Nov 082019
 

“Meet Me in the Middle” from Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountains, TN || Prints available! Click on photo to order yours!

While my buddy, Tim Mead, and I photographed in Cades Cove on a recent visit to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, a number of visitors passing us by in cars stuck their heads out the window and asked us, “What are you photographing?”

When we answered with “the fall colors and fog,” “trees,” and “the woods,” their shoulders dropped in disappointment. “Oh. So no bears?”

“No. Just. Pretty. Trees.”

After several rounds of this, we tired of letting people down. Tim suggested we come up with a new response. So we did.

When the next car asked us the standard question, we yelled in unison, “A wolverine!”

The gent leaned out of the window credulously. “A wolverine?”

Tim said while pointing at me, “Yes, a Michigan Wolverine!”

The guy rolled his eyes, shook his head, and laughed as he drove away. It was true! I graduated from the University of Michigan, which makes me a Michigan Wolverine. Go Blue!

I originally called this photograph “Meet Me in the Middle,” but maybe it’s more appropriate to title it, “Just Pretty Trees.” Or “Look! A Wolverine!”

Aug 142019
 
Walk the Line

“Walk the Line” in Death Valley, CA || Prints available–click on photo to order yours!

The question “Does every photograph have to have meaning?” came up in one of my Death Valley photography workshops earlier this year. In the flurry of excitement in the workshop’s final hours, I didn’t get the chance to clarify the context of the question with the inquirer, but I assumed there was a flavor of “Why can’t I make an image just because I think it’s beautiful?” behind it. I’ve been noodling on the notion ever since–so much so that I decided to pen an article about it summarizing my thoughts.

If you’d like to hear some of my musings about this topic, check out my latest article with On Landscape, titled “Meaning: You Get to Decide.”

A reasonable subscription (which helps On Landscape pay a fair wage to contributors for their work and keeps their site free of advertising) is required to read the full article. You’ll get access to not only this piece, though, but also additional fabulous insights from talented photographers like Guy Tal, Rafael Rojas, Tim Parkin, Alister Benn, and many others. I routinely find inspirational ideas to improve my work through this online publication.

So what do you think? Does every photograph have to have meaning? Do all of your photographs carry specific meaning? I’d love to hear your answers, so leave a comment below!

Nov 172018
 
Where There is Light

“Where There is Light,” from the Above LCR (Little Colorado River) camp near the confluence of the Colorado and Little Colorado rivers in the Grand Canyon National Park || Prints available–click on photo to order yours!

While standing on a sandy beach along the Colorado River one morning during my recent Grand Canyon Rafting Photography Retreat, I posed a philosophical question for my fellow trip mates, mostly photographers, to ponder throughout the day as we floated along: “If no one ever saw your photographs, would you photograph differently?”

The conversation that ensued that evening over dinner, plus my ongoing fascination with Vivian Maier story, inspired me to write an article about it. On Landscape just published it: “If No One Saw Your Photographs.” In it, I explore my own reasons for not only photographing, but sharing my results with the outside world.

You’ll need a subscription to read the full article (which helps On Landscape pay a fair wage to contributors for their work and keeps their site free of advertising). The inspirational content of this eMagazine by photographic artists like Guy Tal, Rafael Rojas, Tim Parkin, and Alister Benn is well worth the price. Learn more on their Subscription page at https://www.onlandscape.co.uk/subscribe

So I turn the question to you: if no one ever saw your photographs, would you photograph differently? I’d love to hear your answers!

Deliciousness

 Posted by at 11:25 AM  Inspiration, Travelogue
Nov 152018
 
Deliciousness

“Deliciousness,” from Lake Mead National Recreation Area, on the Arizona-Nevada border || Prints available–click on photo to order yours!

I wanted to spend time with an old friend of mine, the Colorado River, on my stand-up paddleboard (SUP) in a place I had only been once before, Lake Mead on the Arizona-Nevada border. I had spent much of the last year planning and training, and the last month watching and waiting for a window of favorable weather conditions. On November 1, I got it.

