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!

May 212016

“The Illusion of Seclusion” || Photo copyright Hannah Laurie

“The Illusion of Seclusion”

I love images that stop and make people think, juxtaposing ideas or subjects. I captured this photograph at Salvation Mountain in the California desert, an art sculpture famous for its color, creativity, and the universal love messages everywhere. However, my photograph does not show this side of the mountain, it portrays the deserted town that drove the artist to create a mountain of color and love in a place where there was none. My inspiration to take this image came from my model friends that were all so vibrantly dressed to fit in with the colorful art sculpture, and the abandoned landscape around us. In this image there are several concepts or visual components that I wanted to juxtapose against the young vibrant girl: the bleak colors, the abandoned swing, the dead tree, and the vast empty landscape. No one would expect to see a girl in a bright dress wandering around the desert, you would only expect to see dead trees and maybe abandoned possessions. The message this image is communicating is about the cycle of life, one thing dies and another grows in its place. In this case you see both ends of the cycle which is pertinent to understanding the message.

To create this photograph I used a 24­105 mm lens on my full frame Canon 6D, using the full 24mm to really capture the sense of emptiness. I did this shoot while on a road trip and it just happened to be a stop along the way, so unfortunately it was little before noon which is the reason there are such harsh shadows. Noon light is usually a very bad thing in photography but in this case I do think that it adds to the effect of the image. Because it was almost noon I shot this at an ISO of 160, and my aperture at f/6.3. In post processing I desaturated a little bit of everything except for the sky and her to really make her pop. Before the desaturation, the ground was very yellow which distracted from her skin tone and her bright dress. I also brought up the clarity of the photo to give it a harsh look, being that it was in the desert I did not want the photo to look soft. Overall, I loved the concept of the photograph and the bright colors.

About the Photographer:

My name is Hannah Laurie, all my life I’ve been around photography, I grew up with my father taking amazing pictures all the time. Around the age of 14 I got my first DSLR for Christmas, and I haven’t stopped taking photos since. I got serious about photography around my junior year of high school and decided to go into AP photo where I really started to perfect my techniques. My senior year of high school I entered into the Scholastics Art and Writing awards, and ended up winning two Gold Keys; one for my entire portrait portfolio, and the other for an individual portrait. I have gained experience from the several Denver galleries I exhibited in, and have sold several prints. I am now a student at Northern Arizona University majoring in Photography and minoring Photojournalism. I would describe my style as dramatic, I don’t typically take cheesy bright and airy photographs, I like to take photographs that evoke emotion and make people really look at my work. I love working with people so I mostly take portraits. My reasoning is that without someone in your photo anyone could take the exact same photograph, but by adding a person, no one is ever going to capture that exact expression again. I am still not sure what I want to do with photography in my future but I know that as long as I have a camera in my hand I will be happy.

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 – Hannah would love to hear from you!

May 212016

Photo copyright Laura Jones

Flagstaff, Arizona is a hub for tourism, with people passing through my town on their way to Sedona or the Grand Canyon. Many stop for food, shopping, or to hang out in our quaint downtown square. Lovely as it is, San Francisco, a main street in the downtown area, is often forgotten about “south of the tracks.” There are up and coming businesses taking over the streets of south San Francisco, reviving the life on the “other” side of the tracks. My friend Sebastian works at a hair salon almost as far south on San Francisco as you can get. Not only does Sebastian have great energy and charisma, but he could be my model to show off a bit of Flagstaff many just pass by. A loud and intense drumming came from a Brazilian drumming class next door to the studio Sebastian worked. As people drove by, they would slow down to listen and watch as my tripod, umbrella, and camera added another interesting layer to the loud music everyone could hear.

I wanted to capture a portrait that was reminiscent of “street photography,” as if I grabbed a passerby and asked to take their photo. I shot at twilight, about 30 minutes after sunset, and the cool, blue light was a beautiful background for my subject. We shot next to an intersection and as cars drove by their lights reflected off the “one way,” sign hanging in the top left corner of my shot.

The cool tones of twilight looked too blue on Sebastian’s skin, so I opted for a gold umbrella to bring some of those warm tones back into the image. I made the image on my Nikon D90, which I’ve had for approximately 5 years, and my Nikkor 60mm lens, which is a newer addition to my kit. The aperture was set at f/2.8, which allowed me to capture Sebastian’s face clearly and have the background drop with blur. Every now and then, I showed Sebastian a couple images and gauged his reaction on the style I’d take. If he said something self-deprecating, I’d take different angles until the image reflected something we both liked. I’d positioned myself a bit lower than eye level with Sebastian; my lens looked up at him and his gaze was slightly down. He looked strong and confident and there was this wonderful iridescent color reflected off the “one way” sign and I knew this was my shot.

