Top Five Photos

Among the host of photos I’ve taken in the last couple months, I have decided that I want to print one out in a large format, but I need your help! Below are five options, please let me know which one you like best and why.

Bannack, cross and bones on shanty

duck in the park

Bannack rusted car in field



As I have moved forward through this digital imaging class, I have collected my favorite photos and posted them to this blog. But to commemorate this class, I have compiled them and my experience into a photobook.

Photobook PDF

The entirety of the book was created by myself. I took the photos, composed the layout, wrote the copy and compiled the book. It was certainly a task, but I feel more educated about presenting my photos and look forward to making another one of these in the future as my photography portfolio grows.

Macro: New Size, New Perspective

This week my photography group moved onto a macro unit, something I have been anxiously awaiting. When I bought my camera, I also picked up some extension tubes, since I think that macro is such an interesting thing to photograph. It feels quite easy to make an object seem interesting when you zoom this far in. For example, I got lucky and found this bee, seen above, flitting between flowers and managed to grab a photo of him while he was still for a second (although this did take many attempts). I also got some pictures of other nature objects, and a metal object, since they all have interesting textures up close. And finally, I also got some picture of flowers with water drops on them, which bring back unique results when you zoom in this much. You can even seen the reflection of the continuous light source reflected in the water drop in the picture of the rose, which ends up looking like a flower itself.

Landscape Perspective: Lonely Pump

I was having a hard time deciding what I wanted to do for this assignment. While I was searching, I almost did the water tower in rexburg, but it was surrounded by a fence. So, instead of breaking the law, I drove out into the middle of nowhere to look for inspiration. As I turned around to give up, I saw a lone and broken gas pump. It was so rustic and lonely I had to stop. For my texture image, I blended a chipped wooden door texture I pulled from Bannack onto the clean front a gas pump. And I did not have much to use, but I decided to hang my hat next to the pump to humanize the shot, like  it was in use.

Bannack Ghost Town: Fine Art Shots

This last week I had the opportunity to go to Bannack Ghost Town, a national park in Montana with a large group of photographers. While half of the group was working with models that came with us, I had the chance to walk around the town, peeking in buildings and grabbing shots of interesting, weathered things, be those buildings or objects. All the shots I am showing off today were shot with bracketing and then were combined in lightroom with the HDR blending feature. I felt like going with an over-saturated look, since I felt it helped highlight both the sky on this beautiful day and all the aging of these items, like weathering and rust. Let’s look at the shots!

Bannack rusted car in field

Off behind the main hotel building, across a ditch that was likely once a stream, is this carcass of a car. You might think it weird for a car to be in a ghost town, but the town went from the gold mining days all the way to the early 1970s, so it surprisingly fits.

Bannack log church

Along the main drive is the town’s church building, with what I feel is a unique two chimney roof. This image was taken earlier in the day, when we were still being threatened by ominous storm clouds. When I saw the building, I knew I wanted a shot. I took multiple shots from different angles, but I ended up liking this one. It includes both the sister-building and a great angle of the church’s roof, showing off the front walk up.

Bannack house on the hill

As I walked around town, I had the chance to sneak into some of the buildings. As I walked inside, I tried to think of what it was like to live here for the original inhabitants. To capture that spirit, I took this picture from the inside looking out on the small hut on the hill.

Bannack, cross and bones on shanty

Near the front of town, behind buildings on the main walk, are some small huts that were likely tool sheds. On top of one is this fun combination of both a cross, maybe for drying skins, and these animal skulls. While it might just be a fluke, I enjoyed the mix of life and death summarized in this picture and captured it for myself. A fun detail, that is real grass growing on that roof!

Bannack, mining scrapyard in field

Finally, Bannack was originally a mining town, and as mining tech developed, so did their mining techniques. But now that the town is abandoned, you can catch huge piles of old mining gear in fields along the main walk. This is one such pile, and I really enjoyed the contrast of the rusty metal against the grass, joined by the log house in the back.

Thanks for joining me and taking a look at some of the sights I caught at Bannack recently! If you want see more, you can check out my other blog posts from the trip, or you can search Bannack and watch video online, or maybe even go on your own trip there!

Bannack Ghost Town: Portrait Shots

Last week I had the opportunity to go on a trip with other photographers to Bannack, Montana, a well-known ghost town with neat, old buildings and fantastic scenery. When I went I was lucky enough to be accompanied by many models who came dressed in period clothings, and I wanted to share some of the shots I got. I will also let you know any auxiliary lighting I used to achieve these shots.

Bannack period photography, blacksmith

This first one is of the town blacksmith, in which I used a silver reflector to get good light, even in a building. While I got some shots of him using his tools, I really liked this one with him staring longingly, thinking deeply.

