May 142015

Photo copyright Samantha Colombo

One thing that always fascinates me about photography is how subjective it is. What I think of an image may be, and most likely is, completely different from what the person standing next me thinks, whether they are a fellow photographer or not. I also love the diversity of the photographic medium. Anyone and everyone can look at an image and feel something or have an opinion about it, and anyone can be a photographer. They have to have inspiration and run with it. When I get inspired, I obsess in taking pictures. Not every image is the image but the experience and exploration of adjusting my lens by just that much or by taking a picture from this angle makes it all worth it.

The adventure of this image began when my professor gave us the instruction to take an image with a sunburst. The name of it, sunburst, typically means that a photographer takes it outside using the sun, but I did not want to do that.  I have seen images of performers onstage and the stage lights creating the same effect. This always made me feel like the performer was becoming the star. I did not have stage or a performer but I did have a beautiful roommate and a desk lamp but I still want the same feel to my image but with a slight twist. She obviously wasn’t going to be a performer becoming a star but I wanted to her to be an emotional image that conveyed a sense of transformation. I set up my Canon Rebel T3 with an 18-55mm lens and I put it on my tripod. Then I turned off as many lights in the area as I can because I wanted the main source of light to be the light-burst. My ISO was at 800 and my aperture was as low as I could get it, which was f/22. I zoomed my lens in to be 29mm. I had my roommate sit in front of it. I struggled with where I wanted to the light to shine from. If I positioned it above her nose it didn’t have enough of the bursting effect. Under her nose made it look awkward. Then it hit me. I told her to lift her hand up and have a few finger barely resting on her chin. I wanted this position because it reminded me of being in thought and how powerful that can become. This photo took 1.6 seconds to capture but as soon as I saw it, I knew it was the image. When I looked at my image on the little screen on my camera, I could not see that there were noticeable black spots due to pieces of dust on my sensor so when I looked at the image on my computer the specs of dust had turned into big black blots on her hand. I attempted to edit the blots out but because of the variations of shading on her hand, I could not edit the section and have the area looking natural. I modified my vison to be a silhouette. I made it black and white and then darkened the shadows. Then I added a subtle black vignette to increase the classic look on the image. The finished image highlights the outline of her profile that has the accent of the burst of light.

There is more to an image than just capturing an image of a beautiful subject. One of my favorite things to do, once I have completed editing an image, is to look at the before and after and then compare it to the images beside it. The transformation between each image and each step of editing is what builds the images history. It is like a family tree. The stage before set up the current stage and so on and so forth until you have come to the very end of the tree branch and you have your image. Each step of the journey is essential even if it gets undone or changed. It is a learning experience.

About the Photographer:
I am currently studying photography and creative media and film at NAU. When I began photography, I thought of doing strictly landscape photography but after one session in the school’s portrait studio, I fell in love with portraiture. I strive to capture the genuine moments and emotions. While at a shoot I typically talk to my subjects and try to get them laughing so I take pictures of the big goofy grins on their faces. I plan on going into business with my brother-in-law and start up our own business called CH Studios.

To read more about the Northern Arizona University “Behind the Image: Guest Blogger” project on our blog, please read the introduction at take a minute to leave your insights and constructive comments in the Comment section below – the student would love to hear from you!

May 092015

“Cotton Candy Skies” photo copyright Sunday Miller

“Cotton Candy Skies”
I was inspired to create this image because I find sunsets and other natural beauties of the world are often forgotten. As adults we get lost in our busy routine and forget to stop and smell the roses. Watching the sun set or rise has always been a special experience for me and a reminder to enjoy the simple things in life. That is what I was trying to communicate with this photo, the idea of all the beautiful things this world has to offer and how a camera is one of the many tools that can capture that beauty.

When I took this image I was busy doing homework all day when I glanced over and saw the stunning oranges, pinks and blues in the sky. I quickly grabbed my camera and tripod and ran outside knowing I’d only have a few minutes left of this view. I knew I wanted a silhouette of the trees and buildings framing the sunset so I moved around until I found the perfect spot. Over the course of 20 minutes the sky changed from soft pinks to dark reds and it was amazing to watch as well as view my progression of photos afterward.

This is also the photo I decided to hang in the gallery for the Photo 285 show because I consider it one of my best pieces both technically and emotionally. After staring at it for a few minutes and letting my feelings for it take over, I came up with the title “Cotton Candy Skies.” Not only does that title reflect the combination of colors but also the childlike enjoyment people get out of watching the sunset after a long week or eating sweets at a theme park.

The technical information for this image is as follows. I used my Nikon DSLR 3200 and the kit lens to capture this photo. I took this photo in late January when the sunsets were most colorful. I was shooting at a speed of 1/60 of a second and my camera was stable on a tripod. My f-stop was 4.5 and my ISO stayed low at 100. I did not have to zoom out very much so this photo was taken at 22 mm. When I took this photo into Lightroom for editing, I did not have to make very many changes. The most difficult decision was choosing my favorite of the sunset images. However, when I saw this one I knew based off of the colors and silhouettes, this was my strongest of the batch. I simply cropped it in a little tighter both on the sides and bottom to remove some distracting elements and make the overall framing of the sunset more desirable.

About the Photographer:
My name is Sunday Miller and I am a student at NAU pursing a degree in Photojournalism. Growing up, my father was my biggest inspiration since he is also a photographer. He covered our house in beautiful framed works of art, both his own and of other artists he looked up to. I prefer to capture candid moments with my camera, ones that tell a story and could never be duplicated. Within the last two years I’ve obtained a minor in photography and am a part of the student newspaper on campus called “The Lumberjack.” As an artist I hope to travel the world and photograph its beauty along the way.

To read more about the Northern Arizona University “Behind the Image: Guest Blogger” project on our blog, please read the introduction at take a minute to leave your insights and constructive comments in the Comment section below – the student would love to hear from you!