Interview with Cindy Marple, a NatureScapes Wildlife Forum Moderator

by Cindy Marple | November 1, 2011

© Cindy Marple1. How did you get started in nature photography?

I’ve been into photography since grade school, when I received a Kodak Instamatic camera for Christmas. My interest in nature subjects grew as I started traveling more and exploring some of the beautiful places this planet has to offer. Landscapes, scenics and flowers were my favorite subjects to start with.

I took local classes and seminars to learn more about photography, and then did my first photo workshop in Glacier National Park. I fell in love with the park for the scenery and the animals, and it remains high on my favorite spots list. A George Lepp workshop in Mono Lake led to a Baja California trip for Whales, where I met Joe and Mary Ann McDonald and was introduced to wildlife and birds in a big way. There’s something about the adrenaline rush of this type of photography that is addicting! Today, my primary focus is on birds and wildlife.

2. Where do you get inspiration for your work?

I’m inspired by looking at the work of other good photographers. Seeing fantastic new images every day on Naturescapes is very motivating. I am also active in a couple of local camera clubs with a high caliber of work. Looking at good imagery and talking with others about it makes me want to keep working to improve my own images.

3. Where is your favorite place to photograph?

I live near the Gilbert Water Ranch, which is a ground water recharge facility for the city of Phoenix that was designed as a multi-use facility. There are seven large settling ponds with extensive trails, and the park has been planted with native species. A veritable oasis in the desert, it attracts large numbers of waterfowl, shorebirds, and other birds, and has recently been named an Important Bird Area. Because it gets a lot of human use, the birds tend to be more habituated than in other locations, and it has become a haven for bird photographers in the Phoenix metro area. It is my extended “backyard,” and aside from the hot summer months I spend some time there on most weekends. Spending a lot of time in one location really helps you to expand your creativity, try new ideas, and improve your skills.

Away from home, my favorite “place” is islands in the far Southern Hemisphere—New Zealand, the Falklands, and South Georgia. Penguins are my absolute favorite subject, and albatrosses are not far behind!

4. What’s your favorite walk around lens?

For birds and wildlife, it is the 500mm f/4. It’s light enough for me to manage it fairly easily and gives the reach needed for these subjects, often in combination with a 1.4x teleconverter.

5. Are there any subjects, other than wildlife, that you like to photograph?

I enjoy all types of nature subjects. I spend more time on birds than other subjects partly because of having a good location close to home that gives me a lot of opportunity to shoot. Birds, wildlife, landscape and flowers are favorite subjects.

6. What is your most memorable photographic experience?

My most memorable experience would have to be the Falklands, South Georgia and Antarctica voyage that I took a few years ago. The whole trip was incredible, with each location having its own highlights. It is exhilarating to be among wildlife and birds that have no fear of people. There’s nothing like having a King Penguin tug at your jacket, or a Gentoo youngster walk right up to see just what you are. The Antarctic Peninsula has a feeling of being another world all together—so imposing, forbidding, and breathtakingly beautiful. It was a trip of a lifetime, but I certainly hope to do it again!

7. You’ve been with NatureScapes since the beginning. What’s your perspective on how NSN has changed through the years?

NSN has grown in terms of what is offered to members. The forums have expanded, adding new categories that make it easier to find information. The store was added, and is a great source for products that you know have been tested by others who have similar needs and expectations. And most recently the workshop offerings have been expanded, offering another path for learning and traveling to exciting locations.

Photo Gallery
Click thumbnails for larger images
Bat-eared fox © Cindy Marple Black-browed albatross © Cindy Marple Black-necked stilt © Cindy Marple Cheetah © Cindy Marple Common zebra © Cindy Marple Elegant tern © Cindy Marple
Gentoo penguin © Cindy Marple King penguin © Cindy Marple Kings South Georgia © Cindy Marple Says Phoebe © Cindy Marple Schwabacher dawn © Cindy Marple Silvery grebe © Cindy Marple
About the Author

Cindy enjoys photographing a variety of nature subjects, but birds are a current favorite. She loves to travel to see and photograph the amazing sights our planet offers. To share her travels with others, she regularly presents programs to local camera clubs and other organizations. Cindy supports the education and outreach programs of her local Audubon chapter with photos for a variety of uses such as a "Bird Bingo" game for children to play on bird walks. She writes a regular column and contributes photo essays for their newsletter. Cindy has been an active member of NatureScapes forums from the start, and has published articles on the site. She is currently serves NatureScapes as a member of the Editorial Team and as a Moderator in the Wildlife Forum.

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