Sep 032015
 
What Lies Within Counts

“What Lies Within Counts” || Abstract, close-up view of a dandelion seed head from City of Rocks National Reserve, Idaho (Prints available – click on photo to order yours!)

Sometimes while photographing, we arrive at a grand scene offering so much beauty that causes us to – rightfully so – feel quickly overwhelmed.  To overcome this unsettling sensation, I tap into mindfulness techniques as a way to become more aware and connected with our surroundings (as some of you have experienced while participating in my photo workshops).

When I intentionally slow myself down to express curiosity and gratitude for my surroundings, the process oftentimes leads to a “flash of perception” experience, or in other words, a moment where I say, “WOW, look at THAT!”  When I catch myself saying this (especially if I say it aloud while alone!), I know instantly it is my cue to break out the camera gear and start creating a photograph.

Without further exploration and definition, though, the “THAT” is difficult to bottle up and stuff into a rectangular frame successfully.  To help provide additional guidance to my compositions, I will frequently title my image before I snap the shutter.  If I have trouble condensing my thoughts into a short title, I will simply talk through what I am seeing, focusing on the shapes, colors, lines, forms, etc. grabbing my attention.  As I outline my thoughts, I pay close attention to the words and concepts I can express photographically.

In May 2015, at the Moab Photography Symposium, a frequent attendee and fine photographer introduced me (and eventually the entire audience) to his favorite way to connect what he sees with what he feels – a haiku – a technique he learned from famous photographer Eddie Soloway.  Using the traditional haiku form of three lines (the first and last lines requiring five syllables and the second, seven), a photographer describes what you see in the first two lines and then how you feel about it in the final line.

Having a great interest in poetry myself and having created haikus before in a different context, I immediately gravitated towards this new idea so relevant to photographers trying to understand their surroundings and ultimately, express their thoughts in pixels.  I’ve not only incorporated this process more regularly into my own photographic pursuits, but I now also offer it to my students during my photography workshops as another option for expressing what we observe.  In fact, I put the practice to recent use on my photographic outing last week.

While hiking one afternoon among the gigantic granite spires in City of Rocks National Reserve in southern Idaho, I came upon a meadow full of summer blooms – rabbit brush, yellow salsify, asters, and more – interspersed among the junipers and sage brush.  I spent a few minutes simply admiring summer’s abundance – and my fortunate opportunity to see it.  After observing for awhile, I noticed a small dandelion seed head off on its own in a small clearing in the middle of the busyness. I walked over to inspect more closely.

Joy in the Little Things

“Joy in the Little Things” || Abstract macro view of a yellow salisfy seed from the Henry Mountains in southern Utah (Prints available – click on photo to order yours!)

Having recently photographed a similar, but much larger subject – the yellow salsify seed head – in the Henry Mountains this past July (see photo “Joy in the Little Things”  on the right) and again along the very trail I was hiking before reaching this meadow, I knew I wanted to get my lens as close as possible to study the intricate details of this smaller, but equally exciting, specimen.  To do so, I grabbed my 100mm macro lens and two 12mm extension tubes.

As I set up around the fluff ball, I started to think about how I would title my frame by considering why I picked out this exact subject.  Certainly, the intriguing shapes and structure contrasting the softness interested me.  But, there was more to it than just the visual appeal…

I came up with “What Lies Within Counts” to reference not only the dandelion within the larger context of its existence in the field and it’s relevance to life in general, but also the heart-like shape I saw (which is the shape of the out-of-focus bracts of the dandelion) that offset the bright white radiating shapes.

Immediately thereafter, in almost in a whimsical song, a haiku started to develop in my head, with the title of my photograph becoming the last line of the haiku:

Look Closely (A Haiku)
A busy field sways,
Veils one dandelion’s grace –
What lies within counts.

