Portrait Technique

The photo might be a little blurry because of the file restriction. 

Play With Background

A technique I found really useful in portrait taking is using backgrounds. When I am taking a portrait, I usually put the face of the model on the side of the screen, like the photo above. This can make the photo more pleasing and good looking. Also, putting the face on the sides also gives space for me to put in a good background. In the photo above, because I saved space on the left side of the photo, I was able to add some Chinese style windows and also a few plants in there, therefore making the photo more interesting.

Filing the Frame

In the photo above, the child’s face takes up the whole screen. This creates a feeling of depth and levels. One part of his face is bright while the other is dimmer, this shows value and tone. Moreover, the boy’s eyes reflect the light of the room to make the photo more visual pleasing.


In the photo, the child seems to be in deep thought. His expressions blends in with the blurry background as both seems to symbilise the deep and lost thinking the child is currently having.

Eye contact

In this photo, the girl is not looking directly into the camera. He was positioned so that the sunlight was directly on him, and his created a warm feeling. Moreover, she seems to be in deep thought and the blurry background accompanies her expressions well.


In the photo above, the girl is staring at her puppets. The introduction of props in the photo above can create a deeper photo with a more pleasing visual aspect. The props are zoomed in while the girl is not in focus, therefore making the girl feel distanced.

Experiment With Lighting

When taking this photo, I angeled my camera so the light shining through the window lands on the boy’s face. The contrast of light creates a value and also makes the photo more interesting.

Altering Perspective

In this photo, I lied down to capture the photo from below. This way, we can see more details on the child’s face. Moreover, taking it below him creates a more interesting effect as if the child was taller than everyone.

Shooting Candidly

While taking this photo, two kids were playing with toys. I took the photo in secret so they won’t notice me and will keep working on their toys. This can create a natural and calm effect.

Break the rules of composition

In the photo above, instead of putting the face of the kid on the left of right side of the photo, I put him almost to the middle. Moreover, half of his head is cut off, which broke the rules of composition. But by breaking it, a more interesting and unique photo is created. 

Interesting Subjeft

The subject in the photo is picking his nose. This normally disgusting gesture used in the photo can create a interest and funny photo. Moreover, we can also see his facial expression, making the photo seem more unique.


-What is the history of this process? When was it invented and by whom?  What did people initially use it for?

The process of cyanotypes was made by Sir John Hershal in 1842, who was an English astronomer. He had created the process of cyanotypes for the reason of making and saving blueprints or notes. Initially, people used this process to create blueprints or to save an image of things that are fading.
-Summarize the process of making a cyanotype-take us through the steps.

1. Scan or take an image. The best image to use is an old photo of something.
2. Use photoshop to crop straighten and adjust your image.
3. Turn the saturation to the lowest, causing the image to be black and white, then by using the level setting in photoshop, try to separate the black and white colors even more. Next, inverse the image to a negative.
4. Print the image onto an A4 paper, then copy the A4 to a transparency sheet.
5. By using a sponge roller or a brush, brush the mix of Potassium ferricyanide and Ferric ammonium citrate solutions onto a watercolor paper. Making sure to leave a border on the paper.
6. (IMPORTANT) Let the paper dry in a dark room where it is not exposed to light. If the paper is exposed to light, it will not work.
7. After the paper is dried out, put the transparency sheet onto your watercolor paper and secure it with rocks or paperclips, making sure it will not move around.
8. Leave the paper outside under the sun to be exposed to the light.
9. Wait for some time, and after exposure, wash off with running water for a few minutes.
10. Use your hands to spread the paper with hydrogen peroxide.
11. Wash off with water for another couple minutes.
12. Hang dry, then the Cyanotype image is complete.

-What did you enjoy about making cyanotypes?  

The thing I enjoyed most about making cyanotypes is the process. It was a fun way to create an image as we didn’t have to use a camera, and the steps were fairly easy to understand. My most favorite part is when you put the paper in the water, and the image will slowly appear. This step is my favorite because we get to see a glimpse of our final product and can see if we succeeded.

-What was challenging about making them?

The most challenging part was actually leaving it outside to dry. We had to find a good place where it is exposed to the sun while making it sit there without moving for a few hours. For the times we did the cyanotypes, it was fairly windy outside, and some student’s cyanotypes would fly off.

-What tips would you give someone who was making a cyanotype for the first time?

Choosing a good photo to use is important as some photos won’t really get the effect cyanotype creates. In my opinion, the best photo to choose is a close-up portrait, which I used for my second project. The image came out clean and beautiful and much better than my first attempt.

