Burn Dear Phoenix

This image was captured on the cliff side of the Snake River in Idaho. It was featured in the Traveling dress project 2019....
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This image was captured on the cliff side of the Snake River in Idaho. It was featured in the Traveling dress project 2019.
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Curator's Choice
Peer Award
Outstanding Creativity
annetteD1994 LeeVarland heathermchenrywilson DARJPhotography allenjones_2488 luvmtnlife mogli110 +6
Absolute Masterpiece
artieboy53 JSmith25 Verokark andrewquarrell_1632 mathildecollot
Superb Composition
Gilleroo1 grumpsQ
All Star
Magnificent Capture


Kaeljia NejcDraganjec ZoltanKr asrajesh joebradley_1895 trevorevans_0954

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Behind The Lens

This photograph was taken in Idaho, at the top of a Cliffside of the Snake River. You can find sagebrush and lava rock all around. You can see the river running alongside the model all while viewing the distant hills and beautiful rolling clouds. I love doing my photography outdoors and capturing all the beauty Mother Nature has to offer.
My assistant, model, and HMU artist left Boise on a cool April evening around 5:30 pm. We drove about 45 min into the desert of Idaho to get to this location we did the shoot over a course of 1 hour. We were so excited that it was a dreary day. Perfect for the look we wanted to achieve.
With this photograph, I wanted to bring the subject to life with the fire being vibrant amongst the dark and daunting backdrop she resides in. We used all-natural light. It was perfect since the clouds make a natural light box, creating soft light all around. Another wonderful gift Mother Nature gives us photographers to use.
This shot was achieved using a Nikon D610 with a Tamron 35mm 1.8 lens. No other equipment was used.
I was invited by The Traveling Dress Project to participate in their 5th annual, 2019 photography competition. Photographers are invited to apply to participate every year with a new featured dress that each photographer photographs in their own creative vision and way. The dress featured that year was designed and created by Meagan Jones of Rooney Mae Couture. It featured a Jersey knit fabric that transitioned from black to white to red, with an adjustable waist tie. The dress was made to fit an average woman between the sizes of 6-12. When I saw the dress, I immediately thought of doing a moody photograph. I really wanted to create a story for my character. I thought for a few months while waiting for my turn with the dress and one night it came to me. The color of the dress, being red at the bottom, reminded me of fire. From there, I thought of a phoenix catching fire. The idea of Burn Dear Phoenix was born. I purchased a feather shoulder piece and red and black fabric from the local fabric store. I wanted a few props to bring my character to life without taking away from the dress itself. I knew i wanted the dress to look to be on fire. I obviously couldn't use real fire on my model. With that being said, I have many hours of post-processing to account for that creative piece of the photograph. I am happy to say that Burn Dear Pheonix won two awards at the Traveling Dress project. Both Judges and Peoples first choice awards.
Post-processing is something I do with all of my photographs. It's just as much a part of the art of photograph as is taking the image. I always start by photographing my work in RAW format. This is a critical part and your very first step in taking advantage of a photographs true potential. I used LightRoom and PhotoShop for my post-processing. I began by using LightRoom. From there was able to adjust the tones of the image. I wanted the image to look cold so I toned the yellow. I then did minor adjustments to the contrast, shadows, and highlights. When photographing with a lot of the sky shown, it is easy to have a background blown out comparatively to your subject. I really wanted to be able to see those amazing clouds we had that day. Yes, those clouds are all real! Once I had finished my adjustments in LightRoom, I exported the image to Photoshop. I increased the saturation and contrast on the clouds, rocks, and hills. Brightened her skin and touched up any flyaway hairs. For the fire, I wanted to use an image of actual fire to create the allusion of her catching fire.
In my camera bag
I always have my camera backpack with me. In that bag, I carry my camera body, the Nikon D610. This is a great full-frame camera for someone on a somewhat tighter budget. We all know how spendy photography gear can get. This camera is a workhorse. One thing I really love is the dual SD card slot. It gives me peace of mind that god forbid one of my sd cards decide to retire, I have it backed up to another. I love to pop on my Tamron 35mm 1.8 or 24-70 2.8. These two lenses are on my camera 75% of the time. I love the look you can achieve with these two; almost a photojournalist look. I also carry a Tamron 70-200mm 2.8 that is amazing at compressing the background of images and making your subject really pop. Then, of course, one of my very first lenses I purchased the good old nifty fifty, a Nikon 50mm 1.8. A few things I carry that I don’t always need is my external flash and mag mod, an extra battery and cleaning rags. One thing I recommend to anyone photographing is to bring several SD cards with you. I have a handy little water and shockproof case that carries all my sd cards safely in one area that is easy to get to. This way i don’t lose any of them and they stay protected.
When doing a creative art photograph, think about what you want to portray in that image that will captive your viewers? Find a subject that you are passionate about or find interesting. It can really help make the creative juice flow. Now, what story is your subject going to be telling? What is your subject doing and what are you going to show alongside your subject to tie them into the image? It could be anything from a stunning backdrop of cascading hills and a beautiful sunset or maybe a dark overgrown forest with a haunting stillness? Find the mood you want for your subject to be placed into. This will make all the difference in your photograph.

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