With the title and haiku as my guides, I tested a number of different compositions to fulfill these notions.  I eventually settled on placing the dandelion bracts as off-centered as possible to create a sense of asymmetrical balance while keeping the flower itself centered in the frame to allow for a natural vignette to occur (which is simply the edge of the flower appearing against the ground, blurred by a wide f/2.8 aperture setting).  Because of a substantial, but irregular breeze, I bumped my ISO to 800, which yielded a fast enough shutter speed (1/500th of a second) to help freeze the dandelion as it swayed in the meadow.

In addition to waiting for the breeze to calm momentarily, I also waited for a cloud to pass in front of the sun to turn the harsh, contrasty mid-day light into more pleasing, softer diffused light.

As I packed up, I still noodled on the title and tagline of the haiku as it related to photography.  In order to make our personally meaningful nature photographs, I certainly believe “what lies inside [the photographer] counts.”  By paying attention to our individual backgrounds, experience, knowledge, and interests – all the things that drive you to you say “WOW, look at THAT!” – leads to more consistent success and satisfaction in the image making process.

Just remember to look closely not just at your subjects, but at yourself as you do so…

Aug 102015
 
Drifiting From Reality

“Drifting From Reality” || Reflection of cliffs melt into a riffle along Succor Creek in the Succor Creek State Natural Area in southeastern Oregon (Prints available – click on photo to order!)

When I decide where to travel to create my own photography (versus shooting on assignment), I often try to mix up my time between visiting old favorites with new locations.  Because of my deep connections and ongoing fascinations with my favorite places, I feel not only comfortable and relaxed in these spots, but I also find endless stories to tell about them.  In these places, it feels like I’m coming home to a plateful of freshly-baked, warm, gooey chocolate chip cookies.  And those who know me know very well that I am not capable of resisting freshly-baked, warm, gooey chocolate chip cookies (or any cookies for that matter…).

At the same time, though, I love the thrill of discovering and exploring all the new surprises a completely new location offers.  It’s like opening presents on my birthday or at Christmas.  Every time I look or pick something up, it offers me a chance to learn something new about the place or a subject -  and quite often about myself. This past May during my three-week adventure in Oregon, I balanced my time between old favorites – the coast, specifically Carl Washburne and Cape Lookout state parks – and a new place – Succor Creek State Natural Area.  Not only did I chose the Succor Creek area because I had never been there before, but also because it promised water in the high desert (a juxtaposition that never ceases to intrigue me) along the eastern border Oregon shares with Idaho.

After about an eight-hour drive from Portland, I arrived to the tree-lined oasis and set up camp.  For four blissful days, I enjoyed hiking along the water’s edge, marveling at thunder eggs (Oregon’s official state rock), and watching the light dances on the rhyolite cliffs surrounding me in my temporary “home.”  Ever corner I turned, a new sight, scene, smell awaited – oh, the joy!

From my camp, I could hear the water gurgling and tossing against the rocks all day and all night.  As I listened, I wondered what it would be like to be that water – Where has it been?  Where is it going?  And why?  I started to pen words answering these questions and internalizing the idea of an unknown journey within myself.  Where had I been?  Where was I going?  And why?   I smiled when I realized Succor Creek was living up to its name.  By definition, the word “succor” means “help; relief; aid; assistance” according to dictionary.com.

As quickly as the creek streamed by me, the words formed into a new poem to help me share my experience:

Go With the Flow

Silky caramel water seduced
By a stoic stone
Without choice, innocently
Drifts downstream
Towards a riffle
That looks not to cause trouble,
But simply has nothing

Else to do.
Streaking gracefully
Then plunging and drowning
In its own breath,
The wave curls over
Itself, roaring, frothing, splashing,
Madly gasping for the past
Just barely,
Barely

Out of reach. Overthrown
Yet unscathed save for an escorting
Crown of sage bubbles,
Whispering memories bursting
In the unruffled aftermath
Into an embrace

Of empathetic trees
Where my roots dip
Their toes
Into the mirror.

Floating away,
United in our destination
Unknown.

