May 072014
Contreras_Areina_blog (1 of 1)

Photo copyright Areina Contreras

I love color. If you cannot tell my favorite color is purple. I took this photo as an assignment for my photography class. To be honest, this photo made me very nervous. I was on a deadline and it was my first time using the painting with light technique. This technique causes fast moving light to be slowed down by shooting with a slower shutter speed and wider aperture. This image was shot in manual mode because if not the camera will try to readjust its settings. Normally, an image needs corresponding aperture and shutter speed, but in this particular photo I have a slow shutter speed with a wide aperture. When captured properly light can be used to outline a subject or write out words.

Here is the background story of this photo. I asked my two very best friends for help with this photo because I needed people to light up my subject. Light can be very tricky, so the first twenty shots were testers. My friends had fun drawing out words and shapes. I was at a loss for how to shoot a photo with the painting light effect, but I had a stroke of creativity. While taking the starter photos I saw my friend’s bike on its back by the front door of her apartment. Since this technique was a new to me I decided that any subject would be great just as long as I could light it up properly and get a clear photo. The setup for this image is a bike placed on its back as if I was going to check the tire. Picture this, myself facing the front tire, my two friends on the backside of the tire in a pitch black apartment. My two friends had their cell phone lights on the bike ready for me to give the signal to outline the tire. My plan for this bike wheel was to spin it moderately fast while having one friend light up the inner rim of the spinning tire and the other friend draw something in the center to create more light reflecting from the rim of the tire. I counted down and on three I held down my shutter. I took about five shots and they were not so great. Since I was at such a long shutter speed I had shaky hands, so everything was blurry.

Now that I positioned myself in front of the tire I did not have a tripod handy, so I used my knee to help keep my camera steady. My friends giggled in the background as I gave the “Ok now!” The tire spun and the cell phone lights were swished on the rotating bike tire. As you can see I got the shot. The final product has a great story and my friends are always happy to help me out with my photos. I am happy with the outcome and the only thing I changed in editing this photo is the color. In the original photo the light is typical white, but I felt the need for color. I adjusted the color and decided on purple. After this photo I feel confident in producing painting with light photos just as long as I have assistants to help me create an interesting photo. This photo was captured with a Nikon D3100 camera at 2.5sec, f/5.6, ISO 100, with a 18mm focus from my 18-55mm lens.

About the Photographer:
My name is Areina Contreras and I am from the small town of Barstow, CA. I am a public relations major at Northern Arizona University with a minor in photography. I have always been intrigued by photography, so I decided to invest in a DSLR camera which encouraged me to add the minor of photography. It has been a creative outlet for me and has brought me to look at the world through a new lens. My photographs showcase the natural simplicity of special moments. My works include portraits, special occasions, and nature photography. My technique for taking quality images is to see the bigger picture and make it a reality. I am inspired by laughter, color, and surprise. I enjoy having fun while taking photographs and meeting new people that are charmed by my work.

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

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 062014

Photo copyright Olivia Franco

In Northern Arizona University’s 2014 spring semester Amy Horn gave her Photography 285 class an assignment: to turn in: a portrait photograph. Spring break was the week before the assignment was due. I have always made the best attempt to be a diligent student and made plans to shoot the image at the beginning of the break. However, this was far from what had actually happened. I planned to return the Sunday before classes started up again and, of course, took the photo the Saturday before. Panic struck me at the thought of lacking someone at school that fit my very high, photogenic requirements. Originally, my mind was set on my mother, who has a very photogenic face. One argument later and we agreed that my mother would not be my subject. It was quite rude of her, something about how much she hates a camera in her face.  Out of options, I chose my father as my target instead.

Normally I considered my father to have a rather plain face, but I quickly learned that with the right amount of adjustment anyone could look nice for the camera. The photo’s set up was also interesting. Instead of an elegant studio, I had to make do with my parent’s home. 6:30pm light filled the room from approximately four windows. The background was a black, fleece blanket and his choice of seat was a common living room chair. The photo shoot began only after fidgeting with my flash and wireless triggers, which I placed to the right and above the subject, for a good twenty minutes. It was unprofessional at the time but I consider it a live and learn situation. My dad wore glasses and a dark grey graphic t-shirt at the time and after the first shot was taken I knew that wasn’t going to make for a dramatic photo. I took the glasses from him and choose a nice shirt out of his closet. I chose blue with the thought in mind that it would be nice with the black background. As he returned to his chair he grabbed a hat which hung by the front door. I considered it, assumed it would not harm the photo, and agreed to let him wear it.

