About Jeff Parker
Wildlife & nature photographer Jeff Parker was captivated by nature’s big screen long before he developed a passion for capturing it with the camera.
He thoroughly enjoys helping other nature-lovers improve their photography techniques and also showing them great places to do so.
Jeff’s photographs have appeared in many publications and websites including: Outdoor Photographer, Audubon Magazine, NANPA’s Expressions, American Profile, American Airlines’ Celebrated Living, Texas Journey Magazine,Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine, Texas Wildlife Magazine, and Wildlife Photographic.
His work is also found in the books Images for Conservation – Book Three: Borderlands of Laredo, Texas Edition (Pro-Tour series), Wildlife in Focus IV & Wildlife in Focus V.
Jeff was an award-winner in the 2010 Images for Conservation Pro-Tour, a prestigious contest that had 20 world-class professional wildlife photographers competing for $180,000 in prizes.
Jeff’s a member of the North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA), the Nature Conservancy, and the Audubon Society. He’s also a Corpus Christi Certified Wildlife Guide and holds a NOLS Wilderness First Aid certificate.
Jeff credits photography with bringing a deeper awareness to issues of conservation. He especially appreciates how the lens highlights nature’s needs throughout the Americas.
Jeff shoots Canon, but thinks Nikon and other fine brands make great equipment, too.
Currently, his favorite camera bodies are his Canon 5D Mark III and his Canon 7D. The 5D allows for amazingly high ISO’s and the 7D is great for wildlife because of its crop-factor and faster frame rate.
Jeff recommends putting your money into your lenses. His wife, Mary O. jokes that his Canon 600mm f/4 was “our new car for a long while.” In spite of the cost, he’s never regretted the purchase as it has allowed him to get some of his best shots.
He also has a Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 Mk.II, which has proven to be his most versatile lens. (This, actually, is his favorite lens.) When working in macro, Jeff uses a Sigma 150mm f/2.8 and for wide-angle shots he gets out his Sigma 24mm f/1.8 Art lens.
Jeff recommends carbon-fiber tripods for two reasons: 1) They are lighter weight for the same strength and; 2) They don’t conduct the cold as much when you’re working in places like Bosque del Apache or Patagonia.
The Induro is great because it goes quite high and Jeff can use it without having to stoop over (Jeff is over 6-feet tall). For those lying-on-the-ground flower shots, the Induro also works well due to no center post. Its large-diameter leg locks are easier on the hands than the Gitzo (and faster to change); however, they can sometimes inadvertently come loose and a leg will start to collapse. The Gitzo, then, isn’t as much of a quick-change artist, but it tends to stay put better.
When photographing birds-in-flight, Jeff mounts his big lenses to his tripod using a gimbal head from Wimberley because it’s the next best thing to hand-held. For flight and other wildlife photography, Jeff prefers a gimbal to a ball head because it does not flop over when he lets go; however, when shooting landscapes he prefers to his Kirk BH-1 Ballhead with quick release.
ABOUT MARY O
Mary O. Parker, who goes by “Mary O,” is Jeff’s wife and the co-owner of Explore in Focus™. She wears many hats for the business such as accountant, marketing director, and—during workshops and some tours—cook.
Mary O is a nature-lover and award-winning writer. Her published work includes non-fiction books, essays, short stories & dozens of articles on a variety of topics. She won the 2019 Mississippi Review Prize in Creative Nonfiction. In 2015, she won the Gabriele Rico Challenge in Creative Nonfiction. Mary O was short-listed for the Barry Lopez Prize in Creative Nonfiction in December 2016. In April 2018, she received a “Scribes’ Scholarship” from the Bess Whitehead Scott Scholarship Fund and used the proceeds to attend the competitive Breadloaf Conference in Environmental Writing.
Look for Jeff’s photographs in her book, “Explore Texas — A Nature Travel Guide” (Texas A&M University Press, 2016). The book won an “Excellence in Craft” award from the Texas Outdoor Writers’ Association (TOWA).
Publishers Weekly included Explore Texas in its roundup of “Best Travel Books of 2016.” Explore Texas was also nominated for a 2016 “Reading the West Award.”