Portrait Techniques

1. Experiment with lighting

In the portrait of my friend, I experimented with light gels. Red and blue lights creates a mystique atmosphere. Since we were taking the photos in indoor and the lights inside were really dark I had to adjust my ISO to a larger number.

2. Shoot candidly

Above is the portrait of a boy playing with his blocks. I liked the way he was looking at his train and the pose of his hands which made the photo more natural. I adjusted my aperture to the lowest one to create a blur in my foreground and to focus on the kid.

3. Framing the subject

This is a portrait of my classmate framed in a box. He was posing himself in a various way for a picture. I took this photo when he framed himself inside the trash can. I think the way he posed his hand and the reflection of it made the photo more interesting being a punctuation in this photo.

4. Eye contact (within the frame)

Above is a portrait of three girls having a talk. The two girls at the side are smiling to each other which is one of the techniques for portrait. Having an eye contact within the frame.

5. Alter perspective

This is a portrait of a kid playing games with her classmates. They played with a rope by repeatedly lying down and getting up. When she lied down, I got up high and took this photo. I took several photos of her since her pose changed every time she lied down. Above one was the best shot among those.

6. Eye contact

This is a portrait of a little boy having a strong eye contact with the camera. While I was taking a photo of him playing with his red toy, he looked up and had a eye contact with me. So, I quickly captured the moment using continuous shots.

7. Eye contact (Looking off the camera)

Above is the portrait of my classmate with flowers. He was talking with the person next to me, so I took a photo of him naturally looking off from the camera. To create a shallow depth of field and to focus on him, I adjusted my aperture as the lowest one which is 4.0.

8. Breaking the rules of composition

Rule of thirds is one of the composition guidelines which makes people feel comfortable when looking at the photo. However, even though the subject in this portrait is placed in the middle breaking the rule of thirds, the picture is still stable.

9. Introduce of a prop

In this portrait, I used bubbles to create another point of interest other than just taking the photo of the subject. While I was taking the photos of the subject, I had my friend blow the bubble for me. As the bubble quickly pops, I used continuous shots to catch the moment.

10. Experiment with subject expressions

When I was taking a photo of him, he was playing with clays making a model of the turtle. Maybe he was thinking of how he should make a turtle when he put on a suspicious look. To create a shallow depth of field and focus on him, I adjusted my aperture to the lowest one.

Humans of ISB

Cheng Laoshi

“I think the person I am most thankful in my life is my father. I grew up in a single parent family. My mom passed away when I was very little. My dad got sick when I was in middle school, so he had to stay at home. But, even though he was sick, he provided my a good learning environment for me and was very supportive for every step along the way which made us have a very close relationship. So, I am very grateful for his support, sending me to college, telling me to read. When I was little, he would take me to the library or to the bookstore every weekend. He would always give me books for my birthday gifts. So, thinking back, I am very grateful for his supports and what he did for me.”

Sharon Noh

“I have a little brother. He’s in 7 grade. When I was young, I used to fight with my brother every single day, but now, we sort of don’t care to each other. Actually, I want to be closer with my brother, because I really like him and care for him. But, I’m not sure if he likes me or not. I think we are closely bonded to each other, but whenever we have a conversation, I tend to face difficulties since he grew up too much. I hope we could go back to the days when we were comfortable to each other since I still like him so much!”

Emily Travers

“When I was little I really liked animals. And so I wanted to be a veterinarian for the longest time. I wanted to help animals since I wanted to do things that helps someone or something I guess. But, that dream kind of got crushed when I figured out that even though we help them, they apparently die. So, that didn’t really work out for me. I also, for the longest time, wanted to be a dancer. I had dance classes when I was little. I took ballet, jazz and hiphop. Among those, I liked hiphop mostly because I knew the songs. I had a lot of fun, dance was a way to get my energy out because I was very energetic as a child. So I’d wanted to be a dancer. These days, I am trying to figure out what I want to do, but I definitely want to do something that changes the world somehow, things that helps people. I don’t want to be stuck in an office job.”

Ally Shin

“I have always wanted to have a job related to art. But, unfortunately in Korea, people who are engaged in art tend to become poor. So my mom opposed in having a job related to art and wanted me to study hard. However, as I moved to ISB, I got an opportunity to look back myself and consider the things I value. So, I decided to steadily work on art along with my school works. I feel really thankful that I got an opportunity to start studying art again.”

