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Thread: Interview with ETL Moderator Kerry Perkins

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    Moderator Julie Kenward's Avatar
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    Default Interview with ETL Moderator Kerry Perkins

    Today, we’re going to take a peek into the life of one of our Eager-to-Learn moderators, Mr. Kerry Perkins where he currently lives in Simi Valley, California with his wife, Carol. He was originally born and raised in Indiana but he flew the coop in 1971 and has been living in California ever since.
    You can find much more of Kerry’s photography at his web site, “Light Saver Images” of by visiting his albums page here at BPN.

    Okay, let's get to know more about Kerry!


    How long have you been a photographer?
    I was one of those lucky kids who got a Brownie Hawkeye camera when I was about 10 years old. I remember it well because who can forget the excitement of getting those pictures back from the developer? The camera had a fixed lens, I think somewhere around f/11, and a fixed shutter speed of around 1/50sec. No focus was necessary, as everything from 5ft to infinity would be in focus! (I guess that would mean that I have been a photographer for 54 years!

    When I was in the U.S. Army, in 1965, I went to the base darkroom to learn how to develop film. I was in that darkroom almost all of my free time and, eventually, took over the position of instructor for other soldiers who wanted to learn. Word got around that I was interested in photography and I started to collect cameras that were being sold by GIs who were returning from Germany and Japan. They would buy camera gear overseas (because of the low prices) then bring them back and sell them, making a little money in the process and adding to my collection. I ended up with a Rolleiflex, a Speed Graphic, a Topcon Super D (first camera with full-aperture TTL metering), Pentax Spotmatic, a Leicaflex, and some exotic (at the time) gear like a Honeywell Strobonar and Pentax Spot Meter.

    Over the years I have owned many cameras, the most recent jump in technology took me from my Canon AE-1 Program to the Digital Rebel XTi, my first digital SLR and then on to the 7D and someday the 1D MK whatever.

    Do you consider yourself to be a professional, semi-pro, or student?

    I would have say semi-pro, as I have been staff photographer at several of my past jobs but this was in addition to my primary duties.

    If you’re not a pro, what’s your day job?

    I manage the Quality Assurance Group for Doremi Cinema, the world’s largest supplier of Digital Cinema playback equipment. I am an active member of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers and the Inter-Society Digital Cinema Forum. Previous to this “desk job”, I was a broadcast video projectionist for 20 years and have worked on large television shows like the Academy Awards as well as feature films.

    What do you do when you’re not out with a camera in hand?

    My other passions are sport kiting (I fly dual-line stunt kites) and music. I have a small music production studio in my house. My wife and I are also avid campers and hikers and I always have a camera in those situations!

    What make/model of equipment do you use on a regular basis?
    My main camera body is a Canon 7D and my backup is a 50D. My favorite lens for birds and wildlife is my EF 400mm f/5.6L. I also use the EF 70-200mm f/2.8, the EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6, and EF 50mm f/1.8.

    What editing software do you use?

    My workflow starts with Lightroom 3 and then flows into Photoshop CS5. I have many third-party plug-ins and filters as well.

    Do you only shoot digital or do you also shoot film/slides?
    This is a good question, as I have been toying with the idea of getting out one of my old film cameras and having some fun with it, but the extinction of Kodachrome put a dent in that plan as that was my favorite medium. For now, I would have to say only digital.

    What classifications (or genres) of photography are you primarily known for or interested in?
    Avian and wildlife are my primary passions these days but I have also done a lot of non-nature shooting including event and architectural photography.

    When you’re not out photographing one of your primary interests, what else do you enjoy photographing?
    I love photographing children and pets as well as cityscapes and landscapes.

    Would you say your biggest strength lies in your technical skills with the camera, your artistic expression/interpretation, or your post-processing skills?
    If we are speaking only of bird and wildlife photography, I would have to say that my post-processing skills take first place. I have been using Photoshop since version 1.0 and, even before that, when it was called “ImagePro”. In those days, it was a matter of scanning in prints or slides, editing the image, then printing it out. Photoshop has evolved so much over the years that it is hard to keep up with all the capabilities but I feel that I have a pretty good grasp of the program and can usually get the results I am looking for. Since I do not have the luxury of owning professional camera gear I have learned to maximize the quality of my images with post-processing.

