Sunday, August 26, 2012

What Is NikonSniper All About?

Written 1/1/10. Updated 06/08/2011, 11/17/2011 and 08/25/12.

Welcome to you old-timer NikonSniper bloggies. I also want to welcome the many new people that have fallen off a log into the NikonSniper blog over the last several months. Thank you for coming. I thought I would tell you a little bit of what NikonSniper is all about.

First, ... my name is Stephen Baird and I am from Woodstock, Illinois for the last 24 years but my life has also had long stints in the Dallas area as well as the Toronto area. I am no spring chicken any more. I was born on the day that President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act (NASA) so I am truly "space age". I have actually outlived the space age as of this writing.

I have been taking pictures for more than 33 years and many of them are still completely horrible. For many of those years, I majored in family video rather than still photography as our 5 children were growing up, playing sports, and getting into trouble. I have literally thousands of photo prints from the film days ... so I paid my financial dues so to speak. Now I am grandpa to 6 darling girls and our first grandson is due to arrive any day now. About 11 years ago I began taking digital photos and have collected hundreds of thousands of them since. My wife and I were the only ones to ever look at them because I kept them in digital form only and they just kept filling up hard drives.

Less than 4 years ago, I began to post some of the photos on NikonSniper for extended family to see. I knew nothing of blogging. I still don't write that much on the blog because I really don't want to tell you too much about the photos before you decide what a photo means to you. I don't want to crowd your thoughts with mine. I am always fascinated by which photos people respond to favorably.

Why the name NikonSniper? Well, I have had a few friends that are hunting and fishing types over the years and I was never that much on hunting animals for food. But, I have hunted the same animals with many cameras and I believe I did it with the same excitement. I guess I have always felt like a bit of a sissy with the hunting to kill side of that equation.

It was ironic how similar the hunt would be with a camera. I spent hours and hours of my weeks aiming a zoom lens at turtles or red-winged black birds to get that perfect shot. I practiced doing what many hunters did even to approach an animal and yet I just carried my Nikon. No fellas, ... I wasn't a complete sissy. I had a Federal Firearms License for many years and still own handguns but I was more of a target shooter than a hunter. So, if you can, think of NikonSniper as a name for a guy that would rather shoot moose with a Nikon than a rifle (unless that moose was trying to stomp me into the ground).

As I mentioned, I live in Illinois. For nearly 25 years, I worked in the printing industry and traveled to visit customers around the world. I have spent a great deal of time more recently in Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Colorado and Arizona. And, yes, ... I DO haul my camera everywhere I travel and I photograph between 10-15 thousand photos per month. NikonSniper has become a mix of work travel photo opportunities and personal trips to many other places. I have a huge backlog of files in order to keep things mixed up so that you never know what you will see next as you scroll through the files.

My favorite place on this planet is Australia. Australia is very special to me because I had a photographic awakening there in 2005 while on our 25th Wedding Anniversary. I began to see the incredible beauty of creation on that trip. In a very new way, I came home with opened eyes to the many very simple and beautiful things that God has placed all around us every day of our lives. I have continued to record them to show others near and far from the flatlands of Illinois.

I want NikonSniper to be an encouragement to you. Only you can see and photograph the world that is close to you. Only you can report on that beauty that is uniquely yours. I learn from everyone I see post photos. Many of you may wonder how on earth I found your blogs. I find them many many ways but the way I prefer to find them is to find others that list photography as an interest. You all teach me new ways and some very cool ideas to bring to photography.

I hope you enjoy yourselves while stopping here. I love to hear your comments. And Yes, you can call me a sissy if you are a real hunter. Welcome aboard.

All the best to you in 2012 and beyond!
NikonSniper Steve


Ella said...

NikonSniper Steve ,
I am a new follower and its nice to know a little of the man behind the images. Great Blog!
Blessings, GG

Eclectic Chic Style said...

Like I said, glad you're back and rested because I love viewing the world through your lens. Your photos are breathtaking.
Happy New Year.

Deborah said...

That was nice! I never gave your name any thought until now! LOL
Your pictures are all beautiful. Your very lucky to have such a nice family and now five grandchildren! That is awesome!
Happy New Year to you and your family!
Have fun taking all your picturs because we love to look at them!

Davine said...

I am so glad and proud that my home (Australia) has been so inspiational to you. As I have mentioned in comments previously - I really enjoy your photos, as a wanna be photographer they inspire me.

Mike Simmons said...

Steve - I'm new to visiting your blog and like the way you see things. Keep up the good work. Safe travels to you this year.

Four Seasons in a Life said...

Hi Steve,

Thank you for sharing a little more about yourself. It is always nice to know a little more about the person behind the art.

Best wishes for 2010

Tami said...