Bannack period photography, flapper girl

On the other side of the street in the saloon, I caught this close-up of a flapper girl ready to hit the dance floor. To assist this indoor shot, I used a continuous light source.  I thought this close up shot brought out the best in her features, and despite the bland background it is a interesting shot with the shine of all her beads and pearls in the light.

Bannack period photography, native american

Down by the river I snapped this shot of a Native-American in her furs. I used a speedlight to get balanced light despite the bright sun overhead at noon day. I really liked how the intricateness of her head-piece is balanced by her somber face, all highlighted by the nice bokeh in the back.

Bannack period photography, mayor

Inside the main hotel I captured this image of fellow in a nice suit, I like to think he is the mayor of this establishment. I used a Einstein strobe to get balanced light both inside and out. I am not quite sure what he is thinking about, but you can feel the importance of the decision he is weighing in his features.

Bannack period photography, street fight

And finally, probably my favorite event, is this cowboy street fight for a young ladies heart. I used a combination of both a reflector and editing in post to help balance the light. Props to the models for playing along with us!

I had a fun time working with all the models who accompanied us to Bannack, they were great sports! If you want to see other pictures from Bannack, check out some of my other blog post with pictures from that day, or go search Bannack online, it makes for a great day trip!


Depth of Field: What’s your focus?

This week my photography focus was playing with depth of field. It was a good time to practice with wide and narrow aperture, and taught me I should remember to bring my tripod with me more often so I can get more stable shots to compensate for longer shutter speeds. But let’s jump in!

Bird resting on rock

Camouflage?, 5/14/18, 10:14 AM, BYU-Idaho Gardens, 205mm, f/6.3, 1/20, Sony A6000

I snapped this photo while I was wandering around the university gardens looking for interesting angles and shots. I saw this little guy and decided I would get a shot, it even looks like he was posing. I was assisted in getting a shot with bokeh because I had my telephoto lens on at the time. The zoom and the distant background made for a good shot, the bird stand out against the blurry background.

Stone maiden statue in BYU-Idaho gardens

Stone Maiden, 5/14/18, 10:06 AM, BYU-Idaho Gardens, 135mm, f/5.6, 1/60, Sony A6000

I am not quite sure why, but my favorite pictures from this week include this statue. I found her in a grove-like area in the gardens, and thought the blend of trees around her and the lighting made for an interesting shot. My goal was to have my photo add to the original beauty that the sculptor had created.

Bikes on rack

Bikes at Rest, 5/9/18, 3:23 PM, Romney-Clark Quad, 30mm, f/22, 1/60, Sony A6000

This is a build-up shot to another photo I would like to take in the future. I have had the idea to get a picture of many bikes lined up on a rack, but started by taking this photo. I like that I was able to get a portion of exposed rack that leads up to bikes, helping lead the eye. As a side note, I found myself enjoying wide aperture shots over narrow, since it is easier to single out an object in an interesting fashion than it is to get a photo of many objects over a distance and keep it engaging.

landscape of rexburg, R mountain, and farther

Rexburg Landscape, 5/14/18, 10:33 AM, Taylor-MC Quad BYU-Idaho, 47mm, f/20, 1/60, Sony A6000

On that topic, here is another narrow aperture shot. I had finished a quick shoot in the gardens and was walking to meet with my wife when I walked by this angle. I was impressed with how much there was to view in the distance, so I grabbed a quick shot. You can see the I-center, a main road, R-mountain, church spires, and mountains even farther off. This helped me understand how I might find and compose narrow aperture shots in the future.

I hope these shots playing with depth of field have been interesting and helped inspire shots you might look for in the future. Good luck!

Motion – Blurred & Frozen

This week I focused on playing with different forms of motion, both frozen and blurred. If you play with the settings properly, you can communicate the motion of an object in an interesting way, even though a photo is a still! Let’s look at what I found this week.

Frozen Motion

disc golf, making the shot

Title: Cage Crash, 5/7/18, 7:08 PM, Rexburg Nature Park, 21mm, F4, 1/800, Sony A6000

Let’s start with one of my favorites. I already owned frisbee golf discs, so I thought they would make an interesting object to catch in flight. I had my model (my loving wife) pick a position and start trying to putt the disc into the cage. I then shifted my position each time trying to find an interesting angle. I’m glad I ended up here, because the cage is the main item, but still get a good look at the golfer in the background. I love how the frozen motion effect catches the disc hitting the chains!

park water pipe

Title: Trickle On, 5/2/18, 5:19 PM, Rexburg Nature Park, 50mm, F5.6, 1/1250, Sony A6000

As I was walking around the nature park looking for interesting shots, I heard water flowing and decided to find the source. At the edge of the pond I found this pipe putting out water, and was instantly taken by both the pipe and the interesting algae patterns inside it. While I took many shots of both the pipe and where the flowing water ended up, I found that I like this shot of the pipe as its own entity. Besides…

water crashing on rock

Title: Immovable Object, 5/2/18, 5:20 PM, Rexburg Nature Park, 50mm, F5.6, 1/1600, Sony A6000

…I ended up making the endpoint of the water its own shot instead. I liked this shot because the focus on the rock and water helps bring out the details, rather than trying to get too many objects in the shot.