For the first three days, my friend and I had ideal conditions for paddling: virtually no wind and a few clouds here and there to keep the sun from baking us. Easy going! On the fourth day, which was also my first day on my own, though, things changed…

Despite a bullying headwind for about five miles, I ended up paddling hard and long, almost 12 miles. When I found a good camp for the night, it was completely overcast. Even though I was tired, I still went exploring as the day came to a close. After all, I had never seen this foreign landscape before.

Right after the sun went down, all of a sudden, BOOM! The sky exploded. It was off the hook!

I thought, “How delicious! How delicious this sunset; how delicious this chance to be in such a magnificent place; how delicious to feel SO alive right now! And how delicious brownies would be right about now!!!” The photo above resulted. (So did two pans of brownies when I returned home…)

After nine days–two of which I spent in camp on high wind delay–I paddled just over 60 miles from South Cove to Kingman Wash. I finished last Friday morning. It was likely one of the first crossings of Lake Mead (the largest reservoir in the United States) by a woman on a SUP. Regardless, it was definitely a grand adventure!

One where I learned more about the tenacity of the Colorado River as it’s transformed (once again) from a river to a reservoir. I witnessed indescribable beauty in the land and lake. I tested my outdoor skills through high winds, equipment failures (broken sunglasses, paddle, and tent poles), and an accidental capsize 50 yards from shore. But most importantly, I listened to the wisdom of the river.

The journey reiterated the life lessons I have learned since 2015, when my life took an unexpected left-hand turn and I attempted paddle across Lake Powell—a trip I took to cope with my struggles with loss, one that, like life, didn’t quite go according to plan. My friend, the river, reminded me to keep going with the flow. And always keep your paddle all in.

More photos, stories, and thoughts to come…stay tuned…

CM on CR_Lake Mead

From the first day, about two to three hours after we started (aka, before the headwinds, LOL). I’m standing on the sand bar created by the Colorado River meeting Lake Mead. Photo courtesy Scott Lefler.

May 162018
 

Photo courtesy of Guy Tal

Recently, I had a blast chatting about landscape photography, creativity, and more with photographer Matt Payne on his F-Stop Collaborate and Listen podcast. (Anyone else dancing to “Ice Ice Baby” by Vanilla Ice right now? Oh, 90s music was so awesome…)

To read the introduction to our conversation, visit www.mattpaynephotography.com/blog/2018/5/conversation-with-colleen-miniuk-sperry-on-f-stop-collaborate-and-listen.

To jump straight into the podcast, have a listen at:

I hope you gain some inspiration and new ideas for your photographic journey through our exchange!

Many thanks Matt for the opportunity to talk with you. Keep up the great work inspiring the landscape photography world through your podcasts.

May 152016
 

Photo copyright Megan Vey

“The Descending Sun”

Now, I know what you’re thinking “oh gosh, another photo of a sunset.” I do agree that photographs of sunsets are over done, but I also understand why they are so commonly viewed and photographed. There is just something so majestic about sunsets; maybe it’s the beautiful colors, or maybe it’s the feeling one gets from watching the sun sink below the horizon. Sunsets can provoke thoughts and memories within one’s self. Sunsets are often connected with relaxation because it is a time of day when everything starts winding down. I like to think of the sunset as more of a symbol. The sunset can be a couple different symbols; the ending of a day, the closing of a chapter, or the battle between good and evil (light and darkness). I enjoy finding symbolism in things; whether it is a book, a movie, or a piece of art. I love finding hidden meanings, even if the hidden meaning was not intended. It is kind of like unearthing another part of the story. Understanding a story without recognizing the symbols is possible; but knowing the symbols and their meaning makes the story that much more interesting. It is the same for a photograph. A photograph could be beautiful without a story or a meaning behind it. But, when a photograph tells a story or has a meaning it is just that much better. Of course not everyone feels that way and that is fine, that is just my opinion on things.