What a wonderful gift you have!! Love all your photos!! Have a very Blessed New Year!


Michaela said...

Thank you for this nice introduction!
I'll be sticking around!

ooglebloops said...

Love your banner description - I feel the same way - point and click and eventually a good shot will come of it!!! Love your pix, you have a great eye -I look all the time, altho don't always comment. I can relate - I have about 6,479 photos(at last count) stored on the computer-and hope for a better camera one day soon!! Keep up the good work - we all enjoy it!! Happy New Year!!

Rose said...

Steve, how nice to know more about the man behind the lens. You are a gifted writer as well. Thank you for sharing a bit about yourself. Looking forward to seeing more photos. Have a blessed day.

Thistlebrooms said...

It's wonderful to have a job that lets you travel to Beautiful places in the States AND bring your Nikon along to do what you Love...Very rare to have both in life...

Both my daughters are in a field where they get to travel & see the World through young eyes...When they were young I would tell them you can BE & DO anything you want AND Travel anywhere you choose, just choose a profession you Love that makes a difference...

Their Happy with their choices as you are with yours. My hat off to you by Bringing Beauty to OUR eyes through yours...

My Best~Marilyn

BB said...

You know what I love about you Steven? I love that you are not a photo snob.

You are clearly talented and knowledgable and yet you encourage without criticism (at least not that I have seen). It's the one thing that often bugs me about 'real' photographers... that elitism that can creep into their manner.

I take a lot of photos, have been paid to take photos, and yet do not consider myself a 'real photographer'. It's one of those disciplines/callings/pastimes that you NEVER stop learning about - the enormity of what I do not yet know often intimidates the hell out of me. But I love it so...

I love the little peeks into your hard drive. And I love the snappy titles too. Keep up the great work.

Unknown said...

Can't wait to see more!

Brenda's Arizona said...

Glad to see you back from your time off! Looking forward to 2010 and all the sites you introduce us to. Happy New Year, Steve!

NikonSniper said...

bush babe,
that's funny! about the camera snob thing. i could talk all day about that. it drives me crazy because i know people who are incredible snobs with their cameras.
sometimes it's hilarious because they clearly have way better equipment than me but don't know what they are doing but like to put you down for your cameras. it's funny to me because i do have decent cameras now but i don't have professional class cameras because i can't afford them. i do hope to one day but it won't turn me into a snob. i am treated like a photographic nobody by some guys who work at a major chain photo store. some of their photos are very good. some of them are crazy good. but i can't figure out why they feel like they need to tell people they are great by putting others down.
i am telling you the truth when i say, i have taken thousands and thousands and thousands of really bad photos that were a mess. it means all the world to me to tell people this because it wasn't easy or cheap to get where i am today ... which is still, as my son son says, a slightly better than average photographer. i get so excited for young people buying cameras knowing that they have bought something to help record their lives for those in the future to feel moments with them. what a blast it is for me to see this with anyone who enters the photographic realm with any kind of camera.
one of the coolest things i was able to do for christmas is sell (very cheap) a former camera i used to a husband of a young expectant wife who has been trying to get established doing some small photography events. the best part is that i know i have placed in their hands something that will photograph their baby in a few more months. what a thrill.
you obviously know what it is like to be around a few snobs ... and they drive me nuts. i rarely ever talk about photography with them because i guess i consider them a bit handicapped in speaking objectively about what they do. i can tell you that i rarely hit photographic homeruns. i often am driving away from a shoot when i feel i left a better shot out there that my eye only caught a glimpse of and it was quickly gone. that's cool to me. it's like God lets me see a bit more to chase with my future tank of gas.
keep shooting no matter what the snobs say. sometimes it's because they are starved for attention. if i can, i try to talk to them about anything but cameras to establish a relationship. sometimes this helps them turn off the retoric and see that i am not in competition. i can only really try to improve myself ... and encourage others to keep shooting. i know you / they can all be great!
nikonsniper steve

Angela said...

I bought my kids or should I say Santa bought my kids their first digital cameras this year. Nothing fancy but I can't wait to see the world through their eyes! My son is 5 and I've seen him take pictures of the ceiling light fixtures! lol He is taking pictures of his toys too! My daughter is 12. She has taken a lot of pictures but I haven't seen them yet. I think it is a good learning experience for them. I started taking pictures when I was 10. Most if not all of the pictures that are in our family album were taken by me. It's funny because I can remember taking those pictures!

Have you ever travelled to West Virginia? There are so many wonderful things to photograph here. I keep my camera with me everywhere I go. I'm sure you do too! I can't wait to see more of your pictures!

Happy New Year!

Lucy said...

