May 262016

“Love Yourself” || Photo copyright Mariah Doka

“Love Yourself”

Many people say that your younger siblings look up to you and want to be like you. For me it’s the opposite; I wish to be like her. She is so full of life and energy. She has no shame is what she does and what she does always has a purpose. She’s very smart, lovable, comfortable, funny, and cute. My sister has a personality that rubs off on anyone that is near her. To be able to capture her personality in a photo is an accomplishment. Although I will say that it wasn’t that hard to do; she is very photogenic.

I’m not sure if you would call this a portrait. I think of it more of as a candid shot. I didn’t pose her this way, I didn’t tell her what to do, nor did I tell her how to look. All I did was point the camera at her and she just moved and moved. She did different poses, different facial expressions, and I was just the one to click the shutter button. We took almost a hundred photos and each photo had a different pose. She’d be smiling in one and in the next it was a more serious expression. This one is my favorite simply because her smile is beautiful and there is a “cuteness” and a “comfortableness” to her and that’s what I wanted to portray in a photo of her.

I’m going to be honest and say that I don’t do “portraits” a lot, not as much as I would like to anyway. The only reason I don’t do portraits is because I’m not very good at talking to people and that’s probably a trait that any photographer needs to be successful. The reason I’ve taken such an interest in photography is that there are a lot of aspects that don’t require talking to people. Landscape, nature, and whatever else is out there. Although, yes I will have to talk to people eventually but I’m not looking to be a professional and sell my photos and take clients. I’m simply here because I want to do something for me. I want to capture an image that shows that I did something amazing and keep it for myself. With photography, I imagine I can take some awesome photos and not have to talk to anyone about it.

This photo was for a photography assignment that required a portrait of someone using an off camera flash. For this particular set up, using an umbrella flash kit, I set it to my left and had my Canon 5D Mark III camera in my hand. The lens I chose was a 50mm with an aperture of 2.8, shutter speed of 1/100 and an ISO of 1000. I’ll be honest and say that I didn’t realize my ISO was so high and it really didn’t need to be. As far as post processing goes, I did very little. I removed some blemishes and adjusted the contrast and exposure.

About the Photographer:

My name is Mariah Doka and I am currently a student at Northern Arizona University. I am majoring in Criminal Justice with a minor in Photography. Everyone always says that those are two random subjects to put together, and I know they are but those are two things that I’ve come to love. As far as photography, I didn’t do much shooting before college but my interest in it has definitely taken off since I started taking photography courses. I like to do it because photographers have a different way of seeing the world. We’re always looking for interesting things and figuring out how we could take a picture is various ways. I’m here for the aspect of thinking differently and looking at the world differently than the average person.

To read more about the Northern Arizona University “Behind the Image: Guest Blogger” project on our blog, please read the introduction at take a minute to leave your thoughts and constructive comments in the Comment section below – Mariah would love to hear from you!

May 262016

Photo copyright Tyler Walker

When most people take photos they just point and shoot the camera. Very little thought goes into the process of capturing the image.  As those of us who have taken a photo class or have done any professional work know, there is a lot more that goes into an image. There are some times when you plan the image out and it only takes a few minutes. There, however, are other times were you spend a considerable amount of time trying to figure out how to capture the vision you see in your head.  This was the case for myself with this image.

This image came about from a night of complete boredom, and a week of mild depression. What was funny is that I was pretty happy at the time of taking the image. It gave me a creative outlet to express some of the things that I was too embarrassed to admit out loud to those around me. I think there is some beauty in that. This is the first time I have shared this image with anyone. I had aspirations to share it on social media but I was afraid of what some might have thought, or that some would have over reacted to something that was nothing more than a creative outlet.

