Featured Photographer – Neo Jin Ju
– Interview by Editor AL Lee
– Behind-the-scenes Photographer Serene Ong (Serene Digital Crafts)
10th December 2021, Singapore – I last saw Neo Jin Ju (梁金菊) exactly 30 years ago (Dec 1991) – that was when I left Yuhua Secondary School after completing my O Levels. Rewind another 4 years, back in 1988, Jin Ju or “Miss Neo” as she was commonly known, was my Art & Craft Teacher. As one of those naughty boys back then, I had countless brushes (pun intended) with Jin Ju – she even got me to stand outside the class once as a punishment. I cannot remember what had I done, but it was certainly enough to have pissed her off at that time. Fast forward to today, I think back of those days and I realized I actually enjoy the art lessons as those classes took me off the academic grind and offers me (and many of us) a good mental relief.
Through social media, I got connected to Jin Ju somewhere in Nov 2015 but did not interacted much with her until her name keeps showing up on my feeds with her bird images – I was thrilled. Jin Ju is a Birding Photographer & a famous one at that! I decided to connect with Jin Ju & interview her as part of our Featured Photographer Series and to take this chance to connect with a teacher that I had once terrorized in school (more to rekindle all the wrongs that I had done wrong in her class.).
And so, I invited Jin Ju out to Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserves on a Sunday morning for “birding walk”. I had mixed feelings but Jin Ju came across as someone completely different from my vivid & faraway memories of her – she was chatty, laughs a lot and most willing to share her knowledge, as compared to her “teacher” image that I had of her.
Here’s the interview with Jin Ju
AL: You seem to be very knowledgeable with the birds ID, how & where did you learn about the birds?
JJ: I usually look at my peers’ (fellow birders) and see the bird names that they posted. I also did a fair bit of research online too, and that includes books on birds that I frequently read up or refer to.
Image of Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker by Neo Jin Ju during our walk
AL: Is it important to know the name of the birds?
JJ: Yes it is, I contribute articles to ZaoBao & pictorials to WanBao and all the information given must be accurate and factual.
Images: some of Jin Ju’s articles from the various newspapers
AL: How long have you been shooting birds and contributing to the newspapers?
JJ: Since 2017, I had contributed mainly articles to ZaoBao and pictorials to WanBao.
AL: Wow! Can you recall roughly how many articles were published?
JJ: If I remember correctly, it should be approximately 20+ articles on ZaoBao and over a hundred images published on WanBao.
Image of Crimson Sunbird by Neo Jin Ju during our walk
AL: May I know if there is a specific time or a best time to catch the birds in action?
JJ: I will say the best timing will be roughly between 7.00am to 11.00 am. That’s the feeding time for majority of the birds. However birds can also be spotted at other time if the weather is cooler. Usually during hot weather, the birds tends to hide a lot.
AL: Do birds feeds all day?
JJ: Some birds, they will feed and within an hour or so after they digested the earlier feed, they will fly out to get more food. So you can say they do eat all day.
Image of Oriental Pied Hornbill by Neo Jin Ju during our walk
AL: Can you share with me & our readers One tip about bird behavior or spotting?
JJ: Food. If a tree has a particular fruit or source of worms that the birds like, they will return to the same spot over & over again, day after days until the food source runs out. So if you spotted a particular bird that you want to shoot, it is quite safe to return to the same spot to wait for the bird to appear.
AL: I know there are several places in Singapore that many birders like to go like Pasir Ris Park, Jurong Lake Gardens, Botanic Gardens, Gardens by the Bay, Lorong Halus, Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserves etc but which one is your favorite?
JJ: Personally I like Botanic Gardens, I frequent the area near Eco-Lake, Healing Garden & Fragrance Garden. Fragrance Garden in particular are a hot favorite for migratory birds. I am currently writing an article on this, do look out for it on Zaobao.
AL: So what system have you been using to shoot birds?
JJ: I started with Nikon system and had moved to Sony system.
AL: For beginners who wish to learn shooting birds, is there like a “beginner lens”?
JJ: Any lens with a minimum focal length of 300mm will be a good lens to start. However I will advise those who are seriously passionate about birding to invest in better lenses.
AL: Lastly, what is the best tip you can advise budding birding photographers?
JJ: Patience is everything.
Thank you Jin Ju for agreeing to this interview. I am sure our readers will be inspired! Thank you for your time & taking me on this walk while letting me discover another side of you. This meant a lot to me personally.
老师，谢谢! THANK YOU!
Please follow Jin Ju here.
Interviewer: Chief Editor AL Lee
Chief Editor & Founder of Ourshutterjourney.com Worldwide and Principal Trainer at Ourshutterjourney Photography Academy. AL is a commercial photographer as well as an educator who believes in the art of digital memories. An ambassador of several photography brands, AL is well versed in many camera systems. Someone once told us AL’s man cave looks more like a camera store than a bedroom.
Contributing Editor – Serene Ong (Behind the Scenes)
Started photography with a strong affinity in Long Exposure and Macro, Serene has created a following under the name of “Serene Digital Crafts”. She is an experimental photographer who will keep trying until she gets the shots that she had envisioned on her mind. Of a joyful character and friendly personality, Serene had started to contribute to gear review during her free time – when she is not shooting, she will be dedicating her time taking care of her 2 lovely kids.
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