My files were too big to upload so please view it on my Flickr album. Link: https://flic.kr/s/aHskys5zdr

Field Trip

-Introduce the field trip-what did we do and where did we go?
During the field trip, we went to the Nanluo and HouHai area of central Beijing. We toured around the hutongs then walked around the lake.
-What did you enjoy most about the trip? Why?
The main thing I really enjoyed about this trip was getting to take photos with my peers and friends. Whenever one of them finds a good place with a potentially good photo, they would always call us over to share ideas. Another thing I enjoyed was to interact with the people, they would laugh and smile and talk to us. At one point, we even started to play ping-pong with a complete stranger.
-What techniques did you try out on the assignment list that worked out for you? What did you have to keep in mind to get a successful shot?
A technique I found really useful was anticipating the moment. For some photos I took, I pointed my camera at a specific place and waited for a good factor to come up. Another thing I kept in mind was my peers. I always waited for the main group of people to go ahead of us so there won’t be any of them in my photos.
-What surprised you about the photowalk?  Interactions with people?  Life in the hutong neighborhoods? Describe.
For me, the hutongs weren’t really a new thing because I live in one of them. But what really suprised me was the many little details that I have never noticed. I always viewed many things in hutongs as just a normal plain thing, but during the trip, I found out that so many things that I see everyday can be a good photo meterial.  For example, I see doors everyday when I walk home, but I never noticed how good of a frame I can create with them.
-What was challenging for you on this trip? Why?  How did you deal with this?
A challenging factor for me on this trip was to get original photos. There is 14 people in my class, and it is really likely that students can have the same photos. A solution to this was to let the main group go first, so I could find good photos without anyone knowing and copying me.
-What new ideas do you have now about street photography?  
After the trip, I noticed that many things in the hutongs can be used as natural frames that can make a photo look better. Doorways and windows are a commonly seen one.
-What’s the most important thing you learned by having thfield trip experience?
The main thing I learned during this field trip was how a simple daily life object I see everyday can create a good photo. For examples, there are many lanterns around my neighborhood, but I never knew that if I emply the right camera settings, I could produce a masterpiece.

1 Object 30 Times

In this activity, we chose an object and took 30 different photos of it. Each photo should be interesting and also be unique in its own way. I chose the fidget spinner because it was simple and easy to capture. The spinner symbolizes my positive and playful attitude to everything.

The purpose of this project was to find different ways to take pictures of one object while making every image unique and different. Every photo I took was unique and I tried to make every photo interesting. All of the photos are taken with my iPhone 7 plus, and most of them are taken with the “Portrait Mode” setting built in. The setting allows you to focus on your subject while blurring the background, creating a deeper feel.

By following the compositional guidelines, we can make every photo interesting and also make every photo different. For example, one of the guidelines was to use the rule of thirds. And almost every photo I took follows that rule. Placing the objects on the sides of the photos can make it more visually pleasing. Therefore, by using the compositional guidelines, we can make our photos more interesting and also more pleasing. A few of my photos are breaking the compositional guidelines, and I did it on purpose. The reason for this is to create a more unique photo that may not be as pleasing, but will definitely be more interesting. For example, a few photos I took my object was in the middle of the photo. This might break the rule of thirds, but the photo is pretty interesting and unique. So sometimes breaking the compositional guidelines is effective too.

The most challenging part of this assignment was to find new ideas for new photos. Taking 30 photos of just one object is extremely hard as it is easy to get replicas or photos that are similar. For example, if all my photos is a portrait shot of my object but with different angles, the album would just be boring and unpleasing. So to make a good album, there must be a variety of effects, and no photos can be the same. A few of my photos were repetitive, so I had to delete them and think of new ideas. It can be difficult sometimes, but there are a billion ways to make your photo interesting, and no two photos should be the same.

The photo above is one of my favorites as it contains a lot of elements and principles that we previously learned. First of all, the photo is really simple with just the bottle and the fidget spinner as the focal point, so it shows the principle Emphasis. Moreover, the blank space in the back also makes the photo look united and calming, as it is not complicated and messy. The blurry effect on the spinner can also create a feeling of wind as if the spinner was hovering. Because my iPhone’s shutter speed is not going to be that fast, it will not capture the exact moment.

In conclusion, after this project, I learned much more ways to make a photo interesting and also more methods to differentiate and make each photo unique. I will apply what I learned to my everyday photos too. I will try to make every photo unique and pleasing in its own way, there should be no two photos that are the same

Aperture Collage

-In your own words, what’s the definition of Aperture and it’s role in the Exposure Triangle?

