I’ve said it before, but bird photographers fascinate me. Bird photography takes the patience of landscape photography, the split second timing of sports photography and a pile of gear to rival a studio photographer. And for all of that, you can still sit for months or years and not get the kind of images that TM J creates. -J
Who are you and where do you live?
I am TMJ which is the first initial of the first name of my name, my wife & my son and I am currently living in Southern California. I have also lived in other various states briefly at one time due to my work as a contract consultant.
How (and when) did you get started in photography? In short, tell us the story of your photographic journey.
About 40+ years ago, my oldest brother came back from Hawaii and gave me a Petri camera which he had bought from a swap meet in Honolulu and I have been shooting like crazy ever since. The Petri was a great experience since it’s a rangefinder camera with no meter, manual focus and I learned to write down all the settings for each image that I took and developed my sense of guessing the shutter speed + f-stop depending on the film speed. In 1983 I decided to seriously pursue photography as a profession after taking an Advertising Photography class with a visit to Jay Silverman’s studio in Los Angeles but at that very same time my professor called me up for a programming job and photography took a back seat to the more lucrative programming career.
Who (or what) have been your main photographic influences and inspirations?
Ansel Adam images were what always inspired me in my youth.
While your Photo.net portfolio contains many subjects, there are a significant number of bird and wildlife images. How did you get started with that type photography?
After many years of shooting film and working in the darkroom making both B&W as well as color prints as well, that eventually reduced my interest in photography to just family snapshots. I decided to switch to digital around the year 2000 but it wasn’t until 2008 that I began to join some photography websites. From there I saw many bird images and I was hooked on shooting mostly wildlife ever since.
Explain how you see your body of work and what draws you to do the photography that you do?
I was always a backpacker in my youth since I love being out and around nature where there is no no one around. So, it just works out great with being able to hike to secluded places and out in nature while capturing wildlife images
Have you ever worked as a professional photographer? If “no”, why not? Is it something you would like to do? If “yes”, do you wish you could do more of that work? What does it bring or take away from your photography?
I’ve had offers to do photography work for money. But I have not taken up those offer because my main gig in the software business is much more stable (I do like to eat often, LOL). Also, I always think that there’s so much more to learn and if photography is a job then it may not be as enjoyable as it is a hobby.
What do you enjoy most about photography?
I enjoy being able to capture a moment in time. With the speed and focus that equipment has nowadays we are capturing frozen moments that even the eyes does not see and that is very enjoyable. Also, with so many technique and tools available, it allows one to ‘make’ the image that one envisions.
What was the most recent photographic technique that you learned or mastered? And what is the next photographic technique that you would like to learn?
In the past few years I’ve finally learned and mastered the technique of shooting hummingbirds with multiple flashes and I’ve been trying to get into night photography such as star trails or light painting of landscape.
What was the most recent piece of truly useful photographic equipment that you purchased? What is the next piece of equipment that you are looking to acquire?
This is going to sound strange or funny but my last acquisition a few days ago is a camera belt with holsters. The problem I always have is that my camera/cameras are in the backpack and an opportunity would appear but I was not ready or didn’t have the right lens. So, with my cameras holster I will be ready and loaded ready to shoot!
What is in your camera bag on a typical day?
I tend to bring most of what I got nowadays in a backpack and that means the Sony A7R + 24-240mm, A6300 + 10-18mm, Panasonic GX8 + Lumix 100-400mm, EF-E adapter and Canon 15mm fisheye lens.
What is your typical downloading/storage/sorting/processing procedure? Where do you store/backup your images? What programs do you use for post-processing?
I don’t have a good/safe way to store images currently and store my images on the many portable drive that I keep buying. I use an old version of Photoshop for processing since I don’t manipulate my images much (because I shoot wildlife mostly).
What words of advice or encouragement do you have for anyone just starting on their photographic journey?
I think the most important thing that I’ve learned in photography is when I took my Advertising Photography class some 30+ years ago. It was a studio type of class and up to that point I had been shooting mostly landscape ‘as is’. With that class, I realized the potential of making an image since in advertising you have to have a goal, a vision of what kind of image you want to get and then you brainstorm to come up with the technique to get that image whether through multiple exposure, photoshop, etc. In short, one has to have a vision of what kind of image one wants first and then go about putting it together.
The reason is simple, because of all the birds that I shoot I love shooting the Peregrine the most since they are great hunters and have very interesting arial food transfer behavior. They are so fast that it is a real challenge to capture their image and I was so lucky to get this one after 3-4 months of shooting every weekend in 2015. There’s a fellow next to me who has been shooting this same pair over the past 6 years and has not been able to catch image like with this quality. This happens within 1/10 of a second (out of nowhere it can happen) and to get this type of shot with this quality requires lots of luck and I was very lucky that day.