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

 

Apr 302014
 
Carlson_Ashley_Blog

Photo copyright Ashley Carlson

As a born and raised Flagstaff native, or “Flagstaffian”, I have always taken the beauty of Northern Arizona for granted and even at times hated living here. All throughout my primary education I had this grand dream of escaping Flagstaff to see if the grass is really greener on the other side. A series of events and decisions led me to stay in Flagstaff to attend NAU and that is when I began to realize that Flagstaff is one of the most beautiful places on Earth. After my freshman year of college I made a life-changing decision that came in the form of a Jack Russell puppy. That huge bundle of responsibility and endless energy made me take daily ventures out into the woods and that is when I fell in love with the place I had lived in my whole life.

Many adventures later led me to discover this beautiful open field right behind Pulliam Airport. After dozens of hikes in this field, I finally brought along my camera to take a picture I have been dreaming of capturing for years.

Standing in the middle of the field with my Nikon D600, 8mm Rokinon Fisheye lens, tripod, and my dog, I began snapping pictures. With my ISO set to 320, with a shutter speed of 1/80, and my aperture set to 22 I was able to avoid capturing the stronger shadows that surrounded me and also keep everything in focus. That day the clouds were wispy and moving quickly due to the wind so I wanted to track the movement of the clouds in one photo. Using my watch, I snapped a photo every minute for about 15 minutes. I had to stop after 15 pictures because the sun was setting extremely fast but I took enough pictures to give me the desired effect I had envisioned. I uploaded all the images to Photoshop as layers and created a stacked image, which I then saved into Lightroom to do the final tweaks.

This photo has a deeper meaning to me personally than any other photo I have taken. The time lapse of it represents all those days I never stopped to appreciate the place I grew up in. The field and mountains reminds me how much I have grown to love every part of the outdoors. The overall image gives me the warm, fuzzy feeling of home and how I have fallen in love with my hometown.

About the Photographer:
As a Flagstaffian, I have grown up around the gorgeous outdoors. So, I tend to photograph nature most of the time but I also strive to always push myself and broaden my horizons to other forms of photography. Photography is not just a hobby, it is a form of therapy; it relaxes me but also makes me exercise my imagination. I try to find the beauty in everything in life, to find inspiration in everything from people to nature. As a perfectionist, I am never happy until I feel my art has been completed to the best of my ability. My goal in photography is to capture something that pleases the eye and that I feel is my best work.

www.thealcstudio.com

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/its-back-the-2014-nau-photography-students-behind-the-image-guest-blogger-project/.

Jun 042013
 
Washed Up

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

With the blissful freedom to choose “where ever I want to go” for my photographic outings, I normally select my photographic destinations based on a number of factors, including, but certainly not limited, to the specific visualizations I’ve developed for a location or subject, the anticipated weather, and seasonal considerations (e.g. wildflower blooms, fall colors).

With that in mind, I ventured to Redwoods National Park in northern California last week in hopes I’d catch the tail end of the rhododendron (affectionately referred to as “rhodies”) bloom.  A storm brewed off-shore in the days prior to my scheduled departure, and I kept my fingers crossed that photogenic inclement weather like light mist and fog would help me record images with vibrant pink blossoms offset by the towering, gi-normous redwood trees.

Over the course of three days, though, the dark stormy skies unleashed in unrelenting, non-stop downpours. The storm arrived onshore earlier than predicted.  On top of Mother Nature dumping buckets, the number of rhodies on the ground far, far exceeded the number of blooms remaining on their lanky branches.

After making the most of the few rhodies still intact and with 100% chance of rain forecasted for my fourth and final day, I decided to seek refuge in a drier place along the southern Oregon coast.  I had no final destination in mind for the evening and made the decision that I would start looking for a campsite around 5 pm, wherever my travels took me.

Under partially clearing skies, I arrived at a lovely forested spot in the Cape Blanco State Park just after my arbitrary deadline.  Mentally exhausted from my Redwoods trip, I thought a casual stroll along the beach at Cape Blanco would refocus my creative thoughts.  One whiff of the ocean breeze as I hiked down the steep hill to the shoreline was all it took to rejuvenate my soul. (Oh, how I love the ocean!).

From a distance, I spotted this long bull kelp resting on the shoreline. Likely a remnant of the last high tide, as I approached it, I wondered where the sea would take it the next high tide.  Where had it been before this evening?  Where would it go in the days ahead?   Would it remain here and dry out?  Like me at this moment, it had no set, pre-defined destination.  It went where ever the waves and winds took it.