Going about creating this image is one of the hardest things I have to do with a camera. This had to do with the fact that I had zero help in almost every aspect of the image, which only makes its all the more personal for myself. I had set up a tripod in my bathroom (how many times have you heard that phrase said, it can’t be many) and a hot shoe flash with a receiver set up pointed at a reflector angled at my shower. This was the basic set up but it was everything else that I added that made this shot rather difficult. I had set the shutter speed at 20 seconds in order to allow myself to accomplish everything I had to do.  I put a red fill onto the hot shoe flash while I added a blue one to a flash I had borrowed from a friend attached to my camera. Since I only had one receiver I had to manually hit the shutter button which set off the blue flash and then I would have to move around the tripod in the dark to get into the shower. After I was in the shower I had the trigger in hand and flashed the red flash several times to try and offset how strong the blue flash was. Initially with this image I had the idea to turn the water on as I thought that having the flash stopping the water while adding color would look cool. I was right about that, but I was very wrong on how easy it would be. Electronics and water do not mix. While my flash was not in the shower it was still susceptible to over spray and it promptly started to spasm and freak out. This was the only time I tried it with the water, but I do want to try it again sometime.

I took many different shots when trying to capture this image but this is the one I settled on. It was very hard with a twenty second shutter to have enough light on myself actually stand out. This was the one that I turned out best in. Having just a basic red light that I could turn on and off would have worked better. Is this the perfect image? Not by a longshot but it something I am actually pretty proud of. This is because of the personal nature of it. It would have been nice to have help taking the image but in doing it alone it made taking the image very therapeutic. This was a hard image to take, but one that I had a good time making and if I can get this much joy out of making other photos in the future then I’ll be happy.

About the Photographer:

Robert Tyler Walker grew up living in Santa Ana, California before deciding to attend in the fall of 2012 Northern Arizona University where he majors in Journalism and is minoring in business, and creative media and film. He has interned in the Senate Press Gallery in Washington D.C. and one day hopes to be a travel writer. In the mean time he likes to go exploring with friends, camera always in tow.

To read more about the Northern Arizona University “Behind the Image: Guest Blogger” project on our blog, please read the introduction at take a minute to leave your thoughts and constructive comments in the Comment section below – Tyler would love to hear from you!

May 252016

Photo copyright Jeff Kunkel

My favorite type of photography is landscapes, creating an image of nature that is different from the other 100 images that others have shot of that same landscape. I have never tried branching out, and that was my objective for this image. I wanted to try a concept new to me: capturing emotions. I wanted this image to be relatable to everybody. Everyone has felt frustrated and depressed, like everything around them is broken. I chose this spot for that reason; it is a rundown locker room in an abandoned town called Two Guns. I thought, “What better place to convey strong emotions than an abandoned building?” I had multiple options as to where to put my friend in the buildings, but I chose the corner because that is where people go to hide. People try to hide this part of themselves. It is natural for us to hide the emotions that make us vulnerable. The girl in the photo (let’s call her Sue) has come out with me on multiple adventures before, and she knows exactly what to do when I can’t show it. I told Sue what emotions I wanted to convey, and she ran with it. This is one of the first pictures I shot, but it is by far my favorite because it is the image I related to the most as well as to the people I showed it to. I chose a black and white filter for this image because the tone of the color image is not as strong as the one I wanted to convey.

I found this image to be difficult to shoot, mostly due to the architecture of the building. There were exposed nails, broken boards and porcelain tiles, and narrow hallways. I had my camera set up on a tripod in the opposite corner of her and I reached through the wall to activate the shutter. I used a Canon Rebel T2i with a focal length of 24mm, shutter speed of 1/40, ISO 100, and aperture f/8. Some of the post processing I did was add the black and white filter, but I also increased the sharpness to try and show the detail in all of the broken pieces. I also changed the color tone of her flannel to pop against her dark clothes. I also added a radial filter around her to get more detail in the clothes she was wearing and to draw the viewers’ eye to her.

About the Photographer:

My name is Jeffrey Kunkel. I am a senior from Northern Arizona University graduating this May with a degree in Finance. I have been taking photography classes at NAU for a year, but have been serious about photography for about three years. My favorite subjects are landscapes, nature, and I am experimenting with action sports.  I use Lightroom for post processing, but I try my best to capture the image as close to as it naturally appears. My goal as an artist is to try new techniques and never let photography feel like a job.

To read more about the Northern Arizona University “Behind the Image: Guest Blogger” project on our blog, please read the introduction at take a minute to leave your thoughts and constructive comments in the Comment section below – Jeff would love to hear from you!

May 252016

Photo copyright Katie Sawyer

I’m the kind of person who grabs a hold of an idea and can’t sit still until it’s done, and done right. So when this concept first appeared in my mind, I knew it would have to become a reality.

