So you have a new journal and you can not wait to get out and start sketching your favorite neighborhood birds or the flowering plant you saw in the corner of your yard. One of the first things you should do is take metadata. I'm sorry....what? Metadata, is just data about the data you are collecting. Cleared that right up didn't I? I should just end this blog right here....
Metadata is just the data on that day and place. Meaning if I was going to draw in my yard I would put the date, a qualifier to where I am (my yard, the neighborhood creek, neighborhood park, etc.) then the temperate and weather. In your weather it would be nice to include the wind direction, speed, and cloud cover. If you want to get fancy you could put in relative humidity, if there has been rain and/or how many days since rain. You can put in the time you are at the area, and any other qualifiers, such as, lots of people at park today, unnaturally warm/cold/humid, unusual clouds, etc. Anything that you think will be pertinent to you in the future. One of the reasons you do this is to make yourself aware of your actual surroundings. How many of us don't really pay attention to the clues around us like, oh it is February and we are expecting rain on Wednesday, I wonder if a cold front is coming? Once you start noticing these small things and writing them down you will begin to notice patterns.
Noticing patterns is one of the ways to get yourself deeper into nature. One of the reasons to put dates is so you can go back and compare. A great example of this is I write down when I see swallow-tailed kites. They are summer migrants to Florida. This year I saw my first on on the 7th, which when I looked through last year's journal was 3 days later that last year. Does this mean anything to me? Maybe not now but in 5 or 10 years it may. It may mean they are delaying their migration, decreasing in population, the habitat around me is degrading, etc. It may seem like a small thing but metadata is exceedingly important. Have fun. Make symbols or arrows, anything that makes it uniquely yours and will help remind you to do it.
Happy Sketching and next time you are at a dinner party impress people by telling them you have a lot of metadata