Jul 122016
 

Author Bruce Taubert, editor/publisher Colleen Miniuk-Sperry, and graphic designer Paul Gill marvel over the new Wild in Arizona book (we might have been a little excited but this was pre-champagne…LOL!)

IT’S HERE and IT’S STUNNING! We’re thrilled to share our newest guidebook, Wild in Arizona: Photographing Arizona’s Wildlife by Bruce Taubert arrived yesterday afternoon.

And do you know what that means?! That’s right! Yesterday and today were our fabulous “Book Ship Days” (one of my favorite days ever). Bruce, Bruce’s wife Anne, Paul and yours truly were on hand to not only welcome the books off the truck, but also to ship you your pre-ordered, autographed copies!

We created a short behind-the-scenes video to give you an idea of what our day looked like yesterday on YouTube (direct link: https://youtu.be/O4H4cwNr09I):

Tell me Bruce’s first look at his first book isn’t totally priceless! If you pre-ordered the book: YOU MADE THAT MOMENT HAPPEN! THANK YOU!!

We couldn’t wait to get them into your hands, so all pre-ordered books have shipped as of this afternoon! Those of you living in the Phoenix area can expect to receive your books in the next day or two. For those who live outside of Phoenix but within the United States, I’d start checking the mail for your books in the next three to four days. International shipments can vary tremendously depending on the country’s customs process, so those of you living outside the U.S. will probably receive your books in the next one to four weeks.

Those who pre-ordered eBooks were super lucky. All eBooks were emailed via Analemma Press (the publishing company I run) this morning (check your inbox or your spam/junk folder if you ordered one but can’t find it) so they got an early sneak peek of what Bruce’s book looks like.

After working on for three years, we’d now love to hear what you think about the book/eBook. If you drop me an email at cms@cms-photo.com, I’ll be sure it gets to the whole team. We might even add you to our new book testimonial page too!

We cannot thank our corporate sponsors, Indiegogo fundraising supporters, and everyone who has purchased a book thus far enough for the overwhelming and generous support we’ve received to bring this book (our dream!) to fruition. Take a second to check out our awesome sponsors and those Indiegogo supporters who contributed $100 or more to our campaign at http://wildinarizona.com/sponsors_wildlife.html.

Then grab your new book and get WILD in Arizona!

P.S. If you love the book so much and want to pick up another copy for you or a friend–or you missed pre-ordering–the book/eBook is now available from http://www.wildinarizona.com so you can order additional signed copies.

Jun 162016
 

“Of Glory and Beauty” || Cliffs along the Colorado River near mile 54 (just south of Nankoweap ruins) soak up the day’s last light in the Grand Canyon, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, USA (Prints available – click on photo to order yours!)

My mom and I recently had the fortunate chance to spend eight days rafting the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon for the first time while on a private trip with 14 dear and new friends with Hatch River Expeditions.  Commonly used words to describe the trip like “epic,” “best trip of my life,” and “life-changing” all fall short of how I feel about my time in the canyon’s warm (literally and figuratively!!) embrace.  I’m not exaggerating when I say it was so far beyond epic!  I loved it so much, I’ve already booked another trip down for May 2017!

I have 4000+ images and ~128GB of GoPro video footage to sort through, plus pages and pages of notes I scribbled in my journal, from our trip so more pics and stories are sure to follow as I start to shake the sand out of everything.

However, to give you a taste of how exhilarating–and at times, downright hilarious–our trip was, I put together this three-minute video of our run through the famous Lava Falls, the river’s most difficult rapid (albeit short).  It’s rated a Class 10 on a scale from 1-10, with 10 being the most difficult and dangerous.

In the short clip, Wendy Gunn, her son Troy, and I are riding in the “bathtub” (the front of the motorized raft), so we had front-row seats as the action unfolded.  Boy, did we get a mouthful!  And man, did we have a blast!

Take a peek at the video below to experience (and for those who have been down the river, perhaps re-live your ride) Lava Falls without getting wet like we did!