About the Photographer:

Laura is an Illinois native who moved to the arid southwest in 2011. Her photography began in a stuffy dark room in her hometown of Metamora, Illinois while she was in high school. When she progressed into digital photography, she was able to photograph more often than with film. She loves landscape photography, but aspires to capture more portrait photography that incorporates the beautiful Arizona outdoors. Laura has a degree in Fine Arts and started attending NAU to study Photography, giving her an artistic edge over other photographers. After graduating, Laura wants to open her own photography studio in Flagstaff.

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 – Laura would love to hear from you!

May 202016

Photo copyright Faouzi Eletel

Seeing people’s reaction to a photo I have taken is one of my favorite parts of photography. This inspiration for this photo came from an assignment from my photography class, which needed to incorporate an off camera flash with an umbrella. This was one of my first attempts at taking a portrait because I usually stick to shooting landscapes.

I have been recently experimenting with smoke grenades so I though they would be perfect for this assignment. When thinking of what kind of shot I wanted the first thing that came to mind was having the forest in the background. I found the perfect location that was less than one hundred feet from my campus for this shot. I quickly set up my camera and the umbrella and told my model where to stand. Due to the wind blowing towards to campus I knew I was going to have to get the shot quick incase someone called the police. The red smoke seemed perfect to me because it stood out and would not have looked like smoke from a fire incase someone saw it. I went through two smoke grenades but finally got the shot I was looking for. The whole shoot took less than 15 minutes from start to finish and I was happy with the result.

I wanted the viewer to stare at and contemplate exactly what was going on in this shot. Smoke grenades are not very common to see in photography so I knew it would stand out from most other pictures people have seen. The image gives an end of the world feel to it at a first glance. The gas mask and the smoke grenade, along with the empty forest in the background, cause this strange vibe.

I find that it is always better to know your model that you are shooting with and making sure that they are able to take directions. In this case the model was a friend of mine so telling him where to look and what to do was easy.

To get this shot I used my Canon 6d with my 24-105 L lens, along with my Altura flash. I rented an umbrella stand from my school to help with the catch light in the eye. The settings I used for this shot were f5.6, ISO 400, and 1/80 shutter speed. This was still one of my first times using my off camera flash so it took some adjusting to get the settings perfect. The umbrella flash was set to medium power and I was going up and down one stop while taking pictures. I had a tripod with me, but found that it was going to be easier to free hand for this shot. It made things much easier to move around and get as many different angles as possible, which would have been restrictive with a tripod. I darkened the background, saturation, and added some clarity in Photoshop while editing this picture.

It was fun going out and shooting a portrait because it is different from what I am used to. In the end I got a decent shot but also learned more about taking portraits. My main reason for taking a photography class was to learn different techniques and skills, which is something that I definitely did while getting this shot.

About the Photographer

Usually I do not like to talk about myself when it comes to my photography because I would rather the focus be on my images. I have always been a creative kid growing up and I believe that shaped my unique style. I first found photography during my junior year of high school. I have studied many other photographers’ pictures that are similar to mine, to see what others have done and to create something new. I prefer to shoot landscapes, astrophotography, and abandoned photography. I hope to constantly be learning new techniques of photography.

Instagram: fuzzy_faouzi


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 – Faouzi would love to hear from you!

May 202016

Photo copyright Ariana Ruiz

As a photographer, I believe that it is important to be versatile in what you shoot. I shoot portraits, nature, and subjects that I can control. It puts my mind at ease when I am controlling every variable. For a long time, I shied away from high-speed photography like sports and other action shots. The first DSLR I ever owned was a Nikon D40, which my dad passed down to me and is now ten years old. Technology ages and it is very difficult to get the perfect high speed shot with an older camera that is not as fast as newer models. When I got my new Nikon D7100 for Christmas, I knew the world was at my fingertips. I shot this photo with my Nikon D7100 and 18-55 mm lens. I had to choose between shooting with my new or old camera; my broken new camera needed a service repair. However, I opted for my new camera for its better quality.

This was my first time shooting rock climbing. I jumped at the opportunity when my friend offered for me to tag along on a trip out to Priest Draw. Priest Draw is known for its unique bouldering routes like the Brain, the Coffin, and the Batcave. It was our first time visiting Priest Draw so we stopped and asked other climbers who were gearing up in the parking lot for directions and advice. A couple told us to go past the Brain and that we would know the Batcave when we saw it. We nearly walked right past it, but luckily we stopped to talk to another climber who was setting up his crash pads. I adjusted my settings to our environment while other climbers gave my friend a few tips about footing and hand placement. It was mid-morning and there was plenty of light so I set the camera to f/8, with a shutter speed of 1/100, and my ISO to 200. I told everyone to act natural as I maneuvered around draping bodies. My friend posed and I love how I captured his personality in one image. The most difficult part about shooting rock climbers is the difficulty in getting pictures where the climber’s face is in the shot and not covered by their hands or arms. I took around 600 pictures over the whole trip. Back home, I sorted through my photos and opened the best ones in Photoshop. In Photoshop, I played with levels, contrast, and applied a black and white filter. Overall, I had a lovely experience and would love to go shoot at Priest Draw again.