    Do you conduct any classes, seminars, or workshops?
    Not yet, but I am in the process of putting together some workshops and classes and hope to retire from my day job in a couple of years and devote all of my energy to sharing what I know with others.

    Have you ever been published? Won any awards?

    I have been published in some technical magazines like Video Systems (even had a cover shot featuring one of my images from the Oscars) and others. The National Park Service has published some of my images in their magazines and brochures and I have had some images published in newspapers. Several staging companies and projector manufacturers have featured my images on their web sites and in their brochures.

    Last year I had two first place awards from the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area photo contest called “Spirit of the Mountains”. I won in the “Animals” and “A Moment in Time” categories. I have had a couple of runner-up and honorable mention awards in the “Chasing The Light” juried photo competitions.

    What was it about photography that first drew you in?
    The magic! From the beginning I was drawn to the magic of capturing moments in time and sharing them with others. Later, when I learned darkroom techniques, I was captivated by the craft of retouching and altering the image after the capture.

    What keeps you coming back for more?
    I am constantly working to improve my technical and artistic skills. This alone would be enough to keep me busy, but I am also always searching for interesting images to capture because I know they are out there.

    Whose work do you most admire and why?

    Well, if we are talking about today and my passion for bird photography I would have to say Arthur Morris. His work is technically excellent and artistically irresistible. His concept of “birds as art” struck a deep resonance with me and he continues to inspire me to be a better photographer.

    If we consider my formative years, the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson stands out as leading to my first understanding of the concept of “decisive moment” in photography. As a child I studied the work of the pioneers of photography, and his images have a certain quality that has always captivated me. In his work you will find amazing composition, detail, and a sense of suspended time.

    Do you have any current mentors or muses? Anyone who’s rocked your world with their knowledge of photography?

    None other than Arthur Morris. When I first saw his work I knew that I would be hopelessly hooked on bird photography. What makes this remarkable is the fact that I had not really considered it before I was introduced to his photography.

    How have you personally grown and/or changed because of your love of photography?
    Well, that’s a big question! Growing up, I was fascinated by the early masters of photojournalism and how this “new” technology was used by them to bring difficult issues to the masses, through conduits like “Life” magazine and “National Geographic” magazine.

    The fact that photography was used to bring about social change through art has always been important to me and I believe that this element is a key concept even in wildlife photography today. The idea changed my life by instilling in me a sense of longing to communicate through my images, whether it is purely an esthetic appreciation or recognition of something deeper on the part of the viewer. I am always elated when I hear or read comments from people who see beyond the image and understand the deeper meaning.

    Today, photography has opened up new avenues of expression and fellowship, as I share my images and view those of others with similar interests. Bird photography, in particular, challenges me technically, artistically, and emotionally. It makes me think, feel, and act in ways that I have not in the past. This keeps me on my toes intellectually and teaches me patience, one of my most difficult personal issues. I find a very “zen” quality to wildlife photography that is difficult to describe but I think other photographers also understand. Getting close to animals and having them accept your presence requires more than just being quiet in the literal sense, it also requires a mental quietude that is sensed by them. Some may think this is a bit esoteric, but I firmly believe it and my adult daughter is sure that I can talk to animals; so much so that she calls me Doctor Dolittle. (Actually, she knows that I talk to them but she believes that they listen.)

    Photography has taught me to fine-tune my senses and use them in the field. It has introduced me to fascinating people and distant places. It gets me out of the house and prevents me from being a couch potato, although I do spend a lot of time at the computer these days! I would say that all in all, it has made me a better person.

    Has your photographic style changed over time?

    I used to just think about capturing a scene that was interesting to me without considering the technical aspects of composition and style enough. People have always said “great shot” but, looking back at images I made many years ago, I can see that they were not that great in comparison to what they could have been. I like to think that my images go far beyond that today, thanks to the help I have found at BPN and other online sources.

    How has holding a camera to your eye changed the way you interact with the world around you?

