Category Archives: smartphones

Watch the birdie: capturing wildlife on camera

There is something very powerful about an image. It captures a moment in time and creates a memory that can be shared and viewed time and time again.

Digital technology means that we’re all photographers now. Where-ever we go we have a camera in our possession: smartphone cameras are astonishingly good and produce really high quality pictures. And with social media channels, such as instagram and Facebook, we have the places to share the stories of our life and what matters to us.

Photography has always been an essential ingredient of telling the story of the natural world. But now its a much more democratic process where beautiful pictures of wildlife can be used on popular TV programmes such as Springwatch, sourced from the hundreds of thousands of fans that connect with the series via twitter, or can be liked thousands of time on instagram feeds.

puffins on the Farnes

Puffins on the National Trust’s Farne Islands

The ornithologists of the twenty first century want to get the best shots they can of birds in flight and butterfly collecting is now about the exchange of images of Large Blue’s rather than pinning them to a board.

Wildlife pictures work whether a close up of a particular species such as a beetle or a landscape picture of a meadow, orchard or bluebell wood. They are very important ways of helping us to understand what is happening to nature and also our place in nature.

Bluebells 2

So, why note use your camera to help us find out more about the wildlife in the places that we live and love to visit time and time again.


Switching off…

A few weeks ago I read a piece in the Weekend section of The Times about our addiction to smartphones and mobiles. We just can’t stop checking our phones for texts, facebook posts, emails. In our minds there is a real fear of missing out.  And this growing anxiety now has a name – nomophobia.

At the time I was staying in a bunkhouse on Glower in south Wales with my family and some friends. I’d not taken any kind of digital device with me – mobile, smartphone or tablet computer. And it was bliss.

I spent my time talking to people, reading and doing nothing in particular. I felt totally relaxed and refreshed and connected with the world around me.

My job in PR means that I’m always contactable and constantly trying to keep up with the news and spot opportunities to generate media coverage. Its so easy to get sucked in to having your phone as a kind of digital comfort blanket. I have to admit that I’m into twitter big time and love checking out websites for the latest news and features.

But we all need down time. Work today mainly involves staring at screens for hours on end and there is a real danger that we never give our minds the rest that they deserve.

So for the next two weeks when I’m holiday they’ll be no screen time. Yes I’ve scheduled a few tweets. But my tablet and smartphone will be home alone. I’ll be using my newly found digital-free time to enjoy the real worl and re-charge my batteries; not having to worry about emails or keeping in touch.

I suppose its a kind of screen time cold turkey but hopefully it will mean more balance in my life. Its so important to have moments of idleness and enjoy a less technologically dependent period of time. I’ll let you know how it went when I’m back.

Going on a digital diet

In the life time of my daughter, who is 8 years old, the world of technology has changed beyond recognition. The rise and rise of smartphones and tablet computers means that we’re plugged in virtually for every minute of our waking day. Like millions of other Britons one of the first things that I do every morning after I wake up is turn on my smartphone. I check it regularly and it goes every where with me; a bit like an adult version of a comfort blanket.

Technology has brought us huge benefits in the way that we communicate. However – the relentless rise of screen time has happened without any rules of engagement. There are no social norms around how we should use technology that can be held in the palm of our hand. How many of us have sent an email or text and expect a reply within minutes and we start to get anxious if we haven’t heard back after a few hours. It feels like that you’re not part of the crowd if you’re unplugged or away from a digital device even if just for a short time.

Research has shown that we’re spending more and more time staring at screens of various devices. This naturally means that screen time is displacing something else – the ability to tune out, the ability to connect with the world around us and a massive impact on outdoors and time with nature.

And the phenomenon of split screening means that we can watch one screen, usually a TV, while checking our twitter feed or perhaps replying to those work emails that you didn’t finish off.

That is why National Unplugging Day is such a worthwhile initiative. It only had to be a matter of time. Technology is starting to impact upon the richness of human face to face communication and that sense of a real community. Screen addiction is becoming a condition that needs treatment affecting more and more children.

But don’t just switch off for one day. Like anything that you know that you should have less of its easy to do things in bite sized chunks. Don’t switch your phone on first thing in the morning. Maybe when you walk to to work or the station, instead of checking your phone every ten seconds look around you and try to listen to the soundtrack on your journey. You could start to ration how much you use your smartphone or tablet computer during the evenings or at weekends.

Its amazing how much more time you’ll have to talk to people, simply do nothing or get out and enjoy the wonder of nature.

We should be in control of technology rather than letting technology control us.