Manual 101

The exposure triangle is made up of three components that work together: aperture, shutter speed and ISO. The first thing, aperture, is marked by the f stop (e.g F5, F4.5) on the camera, and is how large iris of the camera is. In layman’s terms, this means how large the hole in front of the lens is. When the f stop is raised, the hole gets smaller, and the image gets a larger depth of field. A larger depth of field allows for more of the image to be in focus. The negative side of this is that less light is let in, due to the fact that the aperture hole is smaller.


Shutter speed controls how long the camera’s shutter is open. The longer the shutter is open, the more light is let in, as the lens is exposed to more light. Thus, if quick movements are to be captured in an image, the shutter speed needs to be lowered. If the shutter would be open for too long, there will be motion blur, blur caused by the movement of an object before the shutter is closed. In some types of photography, these are desirable aesthetic effects; however, in most types of photography this is not desired and should be avoided.


The last component of the triangle is ISO, the light sensitivity of the camera. The higher the ISO is, the brighter the image will be, as the camera is able to take in more light from what exists in the image. Thus, ISO is very useful when you need to make an image brighter while keeping a fast shutter speed and/or high aperture. The disadvantage of this is that a high ISO creates more “noise” or film grain, which basically means that there are small particles in the image, similar to the effect of a static TV.


Together, these three components make up the exposure of the image. When used correctly, this makes for a nice, well-exposed image with adequate lighting. To have that, you want to use all three components correctly, which is how they are related. For an example, if you want to shoot an image of a field outside, and you want all the flowers in focus, you’ll need to have a very high aperture. That will make the image very focused, but very little light will be let in. Thus, you need to adjust the two other components so that it will be brighter. You’ll first of all want to have a longer shutter speed, so that more light will be let in to the lens. To avoid heavy film grain and overexposure, you will want to keep the ISO fairly low, since the long shutter speed already lets in enough light. Overexposure is when the image is too bright for the features to be seen, with entire sections possibly even completely white. When taking photos, you want to avoid this at all costs.

As a photographer, you need to understand how to use manual mode in order to make your images the best they can be. A DSLR is a very powerful tool, and with the help of manual mode you can be in control. With manual mode, you can adjust virtually every aspect of a photograph, and control what your camera does. Rather than letting the camera choose what it does, you can do whatever you want in the image.

Below are my favourite photos from this unit.

Freezing action: This image was taken in-class, with the help of my classmates Jonathan and Daniel (it may even be featured on their blogs too). Although we used Jonathan’s camera, we all were involved in the process of getting this perfect shot. We took multiple photos, discussing how we could make it better. What works in this photograph is first of all that the shutter speed is just right. Thanks to being very fast, we were able to capture the exact moment the balloon burst. In order to balance this exposure-wise, we used a higher ISO. What also works is that the composition is quite good, with the water being perfectly in frame, not “kissing the frame”,  and the arms providing visual weight to balance it out.


Motion blur: I think this image is one of the best I’ve taken in this unit. To get the blurred effect, I lowered the shutter speed. Since the train was going much faster than this, I knew there’d be motion blur. I still kept the ISO at a low level, since the shutter speed was slow and the area well-lit. I zoomed in a bit, so that the train was completely centered, which I think was a good framing decision since it just emphasizes the train and keeps everything else out of frame.

Panning: Here, I used a slow shutter speed of 1/60 to get the blurry effect in the background. However, since it was nighttime, I also needed to raise the ISO, so that the image wouldn’t be underexposed, so the ISO was at 800. Then, I focused my camera manually at the taxi, and followed it with the camera for a sequence of images, and later selected the best of them where the taxi is clearly in focus while the background is blurred.

Shallow Depth of Field: This image was shot with a low aperture, to get a shallow depth of field meaning that not all of the image is in focus. Rather than using motion and slow shutter speed to get a blurred background, I used manual focus to only focus on the pine cone. It was a sunny afternoon, so the ISO stayed low. I also didn’t want to keep it too high since I found that the shadows on the pine cone helped increase the three dimensional feel of form.


