FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, October 3rd, 2013
“Moments in the Wild”
The Photography of Jim Miller
WTVP-Public Media for Central Illinois to host exhibit and gallery talk by
local wildlife photographer on October 17th at 6:30pm.
Nesting eagles, charging cougars, shy birds, mighty bears—each of wildlife
photographer Jim Miller’s images tells a unique story. He specializes in capturing unusual
moments in the so-called everyday lives of animals, big and small, and each image has its
Hear the stories behind the images from the photographer himself and browse an
extended collection during a special exhibit to benefit WTVP, your public television station,
Thursday, October 17 at 6:30 p.m. in the WTVP Studio. Open to the public.
Donations requested at the door. Photographs will be available for purchase. All proceeds
What: "Moments in the Wild" – The Photography of Jim Miller
When: Thursday, Oct. 17, 6:30 p.m.
Where: WTVP Studio, 101 State Street, Peoria
Jim Miller is not a naturalist. He is not a biologist. He even shies away from
being called an artist. He calls himself an amateur photographer, a fellow nature lover with
his wife Jayne, and a person with an active interest in the world around him—what public
television calls a life-long learner. Through his photography, Jim communicates his passion
for wildlife and the knowledge he has gained from years of following and tracking his subjects
and their habitats.
WTVP sat down with Jim to find out more about what makes him
Q: Jim, your photo collection is vast and varied --
everything from dangerous animals like cougars and bears to simple backyard squirrels. How
did you first come to be interested in wildlife photography?
A: Completely by accident. Our old Instamatic 110 camera broke
right when all four kids were coming home to visit. I needed something to get photos of the
family while we were all together, so I went to Peoria Camera and picked up a 35mm Nikon with
a detachable lens. After the kids left, Jayne and I took it along with us on birding walks to
help us identify species we didn’t recognize. Things just took off from there. I realized
pretty quickly that the 50mm lens that came with the camera wasn’t sufficient for that! I’ve
noticed, over the years, that my lenses have grown exponentially with my interest in wildlife
photography. (I now use an 80-400mm VR most commonly, and a 500f/4 as my “big gun”.)
Q: Every photo has a story. Unfortunately, you cannot tell
every story at this event. Give us a teaser about one story you will tell…
A: I’m always amazed at what animals seem to know that humans
don’t…what they can sense long before we can. Take a look at the photo I call “Eagle’s Nest at
Sunset.” What wrong with the nest?
Q: What is the most surprising thing you've learned about
the animal kingdom?
A: “Free as a bird” they say—ha! I’m continually surprised at
how hard life is in the wild. From a 40-50% infant mortality rate to the dangers of migration
to the daily fight to find food and avoid predators, I am just amazed by how strong willed,
resilient and adaptable animals are.
Q: Where are some of your favorite places to shoot?
A: Oh, The Nature Conservancy Emiquon Restoration is a favorite
place for migrating birds. Chautauqua National Wildlife Refuge is very good for geese, ducks
and shore birds. Banner Marsh is great for mute swans and geese. River Beach Road in Chillicothe
is a good place to look for wintering eagles. Forest Park Nature Center in Peoria is a great
place, especially for wild turkeys. And our/your backyard is good for a variety of birds and
Q: Give us a tip or two to help members who might want to
improve their photography skills.
A: My #1 tip is: Don’t ask Jayne! My wife is as interested in
my subject matter as I am, but doesn’t know—or want to know—about the technical photography
part. Seriously, though, if your local camera shop offers classes, take advantage of them and
look into any local camera clubs. I’ve gotten to hear and meet several big name professional
photographers brought in by the Peoria Camera Club each spring. You should definitely experiment
with lighting. Side lighting, for example, can provide depth to your image. And back lighting
can be interesting and dramatic. Also, make sure that your subject’s eyes are open, in sharp
focus and have a catch light if possible. This will make your subject look alive. And my most
important tip to aspiring nature photographers? Don’t skimp on your tripod and head. Always use
the heaviest that your spouse can carry. (A little tip I picked up from Rod Planck, a
professional nature photographer from Michigan.)
Q: We know it's like choosing a favorite child, but tell
us your current favorite photograph.
A: That’s easy—our wedding photo! Of my own work, there are
dozens I truly care for. The non-typical ones stay with me. Like the one of the brown bear taking
a nap in the middle of a stream using a hummock as a pillow. How often do you see that? And
there’s one of a Little Green Heron with a fish in its beak. It’s special, not because Little
Green Herons are uncommon, but because they are so shy that managing to capture a close up image
of them is so unusual.
About Jim Miller
Jim Miller was born and raised in Rockford, Illinois. After earning a Bachelor’s
Degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin, he joined the Navy in the
Aviation Officer Candidate Program. He served nine years on active duty as a Naval Flight
Officer, flying as a bombardier and reconnaissance navigator in carrier-based jets.
While still in the Navy, he earned a Masters of Business Administration with a
major of Quantitative Analysis from Ohio State University. After the Navy, Jim joined Caterpillar
Inc. in 1969 as a Data Processing Programmer. He moved through the company and the technology
for 32 years, retiring in 2002 when he was in Middle Management in Information Technology. During
this time, Jim was also a part-time instructor teaching computer programming and related courses
at ICC in East Peoria, and John Carroll College and Cleveland State University when he was Data
Processing Manager for Caterpillar’s Lift Truck Facility in Mentor, Ohio. Jim also served in
the Naval Reserves until 1997.
Jim and his wife Jayne have been married since 1979. They have 4 children and 8
grandchildren. They are both nature lovers and are active in several conservation organizations.
They enjoy fishing, biking, vacations and cruises—always with a camera.
Jim currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Peoria, Emiquon, and
Illinois Audubon Societies. He is also on the Board of the Illinois River Road National Scenic
Byway. They are both charter members of The Nature Conservancy’s Emiquon Corps of Discovery.
Jim’s wildlife photography has been published in a variety of publications.
Although he considers himself retired and says he hasn’t done much work for a few years now,
he can still be enticed to give wildlife presentations to schools and organizations.
For further information contact Stacey Tomczyk, WTVP Promotion Director, (309) 495-0594 or
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