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José B. Ruiz

When I was around ten,
I tried to approach wildlife,
but it seemed that wildlife didnīt want to be approached by me.

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Featured Photographer

José B. Ruiz


Born in Spain, 1966. 2 beautiful daughters, maybe the most photographed in Europe (as I consider them as wildlife). Used to sleep about 4 hours a day. That leaves more time to bring up projects and processing pictures.

My favourite book is the Iliad from Homer. I would have liked to be part of ancient ages. Read a lot and write a lot, last thing is a book of poems for my daughter Carmen. Like pictures of the Impressionism. They inspire me to compose. Always learning...and still trying to approach wildlife.

Donīt use to travel so much out of my country, although I like it, because I love the wildlife here and also being close to my family. When I have a camera in my hands everything changes and I know I was born to do this, and in that moment nothing matters except trying to get the right shot. That is the best I know doing and I always do it at my best. I wish to spend the rest of my life doing the same things I have been doing to date. Good luck to all.

Website: www.josebruiz.com/


Why nature photography?
It is vocational. Thereīs something in wildlife that captivates me. It is not only the beauty, the diversity, the elegance... thereīs something else deeply embedded in our collective memory as human beings. Nature makes us feel free, happy, responsible. We have the need to be connected with it and should stimulate this feeling in our children. It will be a reference point throughout their lives. Nature photography puts together our admiration for wildlife and also our artistic expressions through photography. If you add some music you have the perfect recipe.

What's best about it?
The best, no doubt, is the opportunity to spend so much time outdoors. For me it is not about travelling and adventures. It is the admiration for every natural thing, from an ant to an elephant, from a drop to a spiderīs web. Thatīs all very nice, but it is also a job and a responsebility. The pictures allow you to create a perfect world, a refuge apart, where nature is the main thing and rules everything, as it was long time ago.

What's worst about it?
Some of the most austere and more adaptable persons I know are wildlife photographers. I donīt mean they live in caves (maybe some do). But they donīt matter about how cold it is, how good is the food (if there is any available) or where they are going to sleep. They see nature photography as a mission.

Sure, there is the need to obey to the rules of a modern society. You need to earn money, meet some clients, be commissioned to photograph something you donīt like at all (beaches with plenty of people f.e.). The worst thing is to leave a hide waiting for vultures only because you have to prepare a dossier at home. Itīs like living in two worlds with completely different values.

Favourite species and places in Europe?
I feel very comfortable with the wildlife I know since I was a child here in Spain. Iberian wildlife has influences from Africa and from Europe. You need more than a life to know the spanish variety of wild plants, underwater subjects, invertebrates, birds, mammals...
Here what I reccomend and like most is the coastal landscapes of northern and southern Spain. Extremadura is a great highlight you don’t want to miss for wildlife. I particularly enjoy the small and very common species: warblers, hoopoes, shrikes, rollers, bee-eaters.

What's in the bag?
For everyday work I use a full frame camera and few lenses: 17-40 mm f/4; 70-200 f/2,8; 180 mm f/3,5 Macro; 400 mm f/2,8; 24 mm f/1,8. Of course some extension tubes and converters make the teles more versatile. And I invert the 24 mm for macro with 5:1 magnification. Also my tripod and cable release are essential.

Maybe one of the most specialised things I use is a sophisticated and home-made second shutter unit to be placed between the camera and the lens. It was a friend photographer’s invention that we share. It allows you to shoot in digital (mostly high speed macros) without delay. It has to be connected to an infrared barrier and an electronic controller in a heavy box with plenty of batteries. Quite difficult to use though.

Your specialities / skills?
Maybe what I do best is nocturnal photography. I have been working to improve the technique for years. Some awards in photographic competitions took me to keep on the step forward and now the night is even better than the day for my work. And about classic non-eccentric photography it seems that landscape is also one of my specialities. I feel very comfortable with it, knowing what to do, working with precision and thereby really enjoying it.

