May 042015

“A New Day” photo copyright Samantha Martinez

“A New Day”
On April 10th of this year, my father took an oath and became a citizen of the United States of America. During the ceremony, some people were given the opportunity to go in front, tell their story, and talk about what being a citizen means to them. Listening to their stories made me realize what being an American really means to those that were not born in the U.S. Becoming an American means freedom, liberty, and happiness. It was a very humbling experience to be able to see a glimpse of what these new citizens felt as they experienced their first few moments as Americans. Watching them recite the Pledge of Allegiance and sing “The Star Spangled Banner” was a life-altering sight. They proudly waved their American flags as tears of joy streamed down the cheeks of a few people caught up in the moment. At the end of the ceremony, they all received their certificates of citizenship and finally departed into a bright, sunny day as citizens. The look on my father’s face when he came out of the ceremony was priceless and is something I will never forget. This photograph captures that moment of pure joy and happiness. A moment like this comes once in a lifetime and I was lucky enough to witness it. It is this moment that inspired me to create this composited image. From my dad’s expression to the background images of him taking his oath and holding his flag, this photo expresses my father’s joy in becoming a U.S. citizen. If I had simply had a picture of his expression, you would have never known by just looking at the picture that this joy was an effect of his newfound citizenship. This is the moment I wanted to share. Something genuine; something real.

“A New Day” is a composite of three pictures. All three were taken on location at the court house in Phoenix with my Nikon D3100 with a 55-200 mm Nikon lens with an ISO of 400. I shot the main image at f/5 with the shutter speed at 1/250 of a second. The picture on the left is at f/5.6 with a shutter speed of 1/80. And, the photo of the flag on the right is at f/5 with the shutter speed at 1/320 of a second. The aim of my aperture in these pictures what to try to blur out the background and isolate him as much as possible. When it came to combining all three images, I moved the two images, one at a time, to the main image in Photoshop after doing a little basic editing of exposure and balance in Lightroom and brought down the opacity of these two layers to 34%. Then, I put a mask on each layer and proceeded to mask out the images to reveal the main image as the focus. The effect meant to show the parts of the story without overpowering the main subject and focus, which is his expression. In the end, the image tells a story within itself about a new day, becoming a U.S. citizen.

About the Photographer:
Hello, my name is Samantha Martinez from Phoenix, AZ and I am a second year Photography student at NAU. I began my exploration of this creative field in high school and it is there that my passion blossomed. My past experience in Graphic Design helped me in my creativity and skill in post-processing in Photoshop, which is showcased in my images. In my two years studying photography in high school, I participated in Skills USA for photography twice. In the summer before attending NAU, I interned under a prominent photographer in Maricopa, AZ, Jake Johnson and got to experience first-hand what a full-time photographer’s life is like. I assisted in dance portraits, editing, and even got the chance to assist Jake as he shot photographs for the clothing company Nat Nast that later ended up on their website and in their catalog. Through my experiences, I fell in love with portraiture and the abstract. I specifically have a passion in unique portraiture that experiments with lighting, effects, and unique posing. It is the ability to manipulate and create something never seen before that excites me. For the most part, I like to experiment with dramatic lighting, saturation, and lots of contrast. I love dramatic lighting because it can take a technically “perfect” image and make it exceptional. The contrast plays into this idea and the saturation allows me to make a photo more dramatic depending on the mood being exuded. My goal as an artist is to do what I love and showing the world to others through my point of view so that maybe they too can see the beauty and uniqueness I see.

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 insights and constructive comments in the Comment section below – the student would love to hear from you!

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