The purpose of the aperture is to block or stop all light, or in other words,  the image sensor’s degree of exposure to light.

-When would you use a lower aperture or a higher aperture?  Give an example of each situation.

Changing the aperture can affect the focus of different images. You can zoom in on the front object or the back object. You can also zoom in on both. utilizing this setting you can bring more depth and also layers to your photo.

-What are some things you need to be careful when having either an aperture that is high or an aperture that is low?  What can go wrong and what are some ways you can avoid these problems? Be specific of the other exposure triangle settings that you might have to manipulate.

Sometimes, if you want to get a shot of emphasis, turning up the aperture will be your first thought, but sometimes it just won’t work. For example, f22 causes there to be tiny light, and the camera has to compensate for it by letting more light in through the shutter speed or with the ISO. In result, the image coming out will be pitch black. A solution, however, is to turn up the ISO so the photo will come out brighter.

-How does understanding Aperture and its role help you navigate the camera in Manual Mode?

Aperture is a great tool when crafting a beautiful image, as you can create an in-depth feel, and also show emphasis. In my pieces, I use it often because the focused image is much deeper than just a photo. Moreover, you can also tweak the aperture to make the background of an image in focus, creating distance while emphasizing it.


ISO Collage

-In your own words, what’s the definition of ISO and its role in the Exposure Triangle?

ISO stands for International Standards Organization, and it is a scale for measuring sensitivity to light. Its role in the exposure triangle is to make the photo brighter or dimmer.

What’s the general rule about ISO and it’s ideal setting on your camera?

If the ISO is high, more light will be picked up by the camera to make the picture brighter. If the ISO is low, less light will be picked up and the photo will be dimmer. ISO numbers typically range from 100 to 6400 in most newer cameras. The ideal settings are 100 or 200 for outdoor sunny photoshoots, and 400 for cloudy or indoor photoshoots.

-When would you use a lower ISO number or a higher ISO number?  Give an example of each.

Adding on to what I said before, 100 or 200 is the best ISO for outside pictures on a sunny day, 400 ISO for cloudy days/indoors, and 1600+ ISO for really low light situations.

-What are some of the negative side effects of using a high ISO? Explain.

A major tradeoff of turning up the ISO is when you do, so does the noise in your photos. In other words, as the ISO number increases, the more blurry and unclear your photos will be. A Solution to this problem is to use natural lights. For example, open up the windows or go outside.

-How does understanding ISO and it’s role help you navigate the camera in Manual Mode?

Knowing how to utilize the ISO setting in manual mode can be very helpful as you can make the photo brighter in low light situations and make the photo dimmer in high light situations. But the main benefit of knowing how to use ISO is so that you can change the shutter speed too. Whenever your shutter speed gets faster, there will be less light coming into the camera. Therefore turning up the ISO when your shutter speed is fast and turning down your ISO when the shutter speed is slow are also a reason why ISO is important and beneficial.

Principles of Design

-Introduce and define the principles of design.

Balance is the distribution of the visual weight of objects, colors, texture, and space.

Emphasis is the part of the design that catches the viewer’s attention.

Movement is the path the viewer’s eye takes through the work of art, often to focal areas.

The pattern is the repeating of an object or symbol all over the work of art.

Repetition works with a pattern to make the work of art seem active.

Proportion is the feeling of unity created when all parts (sizes, amounts, or number) relate well to each other.

Rhythm is created when one or more elements of design are used repeatedly to create a feeling of organized movement.

Variety is the use of several elements of design to hold the viewer’s attention and to guide the viewer’s eye through and around the work of art.

Unity is the feeling of harmony between all parts of the work of art, which creates a sense of completeness.

-Why are the principles helpful when learning how to discuss and critique photography?

Like the elements of photography, the principles are basically the same but with a deeper layer. Personally, my understanding is that the elements create an effect on the photo while the principles make the photo more pleasing. Both of them must work together well to create a masterpiece. Using the elements, we can critique a photo better as now we understand what the author did to make the photo better. For example, the author didn’t accidentally make the photo symmetrical, he did it on purpose so the balance can be more pleasing to the eye. Therefore by understanding the principles, we can better understand the different effects the author placed to make the photo better.

-What did you learn from this activity?

The major thing I learned was how to make a photo more visually pleasing. All of the principles can make a photo more beautiful in their own ways. For example, emphasis can manipulate the viewers to focus on one object, while balance can make the photo calmer. Before this activity, my knowledge was limited but now, I feel like a master as I know how to take better photos. Therefore, this project has helped me a lot.

-Discuss your favorite photo. What principle does it exemplify and how? What elements are organized by this principle? Be explicit and descriptive.

