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You Can Sleep When You're Dead: Blog for CMS Photography by Colleen Miniuk-Sperry » You Can Sleep When You're Dead

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May 182015
 
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Let’s hear it one more time for the 39 NAU students who acted as Guest Bloggers on this blog (their photographs appearing in alphabetical order):
First row (left to right): Stephanie Austin, Krista Baldwin, Emma Benanati, Cloie Bright, Eleanor Carty, Samantha Columbo, Garrett Creswell, Karli Crocker
Second row (l to r): Stevie Deale, Alicia Dean, Rita DeBrodie, Christye Flanagan, Nikki Harcey, Rachel Leone, Morgan Louvier, Samantha Martinez
Third row (l to r): Sunday Miller, Thomas Miner, McKenzie McLoughlin, Jubran Mohammed, Parker Munsch, Don Olson, Ashlee Outsen, Hannah Petersen
Fourth row (l to r): Angel Rangel, Jasmine Riley, Sydney Roberts, Eric Schwab, Natalie Smith, Jordan Thompson, Taylor Tracy, Erin Twarogal
Fifth row (l to r): Ashleigh Vance, Luke Vanderbroek, Cory Walters, Ryan Wesson, Ariel White, Kassandra Wilhelm, Ursula Woody

That’s all folks!  Let’s give the Northern Arizona University’s Intermediate Photography students a big round of applause for sharing their images and thoughts with us in this year’s “Behind the Image:  Guest Blogger” project.   What thrills me the most from year to year with this effort is just how different each student sees the world.

To the 39 participating students, what did you think of your blogging experience here?   Was it as scary or exciting as you thought?  Would you do it again?  Would you do anything differently in hindsight now that you’ve completed your assignment?  I so appreciate your willingness to participate as Guest Bloggers and thank you for being YOU!  No matter where photography or life takes you, always remember that creativity lives within you if you tap into your individual backgrounds and passions – whether it be travel, beloved pets, people who inspire, moving natural scenes, or intimate details of the world around them – to present your visual messages.

I am also filled with much gratitude for NAU Photography Instructor, Amy Horn, who helped coordinate this real-world assignment with her class.   It’s truly a pleasure to work with someone so dedicated to her students and to facilitating the learning process in photography.

To those of you who left comments on the photographs and stories, many thanks!  If you haven’t had the chance to review all of them (and would like to), find the 39“Behind the Image” write-ups by clicking on the “Guest Blogger” in the Categories box on the right-most column on your screen.  Then, feel free to add your thoughts in the Comments section below anytime that’s convenient for you!

Finally, leave us a comment on this post about your thoughts on this year’s project.  What did you like about the photography as a whole?  Did you get new ideas?  I look forward to hearing from you.

Thanks again, everyone!  Until next year!

Colleen

May 172015
 
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Photo copyright Ashleigh Vance

After seeing it done in the introductory photo class I help with, I was inspired to shoot my own steel wool light painting photograph. I did some research and once I realized how simple the procedure really was, I became determined to create my own. I took a trip to Home Depot that afternoon and purchased several packages of steel wool, a pair of gloves and a whisk.

The main issue I came across was that of creating a unique photograph. There are only so many ways you can safely spin the wool and only so many angles to shoot it from; because of this, many of the shots begin to look generic and I knew I did not want that.

I spent a lot of time debating where we could go to do the shoot. Between the firework restriction, risk of forest fire and the need to be original, there was only one real answer: the lake.  We drove out to Lake Mary and pulled the car almost all of the way down the boat ramp to the dock. I prepared one of my friends with the spinning equipment, set up the camera and tripod and instructed my other friend on how to work the car’s headlights. Once everything else was ready, I went back to the camera to program and focus the shot.

After trial and error, I decided to go with ISO 100 and f/8 so that the shutter speed would not have to go any slower than 25 seconds. Any more time than that and I found the sparks and movement got too messy. An ISO of 100 was also important to me here because any extra grain would be detrimental to the quality of my shot. As you can see on the dock area, grain was already beginning to show up even at as low as I could go. All light within the image was the result of the moon or the fire.

