Photopoints are photos taken over time which share exactly the same composition and allow relatively slow processes like tree growth to be tracked.
Due to photopoints being so simple to interpret, they are a great form of monitoring to use in any scenario where people want to track changes in vegetation over any time frame. Once a string of photopoint photos have been recorded, anyone can easily see the changes in front of them – no understanding of how to comprehend graphs or statistics is required. This means that photopoint photos are a great way to communicate ecological restoration successes to everyone from the general public to colleagues and sponsors.
The Trust uses photopoints to record change in covenants across the country. QEII Regional Representatives take photopoint photos during every visit to a covenant and these photos enable the Trust and landowners to track the changes in covenants. This is often very notable in new covenants where farm stock has recently been excluded from a forest remnant and the understorey is recovering. QEII Representatives are trained in how to get the most out of photopoints and are supplied with tools to use in the field such as GPS units. Although photopoints are easy to do, keeping a few principals in mind will make them much more effective.
For photopoints to be most effective, there are several tips which will help you achieve the best results. Some relate to creating a good composition and some relate to enabling that composition to be repeated in the future. As photopoints can be taken over long timeframes, and will often be repeated by different people, using the correct terminology in describing them makes this much simpler;
“Location” – the location from where the photo is taken.
“Bearing” – the bearing from the photopoint location to centre of the frame.
“Frame” – the actual frame of the photo.
Expensive tools are not required to take photopoints, but depending on your situation they can be very useful. It is recommended to mark the photopoint location with a tag if possible for ease of repeating, and using a GPS unit to record the coordinates of a location is useful, especially if you are working within a large area.
The easiest way to do this is primarily to use a location which is a solid object such as a distinctive tree or fencepost. Make sure you mark this somehow and note down the location so it can be easily found in the future, by you or someone else. Recording the coordinates of the location is great if you can.
Select a frame which you think will show something notable; possibly a shot of your recent enhancement plantings, the understorey of or even a significant tree of interest. Make sure it’s a frame that is easy to repeat in future; centring the photo on a substantial object such as a long-lived tree is the simplest way to do this. Try to select a frame that will enable perspective to be maintained over the years. Including a path, stream or area which will remain open within the photo is the best way to do this.
Do you want to monitor the change in abundance of rata flowers every summer; the seasonal growth of your plantings; or even the gradual removal of weed species? Chose a time frame which is most appropriate for what you are trying to monitor.
When it comes to repeating your photopoint photo, a good tip is to take a copy of your last one with you. If you can’t do that, a small sketch of the composition or some simple notes will help you maintain a constant composition. This is easy if you set up a simple frame the first time with a long-term reference point in the centre of the frame or a static object such as fence or stream along one edge. Use the Photopoint Form provided as a guide for what information should be recorded to make repeating photopoints easy.