In the photo on the left, the principle of movement is shown in a photo of a water fountain. My phone’s shutter speed is relatively fast, so the frozen motion was pretty effective. Moreover, by using portrait mode, I got to blur out the background adding the emphasis principle too. The two principles working together created a beautiful and interesting image as it feels like time has stopped and the water frozen in space.

Burning House

If my house were burning, I would take these objects with me while I make my escape.

Shoes: I loved collecting and buying shoes since a young age, and sneakers became a big part of my life. I also do lots of sneaker businesses selling and reselling sneakers of different kinds.

Mac/Ipad/Phone: Electronics are a big part of my life, and I simply cannot live without them. Most of my day is spent on them, and I always have them around me.

Earbuds: Music is something that I cannot live without as It gives me happiness and also makes me calm down. I listen to a variety of music, and I always have my earbuds in my bag ready to be taken out.

Bag: There is nothing really that memorable and important of the bag, it is just something to put all my objects in.

The background I chose was the black cement in my backyard. It was right under sunlight so the objects were clear enough to see while the background wasn’t too overpowering.

Elements of Art

-Introduce and define the elements of art.  

There are 7 elements of art, Line, Shape, Value, Space, Color, Texture, Form. By utilizing all of the elements, we can critique and also capture better artworks. No matter if it’s photography or painting, these elements can all be used.

A shape can come in two types- Geometric and Organic. Geometric shapes usually have sharp corners, like tiles. Lines are one dimensional but can bring depth and distance into the photo. It can also lead the viewer to something. The form can make something look 3D. The texture is the surface of an object, and can also make something look 3D or smooth. The tone is the contrast between light and dark. And the color is the variety of colors in a photo. Space is the negative and positive space in a photo.

-Why are the elements helpful when learning how to discuss and critique photography?

When we look at a photo, we don’t just look at its subject and background, there is much more and a much deeper layer inside photography. If there is a photo of the Eiffel tower, we aren’t going to just discuss the building itself and it’s location and weather, we have to go deeper. For example, we can discuss the shape of the building, how the building is symmetrical so it creates a sense of balance. We can also critique the different metal bars the tower is made of, and how it creates leading lines towards the tip of the tower. Of if the photo is black and white, we can talk about how the shadows of the building create a sad or dark tone. In conclusion, by using the elements, we can go much deeper inside the different layers of a photograph instead of just critiquing the cover of the photo.

-What did you learn from this activity?

By learning the elements and also trying to capture different photos, I learned how to go deeper inside a photograph. Before this whole project, I tried to take better photos by just changing the angle of focusing the photo. But after I learned all of these elements, I felt like that I knew much more and moreover, knew how to take better photos. I learned to utilize the elements and put lines or shapes in my photos. In conclusion, this activity made me a better photographer in general.

-Discuss your favorite photo. What element does it exemplify?  How does it exemplify the chosen element?  Be explicit and descriptive. 

I took this photo outside in the OLE, the main subject is the fountain and I minimized all the negative space. In this photo, the chosen element is value, and I had to use photoshop to add a black or white filter. The light shining on the outer rocks create a whiter color while the shadow inside the cave is dark. This contrast between the two colors can make my photo more pleasing and also more interesting. Overall, I feel like this photo is my favorite because it is simple while holding a deeper meaning. Only containing two colors, but it contains a much deeper layer.

Soweto Uprising

This photo was photographed by Sam Nizma during the Soweto Uprising in 1976. The protests were led by students from numerous Sowetan schools, protesting against the Afrikaans Medium Decree of 1974, which forced all black schools to use Afrikaans and English in a 50–50 mix as languages of instruction. The protesters were met by police brutality, and more than 700 students were shot dead. In remembrance of these events, the 16th of June is now a public holiday in South Africa, named Youth Day. In the photograph, Hector Pieterson is being carried by Mbuyisa Makhubo after being shot by South African police. His sister, Antoinette Sithole, runs beside them. Pieterson was rushed to a local clinic and declared dead on arrival. The black and white colors bring out a somber and depressing tone which fits the background of the photo well. The black and white tone also signifies the conflict happening during that time. The conflict between white men and Africans. The shadows left behind by the characters also symbolizes the dark side of humanity that will haunt us wherever we go. I chose this photo because I actually traveled to South Africa and visited Soweto. The place was dirty and poor, but most of the buildings were painted in beautiful graffitis and bright colors. This signifies the fact that even in darkness, people will still fight for light. This moral connects with the background of the photograph perfectly as the students were fighting for their own rights and freedom.