About the Photographer:

My name is Ariana Ruiz and I have been shooting Nikon for almost eight years and using Photoshop for almost six. I am an undergraduate student at Northern Arizona University pursuing a BA in English and minors in photography and psychology. I started taking photography seriously in high school, where I won 3rd place in the Arizona State Fair and was featured in a gallery in Phoenix. I use photography to express myself and to capture the world from my perspective.  My photography inspiration comes from Christian Hopkins (if you have never head of him, you should definitely check out him out!)

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 – Ariana would love to hear from you!

May 192016

Photo copyright Riah Grams

This photo is from my second, but by no means my last attempt at this concept, not that I’m unhappy with the result, it is just a concept very near to me, that I would like to revisit as I continue to improve both my photography and my dancing. This photo represents me as a photographer because it is the intersection of two of my biggest passions, photography, particularly long exposure, and swing dancing.

As with any long exposure photo, this required a lot of tweaking before I achieved the final product. I initially thought that I would need a much longer exposure, starting with 12 seconds. The image was very over exposed, but also left too much time for the dancers. I then tried 10, 8, and 6 seconds before finally settling on 5 seconds. This allowed enough time for the dancers to do one complete Lindy Hop swing out, without any awkward pauses at the end, which left a slightly solid image that I didn’t want. They danced at a fairly slow tempo to allow me to trigger the flash at the beginning and in the middle, to get an image of them at the two most different points in the swing out. I had two Canon speed lights positioned just behind my Canon Rebel T5i, about two feet to either side, each at 1/4 power to give a strong flash, but allow a recharge time for the second flash. The aperture was set at f/8 to get an accurate exposure with the open shutter and flashes. As with most long exposures, the ISO was set to 100. I completed a little bit of post processing on this image, I brought up the shadows a little bit and the blacks, to add a little bit of solidity to the two images, blacken the background, and bring a little more of the dancers in between.

One final note about this photo that made it more challenging, but equally rewarding, I am both the photographer, and the subject. I captured this image with a 2 second delay, and with a remote flash trigger in my hand. If you look closely, you can see it in my right hand near the bottom right corner of the image. For other purposes, I would have cropped this out, starting from the bottom and pulling up, but I feel it adds to the story for this blog.

About the Photographer:

I got my start as a photographer when I bought my camera in the spring of 2015. That night, I called my best friend, who had been a photographer for two years prior, and he and I went on a long exposure shoot. Since then, long exposure fascinates me, although I can do many other types of photography, that is where my passion is, and my creativity flows. My goal is to always learn more about photography, capturing better images, capturing human experiences, and inspiring others to do the same.

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 – Riah would love to hear from you!

May 192016

“Broken Connections” || Photo copyright Dakota Wolfe

“Broken Connections”

Isn’t it funny how many people feel alone when there are so many other people in this world? Most of society can feel alone in their personal situations, but the truth is that there are so many others who feel the same way.  Interactions have become almost scripted because people have this dire need to feel secure. Not very often does a person say how they truly feel because of what someone may think. For me personally, when someone asks me “how are you”, I usually have an automated response that in no way reflects how I am actually doing. I believe society has created this wall between people, where it would not be socially acceptable to fully poor out how you’re actually doing to another person. It’s ironic that everyone wants to create this façade, because most of the time others are feeling the same way. I chose to do a portrait because it reelected my favorite style.

Emotion inspired me to capture this image. It reveals a hidden feeling that I think most try to bury. It is rare to see someone in a social environment look this way. In my case, I smile all of the time even when I am stressed out or sad, or really any kind of negative emotion because I want people to think I am okay. I am trying to communicate the truth behind what some people try to hide. I purposefully wanted this darker feeling, therefore I adjusted the lighting to reflect the emotional seriousness. Overall, I wanted the audience to get a sense of truth. I wanted the audience to connect to this photo personally. I wanted to evoke people to think, “I am feeling this same way.”

For this image I used a 16-35mm lens in a photo studio. I shoot with a Cannon Rebel T5i because I feel most comfortable using this brand of camera. My focal length was 24 mm, and my exposure of 1/60sec at f/5.6. My ISO was 1600 because of the soft lighting I used. For the lighting effect, I posed the subject about five feet away from the wall behind him. I used a soft box in order to get a cool and soft light that highlighted the face. Originally, I thought about using an off camera flash, but it was too harsh.

