Kristen's Blog

superman dont need no seatbelt

The 3 Main Reasons You Should Read If I Was Your Girl

  1. Cliché with a twist

If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo is a novel about a teenage girl who falls in love with a boy at her high school. It is very much like other romance stories, but the protagonist is actually transgender. She knew she was transgender from a very young age, and was bullied constantly because of it. Eventually, she turned depressed and had a suicide attempt, but her mother let her make her transformation. She transformed from Andrew Hardy to Amanda Hardy.

This twist is what made the book so much more interesting, as there are not many books like this one. It is really highlighting our modern world, where the main character of a novel can be transgender.


  1. The LGBT and other characters


Amanda lives in a very conservative environment, where the LGBT are not accepted; however, there are other Queer characters introduced as well. All the characters are so different from each other that it makes you never want to put the book down. Some characters all are introduced as one way, but at the end of the book, they are perceived in a completely different way.


  1. Relatable


Although the characters are all different from each other, they are all relatable in one way or another. Having a protagonist like Amanda who is complicated yet is trying to fit in is like a plethora of teenagers today. Amanda is hiding from her boyfriend, friends, and classmates about who she really is. She does not voluntarily tell them, but one of the only people who know about her transformation backstabs her, therefore exposing her secret to the entire community. This is very much like some adolescents who try to hide their true selves, but do not realize that by hiding, you cannot live your life to its full potential.

After Amanda’s secret is out, she spends some time away from school because of her bad past experiences. When she returns, she gets support from most of her peers, and there is a happy ending.

Relatable Characters May Vary

In the novel Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy, the protagonists Alice and Harvey are portrayed as very relatable characters to teenagers today. The book is told in two perspectives in two time periods, past and present. It alternates between Alice’s perspective, a cancer patient, and Harvey’s perspective, her childhood friend.

Before getting diagnosed, Alice was dating Luke. Her mom had a normal relationship with her teenager, and “never thought Luke was smart enough to date her daughter, and she wasn’t too appreciative of his popular-jock status either” (Murphy 3). This relates to many teenagers and their parents, because a lot of parents don’t approve of who their child is dating. As Alice’s hair starts falling out, only her mom can comfort her: “She spoke to me in a soothing language only she and I knew … She held me, as though the sheer force of her could keep me on this earth” (91). This can relate with the relationship between my mom and my sister. Although they fight constantly, they still care deeply for each other and there are some times where they can show affection for each other.

Alice is characterized as a selfish and mean girl, and Harvey is the complete opposite. When Alice starts to describe her relationship with Harvey, she says, “We’d drifted. High school did that to you, turned you into pieces of driftwood … He’s gone right; I’d gone left” (4). We all have had friends who we were close with in elementary school, but in high school they just become strangers. I have had countless friends who I was best friends with in the past, but there was a long period of time where I didn’t even say hi to them in the hallways. Over time, I have gotten close with some of my old friends again. This is similar to Alice and Harvey, because as the book alternates from past and present, in the present it is very obvious that Alice and Harvey’s relationship has grown: “I wanted to dance every dance with Harvey. And no one else” (185).

By having characters that are relatable, it makes the entire novel more interesting to read.


The main technique I used for this portrait was framing the subject. To take this shot, I had to get my friend to stand in between the square framed by the nets in the background. I adjusted my aperture to be the lowest setting in order to get the shallow depth of field and I used manual focus to get a very sharp foreground.

This technique is looking off the camera. I just took multiple photos of the same kid, and eventually he just stopped looking at the camera and looked away.

This technique is lighting. The lens flare in this photo was caused by the window next to me.

The technique used in this photo is motion blur. The shutter speed was adjusted to be a bit slower, and as he scribbled, his hand is blurry while his face is still sharp.

This technique is to shoot candidly. This girl was talking to someone else, so I stood next to her and took photos while she wasn’t paying attention to me.

This technique was to introduce a prop. I asked him to draw something for me, and this enabled him to grab many objects that I incorporated in my portraits.

This portrait uses the technique interesting backgrounds. To create this composition, I used the mirror behind him to capture his reflection as well. I had to wait until he walked by at the perfect time so that I wouldn’t be caught in the mirror.