This photograph represents light and darkness. Observe the battle between light and darkness in the sunset and shadows, but also the clouds. Some of the clouds are white and some of them are dark grey. I have always enjoyed photographs that kind of play with the lighting. A photographer can create any mood by changing the lighting and playing with the shadows. This photograph could have turned out very different if I adjusted my exposure or added an additional light source in the foreground.

I took this photograph in Sedona, Arizona while I was off-roading with some of my friends. I am so glad we decided to go right before sunset, so I could capture this image. I shot this photograph with a Canon Rebel T3 using the normal kit lens. My aperture is a little higher so I could get a bit of a sunburst. In post processing, I enhanced the shadows to get a dark feeling from the photograph.

About the Photographer

My name is Megan Vey and I am a junior at Northern Arizona University. I am majoring in anthropology and minoring in museum studies and photography. One day, I would like to be a museum curator. I am minoring in photography because I do not remember a time when I did not love capturing a moment. I have always loved looking at photographs. My parents have framed posters size photographs of Yosemite National Park taken by Ansel Adams and I think those photographs play a role in why I love shooting landscapes. I also enjoy shooting wildlife and I occasionally dabble in studio portraiture. I think my love of adventure and traveling also play a role in why I shoot landscape photography. I like capturing what I see on my travels so when I print the images I remember what it feels like to be there. The photograph triggers a memory and I instantly relax with a smile on my face. That’s why I love photography; the freezing of a memory.

To read more about the Northern Arizona University “Behind the Image: Guest Blogger” project on our blog, please read the introduction at youcansleepwhenyouredead.com/wordpress/4th-annual-northern-arizona-university-behind-the-image-guest-blogger-projectPlease take a minute to leave your thoughts and constructive comments in the Comment section below – Megan would love to hear from you!

Aug 192015
 

“Into the Great Wide Open” || Blooming canola field and clouds in Alberta, Canada (Prints available – click on photo to order yours!)

“The road of life twists and turns and no two directions are ever the same. Yet our lessons come from the journey, not the destination.” ~Don Williams, Jr.

Earlier this summer, while en route from my friend’s home in Calgary to Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada, my companions and I enjoyed seemingly endless views of blooming yellow canola fields along the highway.  For a closer look, namely in search for a red barn to serve as a pleasing contrast between the blue sky and yellow flowers, we turned down a random dirt country road to continue our scouting.  When we came upon this particular field while driving a dirt country road, we all agreed: we had to stop to photograph it (yes,despite no red barn)!

When I surveyed the scene, I knew immediately that I wanted to showcase the juxtaposition between the yellow flowers and the non-blooming green weave as a leading line through the frame.  To draw more attention to the contrast and to reduce the visual tension (thereby offering a greater sense of peace and harmony), I intentionally positioned the green shape in the middle of my composition and allowed even amounts of space for the yellow on either side to create a more symmetrical balance.  I also wanted to give a broader context to the path as if it were leading into this great big sky – and into a great big unknown – so I dropped the horizon towards the bottom of the frame to emphasize the expanse above the landscape.

As I perfected my composition with my 24-105 mm set at a 50mm focal length, the mid-morning sun kept playing hide and seek. One minute, the scene fell in completely diffused light.  Then, the next minute, it appeared fully illuminated. Knowing that a viewer’s eye would travel along the green (darker) area to seek the brighter part of the frame, I waited patiently for the sun to dance across only part of the field, specifically the top part, where the path ends and meets the sky.  For a mere few seconds, the sun cooperated before moving on and spotlighting a different part of the field out of my frame.

I stayed put for several more minutes, hoping this lighting effect would return to the top of the ridge, but alas, it did not, and I chose to move on to additional compositions under almost completely diffused light.  We never did find a blooming canola field with a red barn (found plenty of both, just not together!) but we enjoyed the journey to find it immensely.

When I returned home to process the image, titling it came very easy.  I named the resulting photograph after the Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers song, “Into the Great Wide Open” as that’s what I was humming while I made the image!

Tech info:  Canon 5DMII, 24-105mm at 50mm, ISO 100, f/11 at 1/250 sec.

