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How To Take Mystery Pictures


How To Take Mystery Pictures

Can you guess this mystery object?

Photo by Christy Matte

Sometimes we get so focused on the details that we miss the bigger picture. While this can cause problems, it can also be a lot of fun! This family friendly activity encourages kids to use their creativity and look at things in their environment in a slightly different way.

Goal: Take pictures of well-known objects using the zoom function on a digital camera to see if other people can guess what the objects in the pictures are.

Example: Visit the National Geographic Kids website and explore the “What in the World?” section.

Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: As much or as little as you'd like

Here's How:

  1. Find an object that will be familiar to friends and family.
  2. Zoom in on the object using the zoom function on the camera and take a picture. Try to focus on an area of the object that will give clues about what it is, such as the edges, special patterns and different colors that make it unique.
  3. Download the photos onto your computer and use the photo editing software to crop them. [“Cropping” means cutting off the excess parts around the edge of a picture, so you can focus on just thing things you want people to see. Read your software documentation if you don’t know how to use this feature.]
  4. Test your family and friends on the computer, or print the photos out and make a booklet.
  5. For more fun, try creating word puzzles similar to the “What in the World?” examples from National Geographic Kids.


  1. Start out with larger objects, especially if your camera doesn't have a strong zoom.
  2. Stuck for ideas on what to photograph? Try close-ups of carpet, a pet’s fur, tree bark, grass, and flowers.
  3. Turn off the flash if you're very close to the things you're photographing. Try a different light source so they don't get washed out.
  4. Just in case you didn't guess, the object in the above photo is a kayak.

What You Need

  • A digital camera with zoom
  • A computer to download photos from the camera
  • Access to everyday objects around the house or in the back yard.
  • Photo editing software (optional)
  • Printer (optional)
  • Art supplies (optional)
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