A photo fit for a calendar

  • By Kristi O'Harran Herald Columnist
  • Monday, October 17, 2011 12:01am
  • Local NewsSultan

Jim Stiles took aim at Rakata, a male Sumatran tiger. He reacted in a flash when the shot looked perfect.

Rakata never knew what happened.

The tiger was shot alright, with a Canon camera.

Stiles, who lives in Sultan, is an award-winning photographer with a new feather in his cap

. His photograph of Rakata was chosen for the cover of Woodland Park Zoo‘s 2012 calendar.

Zoo spokesman Ric Brewer said the judging panel, which included staff members and volunteers at the zoo, whittled 200 entries down to 10.

“We focused on photos th

at had a number of qualities: composition, showcasing the beauty and or unique aspects of the animals, capturing behavior, unique pose or angle and, of course, overall technical quality of the photo,” Brewer said. “We invited zoo fans to vote on our site for their favorite.”

Jim and his wife, Wendy Stiles, who both work at Premera Blue Cross in Mountlake Terrace, became zoo members this year.

“It’s a great place to try new equipment and techniques,” he said. “I want to know what to expect with my equipment when I’m in the wild.”

The photograph of Rakata was snapped about 70 or 80 feet from the tiger.

For camera buffs, this is what Stiles said he used for the shot: A Canon 5D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm lens with a 1.4x tele-extender, mounted on a Gitzo tripod and Wimberley II gimbal tripod head; external flash with a BetterBeamer extender was set up on a Wimberley flash bracket.

“I spend a lot on equipment,” Stiles said. “It’s an expensive hobby.”

Wendy Stiles noticed information about the zoo competition in a magazine. Stiles was attracted to the contest because the zoo allowed Stiles and other photographers to keep the rights to their own images.

“They only allowed one entry per person,” he said. “I narrowed it down to 15 shots, a lemur, an orangutan, kept boiling it down until that’s the one.”

The tiger picture is one of the sharpest he’s ever taken.

“I see every eye detail in the tiger,” he said. “Count the hairs on the chin.”

Photography wasn’t part of his life growing up in Seattle. He was a music major at Western Washington University, but put down the saxophone to major in Spanish and education.

Before Premera, where he is an information technology analyst, Stiles, 52, worked as a substitute teacher and in a color lab.

After getting married in college to his high school sweetheart, she asked him for a 33mm camera.

“I bought her a Canon and I read the book on how to use it,” he said. “She never held the camera again.”

Every weekend and one afternoon each week, he goes picture hunting. For instance, he spends time in a park gazebo in Bothell. He posts photos on Facebook and on a company bulletin board. He follows a forum on Facebook called “Photography tips and tricks.”

The photograph shown with this column was taken in September when the couple were at Lake Louise in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada. Stiles wanted a different photograph, not the same old one from the edge of the lake looking toward Victoria Glacier in the background.

“I quickly identified this collection of canoes,” he said. “I immediately saw how well all the elements worked together; the sky, the angle of the boats, and the lake all around.”

He spent about a half-hour shooting at Lake Louise and was quite pleased with the images he got.

Stiles wife enjoys traveling with him. She carries a book to read. Wendy Stiles did get annoyed, he said, when they were at Mount Rainier. She was in the car when he told her he would be right back. He headed up a ridge at sunrise, then went a little farther, and a little farther. Right back was three hours later.

They’ve driven back and forth to the Arctic three times on vacations.

Taking pictures at sporting events is a passion, Stiles said. When he retires, he hopes they can do extensive traveling in a pickup with a camper. He has taken photographs around the world.

The photographer has taught workshops for groups, and some on the spot. He said when his equipment is set up, it always draws a crowd. He’ll stop and answer questions and describe his techniques.

“I have a teaching background and a teaching heart,” he said.

And a talented eye.

Kristi O’Harran: 425-339-3451, oharran@heraldnet.com.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Marysville firefighters respond to a 12-year-old boy who fell down a well Tuesday May 30, 2023 in Marysville, Washington. (Photo provided by Marysville Fire District)
Marysville firefighters save boy who fell 20 feet into well

The 12-year-old child held himself up by grabbing on to a plastic pipe while firefighters worked to save him.

Highway 9 is set to be closed in both directions for a week as construction crews build a roundabout at the intersection with Vernon Road. (Washington State Department of Transportation)
Weeklong closure coming to Highway 9 section in Lake Stevens

Travelers should expect delays or find another way from Friday to Thursday between Highway 204 and Lundeen Parkway.

Students arriving off the bus get in line to score some waffles during a free pancake and waffle breakfast at Lowell Elementary School on Friday, May 26, 2023, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
800 free pancakes at Everett’s Lowell Elementary feed the masses

The annual breakfast was started to connect the community and the school, as well as to get people to interact.

Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring speaks at the groundbreaking event for the I-5/SR 529 Interchange project on Tuesday, May 23, 2023 in Marysville, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
$123M project starting on Highway 529 interchange, I-5 HOV lane

A reader wondered why the highway had a lane closure despite not seeing work done. Crews were waiting on the weather.

Justin Bell was convicted earlier this month of first-degree assault for a December 2017 shooting outside a Value Village in Everett. (Caleb Hutton / Herald file)
Court: Snohomish County jurors’ opaque masks didn’t taint verdict

During the pandemic, Justin Bell, 32, went on trial for a shooting. Bell claims his right to an impartial jury was violated.

Gary Fontes uprights a tree that fell over in front of The Fontes Manor — a miniature handmade bed and breakfast — on Friday, May 12, 2023, at his home near Silver Lake in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Everett’s mini-Frank Lloyd Wright builds neighborhood of extra tiny homes

A tiny lighthouse, a spooky mansion and more: Gary Fontes’ miniature world of architectural wonders is one-twelfth the size of real life.

Will Steffener
Inslee appoints Steffener as Superior Court judge

Attorney Will Steffener will replace Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Janice Ellis, who is retiring in June.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Mountlake Terrace in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Lawsuit: Defective inhaler led to death of Mountlake Terrace man

Pharmaceutical company Perrigo recalled inhalers in September 2020. Months earlier, Antonio Fritz Sr. picked one up at a pharmacy.

Steven Eggers listens during his resentencing at Snohomish County Courthouse in Everett, Washington on Wednesday, May 31, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Life in prison reduced to 38 years for 1995 Skykomish River killing

Steven Eggers, now 46, was 19 when he murdered Blair Scott, 27. New court rulings granted him a second chance at freedom.

Most Read