Archive for December, 2011

Why Sketch? (Also a post on SBAW)

So recently i was reading “Field Notes on Science and Nature” by Michael R. Canfield, the book that inspired me to keep my own nature diary. Chapter 8, “Why Sketch?” by Jenny Keller, focused on the value of hand-drawn documentation. Here i shall summarise.

  • Drawing makes you look more carefully at the subject, needing you to pay attention to every detail – even the seemingly unimportant ones.
  • It enhances observation, and could reveal different, unexpected aspects of a subject under study.
  • While cameras are necessary for capturing fleeting events and complex detail, their colours are typically inaccurate, proportions sometimes distorted and key features of the species may not be recorded clearly (or captured at all). For example you may realise while post processing your pictures that the tail of your macaque subject has been obscured by leaves and branches in all your pictures, or that the hooves/feet of your quadruped subject have been entirely obscured by long grass (which is almost always the case).
  • A simple image drawn on the page provides a convenient way to record observations. E.g. a single line may be used to describe the arc of a raptor’s dive, or the angle of a bird’s central axis as it perches.
  • The final reason to sketch while taking field notes is to get yourself thinking visually about the publishing stage of your research (acknowledged this line was taken wholesale from the chapter, and does not apply to everyone).


So now I’m more determined than ever to improve my drawing skill (or lack of it), so seeing as today was Sungei Buloh’s anniversary walk, i decided to challenge myself my recording all sightings with the help of nothing but a notebook, a pen and a set of colour pencils (no camera!). However this endeavour proved to be difficult for an amateur such as I, who took really long to complete a proper sketch. In most cases I never got to finish the drawing at one go and had to return to it later (either being hurried along to catch up with the group, or because the subject fled), in most cases with reference to photos taken by friends. Which is sad and ironic. Much more work to be done!!!

Anyway here are some of the sketches made this morning.