Dec 012016
 
Catch You When You Fall

“Catch You When You Fall” || Serene fall colors in the meadow at Sieur de Monts in Acadia National Park, Maine, USA (Fine art prints available – click on photo to order)

How many of you have photographed a gorgeous location only to arrive at home to say, “I didn’t really capture what I wanted” while reviewing your images? Ever had that sinking feeling while you are sipping coffee at your desk when you realize if you would have just moved to the left two feet or switch to a different lens, that would have made the image you wanted—and now there’s nothing you can do about it?  It’s a total bummer, isn’t it?

While reviewing your images on your computer, asking yourself what you could have done differently on your photo shoot will certainly lead to a refined understanding of your current photographic abilities and provide new ideas to try on your next shoot. However, your ability to resolve what you do not like about your photograph is limited to some cropping, exposure levels, and other processing software features. Otherwise, it is difficult to “fix” an image you spent all that time working on in the field, brought home, and then generally disliked.

The ideal time to conduct an initial critique on your work is when you are standing behind your camera in the field. When you analyze your photograph while you are in the process of making it, you give yourself the opportunity to resolve any issues at the time of capture.

After you set up a composition, review your photograph on the back of your LCD.  Check for obvious technical issues like exposure, white balance, depth of field, etc. Then (assuming the light is not fleeting or the jaguar is not disappearing into the woods), take a minute to conduct a quick critique on your image, specifically asking, “What do you like about this photograph?” and “What don’t you like about it?”

Pay attention to your answers! Increase the focus in your photograph on the elements you like. Then, fix or eliminate what you do not like. Repeat this process over and over until you have a frame you can say, “YES! I like everything in this photo!” Only then should you pick your tripod up and move on to another composition.

To give you an idea of how this works, here is the sequence of photographs I made which resulted in the marquee photo above titled, “Catch You When I Fall:”

Sequences of my RAW images that eventually resulted in “Catch Me When I Fall” (the photograph at the top of this post). Click on the photo to view larger.

Now, I typically have a difficult time seeing the trees through the forest (preferring instead to slap on a wide-angle lens and photograph the entire forest…). However, when I saw the colorful trees and leaves being cradled by the luscious grasses at Sieur de Monts in Acadia National Park in Maine this past autumn, I knew I wanted to make a more intimate image I titled, “Catch Me When I Fall” (which expressed the emotion I immediately felt when I saw the scene).

The landscape initially felt very busy to my eye, so I started with a classic horizontal composition with a birch tree in the bottom left corner of the Rule of Thirds grid and the leading lines of the grasses leading across the frame (image “_1110461.dng, or just #461 for short). After I snapped it, I asked myself, “What do you like about this photograph?” and “What don’t you like about it?” I loved the grasses and leaves, but the composition looked too forced and predictable. I also did not like how the subtle line of grasses led the eye essentially out of the frame without going anywhere interesting.

I moved my camera around slightly for image #462 and #463 to resolve those issues but in doing so, realized I had too much grass and not enough of the fall colors I enjoyed so much when I saw the scene. The balance of visual elements felt off.

I tilted my camera up slightly for image #464.

I checked my histogram, and the exposure was too dark so I added about 1/3 stop of light to lighten in #465.

Then I thought I might have too much of the grass in the foreground, which led to me walking into the scene about 10-12 feet to record image #466.

When I did so, however, I lost the leaves in the foreground which was a strong visual element critical to my composition. I decided if the horizontal orientation offered to much of the grass, a vertical orientation would reduce the amount. Hence, image #467.

I noted the image was underexposed, so added another third stop of light for image #468.

For #469, I tilted the camera up a little to position the leaves differently within the frame and emphasize the very subtle path of separated grasses takes from the foreground to the background through the trees. And to straighten my implied horizon. :) I liked this, though!

I could have stopped here (note that #469 and my final frame of #476 are quite similar), but being anal-retentive, I kept asking “what if…,” specifically, what if I moved the placement of the leaves within the frame starting with #470? I liked the leaves better, but I went too wide and started getting “UFO’s” (like distracting plant branches and berries on the left-hand side of my image, too many leaves in the bottom left corner). And my horizon was crooked. Again. So #471, 472, and 473.

