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

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May 132016

Photo copyright Kendra Horsfield

People often forget what nature truly looks like. Few areas still exist where animals are free to roam as they please without human interruption. Zion National Park is a serene habitation where humans can wander freely among wild animals without disrupting their environment. As a huge advocate for animal rights, I chose this picture to spread awareness of how animals should be left unbothered in their natural habitats. The absolute tranquility and beauty that Zion National Park embodies, was an inspiration in itself to capture images that would further share its stunning ambiance.

The deer at Zion National Park are fairly comfortable with the presence of humans; therefore finding a deer feeding was not a difficult feat. However, getting close enough to the deer to have a very focused and sharp shot proved to be rather troublesome.  It took me a while to get as close as I could to the deer without scaring her off and ruining the picture. Once I did get close enough, there were only a couple of moments to take a good picture with the perfect frame of the deer eating up close and deer wandering in the background.

I took my camera everywhere with me on this camping trip, and while it was a hassle to carry while hiking extremely difficult paths; the pictures were all worth it. I witnessed the stunning scenery in every single part of the park, yet it still did not draw my attention in as much as the animals did. My entire life I have obsessed over wild animals, so you can only imagine the child-like excitement I possessed when I was around a ton of wild animals. The entire trip I envisioned a picture of a deer eating in the foreground with several other deer in the background, and it took me about 350 pictures and 4 days of trying before I finally captured the right moment.

In order to capture this image I had my camera set at an ISO of 800, a shutter speed at 1/80 and an f-stop of 4.8. I chose to set my aperture at a wide setting of 4.8 because I wanted the background of the image to be blurry, in order to set more focus on the subject. This shallow depth of field definitely draws more attention to the main deer and creates a more appealing picture. It was a very dark and gloomy day when I took this picture, so to keep an even exposure I bumped up the ISO to 800.

About the Photographer:

I am a Business Marketing and Photography Major at Northern Arizona University. I was raised in Southern California in a multi-cultured home. My interest for photography began in high school where I was under the instruction of an amazing teacher and photographer.

I am passionate about the outdoors and adventure, and I am known for making my own trails to explore new areas. My curiosity for the unknown and interest in rare and unique occasions, drives my yearn to be a photographer.

My friends often times ask me why I spend so much time trying to capture an image instead of just enjoying it in the moment, and my answer is simply because I love the moment so much I want to make it immortal. I hope that one day I can be a freelance photographer capturing special moments all over the world.

To read more about the Northern Arizona University “Behind the Image: Guest Blogger” project on our blog, please read the introduction at youcansleepwhenyouredead.com/wordpress/4th-annual-northern-arizona-university-behind-the-image-guest-blogger-projectPlease take a minute to leave your thoughts and constructive comments in the Comment section below – Kendra would love to hear from you!

Apr 222013

Photograph copyright Daniel Garcia

I took this image as an assignment in my PHO 282 at NAU. The assignment was to recreate the work of a famous photographer by either mimicking one of their pictures or just using a similar technique. The photographer I chose was Jim Brandenburg. His wildlife and nature photography fascinated me and that is what I want to do with photography. So I set out to try to find a good subject. Flagstaff is a beautiful place to live and an excellent place to find wildlife. The problem was, just like anywhere else, most animals aren’t too keen on somebody sneaking up on them. The even bigger problem was that the only lens I had was an 18-55 mm which, for those of you not familiar, is a very basic lens that is severely lacking in the some department. This meant that I had to get within a few feet of my intended subject to get a decent photograph.

So I set out wandering around to try to some ideas, then I saw a tree covered in bird feeders and swarming with little finches and nuthatches. I slowly approached taking painstaking precautions not to disturb the little denizens of the tree. I was almost under the branches when a little call of alarm erupted from one of the little birds and in seconds the tree was vacant of all life. I took this time to find a good place to stand and I began messing with my camera settings. After a few minutes had passed a few birds began to cautiously land in the upper branches and before long the tree was repopulated. Every time I snapped off a photo or tried to get in a better position the birds would all fly away and the whole process would start over. After standing almost motionless in the same place for about an hour and a half this little finch with a bright yellow belly caught my eye. I took his picture but it was too small. So I slowly extended my camera as close to my subject as I possibly could, I couldn’t even see through the view finder. Snap! The shutter blinked and I captured this one image. My camera was less than 2 feet from this little creature! To this day it is one of my favorite photographs I have taken.

I learned that day that wildlife photography is a tedious activity and that if I don’t want to drive myself absolutely insane  I need to invest in a telephoto lens… maybe one day after I graduate I’ll finally be able to afford it! This image will forever stay with me because it showed me that if I just take my time, have patience, and just enjoy the place I’m at, the perfect opportunity will come.

About the Photographer:
My name is Daniel Garcia; I’m a college student and Northern Arizona University. I’m studying biology with an emphasis in zoology and I’m minoring in photography and chemistry. My dream would to be able to work with exotic animals and I figured if I could take cool photos of them why not? I prefer to take wildlife and nature photography because that’s always been my passion. I have to deal with people every day so it’s nice to just get away sometimes and enjoy the beauty in this world that is so easy to take for granted. I currently use a Nikon D3000 with a Nikon 18-55 mm lens.

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 youcansleepwhenyouredead.com/wordpress/introducing-the-nau-photography-students-behind-the-image-guest-blogger-project.