 

As I polished the draft of my poem,  I glanced up to notice a beautiful reflection glowing on top of the water’s surface while sitting in camp late in the afternoon on the day prior to my departure.  Harsh sunlight bathed the entire scene, but I had learned enough about this location in the days prior to know if I waited an hour or so, the creek would fall into shadow (thanks to the sun dropping behind cliffs to the west of me) and create a desirable contrast to the still-illuminated cliffs to the east of my position.  I headed to the creek with my camera and tripod in hand anyhow to perfect my composition so that I could be ready as soon as the light fell into place.

While watching the reflected light pour over the riffle, I decided to title my forthcoming photograph, “Drifting From Reality.”  I intended to create a composition with a slow enough shutter speed to create a “silky” effect mentioned in my poem.  I also wanted the water to appear as if it were melting the cliff’s reflection in the water into the “stoic stones” on the left side of my frame.  I settled on ISO 100 and f/22 to slow my exposure down.  I waited until the bright light receded in order to get a final shutter speed setting (1/4 second).  The photo above resulted.

I spent the rest of the evening photographing and wading in the warm creek, playing until the day faded into night.  With the final click of my shutter, I decided to add Succor Creek to my “old favorites” list.  I certainly can’t wait to return!  And next time, I’ll bring fresh-baked, warm, gooey chocolate chip cookies…

May 102014
 
Chesler_Caitlin_BehindtheImage

Photo copyright Caitlin Chesler

Photography captivates me every time I pick up my camera. When I told my parents I was going to minor in photography they teased me about my luck with cameras in the past. I always take good care of my cameras, like an overprotective parent, but for some reason they never lasted long due to freak accidents and horrible luck. Vacuuming up a camera is not an easy task, but somehow my luck defied logic. My love for my cameras did not save them, but my love for photography motivated me to stick to it. Despite the horrible luck and the teasing, I spent the money on a Canon Rebel T4i and immersed myself in something that I love.

Last month, I undertook a personal daily photo challenge, which provided the inspiration for this photo. Each day had a theme that the photo was supposed to capture or represent; for example, this photo symbolizes “patience”. Being one of the last days of the photo challenge, and about six photos behind, I was scrambling to complete my personal challenge on time. I grabbed my camera and three batteries, all partially charged, and ran out the door to capture as many photos as I possibly could. The natural light was diminishing quickly, and my battery life even quicker, so I found inspiration fleetingly and carefully. I snapped photos of anything and everything, hoping I had a product I could publish on my blog and proudly put my name on. To my surprise, my lack of time was a blessing. Because of the time restrictions, I focused on small details and stopped over thinking composition. Each subject got one or two shots and then it was on to the next. When I viewed my photos back at home, this photo caught my eye. It forced me to stop and appreciate the simplicity and instantly calmed my thoughts. With an ISO of 200, aperture of f/11, and shutter speed of 1/40, the original product provided enough detail without being overpowering. The black and white filter simplified it one step further and truly completes the image. When viewing this photo I take a breath, slow down, and find that inner calm that many could call “patience”. Life is hectic and spiraling which causes short tempers, but this photo gives the essence of peace by allowing the eye to follow the line of the bark all the way through and past the end of the frame. Much like life, we do not know what is past the edge, but we do know it is something worth exploring.

About the Photographer:
My name is Caitlin Chesler and I am a photographer with a great passion for magnificence. Whether the subject is a landscape, object, or person, I strive to find the natural beauty inside and out. I am drawn to photos that allude to a place’s simplicity or a person’s inner confidence. When photographing, especially people, I focus on making the situation comfortable, fun, and entirely uplifting. To me, it is the experience of the shoot that produces the most memorable photos.

www.caitlinchesler.wix.com/lensoflife

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/.

Nov 052013
 
Another World

“Another World,” Eben’s Head Trail in Acadia National Park, Isle au Haut, Maine (Prints available for purchase – click on photo to order!)