Once I had the camera settings the way I wanted them, shooting was almost easy. I attached the whisk to a pet leash and stuffed stretched out steel wool inside. I then sent my friend out onto the dock with a candle lighter. Once they lit the steel wool, they quickly began to spin it around at various angles and that was it. Of course it was really important for them to employ effort while spinning so that the light painting was neat.

Overall, I had a great time with this project. It’s still a generic idea almost any way you shoot it, but it’s a lot of fun and looks great. While I will more than likely never be able to sell anything from this album, it was still worth the experience.

About the Photographer:
During my second year of high school, I enrolled in photography by chance. I needed an art credit and I considered photo class little more than that. However, I quickly discovered how wrong I was.

Back when I was in high school, we started on film and in the darkroom. I loved it immediately. I spent the rest of my time in high school in our photography classroom and I owe a lot of my personal development to my former teacher and classmates. I went from the girl who didn’t speak to someone who wasn’t afraid to teach lessons or compete.

In high school, I took senior photos for extra money and competed in various events like the State Fair or SkillsUSA regional/state.  Nowadays, my focus is more on working to get published rather than competitions, but I still freelance often. My favorite type of paid shoot would have to be engagement because my focus is really on portraiture.

I think my work is different from others largely because of how much time I put in to post-processing. If I can avoid it, I will not deliver a raw image to a client. Someday I hope to shoot fashion with a modern post-processing style. Food and retail work also interests me – anything glamorous catches my eye.

To read more about the Northern Arizona University “Behind the Image: Guest Blogger” project on our blog, please read the introduction at http://youcansleepwhenyouredead.com/wordpress/3rd-annual-northern-arizona-university-behind-the-image-guest-blogger-project/Please take a minute to leave your insights and constructive comments in the Comment section below – the student would love to hear from you!

May 162015
 
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“The Subway” photo copyright Ariel White

At the beginning of the spring semester my roommate and I began thinking about what we were going to do for Spring Break.  Last semester we had gone hiking in Zion National Park, Utah, but we did not get to go on all the hikes we wanted, so we decided we would go back.  This park is known for its red rock, the amazing hiking experiences, rock climbing, and the photography opportunities it provides.

My roommate and I set out on our hike at 8 o’clock in the morning.  The sun was just starting to climb over the horizon and was bathing the landscape in light.  This was one of the more strenuous hikes as we had to scramble over rocks, wade through water, and climb up slippery, moss covered rocks.  We hiked The Subway for three hours before reaching the end.  The hike became visually appealing as we approached the end.  We stopped many times on the way to take pictures, but what I was most excited for was the end of the hike.  We had reached the end before the sun was fully over the mountain.  My roommate and I hiked into The Subway and were taken aback by the beauty.  It was amazing thinking about how it all formed.  It was very slippery due to the water and the moss covered ground.  Many holes had formed inside allowing pools to swirl and to flow and to make for a breathtaking experience.  I took a few photographs from inside as I knew it would be impossible to explain to people how amazing this was.  All the photos I took were handheld as I did not have a tripod with me.  If I had one I am sure I would have captured even more incredible photographs.  When I took the photo I wanted it to show the beauty of nature.  I wanted people to know that sometimes you have to go out of your way to capture something great.  I believe this photo encapsulates that perfectly.

I took this photo with my Canon Rebel EOS T5i, with the 18-55mm kit lens.  The focal length was at 30mm with an aperture of f/4.0.  ISO was set to 400.  I had the shutter speed at 1/25 as I wanted to capture the motion of the water and make it look a little like mist.  There was some post processing involved.  I lowered the exposure on the rocks and upped the contrast to bring out the formations.  This also brought out the water pool and the light coming in through the tunnel.  I saturated the green in the pool to make it stand out and also saturated the light in the tunnel to show how it shined through.  I cropped very little on the top so as to not detract from the photo.  I am very pleased with the final result.

