Zoom In

February 18, 2016

Mountain ranges demand our focus.

Canyons tug at our gaze.

Massive sunsets crowd our view.

Fields of flowers catch our eye.


But what about the mountains of lichens on a twig?

The canyon grooves set in bark?

The gradient of color in a leaf?

The fields of pollen drenching a lily?

Photo by Carlee Koehler Moates

Nearly every time I step outdoors, something fills me with awe. Often times, it’s the big picture- what is most prominent on the landscape. Zooming in, however, can prove an even more humbling experience.


Photo by Carlee Koehler Moates

Recently, I visited the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s 9 Mile Prairie property with Michael Forsberg, Mike Farrell, and fellow classmates. I eagerly snagged this time away from concrete buildings and exhaust-saturated slush to get up close and personal with the surrounding organisms.

The prairie had covered itself in a mellow gray and brown shroud.

Photo by Carlee Koehler Moates

I spent much of my time at the prairie trying to grasp as many ingredients of the location as possible. Tiny details constantly get lost simply because I don’t take the time to stop and just look. I feel like many of us really do believe we’re just in too much of a hurry to call a time-out or “stop to smell the roses.” Pausing to closely observe surroundings puts the complex web of relations between organisms and our suddenly not-so-urgent problems into perspective.

Photo by Carlee Koehler Moates

I find it simply incredible. When standing on a mountain top, I can see massive ranges stretching into the distance. Down at my feet, a delicate tundra flower possesses vivid color and minuscule patterns. It’s big, it’s small, it’s up, it’s down, it’s everywhere; gorgeous detail covering every inch of the natural world.


Photo by Carlee Koehler Moates

Pausing for these intimate moments to observe what’s around me serves as a reminder that although the world sometimes makes me feel small, I am bigger, more intricate, and more significant that I sometimes allow myself to believe.

Photo by Carlee Koehler Moates

We are all significant, beautiful details of the world’s big picture. Sometimes these details go unnoticed, but if they would disappear, the earth would simply be left missing a little something… a little grayer, a tad more mundane, a twinge more ordinary.

I wish more of us would to take the time to appreciate these intricate details of otherwise invisible beauty lost in the hustle and bustle of life. Thoughts change when one fully accepts the wealth of natural beauty all around us.

Photo by Carlee Koehler Moates


PBT team photo. Summer 2023

About PBT

We are a group of storytellers using timelapse photography and multimedia storytelling to explore watersheds. PBT has been in motion since 2011.

Sign up for our newsletter to be the first to hear about stories, projects, and other things we’ve been up to.

You have Successfully Subscribed!