NOTE:  This blog entry will appear in our new book, Photographing Acadia National Park:  The Essential Guide to When, Where, & How as “Behind the Photo #12:  Looking for Answers.”  In addition to this post, I’m featuring 11 additional behind-the-scenes stories from my experiences in the park.  If you’d like to pre-order a copy, head over to our Indiegogo campaign at www.indiegogo.com/projects/photographing-acadia-national-park-book until November 30, 2013.  Thanks for your interest and support!

Looking for Answers

“There’s more than one right answer.” ~DeWitt Jones

Gaelic Storm–a Celtic band which makes toe-tapping, knee-slapping music I enjoy tremendously–produced a song titled, “Don’t Go for the One.”  The lyrics tell of a gentleman going to buy snails to impress his house guests, but gets talked into having a single beer at the bar.  One brew becomes two, three, four, and what was supposed to have been a quick chat turns into an all-night event.  As the title and chorus hilariously suggests, one should not expect to enjoy only one beverage with your friends.

While it may seem like a stretch, this philosophy can apply to photography as well.  Don’t go for the one photograph!

Very rarely am I fortunate enough to get everything to come together perfectly in a first frame.  Even after I have spent ample time observing, analyzing, and visualizing an intriguing subject to define a clear vision, more often than not, I will also explore the scene through recording a series of frames with my camera.

Assuming the lighting conditions are not changing quickly, I contemplate an abundance of “what if” scenarios to determine how I will accomplish recording my visual message before snapping the shutter.  What if I only included this section of the scene?  What if I positioned my camera lower to the ground?  What if I used side light instead of backlight?  What if, what if, what if?  I continue tapping into this iterative evaluative process as I begin photographing, as it helps me refine what my eye is seeing and how to share that through a photograph.

Not only does this process enable me to achieve my creative vision, but it also helps me fully appreciate the subject from a variety of perspectives and find the many right answers a scene possesses, as Dewitt Jones’ quote suggests.  If I have spent the time and money to travel 3,000 miles (4,828 km) from Arizona, hopped on a passenger-only ferry to the remote Isle au Haut, biked six miles along a bumpy, single track dirt road, and then walked a mile uphill with a heavy camera backpack to get to a location, you can be sure I am not going to snap only one photo and head home.  Instead, I want to challenge myself to see how many right answers I can discover.

On the first day of our visit to Isle au Haut, my parents and I ventured to the Eben’s Head Trail well before sunset to allow extra time for wandering and discovering along the unfamiliar trail.  After a short meander through the forest, we emerged on the rocky coast and scrambled to the top of Eben’s Head, where a breathtaking 180-degree panoramic view of the isle’s western shoreline and open waters of Isle au Haut Bay greeted us.  We noticed the receding tide leaving behind small tide pools on the volcanic ledges surrounding the cobble beach directly north of our perch.  Eager for a closer look at the momentary glimpse into the typically hidden ocean world, we hiked the short distance to the seashore.

After only a few seconds of exploring, the fine, hair-like seaweed floating in the tide pools fascinated me.  A few steps ahead on the black boulders, my mom, Jacque, spotted a slightly larger saltwater puddle and called to me, “Hey Colleen, you have to see these bubbles!”

When I gazed into her find, I did not just see tangles of seaweed and floating bubbles.  The scene immediately transported me to outer space, where planets swirled in a distant galaxy.  I knew I had to create an image of precisely that subject!

I walked around the small pool to begin the visualization process, first noticing how the backlight from the late afternoon created a dark backdrop in the deep pool.  Then, I settled on a vertical orientation based on the bubbles’ arrangement.  I knew I needed to keep my lens (positioned to look down upon the scene) parallel to the surface of the water so that the face of the bubbles and the top layer of seaweed remained in focus.  A small aperture on my 100mm macro lens would provide the depth of field necessary for my tight composition.  I needed to remember to twirl my polarizer to get just enough reflected light on the water, but not so much that it overshadowed the primary scene.

