WTVP Headlines




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.

Bears - Photograph Jim Miller

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 own story.

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 benefit WTVP.

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
Donations requested

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 “click.

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”.)

Eagle’s Nest at Sunset - Photograph Jim Miller

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 furry critters.

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.

Little Green Heron - Photograph Jim Miller

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 stacey.tomczyk@wtvp.org



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