This technique is expressions. While he was playing with his toys, he was so amused. I had my camera on continuous shots and kept taking a lot of photos.

This technique is interesting angles. As I talked to the boy, I slowly lowered my camera in hopes that I could get interesting shots without looking through the actual camera. He actually ended up looking down at my camera.

The technique used here is taking a series of shots. I had my camera on continuous high, and I asked him to keep jumping for me until I got the perfect shot.


Cyanotype is a cheap photo printing process that was used since the 20th century to make blueprints. It was discovered by John Herschel, a scientist and astronomer, in 1842. This is a method that uses light to produce photos. To produce a cyanotype, two chemicals are needed. There are equal amounts of potassium ferricyanide and ferric ammonium citrate that are combined together. At this point, the chemicals start reacting to light, so it is then applied evenly onto a piece of watercolor paper. Then, the paper is set in a dark room to dry completely. Previously, we chose a photo that we wanted to print out. We put this into photoshop, turned it black and white, adjusted the contrast so that the levels between light and dark were high, and then inverted it to make it into a negative. Next, we printed this out on normal paper, then copied it onto a transparency sheet. After the watercolor paper with the mixture of chemicals is completely dry, we used clips to attach the transparency onto the watercolor paper. Then, it was set outside in direct sunlight for an hour. The time it spends outside will depend on the weather. It may take longer or shorter depending on how sunny it is. After it is done exposing, the paper is rinsed in the sink for two minutes. This is where the cyanotype will turn blue. Then, sodium carbonate is added onto the paper and it is rinsed for another two minutes. Now the cyanotype is finished!

What I really enjoyed about making cyanotypes is that it was really personalized and you could print out something that meant a lot to you. Also, it is an older way of printing out photos and it was interesting making them since it is not something I would do normally. My first cyanotype was from a long time ago at disneyland. It didn’t turn out that well, since I didn’t apply the transparency well. There were parts of the sheet that were raised higher, causing some parts of the cyanotype to be blurred. My next one was of my basketball team at the Great Wall Shootout. This time, we got to use glass panes to put on top instead of clips, so the overall result was so much better, as the entire photo was sharp. A tip I would give to someone who is making their first cyanotype is to make sure that the transparency sheet is completely flat while exposing the photo. Another tip is to make sure that the photo you choose has high contrast between light and dark, since it will make your cyanotype look so much better.

Overall, this was such a fun experience, learning how to expose photos in an older way.

The Great Pumpkin or the Great Question?

Modern Family’s episode 5 of season 9, “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Phil Dunphy”, has a plot with multiple aspects that makes the entire episode amusing to watch. There were many major dramatic questions, all relating to different characters. One question that led to the climax was, “Will Mitch tell Cam that he chose the glass that they did not agree on?” Suddenly, there is a deus ex machina, and the kitchen is burned down by the glass Mitch chose, meaning that he did not have to tell Cam after all. Another big question was, “Will the Dunphy’s end up doing the Giant Pumpkin Racing?” Phil just wants to do something fun together as a family, trying to incorporate Halloween into this. Unfortunately, the kids all seem to feel like they have grown out of Halloween, and they are not up for any new traditions. They are all way too occupied in their own lives, with Alex going on a date with Ben, Haley auditioning for a job, and Luke with his girlfriends. Soon, Alex breaks up with Ben, Haley fails her job audition, and Luke decides to stop juggling around two girls. This leads to them wanting to fall back into tradition with their parents, and finally, they cheer on Claire and Phil as they attempt to break the world record for pumpkin racing.

Life and Death Told in a Chequebook

Have you ever wondered what your cheques you leave behind could reveal about your life?

Here is my interpretation of “Ordeal By Cheque” by Wuther Crue:

Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Lawrence Exeter sat patiently in the dark hospital with sweaty palms, waiting for his soon-to-be-born baby, who was going to be named after him. Each minute passed by slowly, and Lawrence became impatient. He paced the halls, breathing heavily. Suddenly, a door swung open loudly. “He’s here!” Dr. David McCoy exclaimed.