About the Photographer:
My name is Ariel White and I am a senior at Northern Arizona University.  I will be graduating with a major in Electronic Media and Film (renamed to Creative Media and Film) and a minor in Photography.  I chose Photography as my minor because I felt it went hand in hand with my major.  Coming up with visually captivating photographs would work almost exactly for setting up scenes for a TV show or film.  I had always been interested in photography, but I never had the means nor the money to let my interest grow until Spring of 2014.  Once that camera was in my hands I knew it was something I would use throughout my life.

To read more about the Northern Arizona University “Behind the Image: Guest Blogger” project on our blog, please read the introduction at http://youcansleepwhenyouredead.com/wordpress/3rd-annual-northern-arizona-university-behind-the-image-guest-blogger-project/Please take a minute to leave your insights and constructive comments in the Comment section below – the student would love to hear from you!

May 162015
 
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“Amanda: the Knowledge” photo copyright Don Olson

“Amanda: the Knowledge”
Although I photograph a variety of subjects, the human face fascinates me most. I usually shoot black and white for portraiture, and to reveal that certain inner essence that represents how I see the individual requires the model’s trust. We must reach a point in our session where we are just two people in conversation and the camera recedes from attention.

If you ask someone to look determined, or fierce, or elated, it will not work, in my experience. The photographer must elicit actual determination, ferocity, or elation. An actor who can completely and convincingly portray true emotion on cue scarcely exists outside of stage and screen, and in our media-saturated world, I think people find it difficult to react in a pure and genuine manner with a camera around—frequently we mimic what we have seen as the “correct” response that fits the zeitgeist and meets the perceived approval of our peers, or the photographer. I don’t want to capture a pose, but rather a personality.

Amanda Belles’ team recently won a competition at the “Hack Arizona” convention for a robot they built in just 36 hours. The robot teaches itself how to walk in varied terrain. Amanda wrote the software—the robot’s brain, in effect— with techniques from genetic programming, one aspect of her astounding intelligence revealed. And yet she is the most approachable, down-to-earth individual imaginable, quick to joke and laugh, and as agreeable a model as one could want for a portrait session.

ut the problem is exactly this. Amanda’s bright, wide smile, and her openness actually mask the fiercely curious, competitive, and incisive intelligence that compels this image. I had only ten minutes to get this particular shot, so I tried to make her laugh to reduce any nervousness—who can relax when a giant black camera with a massive piece of glass is thrust into one’s face? We changed locations for softer light, and I sensed that like a lot of people do when forced to pose for the camera, she began to lose interest. So I asked her something rather dumb.

It worked. She took just a moment to form her answer—too polite to call me an idiot—and I got the shot I wanted. In it, you see what sharp focus she possesses, and the hint of her smile reveals her amusement at someone—me—not quite so bright as she is. The intensity of her eyes mirrors her absolute clarity and confidence. Amanda shows this expression rarely, almost as if she wants to conceal her genius or that it embarrasses her, but irrepressibly, it breaks through.

Of course, people I photograph do not always love my pictures of them, which I understand. I don’t airbrush freckles, cowlicks, and the like out of a photo. I do not make idealized images of the physical form of the person, but instead seek what lies at the core. I find this far more beautiful than highly stylized, tone-perfect glorification that cannot exist without an army of stylists, art directors, and post-processors. I greatly admire such photography, but I search for something else. Some call it the “Leica look,” and photographers I revere, like Sebastião Salgado and Steve McCurry, heavily influence how I try to see.

In this session we used a Canon 5D Mk III and a 50mm 1.2L lens set to f/5.6. Typically portraits call for moderate telephoto lenses in the 70mm to 135mm range, but I use this particular 50mm for close portraits because I can remain at normal conversational distance as I shoot and it gathers enough light to control the depth of field to a ridiculous sliver, if necessary.

About the Photographer:
In the early 1970s I learned film photography, how to process and print in the darkroom. After a long hiatus from photography, I decided to tackle the new digital technology, but that ancient film experience comes in very handy. I still love street and portrait photography in black and white, but thoroughly enjoy the variety that digital allows without breaking the bank. I now take classes at Northern Arizona University as an irregular postgraduate to fill in the great gaps in my knowledge and to expand my artistic horizons.

After all, in the end only the image matters.

