10 Portrait Techniques

December 7, 2017

Changing your point of view

In this picture, there was a little girl painting and it looked like a good opportunity to take a nice picture. So I tried taking a picture from a bird’s eye view, but it didn’t look very good, so I ended up taking a picture from the level of the table. I also played with the focus so it only focused on her hand and created a shallow depth of field.




Experiment with lighting

For this photo there was one kid playing by a window and there was a straw bin of some sort that the kid had put up as a ‘fort’. The light from the window shined beautifully through the bin and created a beautiful pattern on the kid’s face.






Introduce a prop

This picture took me a while to get. The girl was very focused playing with some Legos, so I had to try to persuade her to start playing with the car instead. After some time, she ended up holding the car up to her face which also helped me get the “obscuring your subject’s face” shot.






Experiment with eye contact

I love this picture because it is very captivating. The way that this kid is looking at something off camera is really nice. Also, the expression he has is really interesting.






Shoot candidly

Although most of the pictures I took of the children were candid, I have to say this has to be one of my favorites. There are many elements that make this photo strong: there is really nice light falling on his face, the point of view is from below, and he is playing with something. Overall, I think that this is a very good candid picture.




Focus on a body part

In this photo, there were some kids playing in a sand pit, and I thought it was a good opportunity to experiment. All of the color in this picture (feet, sand, and wood) kind of tie together into one color scheme. Also, the three feet pictured in this are positioned in almost the same way (big toe up).



Framing your subject

This photo was also taken while some kids were painting. I decided to try a shallow depth of field by focusing on the brushes and paint, but I also saw the wonderful opportunity to frame the little girl’s face. Even though the girl is not in focus, your eye is immediately drawn to the way that the brushes frame her face.



Hold your camera at an angle

This photo has a really cool effect because of the tilted camera. This was taken when some kids were looking at someone that was reading to them. I also think that the photo is really strong because of the way the girl is looking away from the camera.





Introduce motion

This shot is definitely not my strongest, but I think it has a very cool effect because of the kid clapping. You really focus on that kid because of the way his face is in focus, but his hands are in motion.






Facial expression

This picture is very captivating. The expression on the girl’s face cheers you up when you look at it. This is a very simple photo, but I think it shows emotion very well and also shows a purity in the girl’s smile.


December 1, 2017

John Herschel invented cyanotype in 1842. John Herschel invented it so that he could copy his notes. The next person that used it to do somethings big was Anna Atkins, a botanist, so that she could know all of the plants that she had.



  • Take your digital photo and make it a negative. Make sure that there is a high contrast!
  • Coat acrylic paper in the mixture. Make sure you mix equal parts of both chemicals, and don’t expose your paper to the sun until you have your photo on it.
  • Print your negative onto A4 size paper
  • Scan the A4 size paper and print it onto a clear A4 sheet
  • Put the clear sheet onto you solution coated paper and put it out to lie in the sun
  • Once it has been in the sun for at least 2 hours, rinse the paper for at least 2 minutes in water
  • Pour another solution on your paper and rub it in to make the blue more vibrant
  • Rinse the paper for another 2 minutes and hang up to dry!


I enjoyed making cyanotypes because I felt like I was turning my simple photos into a very special piece of art. It was challenging to be able to get a clear image on the paper. I really had to make sure that my photo did not move, and was lying flat on the paper. For someone that is making cyanotype for the first time, make sure that you contrast is very high in your negative so that your photo comes out clear and not as one big blue blob!