As I adjusted my composition, the clouds had thickened and the natural light had decreased so I needed more light via my exposure so I clicked #474.

During the middle of my 13-second exposure, the breeze kicked up and moved the grasses. I knew instantly that would be a throw-away frame but checked my histogram anyhow.  That’s when I noticed the sky in the top right corner blinking at me. Rather than darken the whole exposure, I chose to angle my camera down towards the ground to eliminate it from my composition resulting in #475.

I still did not like the few leaves in the bottom left corner, so I made a small camera tilt to eliminate them in #476. Then a YES! I like everything about it! “Catch You When You Fall” came to life!

(This process should bring great comfort to those of you who think you’re too analytical, as I am–I tell you what, it pays to be picky in your photography!)

This might take one try or six hundred.  Regardless, don’t give up! Something grabbed your attention strongly enough to stop you in your tracks and wrestle with that dreaded tripod (be one with the tripod…)—and since you are the only person in the world who can see it like you do, it is worth putting the effort into polishing your personal visual expression.

Keep in mind that fixing what you do not like about a photograph relies heavily on the tools you have collected in your photographic “toolbox” (e.g. technical knowledge, familiarity with your camera, human perception). So, if you find yourself with a problem you do not know how to fix, do not get frustrated. This is simply a sign of where you might need to develop a new skill.

This approach is especially helpful when you stand in front of an overwhelming scene and simply do not know where to start. Like putting a pen to a blank sheet of paper and then editing the words later, snap “anything.” Then review your photograph and ask, “What do you like about this photograph?” and “What don’t I like about it?” Keep what you like; fix what you don’t. Rinse, lather, repeat.

In addition to helping you bring home images you like with greater consistency, over time, you will train your brain and eye to quickly notice key visual elements (like shape, color, light, form, pattern, balance, spatial relationship, etc.) you like and to disregard what you do not like more naturally, which will ultimately help you develop your own individual style.

Have you tried this approach before? If so, tell us what you like about it (and what you don’t like about it)!

Jul 012016
 
Grand Serenity

“Grand Serenity” || The rising sun illuminates unnamed cliffs along the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon in the Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, USA (Prints available – click on the photo to order)

When I used to work as a project manager for Intel, I occasionally heard the advice from upper management, “Don’t confuse effort with results.”

Initially, it seemed like pretty harsh advice as my dedicated team worked 16 hours a day, 7 days a week to help bring a new software application to life for our internal customers.  Didn’t our managers (and customers) appreciate our tireless efforts?

Most of them did, yes; but it did not replace their expectations that the software application eventually had to function without “bugs” (flaws/issues), as designed and delivered on (or before) the date our team promised. Anyone who has been involved in software engineering knows this sometimes involves project teams displaying impressive feats of strength and willpower equivalent to Superman moving the Earth…

Although I left the corporate life behind over nine years ago, I see this playing out all too often in the outdoor photography world.  As photographers vie for attention on social media channels and elsewhere, this notion of traveling to unknown foreign lands, enduring unforgiving conditions, and torturing oneself to “get the shot” has overshadowed the value of an artist’s ability to observe, feel, and visually express their individual connection with the land.

Don’t get me wrong; as wondering and wandering photographers explore the Great Outdoors, fascinating adventure stories do tend to emerge. And sometimes you need to push and challenge yourself to experience a place to the fullest extent.  In fact, famous psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi suggests that the mental state of “flow”—when you feel like you are “in the zone,” and that leads to increased happiness and creativity—occurs when a person concentrates on an important and challenging activity that requires some level of skill.

But just because you walked 17 miles in Class 4 terrain on the side of a mountain while hobbling on a broken foot through the middle of the night in grizzly bear country during the worst summertime blizzard in recorded history does not automatically guarantee that you “nailed it.”

Don’t confuse effort with results.

Maybe you did.  Maybe this harrowing experience was so real, rich, and personal that you made a hundred images that were meaningful to you.  Awesome.  The expressive images you created resulted from you wholeheartedly feeling the fear of the darkness, the cold snowflakes seeping through your leg cast, and the wind burning exposed parts of your skin, though, not because you merely survived the grand adventure.