I took many good shots and was overall pleased with them. We then experimented with the placement of the chair, brought in our family dog, and with the hat on and off. It was an enjoyable experience and my father started to have fun too. He struck a few poses and referred to them as his glamour shots. It wasn’t until I took the images into Lightroom that I decided that the joke photos were some of the best ones. My roommate had made the final decision of which photo to turn in for our portrait assignment. She referred to it as the “stoic” pose and was one of the ones I hadn’t considered due to its very “glamor shot feel”. When I received my grade from Amy, I was excited to see that I had received full points. From the experience, I learned that every photo you take is important, whether as a joke or in the spur of the moment, you never know which photo might be the money shot.

Shot with Canon Rebel T3. ISO: 200, 24mm, f/4.5, 1/160 seconds. Watermark added. I lowered the background’s exposure to take out any distractions.

About the Photographer:
My name is Olivia Franco and I am a third-year student at Northern Arizona University majoring in Electronic Media and Film with Theatre and Photography minors.  I have been fascinated with technology ever since I was a child, especially with cameras. My uncle is a professional photographer and I never failed to ask him to play with his camera at every family gathering. On the day of my high school graduation, he gave me my first camera: a Canon Rebel T3 DSLR. I currently shoot with that camera and plan to continue with it for a long time. I enjoy shooting macro and exposing the smaller things in life but have just now begun to understand the charm of portrait photography and hope to continue pursuing this other style.

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

May 052014

Photo copyright Donna Kelley

This is Rodney, and as he told me the first time I met him, Rodney is all that is necessary. At the Flagstaff Family Food Center he is referred to by the staff and other diners as Grandpa. He has huge blue eyes that are always hidden by glasses and a band aid across his nose. His legs are ruined by arthritis. His walker goes everywhere with him. When he is not pushing it, he is usually sitting on it, like in his photo here.

I am embarrassed to admit that I was scared the first time I walked into the Flagstaff Family Food Center. I was there to get content for a class, but the diners did not know that. The men waiting at the end of the line all moved out of my way and shouted to the men up front to, “move” because “ladies first.” I found out later that “ladies first” is not an actual rule of the food center. The men were just being nice. This made me sad and extremely happy all at once. Here are these guys letting the new girl get through the door first, these guys that do not know me, and have no idea that I am not there because I am hungry.

When I got through the door, one of the staff members sat me down at Grandpa’s table. She told me that they were a “lively” bunch. This meant that they would be willing to talk to me, like I knew many others would not. The first thing I noticed were Rodney’s beat up hands. They were covered in scabs and band aids. I introduced myself. The five diners introduced themselves. No one would let me take their photo, but they were all okay with me recording audio.

Since that first day I have been back numerous times. I always sit with Rodney. He has shared stories with me about his time in the army, his ex-wife, and his two daughters. His oldest daughter died in a car accident, and he has not seen his younger daughter in 16 years. After many conversations with Rodney, I offered to drive him home. He wears a bus pass around his neck, because he cannot not walk far. I trust him, but I was still nervous as we got into my Chevy Sonic. His house was less than a five minute drive away. After I dropped him off, I told him to tell me anytime I am there if he wants a ride. He smiled and thanked me and waved to the little girl who lives next door as he pushed his walker up his ramp.

Meeting Grandpa has changed my life. I know I will never forget him. He is a spiritual man, but far from religious. He believes that everything he has done in his life has been for a reason. He calls the Food Center “the best restaurant in town,” and eats there not because he cannot afford groceries but because he has a family there. He is always joking and smiling. When you meet him you automatically wonder how a man who is eating at a Food Center could be so happy. We all have something to learn from people like Rodney. He has taught me to be thankful for every single occurrence, good or bad, because in life there really are no guarantees and every occurrence shapes you and your path.

I photograph with a Canon 60D. The image shown was shot using an 18-135mm lens at 800 ISO, 1/160 of a second at f/10.