Hutong Field Trip Reflection

December 1, 2017

We went on a field trip to the Hutongs to be able to take photos in a different environment. We just walked around the Hutongs, stopped for lunch, and then kept walking so that we could take photos of many different places and situations. What I enjoyed most about the trip was that I was able to experience what it was like to be a street photographer. I also learned how to observe things more closely so that I could capture truly special moments that may not be visible when you look at them at first. I tried a lot of the technique on panning during the trip and it worked very well. I got about 3 very successful shots using panning. I was able to get so many because there were many little scooters and bicycles passing by that did not go to fast. To get a successful panning shot I had to think about when to take the photo, and what shutter speed to put my camera at. I was very surprised about how comfortable people were when we took photos of their children. Many of the adults preferred to not have their photo taken, and would tell us to go away, but the children were very happy about it and would laugh and give us some amazing shots. The most challenging part about the field trip was getting out of my comfort zone and really looking for things that would turn out great in pictures. Another thing was that I realized that I was kind of walking around like I was on vacation for the first couple of minutes, but I actually had to analyze my surroundings a lot to be able to get a good picture. After this trip, I think that I will definitely keep trying out street photography because it makes me more aware of my surroundings and it helps me appreciate the little details of places. The most important thing I learned from this field trip was that I should always keep taking pictures no matter what because if I have 200 photos in the end, then at least 50 will turn out well, but if I only have 60 photos in the end, then maybe only 10 turn out ok. For the first 2 photos, I tried panning and it was very successful. On the first photo all of the grays of the photo tie in together to one color scheme, and in the second photo, the red of the lady’s coat draws your eye to her. In the last photo, the red of the chilis stands out in the gray alleyway.

Depth of Field

September 21, 2017

Depth of field is the focus range of your camera. You can have everything in focus, you background in focus, or you foreground in focus. Depth of field can help lead your eye to the intended subject by focusing on whatever you want to be the focus. A depth of field with your foreground in focus would usually be used for portraits. And a depth of field with all in focus would usually be used when taking shots of scenery. Depth of field helps your photos look more professional, and also helps the viewer focus on the intended subject.


September 13, 2017

ISO determines how sensitive your camera is to light. The higher the ISO, the more light the photo has. The lower it is, the darker the photo is. ISO’s role in the exposure triangle is that ISO controls how much light the photo will have. You would usually use a lower ISO when you are taking a picture and there is a lot of light. For example, you would use a low ISO when taking pictures outside with direct sunlight. You would use a high ISO when there is not much light. For example, if you are taking night pictures you would use a high ISO. A negative side effect of using a high ISO is that it makes the photo very grainy and a lot of details are left out. This can ruin the quality of your photos. Understanding ISO is a very important part in helping you manage your camera manually. If you don’t know when to change the ISO, your photos will turn out too dark or too light. Overall, I think that ISO is one of the most important parts to learn so you can manage your camera manually.

Compositional Guidelines

September 11, 2017

There are ten compositional guidelines that really help you to make your photo great. The first one is focal point, this is when you make a subject the focus of your photo. Filling the frame is when you make sure that your subject is not touching the border of the photo. Leading lines are lines that lead your eye to a subject or where the photographer wants you to look.  Simplicity is when you make your photo vey simple so your subject pops in the photo. Figure/ ground separation is when you make sure that your object doesn’t look like it is growing out of the background and you can clearly tell that it is not part of the background. Point of view is changing from where you take the photo (from bird eye view, ground view, etc). Framing is when you take something in a picture and frame your object with it (would be a window).  Giving space to moving objects is when you make sure that if an object is supposed to be moving or it is looking away you give it space in the photo to move into. Rule of odds is that tit is better to have an odd number of subjects because the human eye tends to look at the middle, and you don’t want people looking at nothing. Lastly, rule of thirds is to make sure that your subject is on one of the four hot spots of your photo. This photo is my favorite because it shows figure/ ground separation really well. In the photo you can clearly tell the the stuffed animal is not part oF the background. You can tell because of the contrast in colors between the stuffed animal and the sky.

