May 072015

Photo copyright Emma Benanati

Landscape and natural patterns have always been my subjects of choice and passion with photography.  However, my goal this semester was to learn new photo techniques and to see the value and beauty in different subjects.   The goal of this photo was to paint or show movement with light.  I love cycling so I chose my bicycle as the subject and hoped I could get it to somehow show movement while also staying close to my camera and in focus.  It looks like patterns (although not quite natural) have prevailed again in this photo, but I do like the repeating cycle effect… kind of like a bicycle spinning down the road.  If you squint your eyes while looking at the white lights in the photo, it almost looks like a person leaning forward and riding the bicycle.

This image was taken in my garage at night in order to give a dark background against the bicycle.  I wrapped colored holiday lights around my wheels and white lights around the frame and handle bars.  I tried moving the bike in various directions and patterns on different shutter speeds.  Mostly everything turned out to be a colorful blur and I didn’t like the result.   Then I tried different types of circles and the “painting with light” looked much better.   Here is the final set up for my photo:  The bike was positioned upright against my car in the garage.  Setting my camera timer on 10 seconds gave me enough time to press the button and run over to my bike, pick it up, and begin moving it around in smooth circles.  The shutter speed was set for 5 seconds so I made sure to keep the bike moving the entire time.  ISO was 100 and aperture was 14 at a focal length of 22 mm.  No filters or flash were used.

Even though it was completely dark in the garage, the holiday lights were bright enough to illuminate my face and car wheels.  I wanted a completely black background so I cloned those out using the lasso tool and capturing pieces of the surrounding dark background to fill in my face and wheels.  These were the only adjustments needed.

About the Photographer:
My name is Emma Benenati and I’m a biologist with Northern Arizona University.  My graduate degrees are in geology and biology and I love combining both in photos and film.  I’ve spent most of my life in science and “snapping photos” so I really enjoy these opportunities to work with my artistic side to take the time to “create” photos and improve my photography techniques.   I seem to continually gravitate toward natural patterns and details, usually on a larger scale.  However, I just attended a very enlightening macro photo workshop with Arizona Highways (Colleen Miniuk-Sperry and Paul Gill), and now I’ll experiment with macro and see what subjects attract me next.

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