About the Photographer:
My photography and video style are very much about capturing a moment as it happens, in a way that illustrates what I am actually seeing. For me, photography and videography is art. Art is not perfect, nor should it be. I strive to capture the true moment. I believe that if a photo has to be edited to death, it was dead to begin with. I believe that everything happens for a reasons, and the some of life’s best lessons have to be learned the hard way.

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

May 052014

Photo copyright Paul Hurd

This is an image I have wanted to capture for quite some time.  For a few years now, I have been fascinated with capturing a subject beyond our comprehension—the Milky Way. I get an incredibly humble feeling when I see our vast galaxy in the dark sky above, so it is no wonder that I love to photograph it!  There is also a level of uniqueness in this genre of photography.  I try to edge away from cliché images, and I feel that this imagery does just that.  In most cases, it is rare for me to take a landscape shot that looks better than what I see with my eyes.  The colors aren’t as saturated, the depth is not the same, and the scene does not have the same feeling when captured in a photograph.  This is not the case when shooting the night skies.  With today’s digital cameras and photo-editing software, it becomes possible to create an image that actually looks more incredible than what the human eye sees.  Using the most light-gathering settings on my camera, the details of the Milky Way pop out.  But for me, the stars alone are not enough to create a memorable image.  I find it best to incorporate a landscape element into the frame.  Some of the best landscape astrophotography shots I’ve seen contain some type of body of water.  After these types of images inspired me, I thought there would be some great photo opportunities at Lake Mary, just outside of Flagstaff, AZ.  After pondering this idea for months, I decided to go out and shoot one night in late March.  There was a new moon, my roommate let me borrow his car, the skies were clear, and the brightest portion of the Milky Way was rising above the horizon at about 3AM.  So, I sacrificed sleep and a warm bed in the wee hours of Monday morning to go see what I could capture.  After dodging some elk on the eerie 20 minute drive to the lake, I arrived to a beautiful sight. I stepped out of the car and looked to the east.  Sure enough, there was the massive, dim cloud of dust and stars above the horizon.  Without further ado, I unpacked my camera and tripod and started setting up.  I snapped shot after shot, amazed at what was appearing on my tiny LCD screen.  But I still was not satisfied.  I needed to somehow get a good shot of the lake and the Milky Way in one image.  After toiling around in the pitch-blackness, I found a small group of rocks and composed the best shot I could.  I set my 14mm lens’ aperture to f/2.8 and my shutter speed to 30 seconds.  I decided to crank the ISO way up to 4000.  While this induces a good amount of noise and grain, I knew I had to make my camera ultra-sensitive to light to grab as much detail as possible from the stars. My exposure looked good and I painted just the right amount of light onto the rocks with a flashlight.  After that, I saw a car coming down the highway and I thought it was going to ruin my shot.  As it turns out, this lit up the trees and actually added more dimension to the image.  The next day, I edited the image in Lightroom and Photoshop.  After adjusting the exposure, white balance, contrast, and sharpening the Milky Way I was satisfied with the final product.  I have some ideas for future shoots like this, but for now this is definitely one of my favorite night-shots to date.

About the Photographer:
I was born and raised in Tucson, Arizona and got hooked on photography my freshman year of high school.  There, I learned how to shoot with both film and digital SLR cameras. Four years later, I left home to attend Northern Arizona University to get a change of pace and experience a new setting.  Now, I’m currently taking photography classes to better myself as a photographer and possibly make it into a career someday.

My favorite photos are almost always captured at night.  While many photographers pack up after sunset, I start setting up.  Utilizing long exposure techniques, it’s possible to show off the amazing scenes happening in the dark that our eyes are simply not sensitive enough to see. I always challenge myself to produce captivating photos and will continue to do so for years to come.  I hope you enjoy viewing my images as much as I enjoy creating them.

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

May 042014

“Grumpy Gills,” photo copyright Shelby Lynch

“Grumpy Gills
Romping around on a warm day in Flagstaff, AZ with my partner in crime… okay, tour guide actually.  Admittedly, I wanted to sound cooler.  My older cousin graduated from Northern Arizona University a few years ago and lives up here with his fiancé and son, so they have helped me find places to take photos for class.