About the Photographer:

Hi, my name is Dakota Wolfe. I am a senior at Northern Arizona University and I am studying Strategic Communications with an Emphasis in Public Relations. I am also minoring in Photography. I have been very interested in photography and cameras for about six years and have only recently began taking it seriously. Photography is an escape from my daily routine and stresses. I began taking pictures for fun and wanted to get better so I added the minor in order to get better and more experienced. I like taking portraits and stylizing them to get a unique photograph.

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 – Dakota would love to hear from you!

May 182016

Photo copyright Michelle Raigoza

I captured this photo around spring break. During this time I always find myself around the beach because it’s one of my favorite places to go to. However, this time I wanted to do something different. I know I wanted the beach to be very present in the image but I did not want it to be my subject. I have trouble taking images of people so I took this opportunity to challenge myself and take a step outside my comfort zone. I decided to take a picture of a different subject but still having the ocean play a huge role in the image. I told a friend to gear up in his soccer attire and get ready for a photo shoot. My overall goal after the photo shoot would benefit me since I have never really challenged myself or taken much risk with my photography.

I took the image during twilight, which is how and why you see the blue glow in the beach. However, I wanted to make sure the subject in my photo was not colored in blue. I used a red tone filter on my flash to add some color back into my subject. Since it was twilight, I was very aware of the amount of time that I had with light. I prepared before hand and made proper adjustments to my settings. For instance, my ISO was 250 based on the amount of light I saw. I made sure I had a fast shutter speed due to the waves I wanted to catch in the background and the movement of my subject. I enjoy taking images of the ocean and I want the ocean to stand out in the image as much as possible. I then changed my white balance to tungsten so that my camera would automatically take yellow or red hues from the sun to blue hue.

Overall I am pleased with the results of my photo shoot. For someone who considers herself a landscape photographer-taking images of people can be intimidating. But by taking risks you learn new styles, techniques, and tricks that you can apply to better your photography.

About the Photographer:

My name is Michelle Raigoza and I was born in Compton, California. My background plays a major role in my life and drives me to give my all. Being close to the ocean has always inspired my work. As well as bring me creativity by finding different angles to show people how the ocean makes me feel. This also inspired me to being a landscape photographer. I am very attached to the location of where I am from and I hope to make that known throughout my 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 – Michelle would love to hear from you!

May 182016

Photo copyright Erika I’Anson

I shot this photo in a tunnel at a park back home in Phoenix. My younger brother, my neighbor, and I were exploring, looking for fun places to shoot. We came across this tunnel and suddenly we knew this was the perfect spot. So first I took pictures of Hannah, my neighbor. After about 20 minutes, we switched and I started taking photos of Nicholas, my brother. I was pretty happy with the shots we got, but I knew we could get something more fun. My brother and I have known Hannah her whole life – our parents have been friends since high school.

I turned to them and said “I know this might sound extremely awkward… but can you give Hannah a piggyback ride?” They both looked at me like a was crazy. I practically had to beg the two of them to at least pretend they would pose for me, which I just kept getting responses like “No, she’s like my sister!” Finally, after promising to buy them food after, they were willing to pose for me. Many of the results were truly posed, smiling and looking straight into the camera. This is one of the few shots that was just capturing the moment. They were making silly faces, and I think it shows their true personalities. That is why I love this photo so much.

The technical aspects behind this image were: Nikon D3300, 18mm, f/5.0 and at a shutter speed of 1/250. I bumped up the ISO to 800, because I like the grainier feel of photography that I tend to use as my style. There was a shoot-through umbrella at eye level about 3 feet in front of them. They were also backlit by the light coming through the end of the tunnel. In post processing, I messed with the white balance to achieve this blue-green base color, which matches my brother’s eyes and makes them pop a bit so you are instantly drawn to them. I also boosted up the contrast and clarity, to give it even more of that grainy street type of look. Other than that, I got cleaned up a few blemishes, but mostly left the skin untouched.

This is not only one of my favorite photos, but theirs as well. Portraits are what I shoot the most, and being able to have fun with it and give it a creative twist is what I love most about it. Although many don’t like the grain that comes along with a high ISO, I actually like it and don’t mind the criticism that comes along with using this style. I feel like it makes the image feel more real, and doesn’t make it seem like I went crazy with the airbrush tool. My style is unique, but it is what makes my portraits different from all the others.

About the Photographer:

My name is Erika I’Anson and I am a photography major at NAU. My passion for photography truly began my freshman year of high school when I took a Digital Communications class. I fell in love instantly with photography and graphic design while learning to use Photoshop and Illustrator. Coming to NAU, I made the decision to focus on photography and have since realized this is what I would like to do for the rest of my life. I mainly shoot portraits- in studio and on location- but I enjoy creative shots and landscapes as well. Oh, and my dog.

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 – Erika would love to hear from you!