I’m really excited to share an interview with the very talented Photographer Ricky Jones from Caledonia, Wisconsin. Inspiration for Ricky’s creative body of work comes primarily from the history of photography and a true understanding of his craft. Ricky has explored many areas of photography, but has chosen to focus on wildlife and nature photography. Ricky’s portfolio is quite diverse and his passion for photography speaks for itself.
Ricky, thank you for allowing us to learn about your insight on photography and for allowing us to get to know a bit about you. You are a skilled Photographer and someone who’s work is definitely worth following.
Can you please tell the readers a bit about yourself?
I’m originally from Memphis, Tenn. Moved up here when I was a little boy. I became interested in photography in High School, around 1980 or so. I started out doing B&W landscapes like this:
Where do you call home?
I live in SE Wisconsin in a town called Caledonia
When did you first become interested in photography and how long have you been involved with it?
After High School, I got a job. I lost interest in photography, until I started to get interested in astronomy, around 1990 or so. I took up photography again, partly so I could do astrophotography.
What inspired you to be a photographer?
… Hmm that’s kinda hard, because I started out more of a landscape photographer, jumped around for a while, did weddings and portraits for a while. I guess the history behind photography gave me most of my inspiration. I’m somewhat of a history lover and I really love the stories of the great photographers, like Robert Capa and Ansel Adams.
What type of photography shoots do you look forward to?
I’ve bounced around a lot, did weddings, portraits, started out doing landscapes, still enjoy doing that, but now I’m mostly focused on wildlife and nature photography.
When shooting subjects, what do you find most challenging?
Keeping them in focus, and keeping the image sharp. Very important in bird photography.
How do you keep your photography fresh and how do you stay motivated to keep on learning?
For me that’s the hard part. I have a lot of hobbies, and photography, especially wildlife and nature photography, can be very time intensive. To keep it fresh and fun, I talk to others on social media about photography, wildlife and cameras. I’m a camera fanboy, so I love talking technique and settings with others.
What’s the best part of being a photographer?
I’m not much of a talker, and hate talking about myself, or my life in general, so photography is a way to express my feelings and what’s on my mind.
Share with us your favorite image and why.
..Hmmm I’ve taken “millions” of photographs in the last 30+ years, I don’t think I have a favorite. In my mind, my next photo will be my favorite. This is one of my favorites maybe, my first shot of a Great Gray Owl, in Middleton Wisconsin.
Do you visit any photography related websites or blogs on a regular basis and if so, which ones?
Not really, at least not anymore. I do enjoy following a few photographers on YouTube. The only sites that I still follow are social media sites like Twitter and Instagram. Being a Canon shooter, I do visit sites like Photography-on-the-Net, which is mostly for Canon shooters. There are a few nature ones too, but mostly YouTube, Instagram and Twitter.
What is one piece of advice you would like to offer a new photographer just starting out?
Always be patient, learn your gear, and watch what others are doing on social media. Oh, that’s 3. LOL!
Oh, one last one, learn your Exposure Triangle – ISO, Shutter Speeds, Aperture.
What type of camera(s) do you shoot with? What is your favorite lens?
I’ve been a Canon shooter since the early 90’s. There are some new great cameras out there, so I may try others. I also use my Samsung cell phone. About 3 years ago, I decided that cell phone images are good enough to post online now. Just watch the crop using your cell phones. You can destroy your image really fast that way. My favorite lens is my Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II. My day to day lens is the 100-400mm L mk II.
What is your camera bag?
Because my lenses can be pretty large, I tend to carry them in different bags. I normally carry 100-400mm L MkII, EF-24-70mm, and the 70-200mm L lenses, together in my LowePro bag, along with my 580EX mkII flash, 2 extenders, the EF 1.4mk II and the EF 2.0 mk II. My camera bodies are the Canon 7Dmk II and the 5D mk III.
Do you plan on purchasing any new equipment and if so, what are you on the lookout for?
I’m looking forward to the release of the new Canon 7DmkIII camera that should come out in 2019. I’m also thinking about picking up a mirrorless camera. Not sure about one yet, but it’s in the back of my mind.
How important is Photoshop or other image editing software in your final images?
Very, very important, any time you shoot RAW or (IMHO) digital photography you should use a editing program. Digital pictures can look very flat if you don’t.
I use Photoshop (Camera RAW), and I also use Nik Collection software to cleanup and enhance my photography. Mostly for landscapes and Black and White Photography.
Can you tell me about one of your favorite or most memorable photo shoots? What made it so great and why did you like it so much?
Like I said, there have been so many, but this is one of my favorites, for no reason other than I didn’t ever expect it to hop onto this dead stump. I love heron, crane, and egret pictures the most. This is of a Green Heron.
Do you have any projects that make you look back and shake your head? What made the experience so unpleasant?
I never try to look back; photography is about progressing. When I look at my old projects, I only see the mistakes I made. I learn from that and move on, pretty much. Every picture I take, I can find mistakes, and that’s unpleasant. Don’t have any real projects right now, they will have to keep until I retire.
Do you see yourself as a photographer many years down the road?
I think so. At one time I would have said 100% yes, but now I’m not sure. Photography has changed a lot. Everyone with a camera phone is a photographer now. That’s a good thing, but photography doesn’t feel “special” anymore.