Light Painting Reflection

Light painting is a photography technique where the photographer uses long exposure in the dark combined with lights to “paint” with the lights. The camera is set to a long shutter speed, and then the photographer or an assistant “draws” in the air using flashlights or other light sources, either just drawing things or illuminating existing things. The way light painting works is that the long exposure allows for the camera to pick up the light moving, showing every area where light has been shone. Since it is done in the dark, the only thing the camera will pick up moving is the light. There are a few important things you need to remember before doing light painting.

First, remember to keep the ISO low, probably the lowest you can go on your DSLR. ISO is how sensitive your camera is to light, and the higher your ISO is, the brighter your image will be. If you’d be taking a normal picture in the dark, such as one on your cellphone, then your ISO would have to be very high since a normal picture is taken with a very fast shutter speed. This means that the camera only has time to take in a little light before the shutter closes, and so the ISO needs to be high to make your image bright. However, since we will be using a long exposure in order to capture all the light when light painting, the camera will be able to take in a lot of light before it closes the shutter. Thus, if your ISO is too high, it will take in too much light which will make the light that you paint less clear, and will overexpose the image. Potentially, your image could just end up completely white. To avoid that, you need to keep your ISO low.

Second, remember that you need to manually focus your image. If you use autofocus (as most people do when taking pictures), the camera will be constantly re-focusing, trying to adjust to the light as you paint. To switch your camera to manual focus, flick the little switch labeled AF-MF on your lens to MF. Now, this means that you’ll need to focus your camera before you start painting, and to do so it’s the easiest if you get your “painter” to stand in front of the camera, and then focus your camera until you see the light clearly.

Lastly, know what you want to do before you start. Since the camera will pick up all light you draw, you can’t doubt yourself or stop in the middle of drawing (and obviously not erase anything). Some planning ahead is extremely useful for light painting. Is there an interesting object or physical feature in the setting you’re shooting? Incorporate it into your drawing! Don’t be afraid to experiment!

I found that the most challenging thing about light painting was to picture in my head what I was drawing. Since light painting often is literally drawing into thin air, it’s often hard to picture what you’re actually drawing. That was especially hard when trying to write names or words in the air, since I was unsure a lot of the time what I was actually doing. I found that the more you do light painting, the more you start learning about how the things you do translate into the image. It is very helpful to go over your images and thinking of how they can be improved for next time.

The most enjoyable thing about light painting for me was how creative we could become with our photography. We could draw and experiment with the lights a lot, which was very different from my previous experience taking photos. Usually, in normal photography, you simply have to react to what the subject you’re trying to shoot does. In light painting, you can choose what your subject in the photo is, since you get to draw and paint.

Below is my favourite photo of the unit. I think it’s a cool demonstration of the technique of “ghosting”. I also think the blue colour makes the image really interesting, with a mysterious mood.


Compositional guidelines

Burning house project

Name: Kenny D

Age: 14

Location: Beijing, China

Occupation: Student

These are the things I think I’d have brought along with me if my house was on fire. The two postcards are first-day issue postage stamp cards, and they’re quite rare because they are a special issue. I’d bring them because they are the ones I value the most from my collection, which I started when I was 6. The letter is from a very close friend who recently moved away to another country, and it is also very important to me. The book is a very old (100 years or so) fairy-tale book in Swedish, and it is my favorite book since it has a lot of history to it. The matches are if I’d need to start a fire, and the glasses are for my vision (otherwise everything would’ve been blurry). The flash drive contains the essays I’m the most proud of, as well as some photos and videos that I’d never want to lose. I’d also bring my passport and ID for practical reasons, as it would help a lot if I’d lost everything else. The teddy bear is one that my dad gave me during kindergarten, and it has a lot of sentimental value. The two rocks are fossils I found when I was very little, and they remind me of my small hometown on the Swedish coast.

Principles of Design

Elements of Art

Digital Imagery Post 1

Sept. 25 2017, Rocinha, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Photographer: Mauro Pimentel

In this photo we see a young girl with a pacifier in her mouth on the right, coming out of  what appears to be a small shelter with a door barely large enough for her. In the back two soldiers in heavy gear search the grounds. I found this image so intriguing because of the way the light in the image helps show the contrast in between the two subjects of the photograph. The girl is standing in the shadow, and it makes it seem like the girl is hiding from something. At the same time, there is warm light from the shelter coming out, showing the security and warmth of it. It is frightening to think of what this girl’s life is like. No child should have to grow up with frequent police raids and gun violence, which judging by the look on her face is a thing she’s grown used to. This is a very important photograph, because it shows the reality that many people are living in which we simply glance over. When people think of countries like Brazil, they often think about the beaches and the resorts, but forget that the slums, favelas, are still very much a reality. Children are growing up without access to safety or education, and are caught in the crossfire between gangs and the authorities. This image forces us to see the sad reality, which raises awareness about the issues that are still going on in our world.

