived at the park, he told me I was in charge of taking bird photos.  (He knows I take bird photos, he asks to see them, and I show him my blog.  He’s doing very well on bird ID and calls, by the time he left us, he could ID the call of the Blue Jay, American Robin, and Red-bellied Woodpecker.)  So first I’ll share my bird shots from our walk in the woods to my birder friends.

DSC_7417-1 5216Male Bluebird


_DSC0152-2 5216Chipping Sparrow


_DSC0105-1 5216Chipping Sparrow


_DSC0122-1 5216Male Northern Cardinal

I actually wasn’t hunting too much for birds, I had to keep up with an anxious photographer who was exploring on his own.

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We walked and talked about what we saw and worked on zooming in and out.  We found places where animals might live, footprints, and anything else that might be neat to photograph.  Ben took 36 photos.   Only eight were out of focus and one off-level quite a bit.  Pretty darn good, I’d say!

I thought it’d be fun and hope you enjoy the following photos of a walk in the woods through a young child’s lens, sharing a dozen of Ben’s captures.  I did not edit any photo, only cropping as full photo to downsize the size of the photo MB and put his copyright signature.

Here we go!

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He found some neat-looking lichen and took his shot.  He suggested I might want to take a photo of it also.  I did, of course!

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Ben’s first ‘track’ found.  ‘We’ figured out it was a tire mark, not an animal’s.  (I love the feet in the photo.)

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The next one was a “bear track” per Ben.  (It’s not.)

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Here’s a tree that “grew laying down and then stood up”, he said.

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We talked about up-shots, and he watched me do one first to understand.  Isn’t his fantastic?!

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 After taking this next creek photo, he wanted to know if he could go walking in it.  (I sorrowfully said no….)

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Ben found what we figured to be a tree root bulging out of the ground, but he said it looked like a peanut (it did) and wanted a photo of it.

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Okay, this one is funny.  Ben found a pile of you-know-what.  Without me saying anything, he took a photo of it and told me he found “fox poop”.   (I have no idea who’s it is!)  Thank goodness he didn’t suggest I photograph it too!  (But I would have if he asked, lol.)

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A butterfly or moth…. (upper mid photo)

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An animal’s home….

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We reviewed his shots when we returned to our campground.  He did so well on centering, leveling, focus, and ideas!  I told him I would print them and bring them to him this coming week.  He said to make sure I printed the ‘fox poop’ photograph.  That’s a boy for you…

If you love photography, think about introducing photography to a young child you are close to.  You will be amazed on how quickly they learn.   And you will be rewarded with a special bond.  I know I have!

I hope you enjoyed my ‘featured photographer’.  With Ben’s printed pack of photos, I’m off now to spend a few more days with him and his baby brother in their newly acquired home a couple hours away and get some more luvin’ before we begin our road trip West.  Keeping up with the grandkids and everything else, I’m definitely behind on comments and the blogs I follow; I’ll catch up soon as I can!


39 thoughts on “A Walk in the Woods Through a Young Child’s Lens

  1. What a neat idea. I have a grandson in mind for perhaps some sort of camera. Sadly I don’t live close enough to see the grands often enough (and moving even farther with the new house). 😦

    • Ben & I plan to skype, so I hope to keep talking to him about taking photos while I’m away. His birthday is just before we start our trip and I’m buying him a bird feeder and lots of bird seed so he can have something to photograph to show me. 🙂

  2. I love your camping journal photos and story of the adventures with your grandson. You are such a good mentor to help him understand all the wonders of nature. I can relate to the experience; we took our grandson camping one spring and it was an adventure. The eastern blue bird is rare in the N.W. including the chipping sparrow. The markings and color on the blue bird are so soft and pretty.

    • It is the best being a grandparent! And I love the nature bonding we have done together. I just got back from visiting the grandboys, and Ben took me around his house to show me his birds and things with nature. 🙂 Yes, those little blue birds are gorgeous, I love seeing the flight of blue!