    It has shown me how to look at the world in different ways with an eye toward nuance and shade, light and color, form and substance - to name a few. It has also allowed me to open up to strangers in many instances. For example, a long lens on a camera often attracts attention as people are curious about the equipment and what you are doing with it. I often have people come up to me and ask “What are you photographing?” When I explain that there is a hawk’s nest in the tree right over there, they look and say “I would never have seen that!” I’ve shown people trees full of snowy egrets that they had no idea was there, even though the birds are in plain view. I had one person tell me that he had lived in this town for 20 years and never knew that there was an egret rookery right in the middle of the biggest park in town.

    Once, when I was hiking on a trail that is known for lots of birds, a man stopped me and asked if I was photographing birds. When I said yes, he got a huge smile on his face and said “Thank goodness, I thought I was the only one who even noticed they were there!” Sadly, there was a lot of truth in what he said. I have schooled many adults and children on the fact that there is wildlife all around them and birds that they never knew were there only because they had not looked. I am constantly amazed at how little most people perceive of the natural world around them. I think this has been the biggest change in how I interact with life and people.

    How long have you been involved with BPN?

    I joined BPN in November, 2008, so it’s been a little over three years.

    How has being involved in our forums changed your photography?
    It’s changed my photography in a huge way! I have learned so much from the publishers, moderators, and contributors to BPN. Not only has my photography improved vastly, but I have also learned that my previous experience could be put to good use and shared with others on the forums. I would never have thought that I could achieve the level of quality that is displayed on BPN with a digital camera but I have learned that much is possible with the help and sharing of others with similar interests.

    What’s been the best piece of advice you’ve gotten here at BPN?

    Learn your gear and how to get the best from it – it’s not the camera!

    What forum do you spend most of your time in? Why?
    Up until a few months ago that would be an easy answer – Out Of the Box! However, I am now moderating in Eager to Learn forum, as well as OOTB, so I spend a good amount of time there, also.

    OOTB was where I spent most of my time for quite a while. Why? Because I have been manipulating digital images for twenty years and when I finally ventured over there and saw what was going on it was like I had found an old lost friend. I have posted hundreds of images there and will probably post hundreds more. I just love the fusion of photographic capture and artistic treatment. It gives me the ability to go beyond the artistic elements of a capture and add my own unique flavor to it.

    Got any advice for future photographers?

    Read the manual for your camera, then go out and experiment! Don’t listen to negativity about your gear and don’t use any of that as an excuse for bad photography. A good photographer can make a great image with a cell phone.
    Become a member of BPN and learn everything you can from some of the best photographers in the world; it’s all right there for the taking.

    Follow your heart with your photography and don’t let the technical aspects be a hindrance to you. Learn it, use it, and it will become automatic. It is easy to get frustrated with this learning curve, but once you learn the craft the art will follow very quickly. Take the time to understand what the camera is doing and why, then apply that knowledge to your advantage. Put your heart and soul into your work and you will be rewarded.

    What’s currently at the top of your photography dream list?

    Africa. I think that sums it up!

    We’ve all heard the phrase, “You can’t take it with you” but if you COULD take it with you, what one camera body and lens would you strap around your neck for all of eternity and why?

    Well, eternity is a long time, but if we assume that you won’t be getting the newest gear every year – I would be in heaven with the Canon 1D MK IV and the EF 500mm f/4 lens. That’s assuming that there will be birds there! (I’ve used Canon gear for many years, the MK IV is the current top-of-the-line APS-H model, and the 500mm is just a great lens that I can hand hold.)

    Anything else you want to add?

    I would like to thank Arthur Morris, James Shadle, Denise Ippolito, and the entire BPN staff and membership for all they have taught me in the last few years. I have gained knowledge, understanding, and confidence that I never thought possible in such a short period of time. I can’t think of a better learning center anywhere on the Internet. The key is the people, and the staff of BPN is a wonderful collection of photographers who are ready, willing, and able to help you become a better nature photographer.