This personal and emotional connection with your journey and with your environment drives the creation of unique images—and you can accomplish this in your backyard under sunny skies, in Iceland under a glorious sunset, and everywhere in between.  It matters not where you are standing but rather how you make the most of what you are standing in front of by incorporating your skills, intimate knowledge, and background.

Maybe you didn’t bring home any images.  Awesome.  Was the experience meaningful to you?  Did you have fun?  Mission accomplished.

To drive the point home, I made the image above from our Fossil camp (river mile ~125.5) while on our raft trip on the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon.  Before dawn, I casually strolled about 100 yards on a gorgeous sandy horseshoe-shaped beach to reach this point on the river.  I waded across a small riffle and sat on a boulder waiting for the rising sun to illuminate the deep canyon walls in the distance.  I inhaled my surroundings.  I felt at peace and at home after four days on the river.  I felt like each new day unfolded exciting mysteries of geology, history, and adventure.  I felt the constant shifts between flat water and roaring rapids.

I intentionally composed to show this serenity, this mystery of light, and the balance of the two water energies.  Then I snapped my frame.

With a cup of delicious coffee in one hand (and cable release in the other, of course).  In 80-degree weather with a light cool breeze.  While still in my pajamas.  While waiting for our amazing guides to finish cooking up made-to-order Eggs Benedict for our group’s breakfast.  One can only imagine the immensity of the tragic conditions I endured.

But really, I should not confuse effort with results…

Jun 272016
 

“High Alpine Serendipity” || A colorful sunset reflects into a high alpine lake on the Aquarius Plateau in southern Utah, USA (Prints available – click on the photo to order yours)

Last week, I headed to the high country of southern Utah to escape a heat wave in Phoenix (where temperatures soared to a scorching 118 degrees F).  Camping at nearly 11,000 feet next to an alpine lake with mid-day temperatures in the 60′s felt almost heavenly…even with the swarms of mosquitoes (a small price to pay for such a welcomed respite from summer’s wrath in the desert…).

Sometimes when I’m exploring and photographing a gorgeous scene–one that speaks to me deeply–I’ll get so excited about it, I’ll spontaneously bust out into song or even start to dance (or both) while I’m shooting.  As William Purkey once suggested, “You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching.”  What’s life (and photography) if not a little fun, right?  Right!

While shooting sunset at our small watering hole, I decided to pause for a minute to celebrate the beautiful moment with an impromptu retire (pronounced “reh-tur-a”, also sometimes referred to as a passe as well) ballet pose while I stood on a submerged rock. My friend caught me in the act and snapped this picture of me:

I know many of you have heard me say, “Keep Shooting!!” once or twice before, but sometimes you just gotta stop shooting to do a little dance of joy…as outdoor photographers, we are so fortunate to witness some of Mother Nature’s greatest moments.  Oftentimes, though, we forget to take a minute to soak everything in and truly appreciate the scene unfolding in front of us.  Instead, we have our nose stuck to the back of the LCD and an eyeball peering through the viewfinder while panicking about things like “What aperture I should use?”  “Is my depth of field broad enough?” “Is my frame even in focus??!”  We see the sunrise or sunset or the decisive moment through a lens, but not with our own eyes…

I’m excited I brought home an image from that evening (above), but it’s merely an artifact of the magical experience I had watching the day come to a beautiful, serene end in a beautiful, serene (and cool!) place.

So like the Lee Ann Womack song goes, “I hope YOU dance” too even for just a second or two when you connect with the landscape in a personal way and enjoy what the Great Outdoors has to offer.