Culture Flash Interview Transcript

Hello, what’s your name?


-Zhang Xiao Mei


Where are you from?




How long have you lived in Beijing?


-Seven or eight years


Who lives with you?


-Me and my husband with our two kids, as well as my parents living upstairs

我们家就是有两个孩子,四口人, 还有上边有爸爸妈妈。

Do the elderly work?


-Not anymore, they’re retired & can stay at home & rest.


Are you married?




What do you value in a husband?


-His career. My husband has a job as  minor boss, which is a very good job.


In your household, who cooks?


-We usually do it together, my husband helps.


And the kids?


-If it’s things that they can do they’ll help.


Do your children like Chinese traditions?


-Yes, they really like the traditions around celebrating holidays, especially Chinese New Year.

喜欢,他们喜欢传统的过节日, 过春节。

How do you prepare for the Chinese New Year??


-We make a lot of food because traditionally having a lot of food on New Year’s eve means the rest of the year will be overflowing with food.


Why do you like the Chinese New Year?


I like celebrating the New Year because I can celebrate it with my family.

Chinese festivals are important because from the past to today they are times when the families

go home to celebrate with their relatives and gather together. It also makes the children interested in

Chinese traditions. Nowadays a lot of children have lost lost their interest in Chinese traditions.




What’s your favorite memory of the Chinese New Year?


I like the Spring Festival because of when I was small I could hang lanterns with my parents and siblings, eat dumplings and wear new clothes. The happiest memory from my childhood is getting the lucky envelopes of money from the elderly. As children we had little money to spend on candies & toys, so when I received the packets, my very own money, I felt happy because it felt good to have my own money that I could buy anything I wanted with.


Thank you very much, have a happy dragon boat festival!


Happy dragon boat festival!


How is the character shaped by the time period and/or setting?


Dear Mr. Schroeder & Mr. Sostak,

I think the main character in Persepolis, Marjane, is affected by the historical setting in many different ways. Marjane is born into a wealthy family in Tehran, Iran. Her parents are very modern and liberal, and affect her personality in that she becomes critical of the conservative government, just like them. This way of thinking, however, stems not only from her setting in a liberal family, but also from the historical context of the situation. In the beginning, however, she encourages a dilemma in her mind: she likes the old Iranian traditions but her parents don’t, and so she seeks advice from god, the only one who really listens to her thoughts. One quote that shows this is on the very first page. Marjane, the protagonist, says that “we didn’t like to wear the veil, especially since we didn’t understand why we had to” (Satrapi, 3). What she describes is how the government in 1980 forced all girls to wear the hijab, a Muslim rule. In the quote we see how she is confused as to why the Islamic laws were re-enacted in Iran all of a sudden, especially since the country used to be modern. This shows how the historical context affects her thinking and actions. Due to the fact that the religion was forced upon her, rather than chosen by herself, she grows to despise it and becomes rebellious and lover of everything foreign, as she sees Iran as hopeless and depressing. The social context of the war also makes her more courageous and more direct, as she has seen it all: death, torture and suffering. Despite this, however, she can’t completely resist the tide. Her distrust of Islam extends not only to her thinking, but also grows into a hatred of Iraq and the Arabs, who she says “attacked us 1400 years ago” and “forced their religion on us” (81). This creates an internal conflict inside of her, as on one hand she hates the Islamic government for what they did to the country, but on the other she celebrates their aggressive hatred of Iraq, which shows in her character how she celebrates with joy when the Iranians bomb Baghdad. All of these factors thus makes her very pessimistic and crude, such as when she straight up just tells a girl that she thinks her father is dead. This leads to her becoming more and more angry at religion, and in the end she even abandons god, saying “shut up! Get out of my life!!! I never want to see you again!” (70).