May 242016

Photo copyright Taylor Slevin

It’s interesting taking a photo that you are proud of; it’s a feeling of success that I believe you can never quite replicate in anything else. An extreme feeling of euphoria comes along with capturing a small moment in time that can never be captured in exactly the same settings as you have at the moment you choose to close the shutter. This feeling was ultimately what I set out to achieve this semester when I started my photography class. I wanted to feel that euphoric happiness and to start to produce images that I was proud enough to show to others, as I had never truly done that before.

If you had asked me at the beginning of the semester which project seemed least exciting, I might have told you the “Shutter Drag with Flash” project sounded like it would be exactly that; a drag. Cause what in the heck is shutter drag? And my gosh those flashes are real pains to try and work you know? Or so I thought. I’ll tell you right now though; I was one hundred and ten percent wrong. This photo became my first “successful” photo in my eyes. This project gave me my first image that I am proud enough to show the world with a big smile on my face.

I played around with light painting my first semester in photography at NAU so it was not completely unfamiliar but after learning just how much more I could do with it from Professor Horn I knew I had to take it one step further. After doing the tutorials of stopping motion with flash in class I knew that in order to make my life easier I was going to need two people to help with this project. One would be my “flasher” or the person hitting the pilot light on my flash and the other lucky soul would get to play model for me. With all the lights and shadows that play a part in light painting, I knew I wanted to use the shadows to dramatize my shot. I thought I had a general idea of what I wanted to do for this project and, after finding my two helpers, I was very excited to get started.

I chose a studio setting because I needed a controlled environment since I am by no means a pro at light painting. I had shot a few times in the studio before and found that I really love having so many lights at my disposal and the rolling, clean (sort-of) backgrounds. I also thought that I might need some of these lights to help me capture the shadow play even though I captured this in complete darkness.

My initial idea was to have my model skateboard across the room holding a flashlight and my flasher friend to stop him once or twice as he went. But, as you can see there is no skateboard in my photo. Why? The idea was a complete disaster. The board would not show up, my model was blurry every time, and my shutter was too slow for the amount of time it took him to skate across the frame.

With some adjustments I ended up at an 8 second shutter speed with my ISO set to 100 and my f-stop set to 22. My lens was pretty zoomed out, I found that 35 mm gave me a wide enough shot to get a few catches of my friend as he went across and still not catch the extra lights and distractions on the side of the frame. Getting rid of the skateboard gave my “flasher” friend more times to be able to catch my model in the frame. Adding a second flashlight gave some dimension to my photo and added a little more excitement. It was finally working out!

So, with these things in mind, we played around with doing different patterns with the lights and getting the timing down just right. At the end of the night, I had 9 images that I was utterly in love with and extremely proud of. This image is my favorite of the nine because of the shadow play and the clarity my model appeared with not once, but twice. The image you see above was very fun to create and this remains my favorite assignment to this day.

About the Photographer:

My name is Taylor Slevin. I am a biology major at NAU earning a minor in photography, chemistry, and environmental studies. I have only just begun to dip into the pool of photography and learn where it can take me but I try to stay open to all techniques and processes. This semester I have been working mostly to improve my portraiture. I tend to go for dramatic lighting in my shots, something I have learned this semester that has helped me further myself. Ultimately, my goal in photography is my own happiness and becoming proud of my own 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 – Taylor would love to hear from you!

May 232016

Photo copyright Jake Herbig

Seeing some creative optical illusions, I was inspired to try it myself for a project in my photo 200 class. With the help of some friends, a bright sunny day, and a little creativity anything is possible.

First, finding a suitable area to shoot is very important, because of the large amount space required to obtain the shrinking effect in the image. The campus of Northern Arizona University provided a great area to work with to take this photo. Grabbing a few friends to help doesn’t hurt either. It is a great group activity that can be with numerous people. Finally, setting your camera to make everything in focus is a technique called “Hyper Focal distance.”

There are a few different ways to set this focus correctly, the easiest way my teacher Amy Horn taught me was to download an app that will calculate it for you. After fine-tuning the settings on my camera it came time to start shooting.

After a fair amount of trial and error, I settled on a concept that reflects the photo of this journal entry. I had a few different photos that have similar elements to them, but this is the one I chose to turn in. To get this image this way, I shot with a Canon 70D and a 28mm lens (F11 1/200sec 100Iso).

This set up has a hyper focal distance of 14ft, which means anything from 7ft to infinity will be in focus if done correctly. To still be in focus the basketball was placed exactly at 7ft away from camera, and to correctly make my friend 2x smaller that the ball he needed to be double the distance from the basketball at 21ft from the camera at the very least.

The entire shoot took about 30 minutes to complete. Looking back and reflecting on my work overall this spring semester this photo may not be my best work, but it turned out to be my favorite because of the simplicity of the process I underwent to take this photo. Usually I will prepare 2 to 3 hours before I take a photo. However, this one I just grabbed my camera one day and went out with my friends. There was no researching of any location, I just went outside my dorm and captured the image after I calculated the correct hyper focal distance.

About the Photographer:

My name is Jake Herbig and I was born and raised on the island of Kauai in Hawaii. I am a graphic design major at Northern Arizona University, with a minor in photography. I did not really get into photography until my senior year of high school, which I found I have a natural ability for. In the future, I plan to take my photography a little more seriously.  Website:

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 – Jake would love to hear from you!

May 232016

Photo copyright Ashlee Schifflet

These past few months, I have been working on my portraiture and decided to take this image for a midterm project. One afternoon, a few weeks ago, I took my friend into the studio and asked to take her picture. I had lights, a stool, and my camera ready. In terms of direction, I really just wanted to capture a candid moment that looked one hundred percent authentic rather than just an obvious pose, as my previous portraits have turned out. I attempted to get the subject in a natural, yet sophisticated setting. Portraits are supposed to communicate certain aspects of the subject’s life or personality. I wanted to show that this person, my friend Mackenzie, is a senior ready to take on the world while remaining down to Earth. Changing the photo to black and white really added to the simplicity and apparent beauty of her. I liked the contrasting tones and how it really added a classic feel to the image. This is definitely one of the best portraits I’ve taken and I’m proud of how it turned out.

I shot this with my own camera, a Canon Rebel T5. I used my 55 mm lens handheld so I could move freely to find the right angle for the picture. I had two lights with diffusers and my ISO was at 800, making the picture more detailed. I opted for an aperture of 5.6 with 1/20 shutter speed. I took about 50 photos. In post processing, I brought the photo into Lightroom for any cropping or coloring I wanted to do. This is where I turned the picture to black and white. From there, I opened Photoshop to clean up any distracting areas. By upping the contrast and adding some more detail into her hair and face, Mackenzie’s portrait came out very nicely.

To me, the art of photography includes both taking the photo and editing it afterwards to create the best possible image outcome. I think that there is no harm in making something look the way you want it to, but it’s also important to appreciate the unadulterated beauty of things within our reality.

About the Photographer:

I am a Creative Media and Film major, currently working on my minor in Photography. My work is primarily geared towards nature, macro, and landscape photography, although I am interested in all subjects. I prefer to capture the natural beauty surrounding us and aim to show the world as it truly is – flaws and all. The biggest goal for me as a photographer is to get people to feel something when they view my images. Whether it be hopefulness, happiness, contentment, or passion. My inspiration primarily comes from my friends and family and the work of brilliant, brave artists of the post-modern movement. In order to appreciate our own work, we must appreciate the work of others.

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 – Ashlee would love to hear from you!

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!