When Lawrence Exeter Jr. was born, his father, Lawrence Exeter Sr., was ecstatic about his new baby son. Exeter ran into the hospital room, followed by Dr. McCoy. His beloved wife was cradling his baby boy in her arms, tears streaming down her eyes. Lawrence walked over slowly, and in his mind, promised his son a life filled with as much joy as he felt when his son was born. Promising to fulfill all his son’s wants and needs with the only thing he was familiar with… money.

Time passed by quickly, and Jr. grew up, living a luxurious life. He was privileged, attending private schools and academies. Very often, he got anything he wanted from his wealthy parents. Not only did Lawrence Jr. have money, but he also had wit. His academic achievements made his parents proud, and for his eighteenth birthday, he is gifted a Cadillac from his father. Working hard all throughout high school, he got into Stanford University with a scholarship, having his parents only pay for his school supplies.

Two years into his son’s college, Lawrence Sr. started feeling lonely, with his wife constantly away working and his son busy with school. He soon has an affair with his colleague Miss Daisy Windsor. Daisy was skeptical about this affair, knowing that Lawrence Sr. had a wife. To convince her to stay with him, Lawrence Sr. offered Daisy $25,000 and a trip away with him to Paris.

She accepts his offer and on their rendez-vous, he decides to propose to her. Daisy was not expecting this at all. As Exeter Sr. was on one knee, holding out the huge diamond ring, she was speechless. Exeter Sr. could tell that she was hesitant, and he promised to divorce his wife as soon as they got back to America. Finally, Daisy accepts his proposal, her love for him too strong to say otherwise. They then spend their honeymoon in Hawaii, and Lawrence Sr. tells his son out of pure excitement. Since his son was not happy with his father, he threatens to tell his mother about the news. Without hesitation, Exeter Sr. pays his son $200,000 to keep quiet for the meantime. Lawrence Jr. takes the money with joy and spends his money without thinking twice, buying everything for his girlfriend, Miss Flossie Wentworth. In addition, Lawrence Jr. pays back his associate from college, Tony Spagoni, money he owes.

After three years of dating Flossie, Lawrence Jr. decides that he is finally ready for marriage. He proposes to her, and she is hesitant about marrying him. Following his father’s footsteps, Exeter Jr. cannot think of any other way except to bribe her with an offer of money she couldn’t refuse. Quickly, Flossie became pregnant with his baby and after only eight months of marriage, they get divorced. Flossie takes this to court and Lawrence Jr. is forced to give the unborn baby $175,000, which leaves him with very little money left to spend on his own life. During his college years, he owed many companies and people money that he never got to pay back. They all demand that he had to return their money, with an extra interest rate. This leaves Exeter Jr. even more broke, which led to depression.

After weeks of constant drinking, he decides to stab himself. After a neighbor reported suspicious activity, he is rushed to the hospital. There, he dies from his fatal wounds with his father is right next to him. As his father writes the cheque to Dr. David McCoy, he automatically writes “Lawrence Exeter Sr.”. Realizing his son passed away, he crosses off “Sr.” slowly as tears welled up in his eyes. The next day, he goes to a mortuary for his beloved son and signs off the last cheque with “Lawrence Exeter”.

This time, he didn’t forget he was the only Lawrence Exeter.

A Walk Down the Hutong

Last Thursday, October 26th, our photography class had an all-day field trip to the hutongs in downtown Beijing. We have been practicing our manual photography during class, so the field trip was an opportunity for us to be able to explore with our cameras and apply what we learned in class into real street photography. The trip was overall a great experience, and what I enjoyed most about it was having freedom to walk around with our friends while also taking photos at the same time. It was interesting to be able to look around the hutongs and immediately see photo opportunities that I would have never thought of in previous times. One technique that really worked out well for me was panning. There were so many objects that were fit for panning, and I ended up with a few strong shots. To get a successful shot, I had to remember what we learned about the elements of art, compositional guidelines, and principles of design and incorporate that all into my photography. There was a drastic difference from some of my photos where I took the time to think about the composition, from where I just took the shot mindlessly. In addition, I also had to keep adjusting my shutter speed, aperture, and sometimes ISO in order to fit what kind of shot I was trying to get. Not that many things surprised me during the field trip because I have lived in China for so long that I am used to everything that goes on here. Something that was challenging for me on the trip was that my lens was refusing to auto-focus (the lens broke before and was fixed), so I had to use manual focus instead. Some new ideas I have now from street photography is really anticipating the moment. Previously, I did not think of framing the shot and waiting for someone or something to go by. In my opinion, the most important thing I learned from this field trip is that photography is possible anywhere, and it is truly a different experience to go outside in public to take photos.