I was inspired to capture images of their son, Casey, because he was acting like my personal assistant.  He found all of the perfect flowers for me and would advise me to take photos of them.  Casey is three going on thirty.  He is the most serious, concentrated, well-mannered kid I know, but totally a thinker.  Casey would analyze the picture taking process and you could tell.  He has his “thinking face” on.  The boy was completely intrigued and wanted to know how everything worked together to create an image.  He asked and continues to ask me how the image gets inside of the camera and I love how fascinated he is with the process.

After attempting to answer questions as best I could, I turned the camera on little mister Casey.  Now in the past this has happened, but it seems every time I turn the camera on him… or most children, I get this “thinking face” or the face of a miserable child.  I don’t know what it is about me that brings this face out of children, but I must be doing something wrong.  I’ve showed them images on the camera, I’ve made the goofiest noises, and I’ve even danced (which would probably make me cry to see too, I suppose)… nothing works for me! The only time I seem to get a smile is when I put the camera down, and that’s just what Casey did.

As a photographer, I love to capture more emotions than happy or the typical smiling face, I enjoy capturing what’s real.  I’d like to believe that there is more than a happy smiling face to people, and think that is the reason people go to photographers more than companies now-a-days.

When I pulled the photos I took into Adobe Lightroom, and I quickly realized that this was my favorite one.  I adjusted the exposure slightly to darken it a little.  I also pulled the blacks down a little and created a matte preset for this image as well as the set it is in.

For my image, “Grumpy Gills”, I used my Canon Rebel T2i/EOS 600D.  My settings are ISO 100, 50mm lens at f/1.8, 1/500 of a second.

About the Photographer:
Hello, I’m Shelby Lynch and I’m generally all smiles.  Just a small town gal transitioning to university living.  I am the kind of girl who prefers to be behind the camera.  I am majoring in photography.  I have been shooting since I got my first camera in 2006.  When I started out, I just took photos of friends and still life.  I have done a number of portrait shoots, but I believe there is always something to learn.  I love to capture people’s real essence and try finding beauty in everything.  One day I hope to own my own business.

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

May 042014

Photo copyright Carolyn Wood

For weeks, I had no idea what image I was going to submit for this assignment. The only requirement was the timing of when I took it, and yet, not one image stood out to me among the rest from this semester. Insert crippling fear here.

After reminding myself to breathe, I began to think of the images I was excited to show people, and the qualities they possessed. That thought process led me to the photograph above.

I took this picture in the spot where my family has been camping since I was around 4 years old; down a forest road just 15 miles south of Flagstaff. The same camping spot that made me fall in love with both photography and the place where I now call home. In my heart, I knew that was where I needed to shoot for this assignment – and suddenly the anxieties dissolved, just like that.

This was where I took photographs I loved to talk about.

While I was running around the forest I found myself chasing the light and scouting for an image that would take me back to those moments of childhood; of growing up. Like camping, this was an outlet to escape my stress and my anxiety and for once, in what had felt like years, I inhaled – totally and completely.

The instant I hit the shutter I felt I captured an emotion I hadn’t felt recently – serenity. I knew I wanted this to be a macro shot, not only because it is one of my favorite techniques but because it also added the emotion I wanted to gain from the image. I got my Canon 60D as a Christmas gift (“…and birthday, and graduation, and wedding…” as my parents so often remind me) and this was the first time I took it into the forest. My macro lens took a bit of a tumble a few months back, so I settled for my 75-300mm zoom lens, knowing I would get the best shot by doing so. Due to the fact I was at f4 I could lower my ISO to 160 and have an average shutter speed, around 1/80. I shot this photo around 6:30pm, and allowed the light to do most of my editing for me, but in Lightroom during post-processing I did bump the vibrance and contrast slightly, along with other minor tweaks.

I love the image for what it brought out of me during a time of finals, studying, and assignments. I love the image for its aesthetic qualities, and the fact that I don’t need to ask “is this okay?” because my own emotional response fulfills any doubt.

About the Photographer:
My name is Carolyn Wood and I’m a 20 year-old Phoenix native currently studying Photography, Public Relations, and Advertising. Flagstaff has always been my second home, so it wasn’t a surprise to anybody when the only school I applied to was Northern Arizona University.