A friend of mine who happens to get thousands of dollars for each of his non traditional art pieces, told me once that if someone conceives of an idea in their head and has the ability to transfer it to a physical object that you can call it art. I agree! To heck with the Camera snobs!

BaysideLife said...

Looking forward to another year of your wonderful pictures. I came late to photography, but now that I have the time (retired)I am enjoying seeing the world through the lens of my Nikon. You've taught me a lot this past year and it warms my heart to know that someone of your talent has taken thousands of bad pictures. If I get one good one a month, I'm estatic. Happy 2010.

Cheryl said...

All I can say is how much your blog has inspired me with my photo-taking. I just fell into digital photography not having "a clue" but have just let my eyes do the job. And I do love the fact that you hunt with a camera!

Elle's Impressions said...

Thanks for your inspiration. It's winter in the Pacific Northwest, most everything is dead, and the skies are gray. When I look back at pictures taken in the summer that are full of color and life, I look out the window and see no inspiration. You've reminded me I have to look harder.

Julie Tucker-Wolek said...

absolutely love this post! so nice to hear the story behind your passion! and i agree with bush babe and your response....i love that u are not a photo snob.....coming from some of the original kodak founders (my grandpa was one of the original vp's there...) i have seen my share within that company...but proud to say that my family that worked for kodak worked there for the passion of photos...not the recognition of what they photographed... and i'm glad they passed that passion on to me.... again....great post..and i am glad that i have "met" u through this world of blogging! :):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):)

nanny said...

New follower here and I couldn't be happier to have found your wonderful blog...I loved reading all about your journey of photography and know I will learn alot from watching you!
Happy New Year...

Shanti Perez said...

Your blog is an inspiration to me. I am going to start posting some of my favorite photos just as you are doing. Thank you for subscribing to my blog Augie March -- King of Doodles. That is how I found you. :)

Braff Zackton said...

First: I've sat at your table and showed you my 150 photos and your comment was, "You have two or three decent ones."

Queue my tears.

Second: You couldn't hit a moose with a gun if you were trapped in a phonebooth with one.


NikonSniper said...

Ah, Zack Braffton is back in the blog. Such a treasure to have your presence. And I guarantee you I could hit a moose in a phone booth. I am just not sure if the bullet would pass through my thigh first. Either way I know I could at least make the moose angry and I could hobble away from that phone booth, camera unscratched, having a pack of wolves track me by my blood in the snow.

NikonSniper said...

The real question is would I leave my kids in the car surrounded by wolves to go back to the phone booth to get my lens cap.

Braff Zackton said...

Leaving your kids in a car surrounded by wolves could be called abuse, and you'd never do it. Leaving your five kids in a car for 150 minutes in Rockford while you buy furniture is another story.

Also Slick you tore your hamstring in the first 5 yards of a race with your wife, and then whined like a girl while The Sweed and I took you to the hospital. So... your being tracked by a pack of wolves would end in some fat wolves.

NikonSniper said...

ok, braff, you gotta point there but she is fast and i gave her a head start and promised her if she beat me i would take her shopping and you know that was never gonna happen. so as i was making a push to pass i blew out my hamstring and yes i did cry like a girl. ok it's out there now for the public to see. but at least i learned a lesson to never exercise again.

NikonSniper said...

fellow bloggies,
please disregard the comments made by braff zackton. he is still mad that i pushed his face into his mashed potatoes when he was 3 because he told his mother his dinner tasted like &$%@!!
get over it braff.

Braff Zackton said...

In my defense the dinner did taste like an ampersand dollar sign percentage at two explanation points. Blame her mother.

Don and Krise said...

Steve, just keep on doing it as long as it's fun. If you're anything like me, that will be for the rest of your life.

Happy New Year and we'll be here waiting for more great shots.

Kiwifruit-Shiree said...

if you like Australia, then you really need to visit New Zealand!

NikonSniper said...

YES! I have been to West Virginia and its rolling hills and mountains. It has been a long time though. I loved traveling through there while tracking civil war history. I need to do it again with a digital camera.
It's great you are starting your kids young. What experience they will have when they are, uh, my age.
NikonSniper Steve

NikonSniper said...

i think hunting with my camera taught me to be a bit more patient. by no means would i say i am a patient man ... but hunting forces you to develop that skill. hunting deer with a gun requires more patience than with a camera because you can't take a bunch of practice shots with a gun. with a camera i can take anything else that amuses me while waiting for the right moment.
nikonsniper steve

NikonSniper said...

don & krise,
i will try to do this as long as i can keep pushing the button down (with drool) running down my shirt at the mental detention center.
ok, seriously i guess that's sick.
nikonsniper steve

NikonSniper said...

your absolutely right and to be honest i could live my life easily between australia and new zealand and never be wanting for things to photograph. it seems it's the part of the world that has really remained like creation. breathless views everywhere but i have only seen things second hand. one day i will land on your island ... then look out!
nikonsniper steve

MCCasey said...