Now connected with this wandering whip, I knew I needed to record an image of it.  Watching the next storm develop on the horizon, I set up my camera with my wide-angle lens.  One snap to confirm my composition and exposure revealed the need for some adjustments.  I repositioned my tripod to intentionally align the bull kelp with the parting line in the sky, placing it in the middle of the frame and breaking the “rule of thirds” on purpose.  I then needed to balance the exposure difference between the land and sky with a three-stop graduated neutral density filter.

Pleased with the results but wanting to see how different light would affect the outcome, I waited for sunset in hopes the sun would poke out one last time before disappearing.  The skies parted gloriously for a mere seven minutes about 8:30 pm (sunset officially occurred at 8:48 pm).  Though the beach received warm, glowing sidelight, the clouds’ shape had changed completely to a flat, even, overcast sky.  When comparing the two results, I preferred the earlier version which appears above.

As I trudged back up the hill to my campsite and considered how well my “casual stroll” along the beach turned out, I recalled one of my favorite Ansel Adams quotes: “Every man’s work is always a portrait of himself.”  Reflecting not just the serendipitous moment but also my experience during this particular photographic adventure, I decided to title this image, “Moved by the Sea.”

Tech info:  Canon 5DMII, 16-35mm at 16mm, ISO 50, f/22 at 1.3 seconds, three-stop graduated neutral density filter, basic post processing.

May 162013
 
Waves of Change

“Waves of Change,” Ecola State Park (Prints available for purchase – click on photo to order!)

Almost eight years ago to the day, Craig and I celebrated the end of our first temporary stay in Oregon by standing on the headland at Indian Beach at Ecola State Park just north of Cannon Beach.

Sunset at Indian Beach

“Sunset at Indian Beach” from 2005 (Prints available for purchase – click on photo to order!)

I remember that evening in 2005 so vividly, I can still feel the memory today:  The gentle ocean breeze.  The smell of the tide change.  The warmth of the setting sun.  Two of the photographs I captured that evening – with my Contax 645 medium format film camera – now rest above our bed in our Arizona home to serve as a daily reminder of one of our favorite places and moments along the Oregon coast.

Months ago, as we prepared for our second temporary stay in Oregon, a rush of thoughts overwhelmed my mind based on our first experience.  Where to go, when to go, what to see, who to see, and how to record such ample and different beauty in Oregon. As they say, “So many places to see, so little time.” The list of places to see and things I want to do became longer than a child’s Christmas list.

Sea Stack Sunset

“Sea Stack Sunset” from 2005 (Prints available for purchase – click on photo to order!)

Despite the seemingly endless new photographic opportunities this transition presented, I decided to start my photographic journey in Oregon in the same place I left off:  on the headland at Indian Beach at Ecola State Park.  It’s a place I’d been countless times before, and yet when I arrived on Tuesday morning, nothing, nothing, looked the same as 2005.

Upon coming to the realization that nothing, nothing, had remained the same, I smiled as big as the little girl who got everything she wished for on December 25.  In that instance, I mouthed the words as the wind whispered, “No man ever steps in same river twice, for it is not the same river and he’s not the same man.”  ~Heraclitus.

(Turns out Heraclitus’ quote applies to oceans and women too!)

I couldn’t have been happier to learn that in eight years, everything, everything, has changed.  Mother Nature altered the landscape such that I can no longer stand in the same place as I did before, thanks to landslides.   Those landslides pushed new rocks into the ocean, and each wave crashed a little differently on those new sea stacks.  It’s not possible for me to re-create the same compositions I did in 2005, even if I wanted to-I didn’t.

On top of significant natural changes and differing light/weather, I’m thankfully not the same person, photographer, artist that stood on that headland before.  I replaced my film camera long ago with two generations of digital cameras.  I now know what to do with a graduated neutral density filter.   I’ve embraced my love affair with the coast, despite living in the desert.  Endless experiences – conversations, readings, successes, failures, travels, and other inspirations – have challenged and changed my perspectives over time so that when I look at a scene I’ve seen before, I’m looking through an entirely different lens.

Ansel Adams summed it best:   “You don’t make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.”

Hang On!