(Note: we spewed a few expletives during the ride, so you may not want to play this at full volume at work…)

Jan 032015
 

“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Happy New Year, everyone!  Here’s hoping your 2015 has started off with a bang and ends up being your best year yet!

Almost every time I ask my Dad casually, “How’s it going?” he responds immediately with delight, “Living the dream!”  And I always nod back in agreement, “Yes, Dad, we sure are!” As we flip the calendar to another year and begin to reflect on all that was, I can’t help but smile about all that is: I’m living my dream.

At the risk of sounding like a skipping CD player, 2014 goes into the books as my most successful, most productive, and most thrilling year to date (I know, I know, I say this every year…but it’s true!!).  In my 7th year as a full time freelance photographer and writer, I increased focus on the places and subjects I love most, fulfilled aspirations for writing another book (and donating to a great cause), established new editorial connections, and thoroughly enjoyed reconnecting with dear friends while meeting amazing new people in a multitude of speaking engagements and photography workshops.

I recognize, with certainty, that I would not be able to life this phenomenally fulfilling life if it were not for your continued support. Words can hardly express how grateful I am not just today, but rather every day, for your help, encouragement, friendship, and laughs along this journey.  Thank you!

In celebration of the close of 2014, I’d like to share my favorite 15 photographs from last year.  Here goes, in chronological order:

1. “Ethereal Decay,” Mono Lake Tufa State Preserve, California (January 1, 2014)
As so many photographs I had previously seen of Mono Lake promised, my first visit to see the tufas here did not disappoint.  Given my ever-growing passion (obsession?) for bubbles, I was more drawn to the air bubbles rising from decaying algae along the shoreline than the iconic rock formations!

Ethereal Decay

“Ethereal Decay,” Mono Lake Tufa State Preserve, California (Prints available for purchase – click on photo to order yours!)

 

2. “Rock On!” near Page, Arizona (January 9, 2014)
Of all the rock formations in the desert southwest, I have an affinity for the cracked brown Dakota Group sandstone found around the Page area in Arizona and southern Utah.  Although I had made an image of these rocks near Studhorse Point with my large format 4×5 camera years ago, I continued to develop visualizations for new compositions in this special spot.  After multiple attempts, all the elements came together on a cold morning in January, resulting in this image I call “Rock On!”

“Rock On,” near Page, Arizona (Prints available for purchase – click on photo to order yours!)

 

3. “Sailors Delight at West Pond Cove,” Schoodic Peninsula, Acadia National Park, Maine (February 12, 2014)
After getting a delicious taste of winter in Acadia National Park as the park’s first winter Artist-in-Residence (my third residency) in February 2013, I could not wait to pack all the clothes in my closet and return to experience the snow and ice again.  During my fortunate second winter visit in February 2014, West Pond Cove quickly became one of my favorite places to photograph the fleeting ice at low tide at sunset.

Sailor's Delight at West Pond Cove, Schoodic Peninsula, Acadia National Park, Maine

“Sailor’s Delight at West Pond Cove,” Schoodic Peninsula, Acadia National Park, Maine (Prints available for purchase – click on photo to order yours!)

 

4. “A Frozen Universe,” Mount Desert Island, Acadia National Park, Maine (February 28, 2014)
To celebrate the anniversary of my personal Independence Day (also known as my escape from Corporate America and the start of my 7th year as a full-time freelance photographer and writer), I snowshoed to the summit of Cadillac Mountain.  Expecting epic winter views at the top, I packed my wide-angle and telephoto lenses, leaving my macro lens behind in an attempt to lighten my load for the 8-plus mile round-trip haul.  When I made it to the summit, I was shocked to see a Mecca of ice bubbles in the parking lot!  I needed my macro lens!  GAH!  Fortunately, I remembered to pack my extension tubes, which I used on my 24-105mm lens to create this composition.

A Frozen Universe

“A Frozen Universe,” Mount Desert Island, Acadia National Park, Maine (Prints available for purchase – click on photo to order yours!)

