Behind the Image: NAU Guest Blogger – Kimberly Yip » You Can Sleep When You're Dead: Blog by Colleen Miniuk

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Apr 152013

Photograph copyright Kimberly Yip

I had a wonderful opportunity to attend a private practice held only for instructors and advanced members at Northern Arizona Yoga Center in Flagstaff, AZ. Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is the predominant form of yoga practiced at NAYC.  This early rising group moved through the first and second series of Ashtanga Vinyasa using no vocal instruction.  It was very inspiring and peaceful to be among this group of individuals.My goal for this practice was to portray strength, balance and flexibility through a series of images captured throughout the session.

Since the practice began before sunrise, I had to constantly change my camera settings as lighting kept changing.  This pose, called Navasana, was particularly striking especially in the light that was available at that moment.  This light from the sun which covered a vast portion of the room floor was only present for a short time.  The timing and Wyatt’s position in the room couldn’t have been more perfect.  He was facing towards the light that was entering the studio, which gave me a great sense of acceptance, power, balance and strength.

I decided to leave my Speedlight flash at home as I wanted to be as unobtrusive as possible during their private practice.  This experience taught me a great deal about lighting in many different aspects.Lately, I’ve become accustomed to controlling light in a studio setting, so it was refreshing to step out of my comfort zone using light I couldn’t manipulate.

My greatest challenge during this practice was obtaining proper white balance.  I began shooting with the white balance set to the color temperature of tungsten bulbs since that was the light source before sunrise.  As the sun began to overcome the lighting in the room I set the white balance to daylight even though the color temperature was still too warm. If I could go back, I would have custom set the white balance to be around 3000-4000 K, which is the color temperature for sunrise and sunset with clear skies.  This would have saved me a tremendous amount of time when post processing the images from this session.

This photograph was captured using a Rokinon 85mm f/1.4 prime lens on a Nikon D700 camera. I intentionally overexposed the image because Wyatt would be underexposed had I abided by what the camera thought was a proper exposure.  I achieved this by shooting with a wide open aperture at f/1.4 and an ISO of 500.  If I can recall accurately, I overexposed by two full stops at a shutter speed of 1/125th of a second. I could have used a lower ISO had I slowed my shutter speed slightly, but because I was shooting with a manual focus lens and the group was moving through poses rather quickly I didn’t shoot slower than 1/125th of a second with this lens.  Since I was also shooting with really shallow depth of field, it was important for me to freeze motion and achieve sharp focus on Wyatt.

Lastly, post processing was a breeze with this photo.  I adjusted the white balance, brought down highlights and blacks, boosted the contrast slightly, and cropped the image to make Wyatt more centered in the frame. I couldn’t be happier with the end result!

About the Photographer:
My name is Kim and I’ll be graduating May of 2013 with a BS in Biology and minors in Chemistry and Photography.  I love that I’m able to entangle my passion for photography with the world of biology. Photographing people and wildlife will forever fuel my fascination with animal and human anatomy.  Photography is also my outlet, my means of meditation.  Being behind a lens silences my mind and makes me be present.  It’s important for me to continually challenge myself in becoming a better photographer, and I will always strive to capture emotion and form while representing subjects realistically.

To read more about the Northern Arizona University “Behind the Image: Guest Blogger” project on our blog, please read the introduction on our April 15 post at

  6 Responses to “Behind the Image: NAU Guest Blogger – Kimberly Yip”

  1. Interested to read your thought process for this shot. Wonder why you chose such a shallow depth of field?
    Did you purposely want his toes to be blured? I thought it would have been nice to see his toes in focus to strengthen the lines pointing at the light.

  2. Hi Kim! Well done for making the most of your opportunity in the yoga studio and for breaking the “rules” of exposure to help your visual communication. Though it sounds like it was a challenge – and a step out of your comfort zone – the natural lighting helps convey your message of strength and power. Of course, so does his pose! His position, combined with the symmetrical balance you created through your composition, reinforces a sense of balance, calm, and stability. I’m not a huge fan of the darker line extending from his right hand, as I feel this merge allows the compositional energy to travel outside of the frame on the right as opposed to cleanly and clearly out the front door at the top of the image. That said, I think you’ve done a nice job keeping your composition simple and to the point. Thank you for sharing your work with us, Kim! -Colleen

  3. Well done Kim. I would certainly conclude that your accomplished your stated goal and captured an excellent image. I’m glad you decided against using a flash as I think that would have not only been intrusive to the practice session, I feel it would have made the image appear more contrived.

  4. nice shot under very difficult conditions.. the back lighting provides nice rim light on the shoulders accentuating the musculature and providing a sense of strength. The crop putting Wyatt in the bulls-eye gives us a very nice sense of symmetry but that is offset by the blankets in the lower right corner. I would suggest cropping the bottom although you lose some of the lines provided by the shadow of his body. To me, it makes a stronger image. The shadow, the floor joints, the rug he’s sitting on and his pose are all re-inforcing converging lines leading to the door and the morning sun… if the original has any more room at the top margin that would be a plus… It’s easy for us to critique, but you were shooting under very adverse conditions and pulled a very effective image out of the chaos..

  5. I like the shallow depth of field as it focuses my attention on his back. I am fascinated by the rope tied behind his head and his uneven hands. I am imparted with a sense of yoga taking you into realms of pure light with how you allowed the image to be over exposed in the highlights. Well done.

  6. What a beautiful image this is. It has been said above, but the one thing that offsets me is the blanket in the lower right corner, however I do love the light & shadow that is created from being backlight. The sense of symmetry is also something I see highly of in this photo. The details of his back & the softness of the light make up a beautiful image. Great work, Kim.

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