Independence Day Photo Contest

Of the many activities held here on campus over the 4th of July weekend, I celebrated by entering the Independence Day photo contest. The categories were very difficult–a little abstract at first–so I was forced to think outside the box. Below are the pictures I submitted after just two days of shooting.


Red_6349 copy

On Friday, the day before the 4th, we went out to a nearby park to see some fireworks. Right as they were starting, the three Paine boys climbed up on their family’s van to get a better view. There couldn’t have been a better set-up! It took a long time to figure out the prefect settings to get the kids illuminated with the fireworks in action at the same time.


Colony_6923 copy

This assignment was extraordinarily difficult. The only thing I could think of was an ant colony, so I went out searching for one. It’s strange how scares ant hills are when you are actually trying to find one. When I finally found one, I waited for the ants to start swarming around it after agitating the front entrance a bit. But no ants would come out! With a limited amount of time to photograph, I just snapped a few and left with what I had.


Authority_6898 copy

I had so much fun with this picture! When I think of authority, I automatically remember a diagram which portrays how our authorities are like umbrellas of protection, guarding us from evil influences. What I had in mind was too much for me to do by myself, so I asked a few fellows visiting for the weekend to help me out. One boy climbed up in a tree to hold the umbrella with a string; a second stood to one side to steady the umbrella from blowing in the wind; a third was my model who set in the lawn-chair reading the Bible. I used a wide angle lens for distortion to complement the abstractness of the floating umbrella. Thank you Knight’s for your help!


Thirteen_6960 copy

What do you take a picture of for “thirteen?” Well, the first thing that came to mind actually worth pursuing was the thirteen stripes on the American flag. To get the feeling of number quantity, I took a picture of the flag from the side, focusing on the stripes and letting the blue field fall out-of-focus in the background.


Priciples_6974 copy

This was also a very difficult one. How would you portray this word? What object portrays this concept? I could have taken a picture of the “Institute in Basic Life Principles” sign in front of the buildings on campus, but that just didn’t seem very creative. However, as I was thinking about it, the song “I Want A Principle Within” popped into my head. I proceeded in obtaining a hymnal and set up some instruments around it to help it fit in with an Independence Day theme.


  1. Sara Nicole July 11, 2009 at 11:28 pm #

    You did an awesome job on all of them but my absolute favorite is the 1st one of the fireworks! Absolutely phenomenal! 🙂

  2. Esther July 13, 2009 at 12:17 pm #

    Very Creative! They are all good but my favorites are the floating umbrella and instruments!

  3. Michael Staddon July 13, 2009 at 11:51 pm #

    Absolutely phenomenal picture of the boys with the fireworks behind them!!!!!!! I don’t think I’ve ever seen a picture like that. It amazes me that you could get the boys illuminated enough to be seen without the fireworks washing out the picture, or being completely white. One would think you used photoshop to add the boys from two separate pictures! Did you have to color enhance the picture? Anyway, it sure is nice. Good job – and thank God for setting it up for you!

  4. Joshua July 14, 2009 at 7:10 pm #


  5. Robert July 21, 2009 at 4:13 pm #

    Beautiful, James. I think the fireworks shot is worth framing! It’s hard to believe you didn’t Photoshop the Paine boys.

  6. Mom July 21, 2009 at 8:25 pm #

    Very creative. You used some of these pictures for your father’s birthday card, which was very creative too!

  7. James July 23, 2009 at 12:08 am #

    Michael commented on the fireworks picture perfectly: “thank God for setting it up.” The kids moved around constantly and the fireworks erupted at random in the sky, so only God could have made the two work harmouneously together for that picture to be a reality, which it truly is.

    To answer some of your questions, I will say that yes, I did enhance the red color in the fireworks, but that only slightly. The category was Red, so in order to drive the point home and really make it as noticable as possible, I specifically boosted the red saturation. I also added a bit of contrast so that the sky would be perfectly black.

    Illuminating the kids was tricky: by using a long shutter-speed, I was able to get the fireworks; flashing a speedlight at the beginning of the exposure illuminated the kids. (I practiced on various subjects before the fireworks began so I would be ready if I needed it, just in case, and I’m glad I did.)

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