    I would like to add that, as nature photographers, we have the ability to show people things that they would not see otherwise. I believe that an important aspect of that fact is showing people that there is real value to nature and wildlife and that it is not there simply for our amusement or to be conquered in the name of progress. This is more important now than at any other time in history as nature is under tremendous pressure from factions who feel that wilderness and wildlife are not important to humans. Our photography can help people to understand the value of all things natural and wild.

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    Jules


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    I'm a girl with a camera fetish. The only designer label you'll ever see me wearing is Canon. :)

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    Lifetime Member denise ippolito's Avatar
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    Jules,
    Kerry is a wonderful photographer and friend. His knowledge and willingness to share his photography skills always amaze me.
    A Creative Adventure
    PHOTOGRAPHY by denise ippolito


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    Moderator Julie Kenward's Avatar
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    Denise, I wholeheartedly agree. Getting to know Kerry here through BPN has been one of the best experiences I have had here. He's a dear, sweet man.
    Jules


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    I'm a girl with a camera fetish. The only designer label you'll ever see me wearing is Canon. :)

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    BPN Member Brendan Dozier's Avatar
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    Great interview! Kerry is always very helpful as a moderator, and he is able to communicate ideas and concepts in a way that is clear, and easy to understand.
    His creative, artistic compositions over at OOTB are very inspirational, and I always look forward to see what he will post next.

    Quote Originally Posted by Julie Kenward View Post
    Got any advice for future photographers?
    Read the manual for your camera, then go out and experiment! Don’t listen to negativity about your gear and don’t use any of that as an excuse for bad photography. A good photographer can make a great image with a cell phone.
    Become a member of BPN and learn everything you can from some of the best photographers in the world; it’s all right there for the taking.
    Great advice, Kerry
    © Brendan Dozier 2012

    www.brendandozier.smugmug.com

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    Avian Moderator Doug Brown's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brendan Dozier View Post
    Great interview! Kerry is always very helpful as a moderator, and he is able to communicate ideas and concepts in a way that is clear, and easy to understand.
    His creative, artistic compositions over at OOTB are very inspirational, and I always look forward to see what he will post next.


    I met Kerry a few years ago and have photographed with him a number of times in California and New Mexico. But we really got to know each other a little better at the Bosque this year, when we spent the better part of a week photographing together. He's a talented photographer and he's dedicated to making BPN a great site to improve your photographic skills. Plus he's a former hippie who likes to listen to Frank Zappa!!!
    Upcoming workshops: Costa Rica 2015 (1 spot left)
    West Coast Flight (July 2014- Details soon)
    www.DougBrownPhotography.com

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    Avian Moderator Stuart Bowie's Avatar
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    Great Interview Julie. I now know you a little better Kerry.

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    Out Of The Box Moderator Kerry Perkins's Avatar
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    Thanks so much everyone! I so appreciate your comments and friendship.

    Doug, that was a great week and I hope we have another one next year!
    "It's not what you look at that matters. It's what you see." -Henry David Thoreau

    Please visit me on the web at
    Kerry Perkins Photography


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    BPN Member Kaustubh Deshpande's Avatar
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    Kerry, nice to know more about you. Merry Christmas.

    Julie, another good one. Keep 'em coming.

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    Great to meet you Kerry and another excellent interview Jules! Very nice images to go along with the interview.

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    BPN Member Ian Cassell's Avatar
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    This was a wonderful interview. I've always appreciated Kerry's insightful comments as the ETL moderator and it was great meeting him and shooting with him at Bosque this year.

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    Super Moderator Daniel Cadieux's Avatar
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    An excellent interview. Kerry, it was nice reading your thoughts, and your advice is very sound. Your work on BPN is appreciated by many...keep it up!!

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    OOTB Moderator Indranil Sircar's Avatar
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    Excellent interview, Kerry. Great to know you and thanks for all the help and support on the forum.

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    BPN Member Dan Brown's Avatar
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    A fine interview, Julie! Kerry, it's really nice to know more about the person!

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    This is a great interview! I have always admired your work, Kerry. It is nice to hear more about you.

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    BPN Member Juan Carlos Vindas's Avatar
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    Very nice to know more about you Kerry. Thanks Julie for another great interview.

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