Sixteen-year-old Emily Thomer’s interest in nature has been growing for the past four years, but her discovery of the natural world comes with a modern spin. The budding naturalist has found nature through the lens of technology. This proves a passion for the outdoor world may unite nature enthusiasts but their journeys may start from very different trailheads.
“At first, I didn’t really notice the nature surrounding me, but my tablet and then my phone helped me take an interest in plants,” said Thomer.
Thomer started using her tablet and camera phone to document plants growing wild on her family’s land and growing in her garden. Once her interest in photography bloomed, she then turned her camera’s focus to her domestic geese.
But it was a birthday present from her parents that really helped develop her eye for nature and wildlife.
“I was gifted a camera with a good zoom,” Thomer said. “Thanks to this gift, I’ve been able to start photographing wild birds, which was nearly impossible with my camera phone.
“I really love photographing wild birds. Each wild bird is so unique and beautiful. Photographing them gives me an opportunity to glimpse a bit of their life."
With her new camera in hand, Thomer has been exploring her family’s land with a fresh eye.
“My go-to bird-watching spot shifts depending on how often the birds visit. Recently, I’ve been hanging out by my garden where I have a big sunflower plant that offers the birds seeds. I also have a feeder there that the birds have just begun to use,” Thomer said. “To get close enough to photograph a bird, I usually just sit there for a very long time so they don’t notice me. I really enjoy being outside and sitting very still isn’t a problem for me.”
Once, while sitting under a tree waiting for the resident pair of Carolina wrens, Thomer was lucky enough to photograph a wren that had landed right above her. Another time, Thomer was on a photo hunt for a pileated woodpecker when she came across a small flock of cedar waxwings.