Go ahead, no one’s watching…

Jun 032016
 

Congratulations to the 48 NAU intermediate photographing students who participated as Guest Bloggers on this blog starting in early-May (their photographs appearing in alphabetical order here):
First row (left to right): Miguel Alvarez, Erika Berry, Matthew Carlin, David Carballido-Jeans, Erica Colegrove, Cassandra Coyle, Mariah Doka, Faouzi Eletel
Second row (left to right):Kyle Erwin, Emily Frankel, Emily Gaudet, Darian Gibbs, Riah Grams, Nikki Hand, Jake Herbig, Kendra Horsfield
Third row (left to right): Erika I’Anson, Kaylee Johnson, Laura Jones, Francesca Kent, Danny Kimball, Cole King, Amelia Krieg, Jeff Kunkel
Fourth row (left to right): Nick Laessig, Hannah Laurie, Kelly Lienhard, Maxim Mascolo, Wendel Navenma, Andrew Ormonde, Michelle Raigoza, Ramon Ramirez
Fifth row (left to right): Jacquelyn Reimer, Ariana Ruiz, Katie Sawyer, Carissa Schattke, Ashlee Shifflet, Taylor Slevin, Kiely Sutton, Alyssa Tavison
Sixth row (left to right): Jessie Tofaute, Sydney Troxell, Jessica Vazquez, Megan Vey, Tyler Walker, Siobhan Webb, Jarrick Wenslow, Dakota Wolfe

And that’s a wrap!

Over the last four weeks, you’ve had the opportunity to view photographs and the behind-the-scenes stories from 48 Northern Arizona University (NAU) intermediate photography students.  Let’s give the participating students a big round of applause for sharing their images and thoughts with us in this year’s “Behind the Image:  Guest Blogger” project.

I was impressed to see how incorporating each of your individual backgrounds and unique approaches yielded a personally meaningful photograph and in many cases, personal discovery and growth.  No matter where photography or life takes you, always remember that creativity lives within you if you tap into your individual backgrounds and passions – whether it be travel, beloved pets, people who inspire, moving natural scenes, or intimate details of the world around them – to present your visual messages. Follow your curiosities, learn new things, and be confident in your own voice.  Keep up the great work, NAU photographers!  I wish you the very best in your journey ahead!

I am also so grateful for NAU Photography Instructor, Amy Horn, who helped coordinate this real-world assignment with her class flawlessly once again.  I’m honored and excited to work with someone so dedicated to her students and to facilitating the learning process in photography.  Thank you, Amy, for not only your help, but also for what you do to influence lives and the future of photography.

To those of you who left comments on the photographs and stories, many thanks to you as well!  If you haven’t had the chance to review all of them (and would like to), find the 48 “Behind the Image” write-ups by clicking on the “Guest Blogger” or the “Making the Images” Categories box on the right-most column on your screen.  Then, feel free to add your thoughts in the Comments section below anytime that’s convenient for you.

Finally, what did you think of this year’s project?  Leave us a comment about your thoughts!

To the 48 photographers: What did you think of your blogging experience here?   Was it as scary or exciting as you thought?  Would you do it again?  Would you do anything differently in hindsight now that you’ve completed your assignment? What new ideas did you get for your future photography work?

To the readers:  What did you like about the photography as a whole?  What new ideas did you get to influence your photography?  What new things might you try now?  I look forward to hearing from you!

Thanks again, everyone!  Until next year’s project!

Colleen

Jun 022016
 

Photo copyright Nikki Hand

When my friends and I decided to go camping near Winslow, AZ I remembered a photo I had been wanting to take for awhile. I wanted to capture all of my good friends sitting around a campfire under the stars. I have tried long exposures before, but this was my first real attempt at it. I wanted the photo to capture the essence of what camping is with all the people you care about. At first I was asking everyone to try their best to stay still. I started to think it looked too posed, so I stopped directing them and let them do their own thing. I really like this image because it captured everyone in their realist form and showed some movement. I thought about using flash but I loved the orange glow from the camp fire. As my friends were enjoying the campfire, I was standing a few feet away shivering while trying to capture this photo. Every now and then one of my friends would come by and ask what I was doing. I would show them and they thought it was the coolest thing ever! That motivated me even more to get this shot.

I was using my Canon 5D MK III and my Canon 16-35mm and tripod. My focal length was 16mm with my ISO at 1000. I left my shutter open for 5 seconds with my f stop at 2.8. I wanted to get some stars without blowing out the campfire. I took this same photo so many different times. Each time the photo looked completely different because people would be walking or moving around. I moved around a bunch worried that the stars would be out of focus if I kept moving. It was really hard to tell on my tiny screen of the stars were sharp or not, so I zoomed up really close to see. I kept at it and eventually got this shot. I cropped a bit and edited to make the stars more viable in post processing. I really love how the image came out and it captured exactly what I wanted. I was proud of my first real attempt at long exposure photography. I like the fact that people are moving around and you can’t make out any faces. It makes me think about a great night camping we all had playing games, sharing stories, laughs and s’mores of course.