To read more about the Northern Arizona University “Behind the Image: Guest Blogger” project on our blog, please read the introduction at http://youcansleepwhenyouredead.com/wordpress/3rd-annual-northern-arizona-university-behind-the-image-guest-blogger-project/Please take a minute to leave your insights and constructive comments in the Comment section below – the student would love to hear from you!

May 152015
 
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Photo copyright Rita DeBrodie

Man is a complicated creature, which is something that we are shown time and time again. One of the most important, defining characteristics of man is his ability to love. That is the concept I wanted to capture. This image is a very simplistic commentary on the two sides of love, the light and the dark. On the technical side, I am fascinated with the idea of sunbursts without sunlight. I used my external flash as the light source and bounced it off the inside of the subject. By positioning the flash unit inside the lid of my heart box, I was able to bounce a lot of that light around and create dramatic shadows that outline the shape of the lid. This also caused the white background to flood with the rich red color that dominates the photo. I faced this image with the idea of creating something vibrant and moody while only using one source of light. As you can see, the only light for my subject is the flash unit. The focal point of the image is the light burst, but what tells the real story is the sharp contrast between the textured red background and the stark black silhouette of the box lid. The tension created by these colors repeat on the right side of the image. The dark shadow of the box forms the heart’s shape and leads the eye right back to the brilliant light burst. The lines in the image move the eye around in a circle. That cycle is what I wanted to communicate, that life’s experiences have a way of coming back around and that love finds a way even in the darkest times.

I used a Canon Rebel T3i to capture this image. I set the f-stop to f/25, my exposure time was 1/30 of a second and I set the ISO to 800. I needed to keep my f-stop as low as possible to create that strong light burst effect. My lens is an 18 mm – 55 mm lens, and I captured this image with the lens set to about 28 mm. The flash unit that I used is a Neewer TT 560. I connected the flash unit to a Neewer FC-16 wireless receiver and had the transmitter attached to my camera so that the flash unit would trigger at the exact moment I needed it, especially important given my exposure time.  I used Adobe Lightroom as my post processing software. Within Lightroom, I cropped the image down to create a little more tension and cleaned up a few spots created by dust on my camera’s sensor.

About the Photographer:
My name is Rita DeBrodie. I am an Electronic Media and Film major at Northern Arizona University and my minor is Photography. My background is in small productions and screenwriting and I believe that often the smallest details are the most important. I face all cinemagraphic tasks with the eyes of a photographer, trying to capture that perfect moment with a subject and tell a story that will awe and enlighten an audience. I prefer small scenes that convey a larger meaning in photography and I use strong contrasts and leading lines to pull focus to my subjects.

To read more about the Northern Arizona University “Behind the Image: Guest Blogger” project on our blog, please read the introduction at http://youcansleepwhenyouredead.com/wordpress/3rd-annual-northern-arizona-university-behind-the-image-guest-blogger-project/Please take a minute to leave your insights and constructive comments in the Comment section below – the student would love to hear from you!

May 152015
 
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Photo copyright Sydney Roberts

This inspiration behind this image comes from trying to create a unique portrait. I dislike portraits that are the average ‘graduation photo’ or ‘senior portrait.’ I like the idea of capturing pure emotion and not just a cheesy smile. In order to get a portrait that portrays a genuine emotion or feeling I like to take a bunch of photos. For this photo I posed the model and started taking photos that turned out to be the average image you would expect. After a while she got more comfortable in front of the camera and I was able to capture a relaxed and genuine expression. In this instance the model is someone that I know well so it did not take long for her to be comfortable. However, when I wake photos of people that are less comfortable in front of the camera I find it is best to be myself and not act super professional in order to capture images that do not feel fake.

As for the technical aspects of this image I used a canon rebel t3i body and the 18-55mm kit lens. I also used a canon speedlite flash and a reflector. I used the reflector to bounce light off of the sun from underneath her face to remove harsh shadows. I used the flash on camera to fill in her face. The focal length in this image was at 55mm. The shutter speed is set at 1/200 with an f-stop of 5.6. The ISO is set at 100 so that I could capture a lot of details. Post-production is done in  Adobe Lightroom. I have desaturated most of the colors to give the eyes more vibrance.

