Portrait Techniques

Altering Perspective

I took this picture right when the kids were clearing up and leaving. He was climbing down the castle and reaching for the next step that was too far down. I cropped the picture so that he wouldn’t look like his hands were kissing the edge of the frame. When I was taking this picture I also got low onto the same level as him.

Playing with eye contact

He was positioned so that the sunlight was directly on him. This created a warm feeling, I accentuated this cozy feeling by adjusting the white balance of the picture, to make it a slight bit warmer. I also cropped the picture so that his eye would be on the rule of thirds line.


Experimenting with light

The kids were playing in the sandbox, sunlight was shining through the window casting a bright glow on the dust in the air, creating a dreamy effect. It took multiple shots to get level with the sandbox to capture the perspective of the kids. One of their hands is also in the light as if they are interacting with it, which during the editing process I found was interesting.

Shooting Candidly

I shot this picture after the children were putting away their carts. This picture also worked well with the freezing action. It captured the playfulness of the pre-school children. The light in the picture also created a nice contrast.


Break the rules of composition

Instead of centering the boy in the middle of the frame, I chose a different way and used the dinosaur as the subject. The boy’s arm also creates leading lines, directing the focus from the dinosaur to his face. The blinds were also down when this picture was taken, making the lights red.


Interesting Background

The blue background though simplistic, complimented the colorful rings, and made the children standout. The three people in the picture demonstrates the rule of odds. Their variety of gestures and facial expression make the viewer wonder.



The child’s expression captures both his innocence and the peacefulness of the setting. The darker background and the sunlight on his cloths create a variety of colors. Both his eyes are also illuminated by the sunlight, centered at the top third drawing the viewers attention.


Change the format framing

The movement in this picture is interesting — the swinging of his arms, and the freezing action. I shot this picture in portrait to capture all of the motion. I also had to get low, so the lens would be eye level with him.


Filling the frame

During the editing process I cropped this picture so that it was very close and intimate with the audience, which filled the frame. The difference between light and dark is subtle from the right side to the left side.


Interesting Subject

His facial expression was really interesting. I put my aperture to f1.8 to create a extremely shallow depth of field, only this eye is in focus. The white background also created a good simplicity to the picture. Since what he is looking at is beyond the lens, and he is holding something, it makes the audience wonder.


Cyanotype is a process that produces a cyan blueprint. Engineers used this well into the 20th century as a simple and low-cost process to produce prints. The English scientist and astronomer Sir John Hershel discovered the procedure in 1842. It was Anna Atkins that popularized this process with a series of cyanotype limited-edition books that documented ferns and other plant life.
Taking the photograph that we have prepared, we first imported it into photoshop and inverted the color. Then we printed that on a transparent plastic.
The two solutions we used to create this was potassium ferricyanide and ferric ammonium citrate both mixed with water. We spread those two chemicals on a piece of watercolor paper. After letting the chemicals dry in a darkroom, we placed our transparent over the sheet. Letting it out in the sunlight for an hour or two.
After letting it out in the sunlight, we have the rinse under water for about 3 minutes. Spraying some hydrogen peroxide onto the paper, made the colors much darker and defined. We then had to wash that layer of chemical off.
The first time when I made the cyanotype my end result was kind of blurry, caused by the movement of the paper. On my second attempt, the picture wasn’t dark enough because I didn’t put enough solution onto the paper.
I would recommend when spreading the solution onto the paper, make sure you’re spreading evenly and using enough solution. For better results, your picture would be better if it was really high quality.

Street Photography

Hutong Field Trip Reflection

For this field trip, we went to the Hou Hai and the Hutongs around it. We walked around these areas to take pictures of local life, and experience the real “Beijing culture”. Arriving at the center of traffic in the Hutongs, we navigated to the HouHai Lake and walked around it. I really enjoyed eating some of the foods that were present in the Hutongs; mostly, I also enjoyed walking around the Hutong in general and experiencing some of the activities that people do daily. As even though I have been in Beijing for 10 years, I only visited these parts of Beijing once or twice.

I tried all the techniques on the assignment, one of the techniques that I like the most was getting close to the subject. I found that this technique really helped my portraits to acquire more detail, and give a sense of intimacy with the subject. There were a few things that I kept in mind during the photo walk. Whenever I spotted an interesting subject, I would wait until everyone was a little ahead of me, as having so many people around one person might make them feel threated or nervous; I also looked through the viewfinder to anticipate a specific moment. Sometimes looking through a lens at the same height or perspective seemed boring, I tried to mix this up.

