Riah Grams » You Can Sleep When You're Dead: Blog by Colleen Miniuk

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May 192016

Photo copyright Riah Grams

This photo is from my second, but by no means my last attempt at this concept, not that I’m unhappy with the result, it is just a concept very near to me, that I would like to revisit as I continue to improve both my photography and my dancing. This photo represents me as a photographer because it is the intersection of two of my biggest passions, photography, particularly long exposure, and swing dancing.

As with any long exposure photo, this required a lot of tweaking before I achieved the final product. I initially thought that I would need a much longer exposure, starting with 12 seconds. The image was very over exposed, but also left too much time for the dancers. I then tried 10, 8, and 6 seconds before finally settling on 5 seconds. This allowed enough time for the dancers to do one complete Lindy Hop swing out, without any awkward pauses at the end, which left a slightly solid image that I didn’t want. They danced at a fairly slow tempo to allow me to trigger the flash at the beginning and in the middle, to get an image of them at the two most different points in the swing out. I had two Canon speed lights positioned just behind my Canon Rebel T5i, about two feet to either side, each at 1/4 power to give a strong flash, but allow a recharge time for the second flash. The aperture was set at f/8 to get an accurate exposure with the open shutter and flashes. As with most long exposures, the ISO was set to 100. I completed a little bit of post processing on this image, I brought up the shadows a little bit and the blacks, to add a little bit of solidity to the two images, blacken the background, and bring a little more of the dancers in between.

One final note about this photo that made it more challenging, but equally rewarding, I am both the photographer, and the subject. I captured this image with a 2 second delay, and with a remote flash trigger in my hand. If you look closely, you can see it in my right hand near the bottom right corner of the image. For other purposes, I would have cropped this out, starting from the bottom and pulling up, but I feel it adds to the story for this blog.

About the Photographer:

I got my start as a photographer when I bought my camera in the spring of 2015. That night, I called my best friend, who had been a photographer for two years prior, and he and I went on a long exposure shoot. Since then, long exposure fascinates me, although I can do many other types of photography, that is where my passion is, and my creativity flows. My goal is to always learn more about photography, capturing better images, capturing human experiences, and inspiring others to do the same.

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-projectPlease take a minute to leave your thoughts and constructive comments in the Comment section below – Riah would love to hear from you!