The assignment was to photograph some form of moving water, and I wanted to do something different than what everyone always does. For me, I’m always most attracted to images that tell a story. They should have depth and character, and be engaging enough to catch someone’s eye. Images that don’t have that appeal can look flat. I felt like adding a human aspect to the water for this photo would tell a story, and make the viewer feel more engaged. I had thought through my concept, but the actual shoot would be more of a challenge than I thought.

The first problem I faced was the set up, how do I get the bag to drip at the right time? How do I even hang the bag in the first place? After a little ingenuity I came up with a simple rig using my chair perched albeit precariously on top of my desk, with my roommate’s borrowed bowl underneath. It seemed like an infallible plan until it came crashing down about an hour later- literally. The bag somehow managed to slip out of the rig and into the bowl full of water below, and my Nikon D3300 just happened to be in the splash zone. Some tears, a couple of very wet textbooks (sorry professor), and several towels later, I was still as determined as ever to get the shot. I reset my rig-with a backup system this time- and set my camera to 1/200th of a second, the highest it will allow while using flash. I learned that the hard way as well. Don’t go over 1/200th of a second unless you like half pitch-black photos. To let as much light in as possible in the low light conditions, I set the camera at ISO 800, and f-stop 5.6 as well. I also wanted a slightly tighter focus, so I set the camera to 34mm. In the end, I filled my memory card twice, but I got the lucky shot. I brought it into post processing to fine-tune it a little, and even out the tones of the image.

 About the Photographer:

My name is Katie Sawyer, and I’m a photography student at Northern Arizona University. I mostly work on school related projects, and I love trying out new ideas and techniques I haven’t used before. I prefer natural shots, architecture and macro photography. I’m not a big fan of portraiture, because I honestly find it a bit boring. I like to work alone, and I think a common challenge people face when taking portraits is feeling awkward, which I can definitely relate to. Directing another human around can be kind of uncomfortable. As for my favorite process, I like post editing a lot. I have a background in Photoshop and Illustrator, which have definitely helped me to get good results.

To read more about the Northern Arizona University “Behind the Image: Guest Blogger” project on our blog, please read the introduction at take a minute to leave your thoughts and constructive comments in the Comment section below – Katie would love to hear from you!

May 242016

Photo copyright Kelly Lienhard

Now one of my favorite photographs I’ve taken, this was almost the photograph that never happened. Over spring break, my family and I traveled to Playas del Rosarito in Baja California, and as usual, I carried my camera (a Canon T3i Rebel) with me whenever we left the house. However, on this particular trip I was having a hard time actually shooting anything. My passion is and always has been street photography; and the language, people, and scenes on the streets of Mexico were so bright and full of character that I got overwhelmed. I felt that there was no way I could possibly convey all the excitement and life occurring around me through my camera in four days, especially with my family pulling me in all different directions. Every time I pulled out my camera, I found myself disappointed with what I captured.

On the second-to-last day of our trip, my friend’s little brother, Max, decided he had to have a Mexican-made ukulele. I went with him and my friend into town to search through the street vendors for the perfect ukulele. As I wandered through the maze of booths, vendors, and stalls, I came across the man in this photograph. He caught my eye because he was peacefully caught up in his work making leather shoes and belts – an extreme contrast to the loud and colorful streets. The perfect light came through a hole in the makeshift roof right onto him, naturally lighting up him and his work. The composition couldn’t have been better if I had planned it. This was every street photographer’s dream. Although the light was perfect, it worried me that the background might be too dark. Even more so, that this man might not want his photo taken by an American tourist, and my limited knowledge of Spanish would not help the situation. Because of these factors, I almost kept walking. At the last minute, I decided to just go for it and take the shot. I adjusted my ISO to 1600 in hopes of making the background a little lighter, without washing out my subject. My f-stop was set to 4.0 and my shutter speed was 1/160. I took a couple steps back, and put him in the bottom right corner of the photo, and framed him nicely by his finished products hanging up around the stall, and zoomed in until I had an 18 mm foal length.  As soon as I shot it, I was so glad I took the chance. The picture came out just as I had envisioned it, and it told a story about the everyday culture of Rosarito.