Ms. Yamatin

“For me, a defining experience was my decision to drop out of college coming back to Beijing and working for a few years. During that time, I developed my love of working with students but I also ended up developing my Chinese skills. That helped a lot because later my first job as a teacher was to work with Chinese immigrant students who I had to teach them math, but also English and kind of all those experiences.”



Field Trip Reflection

For photography field trip, we went to Gulou district in Beijing to take street photos. We walked around with our cameras taking pictures of buildings, local people and the alleys. Since we went to a place where we have never been to, I carefully looked around every streets and places trying to find some interesting elements that I could know the culture of that place.

As the classmates and I walked around the same places, we naturally took photos of the same scene. It was interesting to have a look of how they took different shots of a same scene using various compositional guidelines viewing the subject differently from what I did.

To take successful shots, I think it is important to pay attention to each place you go and understand the way they are arranged by closely examining each part such as the people, structure or buildings. Also, it is crucial to keep in mind of the camera settings as the lights are not even in the outdoors.

When taking photos, there were some challenging parts. First of all, if I wanted to take a photo, according to the sunlights whether I want to create a depth of field, I had to adjust my camera which takes some time. However, as we were taking photos in the outdoors, objects keep on moving and the light or the shadows tend to move. So it was hard  for me to capture the moment which I wanted to shoot of. Secondly, some of the local people wasn’t willing us to take photos of them. Even though it could have turned out as a perfect shot for me, since the people didn’t wanted I had to appreciate them.

Through this experiment of walking around the street, it was nice that I could walk the streets and feel the culture in it.

Manual 101

In photography, exposure is the amount of light per unit area (the image plane illuminance times the exposure time) reaching a photographic film or electronic image sensor, as determined by shutter speed, lens aperture and scene luminance. When there is too little light, then the photo is underexposed.  When there is too much light, then it is overexposed. ISO, aperture and Shutter are known as the “exposure triangle”.

ISO refers to ratings that define the sensitivity level of the camera to light. ISO value is determined by numbers: the lower the number, the lower the sensitivity to light. Higher values mean it is more sensitive to light. Typically, ISO has a range of f100~f1600.

If the ISO is related to light sensitivity, the aperture is about controlling the amount of light that comes to the camera. The aperture is what that controls the pupil of the lens. When you adjust the aperture, note that as the numerical value increases, the aperture becomes smaller and the amount of light that gets through decreases. Also, the larger the aperture rate, the wider the depth of field is created. For shallow depth of field photos, a smaller aperture size should be used.

The shutter speed represents the length of time a camera shutter is open to expose light into the camera sensor. In other words, while aperture controls how much light reaches your sensor, and shutter speed controls how long light reaches your sensor. The shutter speed is measured in fractions of a second, such as 1/100. So, if I use the previous example, what this means is that the camera sensor is exposed to light for only one hundredth of a second. If you need to remember one thing about shutter speed, it is that when the shutter speed number is a smaller fraction, the faster the shutter opens and closes. Also, if you would like to create a freezing motion, the shutter speed could be a smallest fraction which could be 1/1600.

It is important for the photographers to harmonise these elements to create a perfect photo. As I work on one of the elements, I have to compromise each other as they are connected to each other. For example, if the aperture is high, shutter speed could be adjusted to a faster rate to limit the amount of light coming into the camera. Or in contrast if the shutter speed is slow, we could higher the aperture or lower the ISO.

Freezing Action:

This photo is a freezing action of a water falling down from a bamboo pipe. Settings that used to shoot this photo are shutter speed of 1/1600, ISO 25600 and aperture of f4.5. As you can see in the shutter speed, as I wanted to have the frozen motion of the water falling down, I used the fastest shutter speed to create that motion. The photo has a principle of design which is movement as the water has a wave motion.

Motion blur:

This photo is a blurred motion of people walking the street with the centre of a plant. For the settings, ISO 125, shutter speed 2.5 and aperture of 25.0 have been used. To shoot this photo, I placed the camera on a stable place to prevent the camera from moving in order to take a photo of motion blur. It was a street full of people and I thought it was kind of boring to just shoot of people walking by. So, I found a object in the centre of the street which makes the photo balanced.


This is my photo for panning. Settings are ISO 100, shutter speed 1/15 and aperture of 22. To take a successful panning photo, I put my settings to a burst shot since it’s hard to have a successful photo with just one shot. And then, I found my object which are the people riding on a motorcycle. I took the photos by tracking them with my camera to have a panning shot. The photo is showing a principle of leading lines as all the vehicles are toward the same side.