What will you do in your next life?
Maybe I sounds too boring. But Iīd like to do exactly the same.
Iīve lived my life very intensively and have taken the most of my time, as if any hour was the last one. And I know it wonīt be too difficult for me as I have done it before.

3 tips for beginners
My advice is:
First master the technique. And do it well, take the ways of the masters (follow them through websites, books, workshops). Photography is like an iceberg. What emerges is technique. Composition is the mass behind. For the latter you have to find your own style.
If you learn from somebody, books, websites, workshops... it will save loads of time and the results will come faster. Try to enjoy all the processes and leave some time to learn.
Another important one: be ethical and respectful towards nature and people!


I have two mission in Czech Republic. It seems to be a kind land with ancient traditions and natural beautys. Mi first mission is in Ceské Svycarsko National Park, an area rich in diversity of landscapes and wildlife. It has some unique sandstone formations sorrounded by forests and water courses. Rocks form nice shapes as bridges, castles... a romantic place to leave the imagination free.

I am still researching more information, but I have planned to apply some long-exposure techniques in this mission. Iīm going to need a powerful torch and some colour heads for the flash, specially yellow and orange. It is going to require an extra physical effort to climb the formations in such irregular area, but Iīm getting ready, making some daily exercises.
I plan as well to take with me some underwater equipment to get inside the rivers and finding out new perspectives and subjects.

The place seems to be a nice one, plenty of resources. It is going to be hard to get really good results and concentrate only in the best locations. It can take more than a week to go trough the park and look for the places. Really hard. But I rely on my equipment and photographic technique to find good solutions. I plan to make daily work, I mean, take the most of the earlier lights and then go to look for and cover distances to know more places. Then return to the best places of the day in the afternoon for the dusk lights. Maybe this is going to be the best way to get daily advances.

About the equipment... lots of weight. Iīll take everything there and then choose only the essential for the daily hike. To date I havenīt found a local guide, but I think itīs not going to be difficult as there are some touristic activities in the park.

Best Picture

Best Picture

What's cool about it?
It shows a planned picture. I knew the place for some months and I was impressed when I discovered this small park beside Cáceres. Then came a special night with full moon. Facing south I knew exactly how to compose. Then started to work the technique: 6 minutes exposure at f/2,8. 50 mm fix focal lens to find some more drama. My Nikon Fm-2 on a tripod with the cable release pressed. The slide film was Fuji Velvia. At the end of the exposure I fired the flash five times with the help of a teleflash (fresnel lens that concentrates the light).
The picture reminds me a very good age in my life, when I crossed Spain looking for landscapes to photograph with star trails and the moon... Since then dozens of my photographer friends are popularizing the technique in my country.

Could it be better?
Of course. Always! If I had to make it now Iīd choose a blue dominant in the colour temperature manual setting of my camera (around 3.000 K). Then fire the teleflash with a color correction head to make the light white but keeping the sky blue. And try as well a longer exposure for longer star trails.

Behind the Scene
A friend mountaineer and photographer came with me to look for the last shots for my book about nocturnal photography. We spent several days and thousand of kilometers through Spain looking for magnificent places to photograph by night. We didnīt sleep in four days, always driving and taking pictures. We were exhausted and hungry. We ate as much as we could and stopped in a prairie to sleep. We woke up at the same time, completely refreshed. But the light was very similar to the moment we fell asleep - we had been sleeping for 24 hours!

We took several similar pictures and, in my opinion, this was one of the best. In one of them one stork flew away, but landed again on the nest. White Storks use to have some nocturnal activity while breeding and migrating. I first sent the slide in 1992 to the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition, but was returned without any metion. In 1993 I tried again. And yes, that was the year, I collected two awards with it: From dusk to dawn category and Innovation Award.

Date: September 1992. Full moon.
Location: Los Barruecos Natural Park, Malpartida de Cáceres, Cáceres, Extremadura, Spain.
Gear: Nikon FM-2. 50 mm Ais f/2 at f/2,8. Tripod. Shutter release. Fujichrome Velvia. Flash fired five times. Teleflash.

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