About the Photographer:

My name is Kelly Lienhard, and I am a freshman at Northern Arizona University this year. I am a journalism major and a photography minor, and I hope to be a photojournalist someday. My mom is a photographer, so I love taking photos, however, my high school photography class sparked my passion for photography class when my teacher assigned us a street photography project, and I realized what really inspired me was other place’s stories. Since then, I have had photographs featured on the local news, shot friends’ senior portraits, and taken many more photography classes.

To read more about the Northern Arizona University “Behind the Image: Guest Blogger” project on our blog, please read the introduction at take a minute to leave your thoughts and constructive comments in the Comment section below – Kelly would love to hear from you!

May 242016

Photo copyright Taylor Slevin

It’s interesting taking a photo that you are proud of; it’s a feeling of success that I believe you can never quite replicate in anything else. An extreme feeling of euphoria comes along with capturing a small moment in time that can never be captured in exactly the same settings as you have at the moment you choose to close the shutter. This feeling was ultimately what I set out to achieve this semester when I started my photography class. I wanted to feel that euphoric happiness and to start to produce images that I was proud enough to show to others, as I had never truly done that before.

If you had asked me at the beginning of the semester which project seemed least exciting, I might have told you the “Shutter Drag with Flash” project sounded like it would be exactly that; a drag. Cause what in the heck is shutter drag? And my gosh those flashes are real pains to try and work you know? Or so I thought. I’ll tell you right now though; I was one hundred and ten percent wrong. This photo became my first “successful” photo in my eyes. This project gave me my first image that I am proud enough to show the world with a big smile on my face.

I played around with light painting my first semester in photography at NAU so it was not completely unfamiliar but after learning just how much more I could do with it from Professor Horn I knew I had to take it one step further. After doing the tutorials of stopping motion with flash in class I knew that in order to make my life easier I was going to need two people to help with this project. One would be my “flasher” or the person hitting the pilot light on my flash and the other lucky soul would get to play model for me. With all the lights and shadows that play a part in light painting, I knew I wanted to use the shadows to dramatize my shot. I thought I had a general idea of what I wanted to do for this project and, after finding my two helpers, I was very excited to get started.

I chose a studio setting because I needed a controlled environment since I am by no means a pro at light painting. I had shot a few times in the studio before and found that I really love having so many lights at my disposal and the rolling, clean (sort-of) backgrounds. I also thought that I might need some of these lights to help me capture the shadow play even though I captured this in complete darkness.

My initial idea was to have my model skateboard across the room holding a flashlight and my flasher friend to stop him once or twice as he went. But, as you can see there is no skateboard in my photo. Why? The idea was a complete disaster. The board would not show up, my model was blurry every time, and my shutter was too slow for the amount of time it took him to skate across the frame.

With some adjustments I ended up at an 8 second shutter speed with my ISO set to 100 and my f-stop set to 22. My lens was pretty zoomed out, I found that 35 mm gave me a wide enough shot to get a few catches of my friend as he went across and still not catch the extra lights and distractions on the side of the frame. Getting rid of the skateboard gave my “flasher” friend more times to be able to catch my model in the frame. Adding a second flashlight gave some dimension to my photo and added a little more excitement. It was finally working out!

So, with these things in mind, we played around with doing different patterns with the lights and getting the timing down just right. At the end of the night, I had 9 images that I was utterly in love with and extremely proud of. This image is my favorite of the nine because of the shadow play and the clarity my model appeared with not once, but twice. The image you see above was very fun to create and this remains my favorite assignment to this day.

About the Photographer:

My name is Taylor Slevin. I am a biology major at NAU earning a minor in photography, chemistry, and environmental studies. I have only just begun to dip into the pool of photography and learn where it can take me but I try to stay open to all techniques and processes. This semester I have been working mostly to improve my portraiture. I tend to go for dramatic lighting in my shots, something I have learned this semester that has helped me further myself. Ultimately, my goal in photography is my own happiness and becoming proud of my own work.

To read more about the Northern Arizona University “Behind the Image: Guest Blogger” project on our blog, please read the introduction at take a minute to leave your thoughts and constructive comments in the Comment section below – Taylor would love to hear from you!

May 232016

Photo copyright Jake Herbig

Seeing some creative optical illusions, I was inspired to try it myself for a project in my photo 200 class. With the help of some friends, a bright sunny day, and a little creativity anything is possible.