Shallow depth of field:

This photo is of a two Chinese traditional figures sitting inside the nest. For the settings, iso 100, shutter speed 1/13 and aperture 5.0 have been used. Even though the figure was in indoor, I used the lowest ISO as the lights casting on the figures were too bright. Also, for the aperture, I used 5.0 which belongs to the low aperture since this photo was taken for shallow depth of field. I used automatic focus to sharpen the nest and the figures and blur the background of it. Some leading lines are shown in the photo, and it could be said that the photo is breaking the rule of odds as there are only two main figures showing in the photo. Texture could also be one of the elements, as the strings are creating a texture by being twisted,

Light Painting

Light painting is a technique that uses a moving light source to add light to an under-illuminated subject while taking a long-exposure photograph. The basic things needed for light painting is a camera that has a manual mode which allows us to extend the shutter speed beyond what is normally used to take a picture in the daylight. A good alternative is to set the self-timer. When taking photos it is extremely important that the camera stays steady in one position. It would be good to have a tripod however, if not you could also put on a table or a stair. Other than a tripod, any flashlights would be needed for painting. You could also use the lights on your phone. To vary the colours, we could work on a photoshop or put a color balloon on the flashlight to add the colors. And the last thing needed to take a photo is darkness. Before taking the photo we pre-focus the subject while the light is on and switch the camera to manual focus. For the camera settings, set to manual mode, ISO at the lowest setting which could be 100 or 200. For shutter speed, start with 10 seconds and increase up to 30 seconds depending on how long you want to take the photo. Aperture would be moderate to set around f/8 of f/11.

The challenging part when taking the picture is that it’s hard to imagine my works since we are not drawing on the paper neither the trace is showing. It is quite difficult to remember every trace I drew and to make a connection between the previous ones. Sometimes, the picture doesn’t come out perfectly as what I expected to be. Refer from this, we have to take several trials to get a perfect photo we imagine to be, by checking the photos after each trial and taking the next photo thinking of what I have to fix from the previous one. It was really enjoyable to try this light painting since it was something I have never tried before, and was an opportunity to know a new technique of photography. Since when thinking about photography, we are likely to think general things such as taking photos of peoples or a beautiful landscape etc. However, light painting introduced me to a new genre in photography which made me feel more interesting. Also, another appealing part is the, without much time effort, we could create a rewarding result just with the light and the camera. I had a lot of fun throughout this unit, since I got to cooperate with my teammates coming up with new unique ideas. As I went through this process of taking photos, i realized cooperation is one of the important aspect in this unit, as while taking light painting photos, we discuss about each idea and give feedbacks or combine with each other’s idea coming up with a more interesting photo.

1 Object 30 Times

For 1 object 30 times project, we had to choose an object (things we could give personality) and take 30 photos of it considering the composition guidelines we learned. In compositional guidelines, there are framing, point of view, rule of odds, rule of thirds, leading lines, simplicity, background & foreground separation, never kiss the frame/fill the frame, focal point and giving space to moving objects, shadow, reflections and silhouettes. The purpose of this assignment is to practice of utilizing these composition guidelines and to realize the importance or the purpose of using composition guidelines when taking a photo by checking out with my own eyes while taking photos. Through this assignment, I learned that composition guidelines give us a basic idea of how to take a good photograph and enhance our photo’s messages or impacts.

For some composition guidlines, sometimes it was hard to find in a natural moment. So for some composition guidelines, I had to create it artificially. To make it by myself, it required creativity and some artistic challenges. I think that was the most challenging part as I went through this assignment: creating. From these challenges, I think I developed the eye of a photographer. Since whenever I took the photos for each compositional guideline, I walked around thinking of how to utilize this place or objects seen in my eyes. It really helped me to grow as a photographer.

Principles of Design

Principles of design describe the ways how artists use the elements of art in a work of art. There are 7 principles which are balance, contrast, emphasis, movement, pattern, rhythm, and unity/variety. With these principles, we are able to define the photograph in different aspects. When it comes to principles of design, elements should be balanced to make a design feel stable.

Through this activity of taking photos for each principles, I learned that principles allow to me to see a photo in different perspectives, and that by well organizing elements in the photo it creates an outstanding photo.

My favorite photo among the photos I took for 7 principles is the one I took for unity. As you can see in the photo, there are some spices on the shelf and food models such as garlics and cucumbers hanging on the wall. This photo represents of unity since everything in the photo connects to a concept of cooking. Therefore, among unity, this photo particularly shows conceptual unity which is made when a group of different photos all surround the same idea.