About the Photographer:

Nikki Hand is a landscape and outdoor lifestyle photographer from Southern California. She is currently a photography student at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona. With a deep passion for the outside world, she is always in search of remote destinations to capture. She is inspired by rich landscapes and loves to experience new places, people, and cultures. Her photographs capture blissful moments of soothing landscapes. As she explores, she has the ability to execute creative compositions. With the great outdoors as her muse, she continues to search for places to photograph that remain wild.

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 – Nikki would love to hear from you!

Jun 022016
 

Photo copyright Francesca Kent

After viewing some incredible water drop photos in my photography class, I decided that when I got home that day I would research different types of water movement photos. I saw some really interesting ones but there was one that really caught my eye – an object dropping into a wine glass. So I went to the photography studio on campus and decided to try this out for myself.

The first problem I encountered was that I would need help from another person: having them drop the object into the water as I took the photo. So I asked one of my photography classmates to assist me on this photo, it ended up working out really well!

First, I set up my station; a plain black table pushed up against the wall in the photography studio, a clear wine glass filled ¾ of the way with water, two flashes, two different coloured gels, a flat coloured glass rock for bottom of the glass (to prevent the glass from breaking when the object was dropped), and a screw.

After many trial and errors, I settled on two different gels – pink and blue – with the flash brightness in-between the lowest and middle brightness. I then made sure to have all the lights off so that the only source of light would be coming from my two flashes. I then set up my camera (Canon Rebel T3) with the 18-55mm lens with ISO 100, f/8, and shutter speed 1/250. ISO 100 because my flash power was strong enough that I didn’t need a high ISO to be able to see the photo and the shutter speed at its fastest in order to capture both the screw being dropped and the water movement occurring.

Once all these settings were set, taking the photo was more or less easy, I had a shutter clicker attached to my camera so I wouldn’t have to be right behind my camera to take the photo, my partner and I would then count to three, once we reached three, he would drop the screw and I would snap the shot.

Overall, this shoot was extremely fun! I loved being able to see something online and be able to recapture it myself but by adding my own touch to the photo. I think that I may continue to do more shoots like this because I really enjoyed it; although it was very time consuming, the ending result was worth it!

About the Photographer:

My name is Francesca Kent and I am a Marketing major at Northern Arizona University with a minor in Photography. I have always been in love with photography since I was 15 and have always just taken photos for fun, whether it be getting a group of friends together or just taking photos of my family. It wasn’t until I met my best friend Victoria where I started getting more serious with photography, we both started off with taking senior photos, which then moved to couple/engagement photos. I love being able to capture memories for people to keep forever and being able to create something new with photography. I want to make every photo different with the use of a creative eye and constantly looking at the world through the eyes of a photographer. I hope to pursue a career in advertising and be able to use my photography skills and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for my future!

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 – Francesca would love to hear from you!

Jun 012016
 

Photo copyright Jessie Tofaute

I am in awe of the natural beauty around me. Capturing the unique elements within a single image is what inspires my daily life as a photographer.  My subject for this picture is a Night Blooming Cereus, which I believe is one of the most interesting desert plants in Phoenix, Arizona.  What is so intriguing about this plant is, like its name, the flower only blooms in the darkness of night, and after it blooms, it only survives a day before it begins to wither and die.  A life so precious, yet so fleeting is worth capturing on a camera.  So, when I just happened to be home from NAU on March 25, my mom told me to grab my camera because the neighbor’s Night Blooming Cereus was in full bloom.  I am happy I was home that weekend for the opportunity to take a picture of such a spectacular flower that tells such a unique story about life and death.  The Night Blooming Cereus’ elegance accurately illustrates how life is so full and animated, and yet so short and sweet all at the same time.