First, finding a suitable area to shoot is very important, because of the large amount space required to obtain the shrinking effect in the image. The campus of Northern Arizona University provided a great area to work with to take this photo. Grabbing a few friends to help doesn’t hurt either. It is a great group activity that can be with numerous people. Finally, setting your camera to make everything in focus is a technique called “Hyper Focal distance.”

There are a few different ways to set this focus correctly, the easiest way my teacher Amy Horn taught me was to download an app that will calculate it for you. After fine-tuning the settings on my camera it came time to start shooting.

After a fair amount of trial and error, I settled on a concept that reflects the photo of this journal entry. I had a few different photos that have similar elements to them, but this is the one I chose to turn in. To get this image this way, I shot with a Canon 70D and a 28mm lens (F11 1/200sec 100Iso).

This set up has a hyper focal distance of 14ft, which means anything from 7ft to infinity will be in focus if done correctly. To still be in focus the basketball was placed exactly at 7ft away from camera, and to correctly make my friend 2x smaller that the ball he needed to be double the distance from the basketball at 21ft from the camera at the very least.

The entire shoot took about 30 minutes to complete. Looking back and reflecting on my work overall this spring semester this photo may not be my best work, but it turned out to be my favorite because of the simplicity of the process I underwent to take this photo. Usually I will prepare 2 to 3 hours before I take a photo. However, this one I just grabbed my camera one day and went out with my friends. There was no researching of any location, I just went outside my dorm and captured the image after I calculated the correct hyper focal distance.

About the Photographer:

My name is Jake Herbig and I was born and raised on the island of Kauai in Hawaii. I am a graphic design major at Northern Arizona University, with a minor in photography. I did not really get into photography until my senior year of high school, which I found I have a natural ability for. In the future, I plan to take my photography a little more seriously.  Website:

To read more about the Northern Arizona University “Behind the Image: Guest Blogger” project on our blog, please read the introduction at take a minute to leave your thoughts and constructive comments in the Comment section below – Jake would love to hear from you!

May 232016

Photo copyright Ashlee Schifflet

These past few months, I have been working on my portraiture and decided to take this image for a midterm project. One afternoon, a few weeks ago, I took my friend into the studio and asked to take her picture. I had lights, a stool, and my camera ready. In terms of direction, I really just wanted to capture a candid moment that looked one hundred percent authentic rather than just an obvious pose, as my previous portraits have turned out. I attempted to get the subject in a natural, yet sophisticated setting. Portraits are supposed to communicate certain aspects of the subject’s life or personality. I wanted to show that this person, my friend Mackenzie, is a senior ready to take on the world while remaining down to Earth. Changing the photo to black and white really added to the simplicity and apparent beauty of her. I liked the contrasting tones and how it really added a classic feel to the image. This is definitely one of the best portraits I’ve taken and I’m proud of how it turned out.

I shot this with my own camera, a Canon Rebel T5. I used my 55 mm lens handheld so I could move freely to find the right angle for the picture. I had two lights with diffusers and my ISO was at 800, making the picture more detailed. I opted for an aperture of 5.6 with 1/20 shutter speed. I took about 50 photos. In post processing, I brought the photo into Lightroom for any cropping or coloring I wanted to do. This is where I turned the picture to black and white. From there, I opened Photoshop to clean up any distracting areas. By upping the contrast and adding some more detail into her hair and face, Mackenzie’s portrait came out very nicely.

To me, the art of photography includes both taking the photo and editing it afterwards to create the best possible image outcome. I think that there is no harm in making something look the way you want it to, but it’s also important to appreciate the unadulterated beauty of things within our reality.

About the Photographer:

I am a Creative Media and Film major, currently working on my minor in Photography. My work is primarily geared towards nature, macro, and landscape photography, although I am interested in all subjects. I prefer to capture the natural beauty surrounding us and aim to show the world as it truly is – flaws and all. The biggest goal for me as a photographer is to get people to feel something when they view my images. Whether it be hopefulness, happiness, contentment, or passion. My inspiration primarily comes from my friends and family and the work of brilliant, brave artists of the post-modern movement. In order to appreciate our own work, we must appreciate the work of others.