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

Whether we know it or not, as time passes, we and the world around us are constantly changing.  But, neither change nor creativity needs to be a passive activity.  If we seek to create new images in the same spots, we must change as a person.  Simply buying a new lens won’t cut it.  Oh sure, new gear can help execute new visions, but we need to start with new ideas and make different associations among the knowledge we already possess to see, and ultimately photograph, something new in places we’ve already been once or a hundred times.

Consciously and subconsciously, we can gain fresh thoughts everywhere and anytime, not just while photographing.  Some ideas how:

  • Reverse engineer photos you like to understand the process they used to achieve a specific result.  How’d they do it?  Then how would you do it differently?
  • Keep asking “what if.”  What if you used a different lens?  What if you climbed the hill for a more aerial perspective?  What if you saw the ocean as the desert, metaphorically speaking?
  • Devour books.  Not just photography books, but anything that tickles your passion and stimulates your brain.
  • Listen to music, watch movies, attend plays.  And then think about how you can incorporate the concepts and ideas you hear, see, and experience into your photography.
  • Talk with and exchange ideas with others.  Not just other photographers, but also those who know nothing about photography, who explore other activities and fields you enjoy, and think differently than you.  Surround yourself with people who know more than you.
  • Screw up.  Often.  Then learn from the experience to develop even more new ideas.
  • Engage with your environment.  An experience you have in one location can help trigger ideas in a different location.  Ride a bike, go for a hike, take a field-based class – whatever gets you closer to your subject.

So last Tuesday, I brought with me to Indian Beach all my experiences from spending 90+ days in Acadia National Park in Maine over the last four years, every critique I’ve conducted during all the photography workshops I teach, the entire process of writing a book about Arizona wildflowers, and more simply, even the songs I heard on the radio as I drove to Ecola State Park, among so many other things.  And as a result, my photographs look nothing, nothing, like they did in 2005.

What other tips do you have to see the same place with fresh eyes?

Spring Emergence

“Spring Emergence,” False lily-of-the-valley at Ecola State Park, Oregon (Prints available for purchase – click on photo to order!)

May 022013
 
McCully_Christine_

Photograph copyright Christine McCully

This image, taken November 6, 2012, is one of my personal favorites. While I love taking all sorts of pictures in general, this particular one was a milestone for me. It reminds me, and will continue to remind me, of this highly challenging senior year at Northern Arizona University. It also reminds me that even when stressed to the limits, I can go out on an assignment and take something so stunning, and it will bring me back to Earth and ground every aspect of my being.

I hope that any viewers of this particular panorama see in it what I do, or something equally as wonderful, and enjoy every golden detail, every hill and tree, every flare of the sunshine as it begins to set behind the mountains and valleys beyond Flagstaff, Arizona. This view, for those who are interested in catching their own version of it, is taken just before the ascent to Snowbowl. From town, I decided to go North on Humphreys merging through onto Columbus (left turn), and then I continued my journey until I reached Snowbowl road. Here, I made a right turn and maintained my course up the mountain until I found this perfect spot. Parking on the right with this view on the left, I hurried to grab my gear and ran out there with my hiking companion, a boxer mix named Dozie. Luckily for me, while Miss Dozie was off running in the wilderness like grass and wind were going out of style, I managed to capture the last few shots of the day. I captured trees and stumps, boulders and far away wildfires, and of course Dozie, running around with her tongue trailing behind her like Taz, the Tasmanian devil.

Just before the sun began its descent into the sky the golden hour of the day hit and the only way I could capture it just they way I wanted was to make a panorama. Dozie resting at my side, I shot. At ISO 100, using only 50mm of my 300mm lens, and f/4.2 at 1/320 second, this photograph is what came out. Before I had a chance to shoot any other photographs my batteries all died and the golden light of this day was drifting away into darkness. The wind picked up with a cold November chill in the air, so Miss Dozie and I called it a day.

About the Photographer:
My name is Christine McCully and I am a Public Relations major, photo minor, at Northern Arizona University. I have loved photography since childhood but my most important photographical influence or inspiration is my godfather. He travels the world and photographs images that should be in National Geographic, in my opinion. I enjoy shooting a variety of subjects, not one is my favorite. I have shot models and landscapes, children and macro, pets and events, yet all of them thrill me. What makes my work so different is that the shots really encompass the feelings of that moment captured. I think Photography is my passion, it defines me and it grounds me.

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.