Somethings that surprised me on the photo walk were that most were willing to be taken pictures of, this helped many of my portraits to standout as they are more intimate. There were some that were reluctant to be taken a picture of, that did not have an overall effect on the trip, I just noticed that and took pictures with more caution. While doing the photo walk, I placed all my settings on manual. This limited me to whip out my camera and snap the shot, as things are happening all around me, there is no time to change the settings. This was a huge challenge, I put the camera on aperture priority and kept the exposure as close level as possible (aiming for slightly darker, as it retains more information).

I think that one important thing I learned from this trip and about street photography is that perspective is the key to great photos; there were many normal objects/people just sitting doing nothing, but the way each photographer decides to capture this can change the way they are portrayed. Street photography also really accentuates the style of the photographer and how they individually capture the beauty of the subject, not the fanciness of the equipment or level of skill.

ISO Collage


ISO is controls how sensitive the camera sensor is to light. It plays a crucial role in the exposure triangle. If the camera is more sensitive to light, the more exposed the picture will be. If the camera is less sensitive to light the picture will be less exposed. The general rule for ISO: the lower the ISO the better. You would use a low ISO setting when there is direct sunlight while taking pictures outside. You would use a high ISO for night photography. Using a high ISO will result in noise in the picture, which will distort the details of the image. That’s why the general rule for ISO is keeping it as low as possible. Understanding ISO will help us control the exposure of our image because ISO doesn’t control many artistic features of the photo itself, it helps us to balance out the other sides of the exposure triangle.

Aperture Collage

Lower Aperture (Shallow Depth of Field)

Lower Aperture (Shallow Depth of Field)

High Aperture (Wider Depth of Field)

Aperture is the size of the hole through which light passes toward the sensor. It controls the depth of field of the picture and also controls the amount of light or the exposure of the picture itself. When the “f-stop” number is higher, the pinhole on the camera is smaller letting in less light. When the “f-stop” number is lower, the pinhole on the camera is bigger, letting in more light.

You would use a low aperture when taking portraits. This is to make the background of the picture blurred, and creates a low depth of field, emphasizing the subject. A high aperture is mainly used for landscape photography when everything in the picture needs to be in focus. Some precautions when using aperture is the amount of blur you want for your photograph. These settings can either make your picture crystal clear or it might blur your subject. The best way to prevent these situations from happening is manipulating other aspects on the exposure triangle: ISO, Shutter Speed.

Understanding aperture can help create emphasize in pictures, by isolating the subject with a shallow depth of field. Or it can help create unity with a wider depth of field, making everything in focus.

1 Object 30 Times

The assignment asked us to pick an object of an interesting form, bring it into class and photograph that object 30 different times. The purpose of this was to practice the elements of art, principles of design, and the compositional guidelines that were instructed during class. It was also a good opportunity to practice these concepts with an actual subject. It is important to understand the composition guidelines, so we know the effect of each of them to use in our own photography; moreover, we have to learn them, so we can intentionally break them because often photos that follow the guidelines are boring and uncreative. The most challenging thing about this assignment was figuring out all the different angles and taking the picture that you have composed in your head. Before this project, I did not realize, that so many different interesting angles and pictures could be composed of one simple object. I learned as a photographer from this project to observe and look for interesting places and angles to take these pictures.

Principles of Design


The principles of design are a set of rules or guidelines based on the composition of a photograph; by using these rules they better convey the message or story the photo is trying to express. They consist of pattern, contrast, rhythm, emphasis, unity, variety, movement, balance. These principles help organize the elements of art, symmetrical, asymmetrical, radial, balance is used to draw the eye away from one fixed point of view, and get the observer to look at the whole picture; pattern is repeated shapes color or objects ordered in either regular or irregular formations; random, regular, alerting, flowing, progressive, rhythm is repeated art elements in a regular cyclical fashion; an image that shows movement, makes the viewer imagine the scenery or the motion that is happening in the frame; emphasis is created by visually enforcing something the photographer wants the viewer to notice. Emphasis can be created by isolation, leading lines, contrast, anomaly, size, placement, framing, focus and depth of field, the absence of focal points. Contrast is also a principle where the photography wants to visually enforce the subject, contrast is mostly between colors.  Unity and variety are similar in the way that they’re the exact opposite of each other. Unity occurs when there are elements in a picture that bring the whole picture together, variety occurs when the photographer adds interest and break the monotony of simple repetitions.