I never had an “ah-ha!” moment where I picked up a camera and knew (I have found life is rarely that simple). In fact, even when I received my first Sony digital camera in middle school I just assumed it was something everybody had. Somewhere along the way, though, I realized I was always in search of something to capture.
So my journey began.

I’ve been shooting photography for around 7 years, and have loved every second of it. I like to think that every picture I take is its own documentary, whether it’s for my life or the lives of those around me, and I view that as an absolute honor.

Being completely honest, there have been times where I’ve used my camera as a crutch; and as something to hide behind. This is probably why I hold candid photography so dear to my heart. Since starting college, I’ve realized getting out of that comfort zone requires actively participating and I believe this realization has made me a better photographer and person, over the past two years. The camera has been a sort of blessing to my life; making me see things I once walked over, which is why macro photography is also one of my passions.

Photography is more than the still after releasing the shutter. Photography is the story, the words, and the emotion behind any moment you deem worthy enough to capture.

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

May 032014

Photo copyright Rachel Richmond-Woodward

This is a photograph of a man named Will McNabb who owns a jewelry making business store in downtown Flagstaff. The image shows McNabb making a ring out of plaster that is later placed in an oven to be processed. I went inside McNabb jewelry store to ask him if I could take a photograph of him making a piece of jewelry by hand. McNabb let me photograph him working a sculpture of a ring. I started taking the photograph of McNabb working the ring inside his jewelry store. I captured the photograph using my Nikon D40 camera and an 18-55mm lens with settings of 1/25 sec, f/5.6 and ISO of 400.

I wanted to take a photograph that could tell a simple story of a person who owns a real business in this small town in Arizona because they inspire me.  I like to take images of people making art. I come from an artistic background where I like to take portraits of people doing things. The best way to capture this image is to place the artist at his desk where he makes the jewelry. I walked over to his work area to photograph him working on a small piece of jewelry. McNabb’s small workspace made it very difficult to photograph him making the ring, but I got in as close as I could to him doing his work.

About the Photographer:
My name is Rachel Richmond Woodward and I am majoring in photography at Northern Arizona University.  I have taken photography classes at Northern Arizona University to become a freelance photographer. I have had an image of my work on display for a photography class for a spring show this year. As a photographer, I enjoy taking photographs of landscapes, editorial and nature scenes.

Making art with photography always inspires me as a photographer to create images that could be memorable and can stand out for people to look at. As a photographer I hope that my photographs inspire you as much as I’ve been inspired by other photographers.

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

May 032014

Photo copyright Trent Heimerdinger

The inspiration to capture this image came a long time ago. I decided that I had to get a photo of a friend of mine doing his first double gainer. A gainer is when you do a back flip facing forward. For the longest time my friends and I could only do single flips, until this day when Austin, a friend of mine, mustered the guts to try a double. This was taken at a place where we had been before, Fossil Creek, Arizona, so we were comfortable with the jump. This is the highest cliff jump the creek had to offer, around 30-35 feet, so I decided the double flip had to be done here. The water was a refreshing 73 degrees and the air was about ten degrees warmer and there was a small breeze so the conditions were almost perfect. After a few warm up jumps and flips it was time to get down to business and go for the double. I hiked all around the cliff looking for the best spot to take the picture. After a short search I found a spot where nothing was in the way of the shot but I was nearly hanging off the edge of the cliff. I got settled in as it was time to break the friendly record of just one flip. Austin did a few test run ups to make sure his footing was secure and he was comfortable. Once his mind was right he only had one thought, “Go”. It felt like there was nothing but silence as he left the rock because I was nervous, but in reality the people watching below were very loud as they were a bit shocked by what he did. Once he left the frame of my camera I instantly leaned over to see how he landed and what do you know, he was as straight as a pencil hitting the water with his arms tucked in to his sides. Once his head came up from underwater there was a big sigh of relief and an even bigger sense of pride because we did what we came to do. I was inspired to capture it long ago but became satisfied April 19th, 2014. When Austin hiked back up the cliff to check the camera we were both very excited. I gave him a “thank God you’re alive” hug and instantly showed him the pictures I took. I took a look and knew right away they weren’t the strongest images I’ve taken but they were the most satisfying to look at because we knew what it took to get them, which was persistence and a lot of guts. I didn’t try to achieve any certain look with the photo because I just wanted to make sure I captured it. It wasn’t about being artsy at the time, it was about just taking pictures of what he did and having the proof to show for it. All I was trying say with this photo is that it happened. There is no message behind it, just truth. I captured it using my Nikon D3200 with a 17-55mm auto focus lens. I had the shutter speed at 1/500 seconds, ISO at 400, f-stop at f/10 and zoomed in to 48mm, on burst shutter mode. I brought the photo into Adobe Lightroom to make some minor touch ups. I lightened the background because there were a lot of shadows, toned down the highlights and whites, brought up the clarity just a bit, then put a light black vignette around the border to make Austin stand out a little bit more.