May 012013
 
SONY DSC

Photograph copyright Jennifer Radke

I chose to create this image because I enjoy being outdoors, seeing nature and water. I did not plan to capture this photograph until I came upon it while walking up the trail at one of the waterfalls in Oregon, and happened to look down to see where the water was flowing below the bridge. The main thing I was trying to say with this scene is that we may know where the waterfall starts, but we never truly know where that water ends up even if we follow it all the way down the stream. While taking this picture I was just walking around and taking as many pictures as I could before my parents said they were ready to walk back down toward the truck to leave. I actually took the UV filter off the camera lens to capture a lot of the pictures I took that day because the sun glare streaming from the rain clouds was creating hot spots throughout the first few pictures, and I did not like or want that aspect within my photographs of the falls.

This trip to the waterfall in Oregon happened because we made a family trip to Bremerton, Washington, for my cousins wedding in April 2012. After the wedding we were driving back to California which means we have to drive through Oregon. Halfway through Oregon my dad sees a sign that says “waterfall 30 miles.” So he proceeds to ask everyone if they want to go to the waterfall and says that it is only thirty minutes away, therefore everyone says “yeah, sounds like a fun adventure.” About two and a half hours later we finally arrive at the falls and exit the truck to stretch and get prepared to walk up the bridges for the waterfall. I am using my mom’s Sony DSC DSLR-A 100 camera, so I ask her if I can take her camera up the fall with us so I can take pictures and she said I could, as long as I took care of it, although she knew I was going to because I had been using it for classes for three semesters by this point. I promised I would take care of it and then we started toward the fall and I keep stopping at random points trying to get different angles and different viewpoints of this magical place. Then after walking what seemed to be forever, making it halfway, we stop because of it being a long walk in the cold, rain, and wind. I happen to glance down, while I was looking anywhere and everywhere, and I see this small stream on the side of the bridge next to the main waterfall stream because it is in its own area between the trees and foliage. I take some pictures standing up and then kneeling down and at one point I was almost sitting down trying to get a right angle while adjusting the settings on the camera to get different lighting and perspectives. I achieve this shot and quickly put the camera back into my sweater and run to my parents to show them to see what they think and wipe a few water drops off the camera. The final image had the settings of ISO 100 and 1/15th of a second at f/5.6, which caused the water to stay flowing in the picture. The post-production steps that I proceeded to do happened in lightroom and it is simply bringing the saturation back to add more contrasting colors within the greens and the stream with the darker rocks below the water.

About the Photographer:
I’m Jennifer Radke. I started photography classes’ junior year of high school and have been intrigued with taking pictures since and would rather be behind the camera than in front of it. I have worked with my uncle to take pictures of fundraising events they plan. I enjoy being outdoors and capturing photographs within nature, because it is a simple place to relax and inspire me by what is around daily. What inspires me is being able to break my routine and have adventurous walks without knowing where they lead, while enjoying the breeze, clearing my mind, and giving me a new look on life.

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 302013
 
Molloy_Marissa_blog

Photograph copyright Marissa Molloy

On my last day at home in Prescott over winter break, there was a pretty intense snow storm.  It finally stopped snowing a few hours before I was supposed to leave, so I decided to go out shooting on some of the trails that run through our neighborhood.  My parents’ house is on the outskirts and in the higher elevations of Prescott, so when it snows, we often get the brunt of it, and the city snow removal usually comes to plow our neighborhood.  There was at least a foot of snow, and at some parts of my trek, I was knee-deep in it.  Unfortunately, I was underdressed because I thought that Prescott winter weather couldn’t be nearly as bad as Flagstaff winter weather, so the snow completely soaked through my jeans, converse, and socks, the wind was cutting through my sweatshirt, my nose was running, and my gloveless hands were frozen and stiff by the time I arrived at this location.  I had walked so far out along the trail that I could no longer see houses or hear cars.  There was nothing but the trees, snow, wind, and myself.  It was an incredibly peaceful place, and had I dressed more warmly so as to not be freezing my ears off, I would have spent much more time there.  I wanted to capture this sense of complete and utter seclusion by shooting the wall of trees that surrounded me.  This was before I could afford to buy my own DSLR, so I was shooting with my mom’s old Canon EOS Rebel.  I had the aperture at f/5, the shutter speed at 1/2500 so I could stop the movement of the wind in the branches, and the ISO on 200.  I later used minor post processing in Adobe Lightroom.  After shooting this image, I realized I was two hours late for the time my dad and I agreed on to drive back up to Flagstaff, and my cell phone had no service.  I quickly hopped and shuffled my way back home through the snow, and soon my phone was able to receive service again, I found that my parents had called and texted me at least 10 times.  I finally returned, happy to finally be back in a warm house and dry clothes, and to have had a good morning shooting, but my parents were less than pleased with me.

