Ashlee Shifflet » You Can Sleep When You're Dead: Blog by Colleen Miniuk

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May 232016

Photo copyright Ashlee Schifflet

These past few months, I have been working on my portraiture and decided to take this image for a midterm project. One afternoon, a few weeks ago, I took my friend into the studio and asked to take her picture. I had lights, a stool, and my camera ready. In terms of direction, I really just wanted to capture a candid moment that looked one hundred percent authentic rather than just an obvious pose, as my previous portraits have turned out. I attempted to get the subject in a natural, yet sophisticated setting. Portraits are supposed to communicate certain aspects of the subject’s life or personality. I wanted to show that this person, my friend Mackenzie, is a senior ready to take on the world while remaining down to Earth. Changing the photo to black and white really added to the simplicity and apparent beauty of her. I liked the contrasting tones and how it really added a classic feel to the image. This is definitely one of the best portraits I’ve taken and I’m proud of how it turned out.

I shot this with my own camera, a Canon Rebel T5. I used my 55 mm lens handheld so I could move freely to find the right angle for the picture. I had two lights with diffusers and my ISO was at 800, making the picture more detailed. I opted for an aperture of 5.6 with 1/20 shutter speed. I took about 50 photos. In post processing, I brought the photo into Lightroom for any cropping or coloring I wanted to do. This is where I turned the picture to black and white. From there, I opened Photoshop to clean up any distracting areas. By upping the contrast and adding some more detail into her hair and face, Mackenzie’s portrait came out very nicely.

To me, the art of photography includes both taking the photo and editing it afterwards to create the best possible image outcome. I think that there is no harm in making something look the way you want it to, but it’s also important to appreciate the unadulterated beauty of things within our reality.

About the Photographer:

I am a Creative Media and Film major, currently working on my minor in Photography. My work is primarily geared towards nature, macro, and landscape photography, although I am interested in all subjects. I prefer to capture the natural beauty surrounding us and aim to show the world as it truly is – flaws and all. The biggest goal for me as a photographer is to get people to feel something when they view my images. Whether it be hopefulness, happiness, contentment, or passion. My inspiration primarily comes from my friends and family and the work of brilliant, brave artists of the post-modern movement. In order to appreciate our own work, we must appreciate the work of others.

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 thoughts and constructive comments in the Comment section below – Ashlee would love to hear from you!