To read more about the Northern Arizona University “Behind the Image: Guest Blogger” project on our blog, please read the introduction at http://youcansleepwhenyouredead.com/wordpress/3rd-annual-northern-arizona-university-behind-the-image-guest-blogger-project/Please take a minute to leave your insights and constructive comments in the Comment section below – the student would love to hear from you!

May 142015
 
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“Neon Golf” photo copyright Christye Flanagan

“Neon Golf”
This photo that I took called “Neon Golf” was inspired by the golf course behind my house that I live on. It was taken for an assignment in my Intermediate Photography class at NAU. The assignment was Painting with Light. This technique added a modern spin to a traditional object. The neon green is a contrasting color to the red bag adding depth and interest. The full moon adds light to the focal point being the golf bag and clubs. The golf ball on the ground adds to the focal point also. The visual message that I tried to convey was to take the imagination to golfing at night with a neon ball, golf bag and golf clubs during a full moon. The image is shot at ground level to add an interesting perspective.  The golf bag and clubs are at one side of the image to use the rule of thirds for the composition.  The topline of the trees is another compositional element and it is positioned above the midline. The moon adds light to the dark sky. The trees recede into the background to add depth to the photo. The background below the trees is dark black drawing the eye to the golf clubs.

The technique that I used to make this photo was a long shutter speed set at 60”, f-stop 5.0, ISO 100 and 14mm. I used my small Olympus EM10 with 14-42mm lens set on a tripod. I did not use any filters.  I placed the golf bag on the fairway and the camera was lower in a sand trap. I used an external flash mounted on the camera and a headlamp placed on the ground shining light onto the golf bag. There was a full moon in the bag ground. I focused on the center of the golf bag. I shined the laser light on the golf ball first and then hit the shutter button. After a few seconds shining the light on the ball; I put my hand over the laser light and pointed the light at the bag and removed my hand so the light would shine on the bag. I then traced the golf bag and clubs until the shutter was done. Since the camera had such a long shutter speed I had time to trace the bag and golf clubs.  As far as post processing the only thing that I did was crop it a little.

About the Photographer:
My name is Christye Flanagan and I am a post-baccalaureate student at Northern Arizona University. I have a previous degree from the University of Arizona in Family Studies. This semester I just finished all the classes that I need for my degree at NAU with a Bachelors of Fine Art in Visual Communications with an emphasis in Graphic Design and will graduate May 8, 2015. This semester I also took an extra class in photography. It is my third one and I am developing my photography skills to use with my graphic design. I like to manipulate photos to use on websites and with graphic design.  To develop my photography skills more I plan to take some photography classes through Arizona Highways.  After graduation I plan on freelancing.

To read more about the Northern Arizona University “Behind the Image: Guest Blogger” project on our blog, please read the introduction at http://youcansleepwhenyouredead.com/wordpress/3rd-annual-northern-arizona-university-behind-the-image-guest-blogger-project/Please take a minute to leave your insights and constructive comments in the Comment section below – the student would love to hear from you!

May 142015
 
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Photo copyright Samantha Colombo

One thing that always fascinates me about photography is how subjective it is. What I think of an image may be, and most likely is, completely different from what the person standing next me thinks, whether they are a fellow photographer or not. I also love the diversity of the photographic medium. Anyone and everyone can look at an image and feel something or have an opinion about it, and anyone can be a photographer. They have to have inspiration and run with it. When I get inspired, I obsess in taking pictures. Not every image is the image but the experience and exploration of adjusting my lens by just that much or by taking a picture from this angle makes it all worth it.