With this vision in mind, after diligently setting up my composition and exposure, I snapped the frame and immediately reviewed the image on the back of my camera’s LCD.  Shockingly, on the first try, I managed to record an image that matched my vision–a right answer!

Despite being pleased with my first snap, I continued exploring the scene for 45 more minutes.  After a number of frames, I picked out an odd reddish tint occurring across the image.  It was the reflection of my red jacket!  I experimented keeping the extra color in the frame by hovering over the scene.  I also eliminated it by stepping a short distance away from the scene and triggering the shutter with a cable release.  Contrasting with the rich greens and blues, the additional color made the scene look even more other-worldly–a second right answer!

I tried turning the camera to the left slightly and then to the right slightly, utilizing a Dutch tilt, to play with the composition as the bubbles appeared, disappeared, and then reappeared, changing the visual balance entirely from image to image – more right answers!

Then, I used extension tubes to allow me to get a closer perspective (see the time image titled, “Floating in Time,” at the bottom of this post).  I felt the broader perspective better conveyed my initial notion of “planets swirling in a distant galaxy,” but I enjoyed the results of this more intimate view–another right answer!

During the process, I felt my photographic message and my confidence strengthening with each additional frame.  Had I gone for “the one” and packed up after my first shot, I would have missed the chance to see all the possibilities this magical scene had in store!

Which of the two images presented here do you prefer?  Why? Remember, there are many right answers so share your thoughts in the Comments below!

Floating in Time

“Floating in Time,” Eben’s Head Trail in Acadia National Park, Isle au Haut, Maine (Prints available for purchase – click on photo to order!)

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.

 

May 012013
 
The Outcast

Photograph copyright Niko Chaffin

I do love the winter in Flagstaff, even though I have to remove the frost, snow, and ice from my car. I’ve always wanted to take a close-up photo of ice, snow or frost. One day, I was getting into my car and I noticed there were larger flakes, so I immediately grabbed my camera from my apartment. Often I’ve been angry about having frost and snow on my car, but this photo has helped me realize I don’t need to get upset, and just appreciate the phenomenon that occurs. The image brings me a touch of calmness. Now,I feel a connection to appreciate rain, snow, frost, ice.

When I got the idea of the photo, I grabbed my Canon T1i with my Canon 50mm Prime lens to shoot, but I thought it would be better to get my macro extension tube. So, I ran back to my apartment and grabbed the tube. I knew Auto Focus would be useless, so I switched into Manual Focus so I could freely focus. I took a lot of photos. Trying to get it balanced. I thought it was quite irritating. After that, I had to search for a prime target. But I had no luck of getting a shot I enjoyed. But then I found this snow flake within its “personal bubble” I thought it would be fantastic to get a shot.I really like how the blur looks as if the strong blur is a tidal wave about to attack the snow flake.

So I finally got an exposure of 1/90th second, F/2, ISO 800. Using the macro tube, I had an amplitude of ideas for a subject. For this shooting, I used an UV filter, and an ND8 filter. My primary focus point was the lonely snowflake even with a slightly blurred flake, it makes me feel that it is starting to melt. After taking multiple shots, I took my favorite and brought them into Lightroom. I decided to add more clarity so it was smoother; I also made a slight color change and a tad shift to the exposure. I shot various photos that gave different formations and details. Even though I had a variety of favorite photos, this one is a personal favorite.

About the Photographer:
My name is Niko Chaffin, I have a creative mind. I tried drawing and sculpting, but, I didn’t feel satisfied in such media. When I got my first digital camera, it was cool. That basically shot off my interest of photography. I could evoke different moods. Photography was my hobby. When I switched to the photography major, I found a possible career path. Since my minor is criminal justice, I am thinking to become a crime scene photographer, and possibly try to come noticeable with various Medias. I’ve taken photos at my high school during prom, dances, or expeditions. I loved doing it. Photography is my passion, I love photographing family vacations, macro or shallow depth, and cityscapes.

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.