 

5. “A Single Triumph of Summer,” Tohono Chul Park, Tucson, Arizona (April 24, 2014)
Arizona’s spring wildflower bloom panned out to be a bit of a bust, but with what little rain we did get, the cactus enjoyed and put on a beautiful show.  Thanks to the recommendations from a couple of volunteers at Tohono Chul Park, I found this regal, night-blooming echinopsis cactus showing off in the early morning light.

A Single Triumph of Summer

“A Single Triumph of Summer,” Tohono Chul Park, Tucson, Arizona (Prints available for purchase – click on photo to order yours!)

 

6. “Sequential Erosion,” Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado (June 13, 2014)
After completing a presentation/book signing tour through Colorado this summer, my parents and I decided to stop at the Grand Sand Dunes National Park for our first visit.  Although we only had a short amount of time to enjoy the park, we learned enough about it to know we’ll be back soon.  I wanted to make an image that shared the expansive nature of this landscape, so I chose to create a panoramic image stitched from 11 vertical frames.

Sequential Erosion

“Sequential Erosion,” Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado (Prints available for purchase – click on photo to order yours!)

 

7. “The Storm Within,” Toroweap Overlook, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona (July 1, 2014)
My first (and very short) visit to Toroweap Overlook on the north rim of the Grand Canyon did not go exactly according to plan. In fact, it ended up costing me an additional $281 and four beers!  (Read about the entire adventure on my blog post, “My $281 (and Four Beer) Trip to Toroweap.”)  Following a nerve-wracking drive, I finally reached the rim with five minutes to spare before sundown and hastily composed this scene.  The trip – and scenery – was certainly unforgettable.

The Storm Within

“The Storm Within,” Toroweap Overlook, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona (Prints available for purchase – click on photo to order yours!)

 

8. “Where the Winds Blow,” Carl G. Washburne Memorial State Park, Oregon (July 8, 2014)
In 2014, I had the great fortune of spending a month’s worth of time (over multiple trips) in my beloved state of Oregon.  Although the summer months draw hoards of visitors to the entire scenic coastline, gale force winds and threatening skies kept beachcombers away from this stretch of beach, leaving me to enjoy the windswept, ephemeral sand patterns in the late afternoon in joyous solitude.

Where the Wind Blows

“Where the Wind Blows,” Carl G. Washburne Memorial State Park, Oregon (Prints available for purchase – click on photo to order yours!)

 

9. “Psychedelic Sunset Surprise,” Sparks Lake, Oregon (July 20, 2014)
En route home from my 22-day summer Pacific Northwest tour, I stopped at Sparks Lake to camp overnight.  Going into late afternoon, the thick clouds indicated sunset might be a grey one.  But for a few minutes after sunset, the sky surprisingly exploded into magical color.

Psychedelic Sunset Surprise

“Psychedelic Sunset Surprise,” Sparks Lake, Oregon (Prints available for purchase – click on photo to order yours!)

 

10. “What’s SUP, Mom?” Frenchman Bay, Maine (August 6, 2014)
During my August visit to Acadia National Park, I convinced my Mom to take a formal lesson with me from Acadia Stand Up Paddle Boarding in Frenchman Bay near Bar Harbor.  I slung my camera (secured tightly in a EWA waterproof bag) over my shoulder, in case a photogenic moment occurred during our lesson (and my Mom’s first time atop a board).  Thanks to a clearing storm, we paddled across the perfectly still and serene sea beneath rainbows and moody skies.  With much pride for my Mom’s infectious adventurous spirit, I couldn’t resist snapping this peaceful moment of her soaking in her experience.

What's SUP, Mom?

“What’s SUP, Mom?” Frenchman Bay, Maine

 

11. “The Network,” Schoodic Point, Acadia National Park, Maine (August 8, 2014)
Thanks to a nomination by my good friend and amazing photographer, Floris van Breugel, I participated in the “Black and White Challenge” that ran wild on Facebook this year.  In preparing for the five-day project, I dug up various color photographs I thought might be more successful with a monochromatic treatment, including this one of a spider’s web at Schoodic Point.  To read how I created this image and why I chose to convert it to black and white, head to my recent my blog post, “Day 3:  The Black and White Challenge:  The Network.”