Mad Murderer

To transform this paragraph from Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell Tale Heart”, I changed it from first person to third person omniscient. Obviously, one of the main conversions was to change all the I’s to he’s. Since it was the omniscient form of third person, I had to make sure that the narration was giving away thoughts and feelings of the character. The character revealed in the original piece that everyone thought he was mad, but he claims he wasn’t. This was one challenge for me, to reveal that he was indeed mad, but he did not think so. The distance between the narrator and the reader seemed larger because when it was first person, it was as if the character was directly telling the reader what happened, but with third person, it is like the narrator is telling it second hand.


The body was concealed so cautiously that he would not mistake himself for mad. He worked hastily in silence as the night passed by. First, he dismembered the corpse by cutting off the head and the arms and the legs. He took three planks of flooring from the chamber and deposited the dismembered corpse. He did not believe he was mad, just clever. No human eye – not even The Evil Eye he was so afraid of – could have suspected anything wrong. There was no blood spot. Nothing to wash out. He had been way too wary for that. When all was done, it was 4 A.M. Then, there came a knocking at the door. He proceeded to open the door confidently, as he was indeed mad, but did not think he had any wrongdoing.

Understanding Aperture in Photography

Aperture or F-stop is how big the hole is in the lens where light is coming through. Its role in the exposure triangle is that when there is a high aperture, the hole is small, which means there is less light going through the lens. This would mean you would have to adjust the other two factors in the exposure triangle, shutter speed and ISO, to compensate for the aperture. If you were outside on a sunny day and your photos were overexposed, you could also adjust the aperture to be higher so that the hole in the lens is smaller. But if you are shooting indoors and your photos were underexposed, you could adjust the aperture to be lower so that more light comes in. Be careful about adjusting your aperture because the aperture also determines how sharp or blurry a background is. This is called the depth of field. Low apertures are more used for portrait photography, and high apertures are used for landscape photography, since low apertures have a shallow depth of field and high apertures have a wide depth of field. If you are shooting portrait photos outside on a sunny day, instead of adjusting the aperture, adjust the ISO to be lower and the shutter speed to be faster to compensate for the light coming through from the aperture. If you are shooting landscape photography and it is not as bright, you would make the ISO higher and the shutter speed slower to compensate for the small hole in the lens. Understanding aperture makes taking photos in manual mode so much easier. WIthout understanding it, you would not be able to take photos that have different depth of fields appropriately, and also you would not be able to fully adjust how exposed you photos are.



How ISO Changes Photography

ISO is how sensitive the digital camera is to light. The higher the ISO, the more light is let into the lens of the camera. The exposure triangle is how shutter speed, aperture, and ISO affect the exposure. Each component affects the other, so if you change one, you will have to change others. For example, if the shutter speed is slow, a lot of light is being let into the camera, so you would need to set the ISO lower. When the aperture is higher, it means the pupil of the lens is smaller, so the camera isn’t letting in that much light. This is when you would also have to adjust the ISO to make it higher. If you are shooting somewhere without much lighting, you would want a higher ISO because there isn’t that much light. For example, if you are taking pictures at night time you would use a higher ISO. When you are outside, you would want to use a lower ISO because there is a lot of natural lighting outside. When using a higher ISO, there is a negative side effect. The picture loses its quality and is noisy, causing a grainy-like effect on the photo. Understanding ISO helps you understand how much you should change the ISO due to what aperture or shutter speed you are using. This makes manual shooting so much easier.

« Older posts

© 2018 Kristen's Blog

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