Wildlife photographer Tui De Roy has spent decades traveling the world to photograph wild animals in their native habitats. Her spectacular photos of blue-footed boobies in the Galapagos Islands appear in the February 2015 issue of Ranger Rick Jr.
While on a recent trip to Ecuador, Tui took a moment for an electronic chat with Ranger Rick reporter Hannah Schardt.
1. How did you come to photograph blue-footed boobies?
I grew up in the Galapagos Islands so I know when and where the boobies nest. Last year, I spent several weeks sitting at the edge of one big colony, watching and photographing all the different stages of their nesting cycle, from courtship to when the chicks finally learn to fly about three months later.
2. Were there any funny moments while you were out there photographing these sort of funny-looking birds?
From a human point of view, the whole courtship ritual is hilarious to watch, with all the high-stepping dances, head-shaking, sky-pointing, whistling and trumpeting. But for the boobies, this is all dead serious and vitally important. Pairs have to be well matched so that Mom and Dad work well together to bring up their babies.
3. What’s your favorite animal to photograph? And why?
I keep trying to figure out what’s my favorite animal, but in fact I keep falling in love all over again each time I get to know one I haven’t photographed before. So really they’re ALL my favorites, as long as they’re living naturally in the wild.
4. What’s the most surprising thing that’s ever happened while you were out in the field?
Once I was photographing penguins in the Falkland Islands at one of their main landing rocks where they were coming and going constantly. At one point, a penguin went to dive into the water at the exact same time as another was jumping out, and—bang!—they collided in mid-air!
5. Do you have any advice for a beginner—especially a child—who wants to take better nature photographs?
It’s best at first get to know the animal that you want to photograph really well. Once you’re familiar with its behavior, its habits and its character, you’ll be able to wait for the right moment to get the best shots without scaring it. And you’ll learn a lot about the animal, too, which can be really fun.