cat » You Can Sleep When You're Dead: Blog by Colleen Miniuk

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May 062014

Photo copyright Ali Springer

In order to capture this picture I relied heavily on luck. Luck and timing.

I can manipulate things like shutter speed, aperture, ISO, and even the angle at which I shoot, but I have absolutely no control when it comes to subjects like Alan. My friend had just gotten a new kitten and while I was visiting her I decided to whip out my camera and snap off a few shots. I quickly ran through some camera settings: ISO 400, aperture f4.5 and shutter 1/25. I did not intend for these to be serious images, just something to mess around with. Now Alan, on the other hand, was having none of this, serious or not. He was fully content of thwarting any and every image that I was able to take. He would tease me, looking at me straight on and as soon as I would go to take the picture he would turn or zip away. The result: blurry blobs of fur that somewhat resembles a cat.

But he never stayed gone long, too interested the big black clicking machine (my camera) that was glued to my face. Finally it got to the point where I was determined to get “the” shot. It did not matter what I had to do, not even bribery was out of the question.

I rolled around on the floor. I followed him up and down hallways, I played with him – endlessly, and I fed him. Nothing worked. It like he knew what I was after. I did not get this picture until the very end. I had had enough of this game he was playing. I was getting up to leave and had to step over him in order to make it out of the kitchen. I do not know what it was that told me to point my lens down and peer through the viewfinder one last time. Perhaps it was a release of frustration or maybe my photographer’s instinct, but I peered through my viewfinder, finger poised over the button, I shouted, “ALAN!” No sooner had his name left my mouth than his tiny head began to turn upwards, mouth wide with a mewing rebuttal that quickly turned into a full-fledged yawn. And through the course of this three-second exchange my camera was clicking away, one shot after another. Amidst those shots was this one. Finally. I had “the” photo.

I captured this photo with my Nikon D40 and 55-200mm lens.

About the Photographer:
My name is Ali Springer. I am relatively new to the realm of photography, logistically speaking. But what I lack in experience I make up for in creativity and drive. I am not afraid to attempt new things or to approach old ideas from new directions. Whether it is a laugh or a cry, the goal I have with all my photographs is to evoke emotion and for people to walk away having been told – visually speaking – a new story.

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

May 012014

Photo copyright Wuke Zhou

Little Orange Juice (my cat) came to me on a Friday night. Since then, he occupied every inch of my apartment. At first, he was so into the computer. He could not stop watching my girlfriend typing her paper. However, one day, little Orange Juice found a new world.

It was a dark day, and I was alone in the living room. I created a small studio for my photo class assignment and was ready to shoot. Little Orange Juice was sleeping on a chair behind me. The moment I hit the trigger, I also woke up Orange Juice because of the light from the flash. I did not notice him until he “meowed”. He looked at me on the other side of the table, very still. I hesitated only for a second and took the shoot. At that special moment, I didn’t think twice or adjust my camera settings. It came to me that I wouldn’t have a second chance to take the shot. I believed that Orange Juice inspired me to create this image. As a matter of fact, he encouraged me to do so. I hardly ever have a chance to photograph him because he is so naughty. Also, animals don’t pose for photographers. Therefore, I knew I had to take the shot.

As I mentioned before, it was the trigger that drew Orange’s attention. When I took the shot, the flash fired as well. Thus, I got a very clear shot of him, full of details. I was surprised that the flash turned out to be perfect. It came from the side and added stunning shadows on Orange Juice’s face. Meanwhile, since I didn’t have time to change the setting or camera lens, the data for this photo is kind of interesting. Using my Canon 5D Mark III, Canon Macro Lens 100mm, ISO 320, 1/20 sec at f 10, at roughly half powered light from an off camera flash.

These settings actually worked well. Low ISO number means overly high quality of the image. Compared with the dark environment, 1/20 second might seem too slow. I didn’t recall if I used a tripod or not, but there is no sign of movement. Thus, I supposed that I did use a tripod, which makes 1/20 second good enough for this image. On the other hand, slow shutter speed ensures enough light. As a matter of fact, we can still notice a little bit more high light in this image. A very large aperture makes sure a deep depth of filed in this image as well.

During the post-processing of this image, the first important thing is to crop the image. I only used Lightroom to edit this image. On the original photo, Orange Juice’s head was in the center but only took about 1/6 of the image. I cropped it a lot because I didn’t want any distractions. Then, I applied 10 clarity, sharpness and contrast on the whole photo. I focused on the details next. I decreased highlights and shadows on his face to make him look soft and bright. I added some clarity on his nose and eyes. I increased the orange and red in this photo too. Therefore, he looked cuter. That’s all I have done for this image.

About the Photographer:
As a future commercial photographer, my initial goal is fulfilling my clients satisfaction in the shortest time possible. In order to achieve my goal, I will learn all the camera equipment that I need to handle and be creative during post-production process. I believe what makes me differ from other photographers is that I understand the difference between creating fine art and starting a business. My art piece will always show both the profession of skills and artistic values that my clients can appreciate.

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