The adventure of this image began when my professor gave us the instruction to take an image with a sunburst. The name of it, sunburst, typically means that a photographer takes it outside using the sun, but I did not want to do that.  I have seen images of performers onstage and the stage lights creating the same effect. This always made me feel like the performer was becoming the star. I did not have stage or a performer but I did have a beautiful roommate and a desk lamp but I still want the same feel to my image but with a slight twist. She obviously wasn’t going to be a performer becoming a star but I wanted to her to be an emotional image that conveyed a sense of transformation. I set up my Canon Rebel T3 with an 18-55mm lens and I put it on my tripod. Then I turned off as many lights in the area as I can because I wanted the main source of light to be the light-burst. My ISO was at 800 and my aperture was as low as I could get it, which was f/22. I zoomed my lens in to be 29mm. I had my roommate sit in front of it. I struggled with where I wanted to the light to shine from. If I positioned it above her nose it didn’t have enough of the bursting effect. Under her nose made it look awkward. Then it hit me. I told her to lift her hand up and have a few finger barely resting on her chin. I wanted this position because it reminded me of being in thought and how powerful that can become. This photo took 1.6 seconds to capture but as soon as I saw it, I knew it was the image. When I looked at my image on the little screen on my camera, I could not see that there were noticeable black spots due to pieces of dust on my sensor so when I looked at the image on my computer the specs of dust had turned into big black blots on her hand. I attempted to edit the blots out but because of the variations of shading on her hand, I could not edit the section and have the area looking natural. I modified my vison to be a silhouette. I made it black and white and then darkened the shadows. Then I added a subtle black vignette to increase the classic look on the image. The finished image highlights the outline of her profile that has the accent of the burst of light.

There is more to an image than just capturing an image of a beautiful subject. One of my favorite things to do, once I have completed editing an image, is to look at the before and after and then compare it to the images beside it. The transformation between each image and each step of editing is what builds the images history. It is like a family tree. The stage before set up the current stage and so on and so forth until you have come to the very end of the tree branch and you have your image. Each step of the journey is essential even if it gets undone or changed. It is a learning experience.

About the Photographer:
I am currently studying photography and creative media and film at NAU. When I began photography, I thought of doing strictly landscape photography but after one session in the school’s portrait studio, I fell in love with portraiture. I strive to capture the genuine moments and emotions. While at a shoot I typically talk to my subjects and try to get them laughing so I take pictures of the big goofy grins on their faces. I plan on going into business with my brother-in-law and start up our own business called CH Studios.

To read more about the Northern Arizona University “Behind the Image: Guest Blogger” project on our blog, please read the introduction at http://youcansleepwhenyouredead.com/wordpress/3rd-annual-northern-arizona-university-behind-the-image-guest-blogger-project/Please take a minute to leave your insights and constructive comments in the Comment section below – the student would love to hear from you!

May 132015
 
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“The Calm Before the Storm” photo copyright Krista Baldwin

“The Calm Before the Storm”
Being able to travel the country with the NHRA drag racing circuit lets me have the opportunity to shoot some amazing shots of the drivers and the crewmembers. This shot is of my grandfather, Chris “The Greek” Karamesines. He is a legend in the sport by being the first to 200 mph in 1960 and he is the oldest active driver in Top Fuel at the age of 83. These cars accelerate to speeds of 320 mph in just under 4 seconds. I try to convey that moment right before a run down a drag strip that you recollect your thoughts and calm your mind. This moment is very crucial because you do not want your mind to wander away when you are about to go 300 mph. It is mostly a focusing tool that I and many other drivers use right before we have to go down the quarter mile. In just a manner of minutes the driver sits with a 10,000 horsepower machine and the driver is in control of this rocket that they are strapped to. Personally during this time I do my yoga breathing and close my eyes. This really helps to bring your hear rate down because you do not want to be so excited that you do not concentrate on what you need to be doing. Making this image is more difficult than you think. Every driver has their own routine and as the photographer, I have to be in the right spot at the right time to capture this exact moment.  I didn’t really change the photo except for a little bit of a tighter crop just to zero in on the driver and a touch of saturation.  Since I took my time to compose the shot, I do not need to change much of the image.

This photo was shot in Gainesville, Fl. At the Gator Nationals with a Canon Eos Rebel T3 with an 18-55 mm lens (kit lens). It was ISO 400, 55mm, f/13, and a shutter of 1/160. Like I said before I brought up saturation just a touch and a tighter crop. I want the colors to really shine through and make it feel that it is “busy” and the driver is just waiting in the calm before the storm so to speak. When you are sitting in the seat strapped with a 5-point seat harness, there is a lot of commotion happening around you. Cars are going down the track, your crew is making last minute adjustments to the car, and the other drivers are also just sitting there. It’s a powerful moment and that is why I chose to display this image.

