• "MEET A MEMBER" #14 Richard Jackson

    Richard is a self-confessed creature of the dark. Living in NSW, Richard loves nothing more than heading out into the bush when most people are calling it a day. With the fall of the sun comes a world that many peoples don't even know exists but this is where Richard is in his element. Richards love for nocturnal animals is evident in his extensive collection of photographs. Photographs of creatures that the vast majority will never see with their own eyes.

    What is the first thing you think of when you wake up?
    On a week day it’s usually “what time is it” or if it’s the weekend it’s about having a cup of coffee to get me going. I’m not a morning person, even though morning is the most beautiful time of the day.

    What attracted you to avian photography?
    As a kid I grew up on the edge of Kuringai Chase National park north of Sydney. I spent most of my free time in the bush exploring, damming creeks, catching cicadas, tadpoles and frogs. There were always lots of birds that interested me but I knew little about.

    What was the very first bird you photographed? Did you know what species it was at that time?
    It was a Robin in my mother’s rose garden. From Neville Cayley’s, “What bird is that”, I deduced it was a Scarlet Robin. My parents had given me a ‘Kodak Instamatic’ and I was rapped when I was able to creep up close enough to see it in the viewfinder. I waited weeks until the film was used and pestered mum to get it developed. Boy was I disappointed when all I could see of this beautiful bird was a tiny speck of red and black. After that I yearned for an SLR and telephoto.

    It would appear that you spend a lot of time chasing creatures of the night. What is it about these nocturnal animals that draws your interest?
    The bush at night is a world most people know little of. After overcoming my fear of the dark I quickly started to enjoy the solitude of being alone in a world of nocturnal creatures and the uncertainty and excitement of what I may find. My main interest is in mammals and owls and because most mammals are nocturnal you have a far better chance of seeing many creatures most people only ever see in books.

    Are there any nature photographers that inspire you?
    Lots of photographers on F&P inspire me. When I see a special photo I don’t usually remember who took it, however Jody Melanson is the exception. His pictures of Great Grey owls hunting voles in the snow are something to behold (http://jmelanson.smugmug.com/Birds )

    If you could choose any one person to join you on a shoot, who would that someone be?
    It would probably be either my son Christopher who has no interest in photography but who is great company or my old babysitter Gabrielle, who is a good friend and has a wonderful knowledge of Australian creatures and plants.

    What was the first camera & lens combo you used for avian photography?
    I take it you are not referring to my Kodak Instamatic! In 1973 I bought a Nikon F2 with a 300mm f4.5 Nikkor telephoto lens.

    Can you describe the current kit you use for your nigh time nature photography?
    A red headlamp, which enables me to see in the dark without tunnel vision and without causing grief to the animals I observe. I use a Nikon D90 with Nikkor 80-400mm VR and either one or two Nikon electronic flash units. These are mounted on a DIY aluminium bracket that has a small white light to enable focussing.

    Some people shy away from flash photography for fear of the unknown. Could you describe how you obtain the perfect exposure using flash as your main light source? Do you have set exposure settings for your night photography?
    I wear glasses and I find at night it is very difficult to fiddle with camera and flash settings on the fly so I set everything up before hand and take a couple of test shots of a tree trunk to ensure it is all working.
    Most of my subjects are relatively static, so I normally set the flash to auto TTL and use aperture priority with spot metering. Shutter speed is irrelevant at night because the short duration of the flash effectively stops any motion. The animals are usually set against dark backgrounds so spot metering helps to prevent overexposure. If the exposure is significantly off and I get another chance, I adjust the exposure compensation.

    What are your main interests besides birds when it comes to photography?
    Birds present more opportunities to photograph but I am just as interested in photographing Australian native mammals.

    Do you have a dream location where you would love to spend a week(or longer) photographing the native animals?
    Today it would be Booderee National Park on the southern shore of Jervis Bay but tomorrow it may be Tasmania or somewhere else.

    Do you have a favourite location? If so where is it?
    Probably the Hacking River valley in the Royal National Park, which is only a 15 minute drive from home. It is very convenient and I can either go walking or driving and I usually find something of interest to observe or photograph.

    When chasing birds and other nocturnal creatures are these animals active all night long or are there certain times with peak activity?
    Different species have different times of peak activity but generally I think the best time to observe nocturnal activity is from dusk to midnight. Just before dawn may also be a good period, however I’m usually in bed.

    What are you trying to portray in your work?
    I try to produce an authentic reminder of what I observed. If it is technically good and shows the normal appearance and behaviour and shows some habitat I am usually happy.

    This article was originally published in forum thread: "MEET A MEMBER" #14 Richard Jackson started by Chris Martinez View original post