May 162015
 

“The Subway” photo copyright Ariel White

At the beginning of the spring semester my roommate and I began thinking about what we were going to do for Spring Break.  Last semester we had gone hiking in Zion National Park, Utah, but we did not get to go on all the hikes we wanted, so we decided we would go back.  This park is known for its red rock, the amazing hiking experiences, rock climbing, and the photography opportunities it provides.

My roommate and I set out on our hike at 8 o’clock in the morning.  The sun was just starting to climb over the horizon and was bathing the landscape in light.  This was one of the more strenuous hikes as we had to scramble over rocks, wade through water, and climb up slippery, moss covered rocks.  We hiked The Subway for three hours before reaching the end.  The hike became visually appealing as we approached the end.  We stopped many times on the way to take pictures, but what I was most excited for was the end of the hike.  We had reached the end before the sun was fully over the mountain.  My roommate and I hiked into The Subway and were taken aback by the beauty.  It was amazing thinking about how it all formed.  It was very slippery due to the water and the moss covered ground.  Many holes had formed inside allowing pools to swirl and to flow and to make for a breathtaking experience.  I took a few photographs from inside as I knew it would be impossible to explain to people how amazing this was.  All the photos I took were handheld as I did not have a tripod with me.  If I had one I am sure I would have captured even more incredible photographs.  When I took the photo I wanted it to show the beauty of nature.  I wanted people to know that sometimes you have to go out of your way to capture something great.  I believe this photo encapsulates that perfectly.

I took this photo with my Canon Rebel EOS T5i, with the 18-55mm kit lens.  The focal length was at 30mm with an aperture of f/4.0.  ISO was set to 400.  I had the shutter speed at 1/25 as I wanted to capture the motion of the water and make it look a little like mist.  There was some post processing involved.  I lowered the exposure on the rocks and upped the contrast to bring out the formations.  This also brought out the water pool and the light coming in through the tunnel.  I saturated the green in the pool to make it stand out and also saturated the light in the tunnel to show how it shined through.  I cropped very little on the top so as to not detract from the photo.  I am very pleased with the final result.

About the Photographer:
My name is Ariel White and I am a senior at Northern Arizona University.  I will be graduating with a major in Electronic Media and Film (renamed to Creative Media and Film) and a minor in Photography.  I chose Photography as my minor because I felt it went hand in hand with my major.  Coming up with visually captivating photographs would work almost exactly for setting up scenes for a TV show or film.  I had always been interested in photography, but I never had the means nor the money to let my interest grow until Spring of 2014.  Once that camera was in my hands I knew it was something I would use throughout my life.

To read more about the Northern Arizona University “Behind the Image: Guest Blogger” project on our blog, please read the introduction at http://youcansleepwhenyouredead.com/wordpress/3rd-annual-northern-arizona-university-behind-the-image-guest-blogger-project/Please take a minute to leave your insights and constructive comments in the Comment section below – the student would love to hear from you!

May 052015
 

Photo copyright Parker Munsch

For this image, I wanted to get the red cliffs in Sedona, AZ. So I drove down to Sedona on a Sunday and took some pictures of them and other parts of the scenery. The photo shown is one of the other scenery photos taken. For this photo, I walked to the top of a parking garage just off of the main road in Sedona, and I just started taking pictures of all the scenery I could get. I thought this image ended up being the best picture I got because it had the best ratio of the mountains and the bottom parts of shrubs and trees. I really like nature so the great scenery of Sedona inspired me to do this photo. I do not think I was trying to say anything with this photo; I just really liked the scenery and wanted to take a picture to remember the beautiful view I had at the top of the parking garage. In terms of thought process for this image I ended up using the height of the parking garage as a good vantage point so it could almost look like it was the edge of the valley, which it sort of is there. For this image I had no filter on the end of the lens. I was using my Nikon D5200 camera, with an 18-200 millimeter 3.5-5.6, which was just zoomed in to 38 millimeters. When shooting the image my aperture was at f/14 my ISO was at 250 and the shutter went off at 1/100. It was a bright day so I wanted the ISO to be lower so I would not get any noise. I had my f-stop so high so I could get the full focal range I needed for the image. It was not until days after taking the photo that I decided to put it into black and white. At first the sky was a little bit duller than I would like it to be, however I liked the tones everywhere else. So after toying with the saturation and the vibrancy, in adobe Lightroom I ended up putting the sliders all the way down to the left so it became black and white. I cropped in the image a little bit from the right, because there was a distracting part on the end that took away from the image so I cropped it in and that is my final product.