Principles of Design

September 11, 2017


There are seven principles of design- balance, contrast, emphasis, movement, pattern/repetition, rhythm, and variety/ unity. Lance is when both halves of a photo look the same or similar. Contrast can be with colors, shapes, objects, etc. Emphasis is when you make an object stand out (could be by contrast). Movement can be actually movement (like running) or line movement. Pattern is when something is repeated over and over again (colors, shape, etc). Rhythm is similar to repetition, it is an object repeated throughout a photo. Th object can be changing a little bit, or it can remain the same (there are many different types of rhythm). Variety and unity is when a photo gives you a sense of togetherness, all the objects look like they belong. This photo is my favorite because it shows a great example of line movement. The lines in the photo zig zag through out the photo and lead your eye around. Also, the sun shining on it really makes it pop. Overall, I think this is a good photo to represent movement.

Burning House Photo

August 28, 2017

Name: Vanessa Carvajal

Age: 14

Location: Beijing

Occupation: Student

Website: vanessa_carvajal1 (Instagram)


If my house was burning I would bring seven things- my cat, dog, bracelet, necklace, pillow, doll, and passport. I would bring my cat and my dog because they are two of the most important things in my life, and I would not be able to live without them. The bracelet is a bracelet that I got in third grade with my childhood best friend (she has the same one) when I used to live in America. She is a really important person in my life and even though I don’t live in America anymore, I still remember her to this day. The necklace was a present to me from my best friend in Beijing (she also has a matching one). She moved to Switzerland, but I wear that necklace every day and it keeps her close to my heart. Even though I got the necklace recently, it is a very sentimental thing to me. The pillow used to belong to my great grandmother, and I feel like if I have that pillow she is still with us. I got the doll when I was two years old and living in Germany. I have had her ever since and she goes everywhere with me. Even though it’s kind of childish, I wouldn’t be able to leave that doll. And lastly, the practical thing I would bring would be my passport. With my passport I could travel to go live with a relative while we get a new house. Also, a passport is a very practical thing to always have with you. These seven things are the most important things that I would take with me if my house was burning.

The Elements of Art

August 24, 2017

There are seven elements of art- color, form, line, shape, space, texture, and value. Lines are marks that are longer than they are wide, and they can go in many different directions or even be curved. Shapes are closed lines that are two dimensional and can be geometric (like squares) or organic (like circles). Forms are like shapes, but three dimensional (cones, spheres). Space is creating the illusion of depth in a picture or artwork. Texture is a surface that can be seen and felt, they can be smooth, prickly, or soft. Color is light that is being reflected off of objects. Color can be described using three things- hue (the name of the color), value (how light or dark it is), and intensity (how bright it is). Lastly, value is the lightness or darkness of a color. All of these elements are really important when critiquing art or photographs. They really help you describe the photograph in detail and help you point out all of the elements that make up that photograph. This activity really helped me understand each element of art. At the beginning of the project, I didn’t really know what to looks for, but after a couple of minutes, I started seeing the elements of art all around the school. The picture above is my favorite photo that I took. I like it because I think it is a really good example of shape. All the organic shapes (stars) in this picture create a pattern, and the negative space in the background help make the stars pop. Also, even though this table is three dimensional, it looks two dimensional in this picture. Overall, I think this project was a great way to get a better understanding of the elements of art.

Influential Photo

August 14, 2017

Photo by Michael Nichols

This photograph immediately caught my eye when I first saw it because of the aesthetics. This photo is of Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone Park, taken last year. This photo especially appeals to me personally because about four years ago, I went to Yellowstone Park and saw this spring. The reason that I find it so special is because of the point of view it was taken from. I saw this from the ground, I could see steam, and some of the colors, but by taking the photo from a bird’s eye view, it completely changes the spring. From this point of view you can see the snow surrounding the spring, the steam, the size of the spring, and most importantly, the contrast between the colors of the spring. The pop of all the colors in this photo really captivates the eye of any person. Also, people usually don’t want any shadows when they’re trying to take photos like this, but the shadow that is on the left and the bottom of this photo compliments the spring beautifully, and personalizes the photo. I think that this photo is important because it shows the beauty of earth, and that there are things bigger, older, and more important than us.