Interview with E.J. Peiker, NatureScapes Editorial Staff, Product Review Board, and Landscapes Forum Moderator

Senior technical editor and forum moderator E.J. Peiker has been with from it’s inception. With more than 63,000 posts in the forums, and as the author of numerous NSN articles and leader of several NatureScapes Certified Workshops, E.J. has helped a countless number of photographers improve their skills. E.J. is a vital part of the NatureScapes community and was an easy choice for our featured photographer this month.

What’s your favorite walk around lens?

I don’t do a lot of “walk around shooting.” Most of my photography is planned but in those rare situations where I do, it is usually the Nikon 24-70 f/2.8 lens mounted on a D700 or D800, or if it’s a nature walk, I might attach the Nikon 70-200 VR lens to a D800 body. I do have a specific camera and lens set-up for various types of shooting. Right now I am making the transition from the 2008 generation of Nikon cameras (D3x, D300, D800) to the 2012 generation with two new D800 bodies that I shoot either in full frame mode or 15 megapixel cropped mode if I need additional reach with frame rate. I’ve also been known on occasion to creatively use my iPhone camera. With some of the new camera apps like 645 Pro that replace the Apple app, there is a lot more creative control possible with that camera and also much higher picture quality.

When did you first become interested in photography?

I first developed a love for photography as a young boy after my grandparents gave me a Kodak 126 format camera. I quickly grew into a Yashica Range Finder 35mm camera and then into my first SLR, a Minolta XD-11 as a teenager. I began photographing birds in 1999, and started shooting digital in 2002. I have a complete biography on my web site.

What is the ONE lasting impression you want to leave in your photos?

I’m not so much about leaving a lasting impression, but more of a legacy of being very versatile and being able to shoot just about anything well. That is what I would like to be noted for. That’s not to say that I don’t want my photos to make an impression, I do, very much but I don’t shoot to leave a lasting impression on the world or society. I do so because I love to do it, I love to explore and record new places, and I love the technology behind photography.

If you could choose anywhere in the world to take pictures, where would it be?

I love the polar regions, be it the Antarctic or Arctic. Those are my favorites because they tend to be so pristine and the wildlife, especially in the Antarctic, has been affected little by man. There is just something exhilarating that stirs the sole in these desolate places. My other favorite is to be at a calm alpine lake well before sunrise so that I can capture the alpenglow reflecting off of the smooth water as the sun first kisses the mountain top. This is my version of heaven.

Can you describe that “moment” when you knew that photography was something you just had to do?

Nope, I really can’t but it was probably sometime in my early teens. I have had a love for it since I was a child but when I got some decent equipment as a teen, I started gaining more of an appreciation for it. As I was building my career in my 20s in the semiconductor industry, I really didn’t develop much in the way of photographic skills. I had a serious injury when I was 29 that for a while looked like I might never walk again so I sold all of my gear. Once I got past that and made a recovery, I got back into it, slowly at first and then more and more feverishly. My passion for photography really took off again in the late 1990s and hasn’t stopped growing since.

Are you a self taught photographer or did you have a mentor that showed you the ropes?

I am mostly self taught through reading many books and trial and error but I have also taken classes at The University of New Mexico, seminars put on by the Rocky Mountain School of Photography, and have participated in a number of workshops over the years. To this day I read about and study photography constantly. There are a number of websites that I visit just about every day to increase my quest for knowledge in the area. Being a moderator in technical areas on NatureScapes forces one to stay abreast of the science and engineering aspects of photography and my quest for better and better pictures forces me to stay up to date on photographic technique as well as photo processing techniques. It very much is a labor of love.

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