In any nature shot that I take, I always aim for simple, pure, and colorful image.  I believe this to be my style.  For this photo in particular, I chose a shallow depth of field (f/2) because of where the flower blossomed and the angle I needed to take the picture.  I attempted to minimize distractions from the rocks and background the best I could given the photographic circumstances.  To get this angle, I laid on the ground as my 8-year-old brother assisted me (and complained the whole time as 8-year-olds do) in holding an off-camera flash to my left to fill in a minimal amount of the shadows the plant casted on the petals of the flower and the rocks below.  I like the look and sense of depth that the remaining shadows add to the image so I chose to leave those in the shot.  I captured this image with an ISO of 100, 1/4000 sec and f/2 close to noon on a cloudless day in sunny Gilbert, Arizona.  Captured on a Nikon D3100 with a Nikon 35 mm f/1.8 lens. Simple post processing edits consist of small adjustments to the brightness, contrast, and hue/saturation of the image.  I applied a blue filter to the image to cool down the overall tone slightly.  The original orange and red colors in the rocks took away attention from the flower before I made this adjustment in Photoshop.  Overall, this image closely resembles the original shot in its natural form before post processing occurred.

About the Photographer:

My name is Jessie Tofaute, and I’m a photography major at NAU.  I have been perusing my love for photography since my freshmen year of high school when I took my first introduction to photography class.  It has been my favorite pastime ever since and is something I see myself doing all my life as a career and a hobby.  I enjoy capturing memories for myself and others while learning all I can about the art.  I love documenting my travels through photographs.  I equally enjoy taking portraits of special occasions for clients as seen on my business website: jessietofaute.wix.com/photography.

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 – Jessie would love to hear from you!

Jun 012016
 

Photo copyright Miguel Alvarez

The image portrayed is mainly told through its candid imagery. A girl sits by her window looking outside with a towel wrapped around her head after she sips her warm coffee. I didn’t want to stage her emotion, I wanted it to feel natural as if the image was a mere freeze frame of her motion through her hands and face. It had been a cold day outside, thus the desaturated overall illustration of inside the apartment complimented the weather outside. Also the heightened highlights juxtapose the sunlight that’s trying to pierce through the clouds on the outside. With all of this in mind, I wanted the scenery to be a calm one by not overcomplicating what was in the frame and just be a simple shot of the girl and the window as the main subjects.

I love human interaction and their emotions to their surroundings. This image represents a piece of life, and with the natural lighting it develops a raw scene that surrounds the girl, the window, and her thoughts. Simple human interactions are easily relatable. And with this image, what isn’t so relatable about having a sip of coffee while in a deep state of mind? When I’m trying to come up with a story for one of my film projects, I limit distractions and only spend time with my imagination. Having that deep state of mind, she could be thinking about anything, about a positive or negative thought. She’s neither smiling nor directly frowning, which opens the wide range of emotions. She opens her mind by looking out the window to expose her mindset in broad way because of how the open world incites different feelings and thoughts.

I shot this image on a Canon 70D, 1/200 shutter speed, 3.5 aperture, 18 mm lens, and an ISO of 800. I’m also big on filmmaking and I typically use the same lens and camera, and the only difference from past images and this one was that I usually increase the saturation for photos and with film I color grade by desaturating the image. In effect, I desaturated this image as if to resemble a freeze frame of a film locked in a drama genre. I would also include a letterbox (the black bars on the top and bottom of the frame) but that would be too close in mended as a part of a film. This image should stand on its own with the possibility of being part of a film but still framed up as a standalone.

About the Photographer:

Raised in the suburbs of San Bernardino, California, I completed many AP and Honors courses and graduated at the top ten-percent of my class. As a result of this, I’ve been too deep into my classwork to prove my worth. I always enjoyed drawing and storytelling through comics that got me into becoming passionate with filmmaking half way into my middle school career. During my second year of college, I took my first photography class. With filmmaking, there’s an expanded way of storytelling, whereas photography you must capture an entire world and its backstory within one image. The fact that I love storytelling allowed me explore the subjects that I want to tell stories from. I’ve grown to know that human experiences/interactions is what intrigues me the most. That’s what inspires me: to tell others’ stories, including my own. What separates me from others is that I enjoy both bright and dark themes. I’ve come to know that both contrasting emotions sparks one another and they can’t simply live or portray without the other being present.

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 – Miguel would love to hear from you!