About the Photographer:
My name is Trent Heimerdinger and I am a senior at NAU, majoring in electronic media and film production, and getting my minor in photography. I have enjoyed taking photos and video for as long as I can remember. As a young kid I would take one of my dad’s cameras and shoot all day when I could, and I guess the hobby has stuck with me all these years. I now see why this is my major/minor, simply because I enjoy doing it. My favorite kind of photos to take are the ones that capture those once in a life time, or extreme moments. I have done a fair amount of trying to capture moments like that, and when i get just one good photo that can tell the world what happened without words, I’m happy. My process for taking pictures like that is to just simply be there, and take pictures to prove that it happened. I don’t think my work differs too much from others out there; I might take my camera places that most people wouldn’t, but that about it. My goal as a photo/videographer is to just show those moments of somebody doing something they will always remember. I am inspired by people’s reactions when they see themselves in that crazy moment.

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

May 022014

Photo copyright John Thompson

Macro Photography is always fascinating to me. We tend to find ourselves moving so fast through life that we do not stop and appreciate the beautiful details that are around us. Macro photography helps me stop and see the world’s small but stunning details. I purchased my first Macro lenses at the end of last semester. At the time, I was not entirely sure of what types of macro pictures I wanted to shoot. I just knew that I wanted to shoot macro pictures. Well, to my surprise it is not as easy to shoot macro as I thought it was going to be. I probably spent more time trying to get a good macro shot then I have on any other picture style that I have taken so far.

My first problem I ran into with this shot was figuring out what to take the picture of. I decided that bugs are not my thing. It is just starting to hit spring here in Flagstaff and so most of the plants around are just starting to get some green back in them. Then I remembered that my Dad had given me a geode about 8 years ago and it had just been sitting on my dresser gathering dust. Whoo Hoo! We have a subject. So, I set up my tripod, got my camera set up and started taking pictures of this rock. Well, the first round of pictures did not come out so great. Over exposed, under exposed, just a little too much out of focus, every picture seemed to have something wrong with it. So, I gave it a few days before I came back to it. During that time, I found an App on my phone that would allow me to use a USB cable and connect to my Cannon T4i. I could then use the app to preview a live image on my Hi-definition smart phone screen. I could then remotely trigger my camera to take the shot from the phone and get it immediately shown back on my phone for review. Well taking the pictures went a lot smoother after that. The photo that I ended up with I took while I was outside (trying to get some natural lighting). Because it was in the evening after I had gotten off work I was trying to get the photo taken before I lost my light. To get the photo I wanted, I ended up taking a 15-second exposure at f/32 with an ISO of 100 while using my Tamron 90mm micro lens. I played around with different angles, f-stops, exposure times, and some different lighting effects. Finally, I got an image that I thought was good. I ran into a few more problems because I had used this app I had never used before but it is what you can expect when trying something new.

I enjoy how this picture came out because of how often I have looked at the original geode. Before this picture, it was just a rock with some little crystals in it but when I got in further with my camera, it became a crystal mountain range. Maybe it is my nerdy sense of imagination that draws me to this image but it is an image that I enjoy and find wonderful to look at and I hope you do as well.

About the Photographer:
My Name is John Thompson, I am a 5 year Navy veteran who spent his time in the military as a jet mechanic. I separated in 2005 to pursue a degree in Computer Information Systems. While on my travels in the NAVY, I took many pictures of beautiful places that were just horribly taken. Therefore, when I had the opportunity to take a photography class in college I jumped on it. From that, I found it to be one of the more satisfying things I have done with my life. I do not think I will ever do photography on a professional level but it well always be a satisfying outlet for me.

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