The Network

“The Network,” Schoodic Point, Acadia National Park, Maine (Prints available for purchase – click on photo to order yours!)

 

12. “Schoodic Serenity,” Schoodic Peninsula, Acadia National Park, Maine (August 8, 2014)
I could stand along the Acadian coastline for all of eternity and never tire of the awe and wonder this magical place offers.  Sometimes it’s stormy and fiesty; sometimes it’s quiet and tranquil.  But every time – including this past August – my soul sings in the reverie.

Schoodic Serenity

“Schoodic Serenity,” Schoodic Peninsula, Acadia National Park, Maine (Prints available for purchase – click on photo to order yours!)

 

13. “What Lies Ahead?” Mount Desert Island, Acadia National Park, Maine (October 17, 2014)
Thankfully, no government shutdown (like in October 2013) prevented me from helping not one, but two, photography workshop groups enjoy and photograph the autumnal beauty of Acadia National Park this past October!  I created this image of the boardwalk on the Jesup Trail during the second trip (read more about it on my blog post, “Persistence Pays Off:  October 2014 CMS Photography’s Acadia Workshop“).

What Lies Ahead

“What Lies Ahead,” Mount Desert Island, Acadia National Park, Maine (Prints available for purchase – click on photo to order yours!)

 

14. “Mud Tetris,” Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah (October 25, 2014)
Immediately after my three-week stay in Acadia, I headed to southern Utah to connect with my good friends Guy Tal, Bruce Hucko, and Michael Gordon for a few days in the desert.  I also had the fortunate chance to meet and spend time with Charles Cramer and Dan Mitchell on the same outing.  In between the many laughs, we explored some of the magnificent canyons found in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.  And I’m pretty sure between the six of us, we photographed every inch of cracked mud along the way!  When I saw this collection on the side of a sandstone wall, I immediately thought it looked like the blocks from the video game “Tetris.”  After snapping a few frames, at Bruce’s urging, Bruce and I switched cameras and challenged each other to change something about the others composition.  He zoomed my arrangement out a little wider than I had originally composed – and I liked it!  So Bruce gets a little extra credit for helping me perfect my vision.

Mud Tetris

“Mud Tetris,” Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah (Prints available for purchase – click on photo to order yours!)

 

15. “Winter Greetings” Cape Lookout State Park, Oregon (December 19, 2014)
I snuck in a few extra days along the Oregon coast before visiting with my in-laws in Montana for the holidays.  For four straight days, it relentlessly poured (as it’s prone to do during winter in Oregon).  I became so accustomed to the rain tap dancing on top of my camper that when all went suddenly silent in the early morning hours of day 3, I rushed out of bed and headed to the coast with my camera in hand to Cape Lookout.   The storm surge prevented me from walking along the beach, but I found a trail that hugged the coast that provided outstanding views of ephemeral waterfalls pouring into the stormy seas.

Winter Greetings

“Winter Greetings,” Cape Lookout State Park, Oregon (Prints available for purchase – click on photo to order yours!)

 

For additional inspiration to kick off the year, head over to Jim Goldstein’s annual blog project where he’s posted his traditional and ever-growing list of other photographers’ own favorites and best from 2014.  This is my third year participating – see my collections from 2012 and 2013.

As the Ralph Waldo Emerson quote above suggests, my wish for you is that every day you’re on this planet – in photography and in life – is the best day of your year.

Keep shooting!
~Colleen

 

Dec 292013
 

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing “
Helen Keller

Happy 2014!  As we celebrate the final days of 2013, I can only think, what a big adventure this year has been for us!

