Apr 212013
 
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Photograph copyright McKenna Edwards

When I first found out that I would need to choose a photo to feature on this blog, I never imagined myself spending hours shooting landscapes. Normally, I tend to shy away from these types of shots because I don’t consider myself to be particularly good at them, but this photo reminds me that it pays to step out of your comfort zone every now and again.

Over spring break I was lucky enough to spend a weekend in a beautiful ranch house in Sedona with an unobstructed view of Cathedral rock, and a less than five minute walk to a great spot on the creek. As soon as we drove up I was blown away and couldn’t resist wandering off to take advantage of the situation and capture every moment I could.

Over the two and half days that I was in Sedona  I got a lot of great pictures of Cathedral rock, Oak Creek, and everything in between, but I think out of the close to 1000 pictures that I took this photograph really showcases my viewpoint as a photographer. Usually my goal is to portray subjects in a different way than they are usually seen. This photo evolved from the classic shot of Cathedral rock that included a reflection in a small pool near the creek, but I wanted to step away from this and find a more unique image.

This image was taken on the second day of my trip, and this allowed me to get more familiar with my surroundings and really recognize what was working and what needed work. Even though the weather was fantastic, which was an appreciated break from the strong winds and cold temperatures of Flagstaff, the main problem I had when shooting was the sun. It was so bright and was reflecting off the surface of the rocks and the water which kept washing out all my images.I usually keep my ISO at 200, but because it was so bright I was able to lower it to ISO 100. This filtered out some of the light that was giving me difficulty, as well as improved the quality of my image.I had made some adjustments, but luckily this day a scattered layer of puffy white clouds moved in to diffuse the light as well as add interest to the sky. I also sacrificed some relaxation time to make the trek down to the creek just before sunset to capture the golden light shining on Cathedral Rock. Because it was later in the day I ended up using a shutter speed of 1/25to let some more light in, as well as opening my aperture from about f/20 to f/11 to do the same while still maintaining a larger depth of field. In post production I mostly just increased the blacks and saturated the reds, oranges, and blues in addition to some minimal sharpening and exposure adjustments.

As I mentioned before I was originally shooting the rocks and their reflections, but then I started thinking about what would happen if you took away the context of the image and only shot the reflections. This proved to be interesting because in the images that followed that thought I found that the rocks seemed to stand out more because the view wasn’t overwhelming. This perspective made it possible to simplify a seemingly complex composition, the task that usually drives me away from photographing landscapes. In this image one side of the rock isn’t visible, but it gets the point across that this is Sedona and it is beautiful.

On this trip I was also lucky enough to be with a friend who is a photographer as well, and part of the fun was looking through each other’s photos and seeing the differences in what we found interesting, as well as sharing tips and advice on how to better achieve the photos we wanted.

Overall this trip opened my eyes to some unexpected subjects that I normally wouldn’t spend too much time shooting, and it paid off with a lot of photographs and many lessons learned!

About the Photographer:
My name is McKenna Edwards and I am currently a junior studying photography and studio art at Northern Arizona University. I am originally from Seattle, but I love the small town feel and relaxed pace of Flagstaff, and plan to stay after graduation. I specialize in portraits and fine art photography, but I will never turn down an opportunity to shoot other subjects and improve my skills. I also love to dabble in mixed media, combining my photography with more graphic elements in paint or ink and text. To see more of my photos or to contact me please visit my Flickr page at http://www.flickr.com/photos/mckennaedwards/

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 192013
 
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Photograph copyright Margaret Whittaker

“Reflection” – Margaret Whittaker
January 19, 2013 was a beautiful, balmy Saturday, ideal for some camera time out in nature.  So, my fiancé and I headed out to Beaver Creek, located in the Verde Valley, Arizona.

Beaver Creek is nestled between the mountains and sunset was approaching.  I carefully hurried down the embankment to set up the new camera equipment that I did not want to end up with in the middle of the creek.  I was particularly excited to try out this “professional” camera, which has oodles of bells and whistles, including an ISO range of 100-25600!  It is the new Canon EOS 5D Mark III 22 megapixel camera!  Fully programed, the camera does all kinds of wonderful things, automatically, including adding copyright information to the metadata.It has so many more functions than my previous Canon Rebel XSi, such as new control types situated in different locations on the camera.  I have so much to learn, so many new techniques to practice!

Beaver Creek’s water level is not deep in January; however, the water flows rapidly down the mountain and here and there little waterfalls gurgle and bubble.  I captured Reflection just above one of those waterfalls.

The new Mark III tops a Gitzmo Tripod with a ball head.  A Sigma 28-200 mm zoom lens focused on the water at 40mm, f-4.0 for 1/40th of a second at ISO 400.  (The Canon FS lenses for the Canon Rebel XSi are not compatible with the Mark III. Although the new Canon Zoom Lens EF 24-105mm, Canon Lens EF 50mm 1:1.4, and Canon Zoom Lens EF 100-400mm 1:4.5-5.6 L IS lens are ordered, they were arriving the following week.)

I attempted several different angles and perspectives prior to achieving the effect of this image.  As I looked down into the flowing water and realized I could see the small rocks through the water into the creek bed, I smiled in anticipation of capturing them with the Mark III.  I do!

Among the thousands of photographs, I have taken, only a few evoke the feelings that this one does.  Every time I look at the photograph, I feel the peacefulness of that day.  I hear the babbling waterfall.  I breathe the fresh clean air and feel the cool breeze on my skin.  The movement of the flowing water created the surreal effect of the reflected trees and the deepening of the afternoon sky provides the rich blueness of the water.  The photograph reminds me of an impressionist painting and, after all these years, I finally see what inspires the impressionists.  I have a new found appreciation of their work.  I look forward to reliving this moment in time, this feeling, and this revelation every time I look at the photograph.  I feel a sense of peaceful, grateful anticipation.

About the Photographer:
Born Margaret Whittaker in St. Jerome, Quebec, Canada 61 years ago, my first camera was a Brownie camera given to me by my father who gave me suggestions about subjects and lighting.  Over the years, I had various point and shoot cameras.  I purchased my first SLR camera and took a couple of community college classes.  Professors commented that I have an eye for composition.  Photographing is a joy, however, when co-workers saw my photographs, they encouraged me to create greeting cards.  Sales of greeting cards and prints, reorder requests and queries about whether I took family, wedding and portrait photographs, prompted me to pursue those revenue sources.  Co-workers joked that I already had a part time retirement income figured out.

In the spring of 2007, “Hunter,” a photograph of a tiger from Out of Africa Wildlife Park in Camp Verde, Arizona was one of over 500 entries at the International Photographers Society Convention in Las Vegas.  “Hunter” won second place and I took home a $2,500 check.

God’s artistry is the inspiration.  The challenge is to capture with the camera what God has created.  A major in Photography enables maximum utilization of the camera; perception of the world in new ways; unique capture of moments in time; and the ability to share God’s creation with everyone else.  Visit my website at MIWhittakerPhotos.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.