About the Photographer:
As being the granddaughter and daughter of Top Fuel pilots, it is not crazy that I want to get my time to drive as well. I currently drive a front engine Nostalgia Eliminator 1 dragster that goes 180 mph under 8 seconds down the track. Being a driver, it has increased my interest to photograph more intimate things with the driver rather than just shooting the car. I want to show the audience that it is not just driving a really fast car; it’s about taking your life at stake and doing something that you have passion for.

To read more about the Northern Arizona University “Behind the Image: Guest Blogger” project on our blog, please read the introduction at http://youcansleepwhenyouredead.com/wordpress/3rd-annual-northern-arizona-university-behind-the-image-guest-blogger-project/Please take a minute to leave your insights and constructive comments in the Comment section below – the student would love to hear from you!

May 132015
 
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“Generous Departure” photo copyright Jasmine Riley

“Generous Departure”
A friend and I set out for an adventure exploring off the beaten path.  We chose a remote location on an off-road trail.  I pointed to a hill in the distance and said, “let’s climb that one.”  We parked the car and set out on foot.  It was apparent that probably very few people have done what we decided to do, as there were no trails and no trace of people.  Looking out over the dried fields of dead grass, it looked as though the truth of this location was all there; there was nothing to it.  I remember thinking, “From a distance, it’s hard to see the hidden treasures that nature holds.  I really hope we find something interesting…maybe a snake? Maybe an abandoned structure?”  We then set out on foot to the chosen hill; it was farther away than we expected.  It was a lot taller too.  When we arrived at the base of the hill, we saw something in the distance.  We thought maybe it was a fallen tree, but thought nothing of it.  After a lot of breaks and heavy breathing, we finally made it to the top.  It was a beautiful view of the San Francisco Peaks with the melting spring snow cresting the top.  Miles and miles of open yellow, fields and rolling hills surrounded us.  My car was but a tiny speck in the distance.  At the base of the hill, we could see an aerial view what looked like a ribcage.  This is what we had previously thought to be a tree.  We made our way back down to the bottom to check it out.  It was indeed a ribcage, a bull ribcage with the rest of its body attached.  It was a very cool find.  I am guessing that the two of us are the only ones who have ever laid eyes on this carcass, as it looked untouched.  That was a very special feeling, which I intend on sharing with others.

I was inspired to take this photograph because it shows an untouched life that ended.  It encourages mystery.  The most intriguing thing I found about this carcass was that there was a ring of green grass around the bull while all of the rest of the grass was dried up and dead.  It showed that the life of this animal was not lost, but transferred into the environment around it.  This action of death demonstrated the flow of energy and the breath of life into the grass, the hawks, the insects, and the coyotes that all gained nourishment from this involuntary sacrifice.

I took this photo, titled “Generous Departure” with my Sony A7 with a 55mm f/1.8 Carl Zeiss Prime.  I took it with a shutter speed of 1/6400, an aperture of f/1.8, and an ISO of 50.  When editing the photo, I brought up the clarity to enhance the details on the skull.  I also brought up the shadows and brought down the highlights.

About the Photographer:
My photography is centralized around Northern Arizona where I was born and raised.  I have a strong love for exploration of the outdoors.  I am driven by adventure, and I especially love being able to capture those experiences to share with others.  In my photography, I like to take a closer look at ordinary, everyday objects, activities, or people to bring about a better understanding and appreciation for life that is often looked over in the busy everyday lives.  I strongly believe in taking life day by day and being able to appreciate it for what it is.  I absolutely love being able to capture these expressions through my photography.

To read more about the Northern Arizona University “Behind the Image: Guest Blogger” project on our blog, please read the introduction at http://youcansleepwhenyouredead.com/wordpress/3rd-annual-northern-arizona-university-behind-the-image-guest-blogger-project/Please take a minute to leave your insights and constructive comments in the Comment section below – the student would love to hear from you!