Robert J. Kamper

Robert exhibited prodromal symptoms of Parkinson’s since late teens, but was not actually diagnosed until late 2011. He received Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) implants in early 2012. He was a National Merit Scholarship Finalist and attended the University of Miami, Florida State University and University of Florida. He ultimately received a PhD in Educational Media & Instructional Design/Instruction & Curriculum in 1993. From 1971-1989 he was employed by the State of Florida. He worked for IBM from 1993 through most of 2008, retiring as an IBM Human Factors/Usability engineer and Master Inventor with 12+ US patents.

For as long as he can remember, Robert has been fascinated by the natural world. He remembers long walks and bike rides as a young man simply absorbed in nature. These days, he enjoys nature photography because it gives him an excuse to walk in the woods and take photos of the flowers, birds, and butterflies, etc. throughout the changing seasons. Robert is a lifetime member of Native Plant Society of Texas, and received a Benny Simpson Fellow award in 2020 for contributions to the Society. His hobbies include playing music, writing lyrics and songs, photography, native plant gardening, and singing and dancing, and exercising with Parkinson’s support groups in Austin and Georgetown.

Robert enjoys photographing plants in particular because doing so engages both sides of his brain; there are both scientific and aesthetic aspects to the hobby. He sometimes submits images to iNaturalist.org for plant identification and to document plants and wildlife in Texas. In the past he has contributed photos to the Williamson County chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas (NPSOT) website and has entered photos in the NPSOT photo and video contests. (He won a first prize in 2014, and was awarded first place for the Gulf Coast Plains and Marshes ecoregion in 2020). His music video “The Native Plants of Texas” to the the tune of “The Yellow Rose of Texas” won in 2019, and features the musical talents of Gail March and Richard Mattingly, who are volunteers with Power For Parkinson's. Others photos are purely (or almost purely) for aesthetic reasons. For Robert, these images tend to have an almost spiritual quality to them.

Interestingly, because of his tremors, Robert says that he has had to come more proficient in the technical aspects of photography, such as how shutter speed, f-stops, and ISO speeds interact. To help prevent blurred images, Robert uses higher shutter speeds — and adjusts the lens aperture accordingly — than he used to.

Robert has also become a big fan of South Korean romantic drama-comedy TV shows (“K-dramas”). He likes them because they seem to have strong female leads, high ethical values, and usually everything turns out okay in the end — even the bad guys see the error of their ways and are changed.

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