Blurred Motion

Girl riding penny board, blurred background

Title: Swoosh, 5/7/18, 7:22 PM, Rexburg Nature Park, 19mm, F22, 1/10, Sony A6000

My wonderful model also helped me capture this blurred motion shot. I knew I wanted to do a panning motion shot, so I dug up our old penny board. I made sure we moved to an area with a long stretch of straight path, and positioned myself between her and teh sunlight. While I did get some shots of the sun behind her, I liked this one of the background being blurred trees and pond.

Car motion at night, blurred lights

Title: Riding in the Night, 5/5/18, Rexburg, ID, 50mm, F18, 8″, Sony A6000, Other: resting on concrete step

Early in the week the made my way up to the top of the hill in town to try and get some interesting blue hour shots, but I ended up noticing that in the bottom of my pictures there were red streaks. This ended up being cars driving by as I sat with a long exposure time. This inspired me to focus on some night time car shots. For this shot, I sat on a crosswalk island in the middle of the road and captured cars coming both ways. I really like how they enter from off screen and travel until they are out of the shot, it made for a cool effect.

Bonus Shot

duck in the park

Title: Nature Walk, 5/2/18, 5:12 PM, Rexburg Nature Park, 155mm, F5.6, 1/1000, Sony A6000

While strolling through the park, I noticed this duck doing their own thing apart from the mass of ducks near the pond. While they weren’t moving a ton, I wanted to capture their motion. It ended up looking like they were still, but I liked the picture so much I wanted to include it this week.

And that is the review of this week’s focus, motion shots! I hoped you enjoyed looking at these as much as I did taking them. If you have any photos like these you have taken recently, share them in the comments below!

Freshening Up is Never a Bad Thing

While I have learned the the basics of what changing shutter speed and aperture can do for your photos, it has been a while, so I thought I would freshen up my memory with this small exercise. Join me to learn the basics, whether it’s your first or third time!

Narrow aperture pier photo, from

This image of the pier poking out over the ocean is an example of using a narrow aperture. A narrow aperture lets in less light, but it keeps subjects in focus over a longer distance. This deep depth of field effect is created by having a high f stop, like f/20. But it does mean that you have to compensate for the low amount of light coming in by having a slower shutter speed.

Wide Aperture, keyboard on desk blurred, from

This office setting is a prime example of a wide aperture. As you can see, the only thing in focus is part of the keyboard and desk, with the background exhibiting bokeh, or blur from being out of focus. Positioning is key with a wide aperture to assure that the subject is the right distance to be in focus, creating an interesting fore and background effect. This is accomplished by using a low f stop like f/2.

Fast Shutter, Pink Smoke enveloping person, from

The smoke in this image helps demonstrate the strengths of a photo taken with a quick shutter speed. In this image you can see the detailed edges of the smoke as it expands quite clearly, which occurs when the image is captured rapidly. To capture things clearly, like they are stuck in a moment of time, you will want to change your shutter speed to 1/250 and above.

Slow shutter, spinning sparks, from

Inversely, playing with a long shutter time allows you to capture images like this shower of sparks. A slow shutter speed captures the movement that takes place during the time it is open, which can be anywhere between half a second to twenty seconds plus. It is especially good at night with light, as pictured above, because the longer it captures light, the brighter it will be, which works well when there is not much light to capture.

Slow Shutter and High Iso, small rocket launch, from

Lastly, this is a mix of the technique seen above, a long shutter time, and turning your ISO up. The higher your ISO, the more light that your camera’s chip will capture, but it does come with the drawback of graininess at high ISO levels. In this image, we have the trail of a rocket, but the ISO is high enough that we also see the stars in the sky, while keeping the graininess of the other facilities on the ground low enough to not be distracting. When you are just beginning in photography, it is a good practice to not play with your ISO levels until absolutely necessary or you are comfortable adjusting them.

The settings talked about today alter distance, motion, and light in our photos, which are major parts of an image. Play with one at a time until you are confident to start mixing them together to capture interesting images. Have fun!

Photographic Study Project

Process: For this project I chose to focus on a PS4 controller in my living room. I used my phone for the pictures and decided to only have light coming in through the window as my lighting for the shots. I thought that since it is not a fixed object I should get some shots of it being used as it was intended, being held and turned on with the backlight glowing. I tried to design this project as close to the original parameters from memory as possible since the original project rules have been erased by an error on the home site. I also tried playing around with effects on the Logo for added interest.

Font: Logo – Demonized – Decorative