I am in awe of the natural beauty around me. Capturing the unique elements within a single image is what inspires my daily life as a photographer. My subject for this picture is a Night Blooming Cereus, which I believe is one of the most interesting desert plants in Phoenix, Arizona. What is so intriguing about this plant is, like its name, the flower only blooms in the darkness of night, and after it blooms, it only survives a day before it begins to wither and die. A life so precious, yet so fleeting is worth capturing on a camera. So, when I just happened to be home from NAU on March 25, my mom told me to grab my camera because the neighbor’s Night Blooming Cereus was in full bloom. I am happy I was home that weekend for the opportunity to take a picture of such a spectacular flower that tells such a unique story about life and death. The Night Blooming Cereus’ elegance accurately illustrates how life is so full and animated, and yet so short and sweet all at the same time.
In any nature shot that I take, I always aim for simple, pure, and colorful image. I believe this to be my style. For this photo in particular, I chose a shallow depth of field (f/2) because of where the flower blossomed and the angle I needed to take the picture. I attempted to minimize distractions from the rocks and background the best I could given the photographic circumstances. To get this angle, I laid on the ground as my 8-year-old brother assisted me (and complained the whole time as 8-year-olds do) in holding an off-camera flash to my left to fill in a minimal amount of the shadows the plant casted on the petals of the flower and the rocks below. I like the look and sense of depth that the remaining shadows add to the image so I chose to leave those in the shot. I captured this image with an ISO of 100, 1/4000 sec and f/2 close to noon on a cloudless day in sunny Gilbert, Arizona. Captured on a Nikon D3100 with a Nikon 35 mm f/1.8 lens. Simple post processing edits consist of small adjustments to the brightness, contrast, and hue/saturation of the image. I applied a blue filter to the image to cool down the overall tone slightly. The original orange and red colors in the rocks took away attention from the flower before I made this adjustment in Photoshop. Overall, this image closely resembles the original shot in its natural form before post processing occurred.
About the Photographer:
My name is Jessie Tofaute, and I’m a photography major at NAU. I have been perusing my love for photography since my freshmen year of high school when I took my first introduction to photography class. It has been my favorite pastime ever since and is something I see myself doing all my life as a career and a hobby. I enjoy capturing memories for myself and others while learning all I can about the art. I love documenting my travels through photographs. I equally enjoy taking portraits of special occasions for clients as seen on my business website: jessietofaute.wix.com/photography.
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/4th-annual-northern-arizona-university-behind-the-image-guest-blogger-project. Please take a minute to leave your thoughts and constructive comments in the Comment section below – Jessie would love to hear from you!