Siobhan Webb » You Can Sleep When You're Dead: Blog by Colleen Miniuk

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May 102016

“Company by Computer Screen”  ||  Photo copyright Siobhan Webb

“Company by Computer Screen”

I am drawn to humans and their complex genetic makeup. There are many vast natural beauties, and to me, the uniqueness behind each individual’s experiences and personal realities is truly amazing. Every day, I walk past hundreds of people on campus, each their own person with onion-like layers shaping their identity; and just like me, they all have their own community, goals, troubles, anxieties and so on. Each of us have a story to tell, a mood to convey or a perspective to share and yet sometimes we don’t have a platform to construct these messages. That is why, for me, photography is important. Humans are able to empathize and relate which creates a powerful sense of unity amongst a world of differences, and what better way to bring people together than through a single image. A single image such as the one I took the night of March 28, 2016.

Delirious giggles from lack of sleep bounced off the walls. My roommate, Rebecca, and I curled up on my twin sized mattress, side by side. It was late. The time was roughly half past midnight to be exact. We began wandering the Internet. Our fingers opened tab after tab and bounced from sites that ranged from Facebook to Tumblr to Spotify. Our mouths rambled unfiltered thoughts. My roommate knows my anxiety is worst at night; she knows I won’t sleep, so she provides some company for me. As I got up from bed, the room was dark and I stumbled trying to find my way to the bathroom. Right before I turned the main light on, I noticed the light of the computer screen illuminating on Rebecca’s tired face. Immediately, inspiration overtook me. This moment was raw, this moment was real, and this moment captured an indescribable, yet very relatable mood, that is: the reality of college at night. The reality that takes place when partying isn’t going on. The somber reality that takes place on sober nights.

My urge to go to the bathroom was gone. I turned on one of our secondary lights and raced to my camera bag. My roommate, very confused by the sudden burst of urgency, asked what the hell I was doing. I ripped off my puffy comforter speckled with black and white poke-a-dots and told her to stay put. After living with me for a few months, my random jolts of manic creativity didn’t phase her. As I pulled out my Canon EOS 6D and attached my 50mm f/1.4 lens, I instructed her to go back to messing around on her computer. The fact we are close alleviates an otherwise awkward situation. I expose her to my camera so often that being in front of the lens is not such a pressured experience anymore. She was comfortable. She was natural. Everything was dark, the only light source being Rebecca’s computer screen. I snapped test shots and adjusted my settings accordingly. The computer screen wasn’t enough light, so I turned the vanity light on around the corner. Perfect. My ISO was set to 2500, with an aperture of f/1.4 and shutter speed at 1/250 of a second. My intent was to create rich contrast with her fair complexion against the dark background to convert the image to black and white. After trying multiple angles, I was content.

I turned the lights on and grabbed my computer. At close to one in the morning, Rebecca’s eyes were heavy and she returned to her own bed while I edited the shot. With a simple black and white conversion, along with a couple histogram adjustments, I completed the image. I turned off the lights and got under my blankets. I was tired but mentally awake from the rush of capturing a perfect moment.

About The Photographer:

I picked up photography in 8th grade. I am drawn to forms of expression, like art and writing, but photography revealed this overwhelming sense of passion in me. Over the years, I have had my own gallery feature at Borelli Design in North Park, San Diego; I have volunteered at several local community events; I have had my work displayed on National Women’s Running website and; I have continued my small business with the addition of a few jobs interning for local photographers.

I am now a Sophomore at Northern Arizona University where I am majoring in photography and minoring in Graphic Design. I love photographing people. In the future, I hope to work in the fashion industry or become a photo-journalist.

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 – Siobhan would love to hear from you!