It was certainly a year of transition for us, one my husband, Craig, and I affectionately refer to as “Suitcases, Sticky Notes, and Tacos.”  Because of our temporary move to Hillsboro, Oregon in May (to support Craig’s temporary job assignment for Intel Corporation) and our travel schedule to maintain our commitments, our clothes often went from a suitcase to the washing machine, only to be put right back into the same suitcase. Occasionally, we had multiple overnight bags packed for different trips within trips (i.e. one by airplane to one city followed immediately by another one by car).  Long strands of connected sticky notes with messages reminding us of everything from flight schedules to grocery lists helped keep our heads on straight as we tried to figure out where we were going, when we needed to be there, and what we were supposed to do when we arrived.  We found ourselves eating an abundance of tacos along the way, perhaps because we missed our home in Arizona. Or perhaps because it was the only type of food establishment open and convenient during half-hour airport hand-offs and tiresome late nights.

Amidst the whirlwind and chaos, I ironically found 2013 to be a year of clarity and focus for my photography and writing.  When we learned in late 2012 of our relocation, I blocked my schedule from any new commitments to allow me time to explore our interim home in the Pacific Northwest with few interruptions.  However, all plans for the year changed quickly in late January, when I decided to write a printed book – not just an eBook – about photographing Acadia National Park while on my third Artist-in-Residency with the park.  I now joke that I spent much my time in Oregon writing a book about Maine.  That said, between the trips that originated in either Portland, Oregon or Portland, Maine,  I found just enough time to explore the coast, water, geology, and oceanography-subjects that excite me–in more depth than ever before.

Now that we’ve returned to our Arizona home, I joyfully bring all these experiences into next year, which represents my lucky 7th year as a full-time freelance photographer and writer.   Each year, when Craig and I discuss my business plan for the following year, I wonder what could possibly top the fortunate journey I’ve already had.  Then, I ponder all the new exciting opportunities ahead in the next 12 to 15 months, and I realize the adventure is only beginning.

I also acknowledge quite humbly, that I could not do what I love to do each day without your continued support.  As always, I thank you for your help, for your friendship, and for the unique stories, perspectives, and laughs you bring to each of our meetings, whether it be in the field or via the internet.

In celebration of a wonderful 2013 and a cheers to an even more thrilling 2014, I’d like to share my favorite 13 photos from the year.  In chronological order:

1.  Ice Explosion, West Pond Cove, Acadia National Park, Maine (January 2013)

Ice Explosion

“Ice Explosion,” West Pond Cove, Acadia National Park, Maine (Prints available – click on photo to order!)

2.  Fade Into You, Sand Beach, Acadia National Park, Maine (January 2013)

Fade Into You

“Fade Into You,” Sand Beach, Acadia National Park, Maine (Prints available – click on photo to order!)

3.  Ice Hoodoos, Ocean Drive, Acadia National Park, Maine (February 2013).
Ice Hoodoos

“Ice Hoodoos,” Ocean Drive, Acadia National Park, Maine (Prints available – click on photo to order!)

4.  Spring Emergence, Ecola State Park, Oregon (May 2013).  Read more about the making of this photo on my previous blog post, “The Constancy of Change.”
Spring's Emergence

“Spring Emergence,” Ecola State Park, Oregon (Prints available – click on photo to order!)

5.  Hang On!, Ecola State Park, Oregon (May 2013).  Read more about the making of this photo on my previous blog post, “The Constancy of Change.”
Hang On!

“Hang On!” Ecola State Park, Oregon (Prints available – click on photo to order!)

6.  Moved by the Sea, Cape Blanco, Oregon (May 2013).  Read the story behind the photograph on a previous blog post at “Making the Image:  Moved by the Sea.”
Moved by the Sea

“Moved by the Sea,” Cape Blanco, Oregon (Prints available – click on photo to order!)

7.  Summer’s Gift, Olympic National Park, Washington (July 2013)
Summer's Gift

“Summer’s Gift,” Olympic National Park, Washington (Prints available – click on photo to order!)

8.  Summer’s Celebration on Steens Mountain, Oregon (August 2013)
Summer Celebration on Steens Mountain

“Summer Celebration on Steens Mountain,” Oregon (Prints available – click on photo to order!)

9.  Autumn’s Symphony, Mount Desert Island, Maine (October 2013)
Autumn's Symphony

“Autumn’s Symphony,” Mount Desert Island, Maine (Prints available – click on photo to order!)