About the Photographer:
My name is Marissa Molloy, and I am a Junior at Northern Arizona University studying Theatre Technology and Design and Photography.  I decided to take a photography class freshman year as an elective, and I haven’t been able to put it down since.  I believe my experiences in technical theatre influence my work in photography in a unique way.  I can find inspiration in many things, like interesting color or line.  Nature and landscape photography, as well as product and still life are my favorite things to shoot, and are my strong suits.    If you like this photograph and would like to see more of my work, please check out my website.  http://marissalynnmolloy.wix.com/molloyimaging.

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 272013
 
Masters_Grant_Blog

Photograph copyright Grant Masters

Under the Pier
I have found that I get my very best images while on vacation, when my photographic abilities are at their peak.  Traveling brings about so many new opportunities to explore places never seen before that have truly complimented my photographic “eye.”  While living in Arizona continues to provide beautiful opportunities to capture landscapes from vast desert to the snowy San Francisco Peaks, there is something exciting about a change of venue.

One thing that I love about my country, besides freedom, Star Wars, and cheeseburgers, just to name a few, is the amazing scenery from coast to coast.  I can begin a road trip in the deserts of Phoenix and end up climbing sand dunes in California or exploring the fall colors in the rolling hills of Virginia.  I certainly never have, nor will, say, “Well I guess I’ve seen every pretty landscape in America.  I can quit now.”  Regardless of where my journey takes me, the new locations will always provide a fresh perspective and usually some wonderful images.

As my point and shoot photography matured into a serious hobby, I began watching other photographers for inspiration.  I noticed that there were myriads of people with the same shot of the Golden Gate Bridge or the Grand Canyon, often taken 100 feet from the tourist parking lot.  While these can very often end up being stunning images, I was most impressed with the photographers that found a way to make these striking locations totally unique.  While photographing on a road trip along the California coast, I attempted to make this method a reality.  Everyone and their mother’s brother have taken a picture of a pier on a beach at sunset so how would my photograph be any different?  While walking the crowd-less Newport Beach in the wee hours of the morning, I had a notion to deviate from the beaten path and see if anything looked cool from beneath the pier.  Much to my luck, this particular pier had a wonderful abstract quality that completely took me in.  “Under the Pier,” as shown below, is the result.  The image certainly wasn’t the most difficult to capture but it reminds me to find a different way to look at things.

I shot this photograph using my Nikon D3000, zoomed out at an 18mm.  The dim early light under the pier caused me to shoot at an aperture of f/5 and a shutter speed of 1/100 sec.

About the Photographer:
My name is Grant Masters and I am a mechanical engineering student at Northern Arizona University.  A love for photography developed quickly which inspired me to also complete a photography minor.  While often seeming out of place to my comrades in thermal/fluids analysis, I am very appreciative of my passion.  My love lies with fine art photography, including local wildlife, landscapes, and what pops of abstract color I may find.  I also greatly enjoy creating portraits of others.  My goal is to create images that my friends, family, and strangers can simply enjoy.  For more examples of my work please see www.grantmastersphotography.weebly.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 232013
 
Okuda_Takashi_blog

Photograph copyright Takashi Okuda

Many people take the images of rocks reflecting the light from the setting sun in the Grand Canyon. However, I have not seen a good picture of the Grand Canyon with the red sky at sunset. I wanted to photograph the Grand Canyon with a beautiful sunset.

When you photograph nature, preparations are important. To see a good sunset, I check the weather forecast everyday throughout the week. According to the forecast, Thursday would be sunny and Friday would be a little cloudy. Actually, you cannot see the good sunset on sunny days. The cloud reflects red color light and people can see that. I decided to go to the Grand Canyon on Friday. I arrived at the Grandview Point in Grand Canyon one hour before the sunset. There was a thin cloud in the sky. It was the best cloud to make a red sky at sunset.When I arrived, the sunlight was shining on the rocks. The color of the rocks was getting red as the sun set. Many visitors left after they took pictures of the red rocks. However, I knew the time to photograph had not come. Twenty minutes after the sunset, the sky changed to deep red and orange.The gradation of orange, red, purple and blue colors and the magnificent view of the Grand Canyon made me excited. I started taking pictures.

