I’ve recently had the pleasure of interviewing an extraordinarily talented photographer from the great state of Michigan. Her name is Jocelyn Anderson and she finds inspiration for her work by capturing moments in nature, both big and small. Through her work, Jocelyn has the ability to convey her passion for capturing stunning images of birds and other elements of the natural world. As you browse through her photos below, I think you’ll agree that she’s quite an accomplished photographer with a keen eye.
Jocelyn, thank you for sharing your thoughtful answers with us and for allowing us the opportunity to glimpse into the mind of a person who truly enjoys what they do.
Can you please tell the readers a bit about yourself?
I’m a Web Developer living in the beautiful state of Michigan. My husband and I have four guinea pigs (Dante Wigglebottom, Dmitri, Chase, and Peppers Popcornpants.)
Where do you call home?
I lived in Southern California until I was 10, after which my family moved out to Southeastern Michigan. I’ve lived in the area ever since. I am fortunate to live close to several parks that have a great number of birds, which is what I mostly photograph.
After browsing through your website, I see that you’re truly immersed in the field of photography. What is it that led you towards photography and how long have you been working in it?
A few years ago I was gifted with a camera kit for my birthday. I’ve always been interested in birds, and after tootling around on the trails taking pictures of them, I discovered photographing them is something I really enjoy. Since getting my camera kit, I’ve upgraded my camera body and bought a couple of telephoto lenses. The camera can capture details that are too fast to be noticed by the naked eye, and the reach of the telephoto lenses brings me close to the birds. It’s a way of learning about and becoming closer to these amazing animals.
What type of session do you look forward to the most vs what type of session you most often do?
My photography work is nature-related, so I’m usually bopping around on the nature trails, seeing what nature will offer. On days that I’m going birding, I’m happy and excited, wondering what I’ll see that day. I’ve also been to photography workshops through Michigan Avian Experience and the Howell Nature Center, both events involving rescued birds. They both take amazing care with their birds and it is an incredible experience to be so close to these animals. I look forward to all of it!
When shooting subjects, what do you find most challenging?
Birds in poor lighting against a bright sky…trying to get the settings right before the bird takes off is a good challenge. I’m still working on that one, getting photos without a lot of noise is tough.
What would you say your most remarkable wildlife encounter has been?
One Summer day I was on a boardwalk and noticed the reeds moving off to my left. I figured it was a chipmunk, as there are hundreds of them at this park. I was awfully surprised when a mink popped out of the reeds with a vole in its mouth! We both jumped, and the mink dropped the vole. I backed off and waited for him to come back. He did, and I was able to get a few photos. It was something that was special as it was totally unexpected.
What’s the best part of being a photographer?
Being able to capture a moment that I can share with others. It’s also wonderful to be out in nature, and even if I don’t get any good photos that day, it’s time well spent.
What is the most challenging part of being a photographer?
Holding a big lens. I have a tripod but prefer to hold my 200-500mm because of the freedom of movement. My little T-Rex arms will start to shake from the weight after a while, but it’s worth it to get a shot. Plus it’s a good workout.
Share with us your favorite image and why.
A couple of years ago I got up super early so I could get photos of Sandhill Cranes taking off at dawn. I didn’t get to the park early enough; when I was getting out of the car, I heard and saw the Cranes taking to the air. I was bummed; I had gotten up early for nothing! There were plenty of Canada Geese around on the pond, so I figured to take pictures of them because they were the only birds around. I ended up getting a wonderful photo of a Canada Goose taking off with the Fall colors being reflected on the pond. So it all worked out beautifully!
How do you keep your photography fresh and how do you stay motivated to keep on learning?
I try to get out as often as I can to take pictures; you never know what will happen on that day. I’m always looking to learn more about nature as I find my photos improve the more I learn about my subject.
Do you visit any photography related websites or blogs on a regular basis and if so, which ones?
I don’t visit any Websites and blogs on a regular basis, but if something pops up on my social feeds, I’ll take a gander.
What do you hope viewers take away from your images?
I hope they see the energy of the moment I was trying to capture. One of the kindest things someone ever said to me about my bird photography was “you really capture their personality.” That is my goal, to give a glimpse of how I’m seeing these birds.
What type of camera(s) do you shoot with? What is your favorite lens?
I shoot with a Nikon D500 with a Nikkor 200-500mm lens and a Tamron 70-200mm. The 200-500mm is my favorite. At 500mm I have a good amount of reach, enabling me to get close up shots without spooking the wildlife. I also have a 1.4x telephoto extender but have only used it on rare occasion.
What is in your camera bag?
Extra batteries and memory cards. The cold Michigan Winters will drain those batteries quickly! I usually only take one lens – usually the 200-500mm – with me. If the weather is looking crummy I’ll switch over to the 70-200mm as that lens is weather-sealed and the 200-500mm is not.
What is your favorite photography accessory?
My BlackRapid strap that connects to my lens. A fellow photographer suggested it to me and I’m so glad he did. I had previously been using a strap that hooked onto my camera, not the lens. That’s not a great idea when the lens is 4 lbs and being so heavy, pulls on the connections between the camera body and the lens.
What piece of equipment would you most like to get but don’t have yet?
A full-frame camera body. My Nikon D500 is amazing with its burst speed but it is a crop sensor, which is not ideal for landscape photography. Landscapes is something I’d like to focus on more.
How important is Photoshop or other image editing software in your final images?
I find Photoshop critical for adjusting contrast and color. I don’t use it for adding or removing parts of the photo (other than cropping.)
Do you have any projects that make you look back and shake your head? What made the experience so unpleasant?
I can’t say that I have had any incredibly unpleasant experiences. My toes and fingers will go numb when it gets to be freezing, and that can make things challenging. I’ve tried to operate my camera with mittens, and that just doesn’t work. But the cold is part of the experience; Winter brings with it beautiful snowy scenery and Winter birds.
Are there any areas of photography that you have yet to pick up on that you’d like to learn?
I’d love to be better at landscape photography. I’ll see a beautiful scene, take a picture, and the picture isn’t very good. I have a lot to learn on this topic.
What do you think the future holds for you? Where do you see yourself in the next few years?
I’d like to take trips to see animals in different parts of the country and the world. Right now I stay local for a large majority of my photos. Taking trips to Africa and Europe would be amazing! I recently started my photography business late last year, and I’d like to grow that as well.
Do you see yourself as a photographer many years down the road?
Absolutely! It is something that I find greatly rewarding, and I love sharing moments I’ve captured with others.