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Kids explore nature photography at Itasca Park

Amber Doll and daughter Katriana Knudson, 10, practice the rule of thirds, unique angles and close-ups during a nature photo safari, held last Saturday at Itasca State Park. The duo, from Menahga, participated in a Northern C.L.I.C.K. (Conservation Lesson Involving Cameras and Kids) workshop led by Steve Maanum.

By shannon geisen

“Ants!” cries 10-year-old Katriana Knudson, reaching for her camera.

“Mosquitoes,” replies Katriana’s mom, Amber Doll, swatting at the pesky insects.

Mosquitoes certainly didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of participants at Saturday’s nature photography workshop and photo safari.

4-H youth and staff, parents, grandparents, kids, teachers and youth leaders were invited to the special workshop at Itasca State Park.

The course was led by Steve Maanum, a wildlife photographer, freelance writer and former Park Rapids 5th grade teacher.

Budding photographers captured shots of dragonflies, tree sap, spiders and dandelions, seeking textures, patterns and “lines that the lead the eye.”

“Try to capture things that aren’t as usual,” urged Maanum.

“Each of us sees something different when we’re out in nature. I love that.”

Unfortunately, pink and yellow showy lady’s slippers weren’t blooming on this particular excursion.

“The thing we have to understand about nature, there are no guarantees,” said Maanum, noting that the longest he sat in a blind was 12.5 hours, waiting for a nature shot that never came.

“As you slow down and become a student of nature, you begin to notice things,” he said. “Kids slow down when you put a camera in their hands. They stop and use their senses.”

Maanum told students to “walk with a whisper,” approaching wildlife slowly.

“Patience and practice is all part of it,” he said.

Fancy camera gear isn’t necessary.

Blinds can be as simple as a cardboard box or portable chair with a camouflage cover.

“We’re not always going to take the perfect picture. The whole idea is to do the best you can with the camera itself.”

Wildlife photography can begin in your own backyard, said Maanum.

“We don’t have to go to Alaska or Africa to take pictures.”

See more pictures in Wednesday's edition of the Park Rapids Enterprise.