These principles of design are crucial to how to judge photographs and analyze them. Looking at a photo we can dissect the element and principles used the photograph, which can help us understand what the photographer was thinking at the time of taking the photograph, or the story, theme of the photograph. These principles can also improve our own photography by looking at professionals and knowing when certain elements should be used. From this activity, I learned that just like the elements of art, there can be multiple principles of design in one photograph. I also learned that each principle can convey a different mood, which I experienced through my own exploration of these principles.This is my favorite photo that I took from the creek in the OLE. While looking at the small river I noticed that there was bubble like things in the water, upon closer observation I thought the bubbles created an interesting pattern and rhythm.

Burning House Photo

Name: Alan S.
Age: 15
Location: Beijing, China
Occupation: Student

I have chosen 5 objects that are sentimental but also useful to me on a day to day basis. My favorite object of these 5 is the stuffed animal in the top of the frame. During the summer I went to Japan with my friend to swim, and he bought this for me. Although the tag says it’s a “lizard” it is extremely debatable on what it actually is. I really like it because its face is on the side, but it is also really soft. The second item I have chosen is my Kindle, many people would go directly for their favorite book, but I don’t really have one specific one, a Kindle can hold hundreds of books each time, so I will never be bored at all. The pencil is not as sentimental nor is it extremely useful, but usually I like to fiddle with my pencil, and it has become that one thing that I can’t not have at all times. I would also bring my phone and computer, those items are much more on the useful side, though does not reflect any personal details about me.

Elements of Art

Works of art and photography can be analyzed through multiple aspects individually. These aspects include color, shape, form, value, tone, space, texture, and line. Lines and curves are the marks of the span of distance between any two given points within a photo. Lines has width, direction, and length. Lines can lead the viewer’s eyes, they are the building blocks for shapes and form. Lines can also convey emotion; straight lines would be more soothing while curved lines might represent more power. Lines can also divide spaces and bring spaces together. Texture is another element of art. Texture can be defined as the surface detail of an object. Texture photography is a type of photography that illustrates emotions with textures presented. Space is extremely important in photography because it can create depth, images without depth appear to be less realistic and living. Space also includes perspective, a linear perspective would show lines converging to one point or multiple, while an aerial view could create a wider sense of the whole scene.  Positive and negative spaces are also important to the composition of the image. Where there is lots of positive space, the subject fills most of the photograph, where there is lots of negative space, there is lots of “breathing room” for viewers. Tone and Value are important to define the next element of art which is color. They are the light and dark in color and dictate the purity of each color. Form and shape are two elements of art that go hand in hand, as one is an extension of another. In simpler words, form is the 3D version of shape. Form gives objects more of a pop, and make them seem more lifelike. Color is an important element of art as it creates a general mood for the photograph. Warm colors make the viewer feel more energetic, while cooler colors make the viewer feel calmer.

These elements are extremely important in discussing and critiquing photography. As breaking a photo down and looking at why it is good to come down to these building blocks. If we look at each element separately then we understand why the photography looks “nice” as a whole. Using these vocabulary words, we can express why we think certain photos look “nice” and what type of message they are trying to get across to the viewer. If we can proficiently express why we think photos look “nice” then we can take it further and apply that to the photography that we do.

From this activity, I learned to observe for different elements; furthermore, I became more aware of my composition, and the different elements I wish to capture with my camera. Understanding these elements of art also made me learn to highlight certain elements using my camera, and clarify the message or the emotion to be conveyed through my photography.

The photo I chose really exemplified texture. I took this photo outside on the track. There was a fresh coat of paint being applied to it, as the paint dried it started to slide off the peaks on the bumps of the track. I was trying to capture texture with this photography, as going really close to the pavement showed the inconsistency and gives a feeling of unease. There was also a contrast of texture, between the well-painted crevasses where it was very glossy and smooth, and the bumpiness of the unpainted areas. I ended up capturing multiple elements with this photo, one of which was color. The contrast between the black and the red brings out the glossiness and further conveys the texture of the subject.

Blog Post #1

October Blizzard

Photograph by Carmen Huter

This picture was taken at Lake Louise in Alberta, Canada after a surprise blizzard struck visitors during their stay. Lake Louise is nested in Banff National Park, the river is fed by a runoff of Victoria Glacier.I don’t think the image is necessarily important to any cause, but it highlights the beauty of nature. It may also serve as a reminder for the protection of the environment.  This photo as it captures gives a peaceful feeling; furthermore, the photo illustrates even the simplest scenery can showcase its beauty. The composition of the photo really speaks out to me, both in the placement of the camera, but also the choice of lens and angle the photographer chose. Although this photo breaks the rule of thirds it places the subject in the middle of the picture, this creates an effect of emphasis. The horizontal lines under the cabin highlight a contrast between the forest and the lake, showcasing the color and beauty of the lake. Thus, placing the “horizon” in the middle gives a sense of equilibrium.