About the Photographer:
My name is Parker Munsch. I am a photography and criminal justice major at Northern Arizona University. I have been legitimately taking pictures for a year and a half now, but before that I was interested in the backgrounds of the images, like how it was shot and what editing went into the image. I prefer landscape photography, because I love the outdoors and like taking photos when I am in a cool new place. I really do not like to do much in post usually I just play with the tones and saturation. I try to do pictures that I like and the outdoors is an area that is very inspirational to me.

To read more about the Northern Arizona University “Behind the Image: Guest Blogger” project on our blog, please read the introduction at http://youcansleepwhenyouredead.com/wordpress/3rd-annual-northern-arizona-university-behind-the-image-guest-blogger-project/Please take a minute to leave your insights and constructive comments in the Comment section below – the student would love to hear from you!

Apr 292015
 

Photo copyright Karli Crocker

One of my best pieces of work that I have composed within this past semester is a panoramic picture I took while in California for Christmas Break. Some of the most beautiful beaches are in California, and I had the opportunity to visit Davenport Beach. I love the beaches, and landscape photos. When it comes to nature and wildlife I find it to be the most beautiful part of the world, and since it always sparks my interest it is almost impossible for me to go anywhere without snapping a few thousand photos of my surroundings. Although I did not end up bring my camera on this adventure, I always have my phone that is what I was able to snap my favorite photo of the semester with.

I went on a hike just off the sandy beach with my boyfriend and dogs in Davenport. As we climbed up the cliff, I looked back and noticed the beautiful view that felt as if it was surrounding us. I was so disappointed that I did not bring my camera with me on this beach adventure, but I could not leave without taking a picture. I found a place to stand on the cliff and observe the entirety of the view. I looked at the landscape with my iPhone 6 camera, scanning as if I was going to take a panorama, from all different levels and angles from where I was standing. After taking a few test panoramas with my phone, I found the perfect place to set up for the exact picture I wanted to capture. It took me a few times to perfect the shot; I was waiting for the perfect sunset lighting too, but I finally came up with the perfect panorama picture of the beach.

I have a huge emotional attachment to the beach, and even though I have so many snap shots of beach scenery, this photo really captures my ideal imagination of the beaches. Like I stated above, I took this photo with my iPhone 6 on panoramic mode, and for a phone photograph, I find it to be very crisp and beautiful. I enhanced the colors just a bit in post process, but this photo is an accurate representation of what my eyes captured. I am now actually grateful that I had my iPhone so that I was able to take a panorama a lot easier than it would have been with my camera.

About the Photographer:
I am a college sophomore at Northern Arizona University. I am a double major in Photography and Criminal Justice, and no I do not plan on using those degrees together to be a crime scene photographer, as much as everyone suggests it to me. Photography has always been a hobby of mine because my Dad was a photographer. He taught me from a young age about photography, and how to hold a camera, and the rest came naturally. Having a dual major makes time for photography very limited, but I am interested in building my own photography business, as well as start painting my images on canvases to display in art shows in the future. I am hoping that my photography business can help contribute to the debt I will soon acquire by going to Law School to become a lawyer.

To read more about the Northern Arizona University “Behind the Image: Guest Blogger” project on our blog, please read the introduction at http://youcansleepwhenyouredead.com/wordpress/3rd-annual-northern-arizona-university-behind-the-image-guest-blogger-project/Please take a minute to leave your insights and constructive comments in the Comment section below – the student would love to hear from you!