I thought I would use my camera for stock photography, but every photo I submitted was rejected. So, I thought to myself, why do I like taking photos? I love it because I can't draw or paint, but I want to share the beauty I see around me. I am not good enough for stock, but if I can share some of what I see with others I am happy. I love your web site and look at all your blog entries.

Kathleen said...

Happy New Year!!!
I see that you have joined my blog and I am thinking it is because of Photography?? I am very new to the world of photography and blogging and I am trying to learn as much as I can about both...I really don't even know how to use my camera:(.

I have a older digital Canon Rebel and my goal for this new year is to learn as much as I can through reading or videos on basic camera skills... I feel a bit shy about even saying that I have a clue about photography but I really want to learn how to take good photos!!!

Thanks for introducing me to a whole new group of bloggers who like taking photos...I have only really connected with the adoption blogs as you could tell...It is a new year and time to met new people and learn new things:)
Thanks so much!!

Concord Carpenter said...


You rock!

I love your pictures, and titles. Your blog has motivated me sign up for a beginers phot course and buy a "real" camera.

~ keep it up!

NikonSniper said...

concord carpenter,
now your makin' me weepy. that is very cool and i am glad to have you excited about photography.

those beginners courses are a great way to meet others and learn about the millions of cool ideas out there.

one thing i may never have said is that i love my hobby because ... my hobby (photography) is often needed or desired by every other hobby. for example is your bag is sailing ... you'd love to have photos of yourself sailing your boat. it's a great way to do things for others.

stay in touch. let me know what you buy.
nikonsniper steve

Anonymous said...

Stephen a comment of one of your followers mention about the SNOB photographer.

I also red your reply to it.

You portrait yourself as a non SNOB photographer, a simple man with the faith in God, snapping pictures here and there and inspiring people to shoot.

I am not saying that you are a SNOB, what I am saying is that you are somehow hiding yourself as a professional photographer, portraying yourself to others as the father of family that is getting old and that is shooting here and there!

But when I look closer at your blog I realized that indeed things are not so simple as you portray it.

So, first lets look at your time as photographer, the simple man that shoots here and there, shot thousands of pictures with different lenses and bodies for years and years.

Per example, let’s take a look at the lenses that you are using, this are not the simple cheap lenses in the market? Because of dust you don’t switch lenses? You are using different bodies with different lenses? SLR bodies!

I know that your equipment may not be the most expensive in the market, but your equipment is fairly expensive.

It is not any person out there that has been inspired by your shooting that can afford what you have. No either taking pictures like yours, because they don’t know how!

And we are leaving out post processing!

You may need to be a little more honest and fair with your followers. Let them know that taking good pictures even that we may take thousands of bad ones, it requires a lot of experience and training.

Taking pictures with super zooms, median zooms, wide angles and different professional SLR cameras, require a lot of training, a lot of mistakes, and a lot of effort. You only can achieve success after so many years of training, studying, and field training.

It requires a professional photographer. A professional photographer does not always lives out of photography. A professional photographer had the training required to use professional equipment and takes fairly good pictures.

Even so, as a professional photographer you are still saying that you still shoot bad pictures. That is natural, me too.

Now, your main intention is to sell your pictures like any other photographer. That is why you are marketing them so well. Following thousands of blogs.

I would like to see you reading almost 4000 blogs and shooting your pictures!

I think would be a good idea to hire someone in the ministry to read it for you.

Downsizing your person, as a professional photographer to sell your work it is not indeed a bad idea, it is a new market trend!

But you not only downsized your person as your used your family life as a market tool. The insides of your life too, so people feel connected with you, not a bad idea at all!

So, lets not mislead your followers and let them know that “keep shooting”, but remember that your shots not all the time will be like mines, because I am a professional photographer with years and years of training.

Let them know also that your intention is to sell you images, because that is what you are doing, that would be no reason to shoot so much if it was not with the intention of selling!

It is a wonderful idea not to be the wolf under the lambskin.

I am also photographer, I don’t live of photography and I also sell my images. But at least I tell my followers that I am a photographer with many years of experience. I also tell them “keep shooting” but I advise them with fairness and honesty. I tell them about me but I keep my family being my family, not a marketing tool.

I am also a man of God with an extreme faith in Jesus Christ.

I use a single SLR body with one set of lenses a medium zoom 18-200mm that is it.

Jesus Christ allows me to take wonderful images only with one camera and one set of lenses.

I posted this as anonymous so God can keep us both in peace selling our photos.

God bless you partner.