In Focus: Tania Simpson

We’ve leaned on Tania for Focus Fridays enough times to realize that she might be the Okanagan’s resident Bird Whisperer. Not that her other subjects aren’t cool — she’s got great landscapes, macros and lifestyle shots too — but a quick trip through her Flickr pages reveals her main area of interest. This is a passionate birder with strong photographic skills and a love of beauty.

Most of us pay little attention to our feathered friends — we might occasionally enjoy their songs or flashes of colour without having any idea what we’re seeing or hearing. Since I started following Tania’s photos a couple of years ago, I’ve learned a lot about the birds that frequent our valley. I notice them more now, marveling at their infinite variety and amazing ability to survive cold winters or long migrations. Thankfully Tania has not yet migrated away, and she was kind enough to answer a few questions about her pursuit.

What got you started in photography, and how long have you been taking photos in the Okanagan?

Hummingbirds got me started — I became fascinated by them and wanted to capture their beauty.  I started with a point-and-shoot camera and from there my passion for photography bloomed.  I wanted better photos of them, so I made the decision to upgrade to a DSLR about six years ago.

Favourite locations in the valley?

My favourite location in the valley is Hardy Falls Regional Park in Peachland — I never go home disappointed.  The park offers so much beauty year round, from the waterfall and creek to the smallest wildflower; not to mention the abundance of birds and wildlife.  It is one of the best places to visit for autumn foliage and winter landscapes.  Some of my other favourite places include Okanagan Lake Provincial Park in Summerland and No. 22 Road/Black Sage Road in Oliver.

Influences or artists/photographers you admire?

There are so many photographers that I’ve met through Flickr who I admire and am influenced by.  Some of them are brilliant bird photographers, while others have amazing landscapes.  I have a long-time Flickr contact named Mark Baldwin from Illinois who takes the most stunning landscape shots — I have learned so much from his photography.

Another person is a local Okanagan photographer and friend, Ron Racine — his bird photography is amazing.  Just looking at his photographs I know that he has extreme patience when it comes to birds. I can’t forget to mention Doug Brown, a bird photographer from Vancouver whose photographs blow me away.  I always hear myself saying, “wow, how did he do that?”

What kinds of responses do you most commonly get when people see your photos?

I get a lot of  positive responses when people see my photos.  I’m so honoured and amazed by how many of my friends and acquaintances take the time to look at my Flickr photostream.

What do you love about photographing birds and wildlife?

I love the challenge.  It’s easy enough to take landscape or wildflower photographs, but birds and wildlife don’t sit still!  I guess you could say I like the challenge of the hunt.

Any comments on what types of photographic gear you use and appreciate most?

I use a Nikon D7000 camera with a Nikon 80-400mm lens for my bird and wildlife photography. I love the sharpness and colour quality that I get from the D7000 — upgrading to the 80-400mm lens was the best choice I’ve made. I can get close to birds and wildlife without actually getting close, and it’s small enough to carry. When I see a macro or landscape shot I want to take, I will switch lenses, and then switch right back to the 80-400mm; you never know what might cross your path.  For my macro shots, I use a Nikon 200mm fixed macro. For landscapes, I use a 18-55mm or 17-35mm wide angle lens, depending on the scene.

Where do you see yourself going with your photography in the next year or two?

I have been successful in selling some photographs for publication (mainly the tourism industry) and I always donate photographs to non-profit wildlife organizations. In the next year or two, I would like to start selling prints of my photographs or selling to wildlife/nature magazines.

Thanks to Tania for answering our questions and sharing her work. You can find more of her photos on Flickr:

In Focus features interesting Okanagan photographers and their work each month(ish). Individual photos are also featured each week on Focus Friday. The author primarily picks stuff from the I Love the Okanagan group on Flickr — if you have suggestions or ideas for photography features, please pass them along to jhiebert@gmail.com.


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