We met Jay Diaz through his generous contributions to our Wildlife Conservation Stamp Flickr group. Retired from a variety of endeavors, including watchmaking and IT tech support, Jay now devotes most of his time to studying and photographing nature. Jay describes himself as a self-taught amateur, learning from the works and techniques of others. “I feel that when people see beautiful nature photographs, they get some inspiration to help protect our wildlife.”
You can see more of Jay’s wildlife images here, in his Flickr photostream: KoolPix.
What are the most important things you’ve learned through photographing birds and other wild animals?
The variety and complexity of nature is absolutely fantastic. Fascinating colors, unique features and amazing action all contribute to making wildlife so alluring and impressive.
Tell us about your most memorable photograph or field experience.
Not long ago I spotted a Bald Eagle flying over a lake. The eagle was far away and I had my inexpensive camera. I took a few shots but they were not very sharp. The eagle started flying closer. Then I was surprised to see it grab a fish in its talons and fly off with it. Gulls were chasing after the eagle. This was one of my most exciting days of bird watching. It was difficult to get good photos that day but the experience was unbelievable.
I have always dreamed of capturing great nature moments but never thought that I would have the time or skill. The last few years I have devoted time into making my dreams come true. Two of my photos were chosen as semi-finalists in Nature’s Best Photography Magazine’s photo contest. Each year Nature’s Best Photography finalists have the privilege of their photos being shown at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC.
What experiences fueled your interest in wildlife conservation and photography?
I love being in a natural setting just watching plants and animals, then figuring how to capture the best of what I see in a photograph. I watch nature programs on television where they speak of species of animals that became extinct. To me this is so sad. I feel it is a real shame to lose a species that may have taken thousands of years of evolution to create.
What gear/items are in your pack when you go out on a shoot?
The basic things I usually pack are a tripod, lens tissue and cleaner, a few cameras with extra batteries and memory cards. I do not want to miss that magical moment of a lifetime because I ran out of “film” or batteries. Oh, and don’t forget to pack lots of patience. Also, I sometimes bring a camo cover to hide myself and the camera. I use a Nikon D3200 with a Sigma 50-500mm lens and a Canon Powershot SX50HS for most of my shots.
What is your favorite photography location?
My favorite photography locations are Jones Beach State Park, the Marine Nature Study Area in Oceanside, New York, Hempstead Lake in New York, and my own backyard. These areas provide a great variety of wildlife and are very peaceful places to commune with nature. Besides, they are so close to my home.
What is your dream photography experience or species?
I hope to capture sharp photos of the Bald Eagle in the wild, preferably spreading its wings, catching a fish or other unusual actions.
What advice would you offer the novice wildlife photographer?
Have lots of patience and study your subject carefully hour after hour … day after day. You can learn a lot about the subject and possibly capture a great moment.
What contributions to wildlife or conservation are you most proud of in your own life?
I have donated many of my photos to many non-profit organizations, such as The Nature Conservancy, so that people can see the beauty in nature. My photos are also in school books in Japan where children learn English through nature pictures.
What are your favorite words to live by — in the field or about life in general?
“Treat others as you want to be treated.” By “others” we should also include wildlife.