I decided to use HDR to capture the ground and sky. The sky was too bright compared to the ground during the sunset. I also wanted to make a panorama picture to express the magnificence of the Grand Canyon. I fixed my camera on my tripod vertically and set my camera to manual mode. I used f/18 to get a deep depth of field and to make an HDR image and set the camera to the bracketing mode. The basic shutter speed was 1/1.3 seconds and I took five pictures with different shutter speeds. They were 1/1.3, 1/5, 1/2, 1.6 and 3 seconds. I rotated my tripod head horizontally to make the panoramic picture. I took picture six different pictures to make the panorama. Therefore, I got thirty pictures to make one overall image. After I did that twice, the sky got dark. I just had two chances to photograph the beautiful sunset. Then, I got back to my room to edit my pictures. I used the software, Photomatix to process the HDR. I wanted pictures with high saturation. After I made one HDR picture, I saved the setting to apply it to the other pictures. As a result, I got six HDR pictures with the same brightness and saturation. I merged the six pictures in Photoshop. I cropped the picture to the rectangular shape and finally, I put the unsharp mask on the picture.

About the Photographer:
I am Takashi Okuda. I am a university student of Northern Arizona University. I am from Hiroshima, Japan. I studied film in the vocational school in Tokyo.At the time, some of my friends took photography. This promoted my start in photography. After I started studying in the U.S., I changed my major to Artand Photography. I like to take landscape images. Especially, I am working on HDR and Panorama pictures. They are new techniques in the photography world. That makes my pictures different. I would like to introduce beautiful views in the United States and Japan to many people.

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.

Mar 142013
 

The Artist-in-Residence program within the National Park Service offers professional visual and performing artists, writers, and composers an unprecedented opportunity to explore and create their art in inspirational locations across the United States.  Though each park operates their individual programs separately and differently, almost all of the participating locations request the artist donates a single piece created during their residency.

With my third Artist-in-Residency in Acadia National Park in Maine completed as of late February, I needed to make a decision as to which of the thousands of frames I snapped in my month-long stay would be THE chosen one.  It was important to me that the selected image clearly expressed what winter was like for me in this coastal park – full of cold, ice, fleeting moments, and beautiful sunrises and sunsets.  Given that criteria, I’ve selected “Ice Hoodoos” to be my donated print for my winter residency!

“Ice Hoodoos,” Acadia National Park, Maine (Prints available – click on photo to order & use coupon code 0313POTM01 to receive your 30% discount now thru March 31, 2013!)

I’ve also selected this print to be our print of the month for March 2013, which means now thru March 31, 2013, visit our website and use coupon code 0313POTM01 to receive 30% off any size or style of this print. As with each Print of the Month within the collection, in addition to your print, you’ll also receive a one-page write-up on the story behind the photograph, which will include specific location information, technical details, and photography tips to help encourage you to get outside and enjoy nature.  As an added bonus for this print, we donate 10% of the profits from all prints sold from the National Park Service via the National Park Foundation.

Blog readers will recall the story I shared when I first posted this photograph on February 12“This bizarre and spectacular sunrise landscape happened yesterday morning [February 11] along Ocean Drive near Boulder Beach. The peak of the recent blizzard, “Nemo,” occurred almost simultaneously with a higher than normal high tide on Saturday, causing monster waves to pound the granite-lined coast and create a wall of spray almost up to Ocean Drive! This, combined with frigid temperatures well below freezing, plastered rocks and plant life alike with a coating of salt spray along this section of coastline, creating these amazing small desert hoodoo-like formations. As if that find wasn’t enough, the glorious sunrise was one of the most colorful I’ve seen in all my days in the park!”

This print will join my two previously donated prints – “Lighting the Way” of Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse and “Season of Change” from the Schoodic Peninsula – in the Acadia National Park collection.

If you are interested in learning more about how you can participate in the rewarding Artist-in-Residence program at Acadia National Park, please visit their website at www.sercinstitute.org/education/artists-residence-0. Though the application process is now closed for the 2013 season, mark your calendar to apply starting this October for the 2014 season!

“Lighting the Way,” Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse at Acadia National Park, Maine, which was my donated print from my first Artist-in-Residence in November 2009 (Prints available – click on photo to order!)

Season of Change

“Season of Change,” Schoodic Peninsula, Acadia National Park, which was my donated print from my second Artist-in-Residence in October 2010. (Prints available – click on photo to order!)