To read more about the Northern Arizona University “Behind the Image: Guest Blogger” project on our blog, please read the introduction at take a minute to leave your thoughts and constructive comments in the Comment section below – Ashlee would love to hear from you!

May 222016

Photo copyright Maxim Mascolo

College typically can feel too busy and can even distract people from what is important in life. I believe that it is important to go on frequent mini-adventures as an important aspect to maintain a dynamic productive workflow and lifestyle. About a month ago, after a long day of classes, I felt inspired to take a picture of the stars. That night I asked my friend Isaac if he wanted to come with me to take cool pictures with his laser pointer. That night I brought my friend to Lake Mary, 10 miles outside Flagstaff, AZ.

I like going into a project with minimal expectations because I want to see what naturally unfolds in my environment. My style of photography is, what I call, adventure photojournalism. Every time there is a camera in my hands, I feel as if time is infinite. My observant mind focuses on the subjects while my technical skills allow me to capture images in the moment.

For this image I knew that I wanted to be close to my subject while still capturing the stars in the background. We walked down the waters edge and looked up at the captivating stars. I had my Sony 7II on a tripod with a 24mm lens with aperture F/1.4.  I set the ISO to 100 and opened the shutter for 30 seconds. I told Isaac to just play around with the laser; he started by pointing the laser straight up. I opened the shutter and manually set off the flash to illuminate my tolerant subject. After 10 seconds he moved the direction of beam to the ground around him. When I saw the result I was pleased but still took a few more images, however this first image is my favorite because it was inspired in the moment. We ended up driving back into Flagstaff at 2 am. We were tired but excited that we had so much fun on our spur of the moment adventure.

The next day I cropped my image a little bit just to direct focus to the subject and submitted this as my midterm for intermediate photography. All in all I felt very happy that I could create such a dynamic image with little previous experience. I love the feeling of manifesting an idea, letting that idea soak in my mind and eventually making that concept a reality. As long as I keep an open mind each moment evolves in to a learning experience.

To read more about the Northern Arizona University “Behind the Image: Guest Blogger” project on our blog, please read the introduction at take a minute to leave your thoughts and constructive comments in the Comment section below – Maxim would love to hear from you!

May 222016

Photo copyright Kyle Erwin

Anyone can be a successful photographer, as long as they have a creative mind, the right eye to see something spectacular, and decent quality gear to assist.  The image here is a photograph of a normally hyper 10-month-old Golden Retriever named Kane.  Since he is still a puppy, he is often extremely hyper and never slows down.  I wanted to take this picture to show the true tranquility behind just about every dog.  If you have ever had a dog or been around one you know their favorite game, fetch.  I took this photograph shortly after countless hours of fetch when Kane finally decided to take a rest.

I love shooting wildlife and landscapes but fun photos are also of interest.  I have never really tried to photograph my pets so I thought I would give it a try.  Lucky for me, I happened to be at a right place at the right time with my camera out.  I think the look of exhaustion really gives to this photograph, along with the tennis ball so the audience can really get a feel of what made him so tired.  Golden Retrievers are often great family dogs and long companions of their owners, which is another message that I was trying to portray throughout this photograph.  I think the fact that he is laying down, and looking directly at me gives the message of trust and love throughout our relationship.

I shot this photograph mid-afternoon with a Nikon D7000, with a 55-300mm lens at about 100mm.  The exposure settings were 1/125 shutter speed with an aperture of f/5.6 and finally the ISO was set at 250.   I feel having such a tight frame added to the picture, which is why it is so close up.  During post processing I toned down the highlights and brought up the shadows in Lightroom.

About the Photographer:

My name is Kyle Erwin and I was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona.  I became interested in photography at the age of 13, and have really enjoyed photography as a side hobby.  My favorite subjects to shoot are landscapes and wildlife.  I attend Northern Arizona University and am double majoring in biomedical sciences and psychology with a double minor as well in photography and chemistry.  I hope to have photography as a side job in the future, and also run my own website,  My long term goal for my future is being involved in the pharmaceutical field after college and med school.

To read more about the Northern Arizona University “Behind the Image: Guest Blogger” project on our blog, please read the introduction at take a minute to leave your thoughts and constructive comments in the Comment section below – Kyle would love to hear from you!