10.  Another World, Isle au Haut, Acadia National Park, Maine (October 2013).  Read the story behind the photograph on a previous blog post about “Making the Image:  Another World and Floating in Time.”
Another World

“Another World,” Isle au Haut, Acadia National Park, Maine (Prints available – click on photo to order!)

11.  Tranquility at Long Pond, Isle au Haut, Acadia National Park, Maine (October 2013)
Tranquility at Long Pond, Isle au Haut, Acadia National Park, Maine

“Tranquility at Long Pond,” Isle au Haut, Acadia National Park, Maine (Prints available – click on photo to order!)

12.  Eye of the Storm, Isle au Haut, Acadia National Park, Maine (October 2013)
Eye of the Storm

“Eye of the Storm,” Isle au Haut, Maine (Prints available – click on photo to order!)

13. Storm Remnants, Red Lake, Arizona (December 2013)
Storm Remnants

“Storm Remnants,” Red Lake, Arizona (Prints available – click on photo to order!)

Thank you for stopping by the “You Can Sleep When You’re Dead” blog!  Wishing you the very best in the new year, in hopes its a time of much success, learning, friendship, and of course, laughter! We’d love to hear what you’re looking forward to next year, so leave us a comment below about what you’re excited about in 2014!

~Colleen

Apr 192013
 
Whittaker_Margaret_Behind the Image

Photograph copyright Margaret Whittaker

“Reflection” – Margaret Whittaker
January 19, 2013 was a beautiful, balmy Saturday, ideal for some camera time out in nature.  So, my fiancé and I headed out to Beaver Creek, located in the Verde Valley, Arizona.

Beaver Creek is nestled between the mountains and sunset was approaching.  I carefully hurried down the embankment to set up the new camera equipment that I did not want to end up with in the middle of the creek.  I was particularly excited to try out this “professional” camera, which has oodles of bells and whistles, including an ISO range of 100-25600!  It is the new Canon EOS 5D Mark III 22 megapixel camera!  Fully programed, the camera does all kinds of wonderful things, automatically, including adding copyright information to the metadata.It has so many more functions than my previous Canon Rebel XSi, such as new control types situated in different locations on the camera.  I have so much to learn, so many new techniques to practice!

Beaver Creek’s water level is not deep in January; however, the water flows rapidly down the mountain and here and there little waterfalls gurgle and bubble.  I captured Reflection just above one of those waterfalls.

The new Mark III tops a Gitzmo Tripod with a ball head.  A Sigma 28-200 mm zoom lens focused on the water at 40mm, f-4.0 for 1/40th of a second at ISO 400.  (The Canon FS lenses for the Canon Rebel XSi are not compatible with the Mark III. Although the new Canon Zoom Lens EF 24-105mm, Canon Lens EF 50mm 1:1.4, and Canon Zoom Lens EF 100-400mm 1:4.5-5.6 L IS lens are ordered, they were arriving the following week.)

I attempted several different angles and perspectives prior to achieving the effect of this image.  As I looked down into the flowing water and realized I could see the small rocks through the water into the creek bed, I smiled in anticipation of capturing them with the Mark III.  I do!

Among the thousands of photographs, I have taken, only a few evoke the feelings that this one does.  Every time I look at the photograph, I feel the peacefulness of that day.  I hear the babbling waterfall.  I breathe the fresh clean air and feel the cool breeze on my skin.  The movement of the flowing water created the surreal effect of the reflected trees and the deepening of the afternoon sky provides the rich blueness of the water.  The photograph reminds me of an impressionist painting and, after all these years, I finally see what inspires the impressionists.  I have a new found appreciation of their work.  I look forward to reliving this moment in time, this feeling, and this revelation every time I look at the photograph.  I feel a sense of peaceful, grateful anticipation.