May 312016
 

Photo copyright Erika Berry

This photo is of a sunrise at the Grand Canyon.  I’m not a person who would normally wake up at 3 AM on a freezing February morning to go to the Grand Canyon, so I wanted to capture this moment in this photo.  I was waiting around for about an hour in the cold and dark, so when those rays peaked over the snow covered canyon, illuminating the sky, I was more than ready.

Getting to the Grand Canyon started off quite comical. My roommate’s car door was frozen shut, so when I yanked it open it wouldn’t close again. I held the door shut as we drove to our very early breakfast at IHOP. Thankfully, after eating, the door decided to cooperate and I wasn’t left holding it closed all the way to the Grand Canyon.

When we got there it was pitch black and we still had time before sunrise. We waited in the car until suddenly we noticed the sky beginning to lighten. We were panicking that we’d miss what we came for, so we wrapped ourselves in blankets and ran all the way to the outlook. The horizon was still dark. We waited, and waited, and waited.

More people started to gather around, as it got closer to the sunrise. We all waited in anticipation. The sky slowly lightened more and more. I started taking pictures but they were still too dark to see much detail. I’d have to wait even longer for the perfect shot.

I stood directly in front of where the sunrays were going to peak over. I finally got to shoot when the sun was high enough. Many of the pictures had sun flares though. So I chose this image as my favorite because of the centered subject, detail in the snow covered canyon, and minimal lens flares. This photo captured a moment that I probably won’t wake up at 3 am again to create.

I shot this photo with my Canon EOS Digital Rebel and a 18mm-55mm lens at 22mm. My ISO was at 400 and my shutter speed was 1/60. My aperture was set at f/22 to allow me to capture the sunburst. As far as post processing goes, I resized, lightened up some shadows, and healed some dust spots in Lightroom.

About the Photographer:

My name is Erika Berry and I’m a junior and photo minor at Northern Arizona University. I’ve always liked photography and taking pictures as a hobby even though I may not be the best at it. I prefer taking photos at leisure rather than having a specific assignment. My favorite subjects to photograph are candid pictures of people. I like working in natural light a million times better than indoor light. I’m hoping that the tips and techniques I’ve learned through photo classes at NAU will help enhance my photography.

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 – Erika would love to hear from you!

May 312016
 

Photo copyright Andrew Ormonde

When it comes to Supercross and fast paced, action packed racing such as this, there are restrictions as to how close you can go to the track when shooting on track. Inspirations and plans are made to capture certain photos during training in the week before a race. Since I do not have these credentials yet, I shot this photo from the stands with the goal of capturing the “big moment” in one rider’s racing career.  My inspiration and thought process was to capture 3 main elements in one precisely timed photo: the finish (checkered flag), the pyrotechnics (flames on top of the finish line) and lastly the celebration (fist pump in the air).

In photography, having connections and maintaining these relationships is vital for a new photographer such as myself.  With that said, I did not use my own lens for this particular day, rather, I was using a friends lens that was far out of my reach when it comes to price point.  I was using the new Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 with my Canon Rebel T3i.  Might I add, this was the fastest lens I have ever used in my 14 years of photography, so I was very ecstatic that my friend gave me the opportunity to use this lens.  When it comes to metadata of the image, and details of the camera used, I shot this at 1600 ISO, zoomed in at 140mm (in order to get all 3 main elements I wanted), aperture of f/2.8 and my shutter speed at 1/800 sec.  I did not use filters since I purposely shot the photo in RAW which allowed me color fixes in post processing with Adobe Lightroom.

When it comes to post processing, I choose Adobe Lightroom over Photoshop when I don’t need to stack photos or edit people or objects out of the photo.  Temperature and tint are always the first thing I adjust.  Next I adjust highlights and saturation and I simply go down the list on the side of Lightroom of what I think can better the image.

About the Photographer:

My name is Andrew Ormonde and my passion and career is photography.  Ever since I was 6 years old, I started to take photos of everything, then later in life realizing my passion for action sports photography. Though action sports are my forté, I also take portraits, nature and long exposure, as well as anything that may peak my interest, though I prefer Supercross and Motocross because of my experience with racing and off-roading.  I edit with Lightroom when I don’t need to stack photos or edit people or objects out of the photo. I currently attend Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, AZ. My major is photography, and with it, I plan on making photography my life time career.

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 – Andrew would love to hear from you!