  3. A great time with your grandson Donna, I only wish I had more time with my own, as I take my eldest one birdwatching. Great pics for Ben he has a wonderful teacher there in you, and as I have been encouraging over here in Aus, connecting with our children and grandies in this way (doing and sharing times together) is so vital to their growth and well being, including good memories that will sustain them through life. Thanks for sharing Donna:-)

    • Ben’s a really cool little guy, and I do feel a close bond with him, especially when I began teaching him about photography. It’s something he only does with me. Last week when I visited him and their new home, he wanted to take me around his property with our cameras, searching for birds. 🙂 His birthday is in another couple weeks, I bought him a bird feeder and bird seed. That should help him be able to capture a bird easier. I am excited already for him! LOL

      • That’s so wonderful Donna, you are having a great influence and a significant bonding point. I would like more time with my grandchildren to continue encouraging them likewise. Good work Donna!

  4. Donna, this is a wonderful post, and a fantastic idea. Thanks for sharing! My grandson (8) and granddaughter (5 1/2) don’t live near, but we see them 3-4 times a year and taking photos with them seems like a great idea. You’ve got me thinking……and I loved seeing the photos that both of you took!

    • It’s been a wonderful way Ben and I have bonded. And he’s learned so much for such a little guy, I am so impressed! The kids these days are so technical-savvy, some day real soon, I’m sure Ben will be teaching me a thing or two. 🙂 I hope you’re able to try this idea with your grandchildren!

    • Thanks so much, Steve! He listens to me so well & will ask questions. I am in awe of his desire and how well he’s doing already. It was so funny, he was really excited to show that scat photo to his parents last week, lol. Boys will be boys!

  5. There is no better way to share the beauty of nature with kids, than to engage them in all they’re surrounded by. The future of our environment depends on them. Even his instinct on the scat is good, actually, it’s a common way of tracking wildlife. And as always, Donna, your photos here are beautiful. We don’t have cardinals in northern Calif., so I was especially dazzled by that one.

    • Thanks so much, Jet, our walks have become very special to me, and I hope he remembers our times like this. Maybe even inspire him with nature and all the avenues it can lead to. Yes, he did love that scat photo, he had me laughing. Wow, I had no idea cardinals didn’t exist all over the U.S. They are one of my favorites birds. 🙂

  6. Wow, Ben has a good eye already! Studying scat…such a boy! There’s a guy in a hiking group I’m in that takes photos of all the scat we come across, and he posts them in the group hike albums. I must admit that I’ve learned to identify what scat belongs to what animal. It’s useful to know what’s in the area and what territory animals consider theirs.

    I love the Cardinal! I’m teaching my Grandson birds and bird songs. He’s about ready for a camera. I think I’ll look into the one you first gave your Ben. #1 Grandson is 3yrs. old so it should be a good beginning camera.

    Get all those hugs and kisses you can!

    • I absorbed as many hugs and kisses they would give!!! There may be ‘other’ cameras for kids at that age, but the two-eye view finder worked perfectly, they really don’t get the closing-one-eye thing. Best of luck, let me know how it goes, Deborah!

  7. What a lot of fun you had together on this walk, Donna. Ben’s photos are charming, even the ‘fox’ poop. 🙂 I’m sure you’ve started him on the road to becoming an avid nature photographer as he grows up. Love your bird photos, and the one of Ben behind his camera. Have a great road trip. 🙂

    • Thanks so much Sylvia! He really gives me more joy than he could ever know, I’m sure! When I gave him all his printed photos, he started searching for that poop shot, just like boy! lol He has me laughing all the time. 🙂

  8. Oh, I really enjoyed your featured photographer! I also just bought g html my older granddaughter a Coolpix for her 6th birthday. Just like you did with Ben, we have been going on photo expeditions together. It is wonderful to observe how they notice different things and how something very ordinary can be “special” 🙂

  9. Wonderful, Helen! I love hearing you’re doing the same thing. And the salt marsh is a perfect place to go. It sure is neat to see what they observe differently from us. What fun it is! 🙂

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