About the Photographer:
Born Margaret Whittaker in St. Jerome, Quebec, Canada 61 years ago, my first camera was a Brownie camera given to me by my father who gave me suggestions about subjects and lighting.  Over the years, I had various point and shoot cameras.  I purchased my first SLR camera and took a couple of community college classes.  Professors commented that I have an eye for composition.  Photographing is a joy, however, when co-workers saw my photographs, they encouraged me to create greeting cards.  Sales of greeting cards and prints, reorder requests and queries about whether I took family, wedding and portrait photographs, prompted me to pursue those revenue sources.  Co-workers joked that I already had a part time retirement income figured out.

In the spring of 2007, “Hunter,” a photograph of a tiger from Out of Africa Wildlife Park in Camp Verde, Arizona was one of over 500 entries at the International Photographers Society Convention in Las Vegas.  “Hunter” won second place and I took home a $2,500 check.

God’s artistry is the inspiration.  The challenge is to capture with the camera what God has created.  A major in Photography enables maximum utilization of the camera; perception of the world in new ways; unique capture of moments in time; and the ability to share God’s creation with everyone else.  Visit my website at MIWhittakerPhotos.com.

To read more about the Northern Arizona University “Behind the Image: Guest Blogger” project on our blog, please read the introduction on our April 15 post at youcansleepwhenyouredead.com/wordpress/introducing-the-nau-photography-students-behind-the-image-guest-blogger-project.

Apr 162013
 
Lyter_Jenna_Blog

“Scattered in Place”  – photograph copyright Jenna Lyter

“Scattered in Place” by Jenna Lyter
Normally when I take a photo of an object, I like to move things around until I feel they are in the right place. To me, the best part of this picture is that each leaf on the mossy rock is a different color, giving it a nice variety. The even better part is the fact that I didn’t put them there—it was all thanks to good old Mother Nature.

I hiked down in West Fork a few months ago, and brought my camera along for a landscape assignment I was given in class.  Since landscapes are my least favorite to photograph, I wasn’t’ exactly jumping for joy.  Although I pride myself on being organized and focused, once I get that DSLR in my hand, all of that so-called focus goes right out the window. I took one landscape picture and dozens of close-ups of other subjects I found to be much more intriguing: streams, rocks, tree trunks, flower, basically anything besides landscapes. This is nothing new for me, and I usually find that my best images are the unexpected ones.  For this particular photo, I used a Canon Rebel t3i set at ISO 400, 18-55mm lens at 34mm, F/4.5, 1/50 second. When I came across this particular rock, I snapped a single photo and moved on; out of sight out of mind.

It wasn’t until I got into Lightroom that I realized how special this picture actually was. I boosted the vibrancy and contrast a bit, threw a vignette on, and there it was: the best picture I took on the entire hike. Vignettes hold a special place in my creative heart, and I tend to put them on most of my images—this one seemed to benefit from the heavier vignette in my eyes. Now this is highly unusual for me, as my favorite part of photography is often altering images until they look different than reality using wide-angle lenses, extreme close ups, and color selections. Sometimes though, all that fuss isn’t needed; sometimes less really is more. This image evokes a sort of calm and serenity in mind, especially when I think back to how peaceful the scene actually was: the early morning sunlight slowly streaming through the trees, hardly any hikers on the trail yet, and nothing but the sound of water trickling over rocks in the nearby stream. As photographers, we may think we know where props should be placed and light should be directed, but sometimes—as this image shows—nature knows best.

About the Photographer:
Although video is what I primarily use my beloved DSLR for, photography is becoming a close second. Cameras are a part of my everyday life between my film production major and my work as a videographer, but it wasn’t until last year that I declared a minor—and a passion—for photography. Being able to tell a story or communicate an emotion through a single image or video fascinates me, and I love being able to alter reality with a specific color selection, crop, or camera angle. Last year I began taking senior pictures for graduating seniors, and turned it into a side project called J. Lyter Photography & Video, which has allowed me to expand my audience through social media. In the future, I hope to be working professionally with both video and photography, and as long as I have a camera in my hand, I know I’ll be happy.

To read more about the Northern Arizona University “Behind the Image: Guest Blogger” project on our blog, please read the introduction on our April 15 post at youcansleepwhenyouredead.com/wordpress/introducing-the-nau-photography-students-behind-the-image-guest-blogger-project.