Limited License

All photos 1998-2011 by Thomas O'Neil. A limited license is granted for personal use, such as using an image as wallpaper. Click here for information on ordering prints or arranging for commercial use. Send inquiries to the below address. (Sorry, you have to type it yourself. Death to spammers.)

What's This?

The quick answer is, it's my photo web site.

Yellowstone Elk.

Sometimes people compliment me by saying I should be a pro. My response is that I couldn't afford it. I would have to work 10 times harder than I do in my current profession for a less secure and probably smaller income stream. Most photographers see themselves as a potential Ansel Adams or Annie Liebowitz, but few make it to such heights. There are very few jobs available at National Geographic or Sports Illustrated, and building up a freelance business takes time. Most people who depend on photography to make a living are shooting weddings, kids' soccer games, and babies at the department store. If I had to be a working pro, it is likely that most of my images would be assembly-line stuff that would be interesting to very few people. No thanks.

So, roaming around taking pictures of interesting things is what I do for fun. Since no one else is paying me, I get to define "interesting," which usually involves something flying through the air or hopping around. This web site is a way for me to organize everything, so it's as much for me as for other people.

Even though I don't want to be or claim to be a pro, I do claim some level of pro knowledge and experience. I have been interested in photography on and off since the 70's. My journalism major in college included a photography course, and during six years of newspaper work I accumulated experience and some SLR equipment. I acquired valuable experience doing sports and (believe it or not) people lined up for award and check presentations. Being forced to do "grip and grins" taught me a great deal about how to do bad photography for pay. In the mid-80's I figured out that NOT being a reporter/photographer was a lot more lucratic than being one, or at least being one at small newspapers in Sturgis, S.D. and Sheldon, Iowa, and I returned to graduate school to get a business degree.

For the most part the cameras sat in the closet from 1985 to 1998. As the web became popular, I began thinking about acquiring some web development skills by doing a personal web site. It seemed like a good thing to do for career enhancement. (It was. That's a lot of what I do these days.) However, I didn't have any idea what sort of web site to do. It seemed as though the typical personal site in the mid 90's consisted of, "Here is a picture of my cat," but I didn't own a cat and wasn't willing to get one just to learn how to code HTML. When I was researching a trip to baseball spring training in Arizona, aka the Cactus League, it was impossible to find a comprehensive source of basic Cactus League information on the web, so I started my own site. That site started as and is now

A young Red-Tailed Hawk, four days out of the nest, taken with a digiscope setup.

I figured some photos on the web site would be nice, so I dug the cameras out of the closet and in November 1998 headed off to get shots of some of the spring training stadiums. Of course there is no spring training in November, but there are games involving minor league prospects, the Arizona Fall League. Empty stadium shots are boring, so I got a few photos of the minor leaguers in action.

After struggling with the old Contax/Yashicas for a while, they went on eBay and I started accumulating stuff in the Canon EOS line. Eventually I had a good selection of equipment but wasn't shooting much baseball outside of my fall and spring trips to Arizona. Eventually I figured out that the long lenses used for sports also can capture flying things such as birds and airplanes. That was fun, so in the recent past and (I expect) in the future my focus has been and will be wildlife with a few air shows thrown in. still exists, but I haven't updated it lately.

The Flying Legends Air Show in Duxford, England in July 2002 confirmed that that shooting up lots of film meant a lot of scanning has to follow, so a month later I took the plunge on a Canon 1D digital SLR. After two years, the 1D was retired in favor of Canon's newest wonder, the 1D Mark II. The Mark II is still going strong more than six years later. I'll probably replace it with a Mark IV or something else soon, but I'll wait a few more months until my (possible) retirement.

Most of the photos here were taken with the 1D and its successor, but there's also a point-and-shoot gallery for those taken with smaller digital cameras. Actually "point-and-shoot" is a misnomer because the staging for the closeup shots needed to be more elaborate than for the SLR shots. These were either triggered remotely or (more recently) were taken through the eyepiece of a telescope, a process called digiscoping. I wouldn't have time to mess around with stuff like that if I were shooting weddings and soccer games for a living.

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All photos 1998-2010 by Thomas O'Neil