Week 9: Portraits

In class today we learned about portraits and different lighting effects and touched upon various equipment that assist with getting light to hit our subject the way we want it to (examples: lights, softbox/beauty dish/ diffusers/reflectors, flash in combination with the lights…) For these particular class exercise we shots these images in studio with various lights and a softbox.  Different focal lengths and aperture settings also aid in creating the portrait effect we want to achieve. I particularly liked the different types of portraits we learned in class such as; Rembrandt, Butterfly lighting, Split lighting to name some. I am a bit surprised my entry-level DSLR shot these! And truthfully, I would have loved to experiment a bit more with the lighting equipment and take more shots, but with the time limitations and so many of us taking shots, this was not possible. Perhaps over break I can experiment? With the reflector use in the window shots and outdoor (in the shade) shots….I noticed a massive difference when we used the reflector indoors (please see week 10 for those shots).

But as I learned from the first day of this class, you don’t need fancy lenses and a really expensive camera to do most things. The shots below are what most camera’s do at their basic level — with the correct settings. I found this class exercise interesting because I really underestimated how the positioning of lights and the control of lights affect your image. I remember a while ago, hearing a saying that went something like “photography is painting with light”. After I got home and saw the images and became more curious if the settings were a bit more changed — that phrase came to my mind. Professional photography to me is more than just the camera settings but a mastery of light equipment settings! Not to mention the composition of your photograph. Anyway again to being a bit overwhelmed but happy to have been introduced to all the lighting equipment.

All the way below are the shots we took in class, in studio, for week 9. After that, are the window light shots and natural light shots (in the shade) both sets with reflectors.




Studio – softbox (Rembrandt style)



Studio – 3 lights shots









Week 8: A picture is worth a thousand words


This week we studied narrative photography and we watched a video of a photographer called Jodi Cobb. I wanted to note her name here because I really found her work amazing. Her photos on child slavery stuck with me a few hours after I left class. Which brings me to this narrative essay I came across a few years ago. It is called, “A Mother’s Journey” and it was the 2007 Pulitzer Prize winner. It can be found here: http://imgur.com/gallery/pCaQZ.

When asked to find an example of a Linear and Non-linear photo essays I knew that this was going to be one of them. I remember my reaction to first seeing them and when I saw them. It was late at nite and I was just randomly hitting links on reddit and I think I was in a good mood too — but how in just a few minutes upon seeing the images how my mood took a dramatic turn. I was crying at my laptop. And really, this thing…those images…my sadness for the boy…my sadness for this poor mother….my anger and questioning of a God in the few days after — this was real and what happened to me after seeing these photos. I have seen many beautiful images, and sad and thought provoking but these….just hit me much harder. And I think it was because they were part of an essay. This also made me realize that is really is possible to say so much visually without actually saying a word. Photography can be extremely powerful.

For the non-linear essay I chose this:

The photos of just how much damage ISIS did and capturing their “culture” by the little details such as a children’s bag carrying explosive elements and the blurring of Western cartoons on walls — all the little details that help capture more than just physical damage…this photo essay captured strong emotions of people that are non-existent in the photos. Not an easy thing to do. Details matter in photographs.

As I look at these two I think to myself how I will try to incorporate that in my colour linear photo essay.


Below are some shots I took in class:



Exercise Photo Essay: “Sneaking up upon intelligence”



…and <drumroll> my WIP:



Week 5: The Light on Things

ISO measures the sensitivity of the image sensor on the camera. Increasing it, you are able to take pictures in low light conditions BUT you run the risk of them becoming grainy (hello….dark iPhone shots of mine…). These exercises are experimentations with various ISO settings in different scenarios. I noticed that the camera lagged when it took a shot with a very low ISO setting (let’s say 100) in a dark area. The image shot super fast with a higher setting and came out more “clear”.

Following all these are 4 shots of our “take-a-picture-of-something-boring-and-make-it-exciting”. I am posting these because I have to but I was really unhappy with them. I would have just loved to experiment with them more and move the pen and then take the photos. But anyway, here they are.




Artificial Light


Low Light


Full Sun


The Red Pen


Week 4: The Depth of Field

For this week’s exercises we experimented with controlling our Depth of Field (ie. the amount of focus via Aperture!). But what is Aperture exactly? Aperture is the eye-like opening of the camera, the blades that fold into a circle. It shuts to your chosen setting before the shutter fires. For me I needed to also know the sequence of how things work in the camera to have it start to sink in just how they all work.

Here is the confusing part. The smaller the number, the wider the opening. The wider the opening the subject is more in focus (see diagram) because the Depth of Field is smaller. You can see this in my exercise images. Notice how more of the bricks become in focus with the higher aperture settings. See the change in the flower and the signage with switched background and foreground settings and different “f” stops. It is still not natural to me to select a correct aperture setting without having to remind myself of how this works exactly but I do understand the concept now at least. Note: the lowest aperture settings on my camera was f/5.6



Two objects/subjects (foreground and background)

Flower in foreground; Signage in background

1/125 sec f/5.6 ISO 100
1/80 sec f/11 ISO 360
1/80 sec f/22 ISO 1250

Signage in foreground; Flower in background

1/100 sec f/5.6 ISO 100
1/80 sec f/11 ISO 560
1/80 sec f/22 ISO 2200


Long, straight, uninterrupted subject

1/60 sec f/5.6 ISO 200
1/60 sec f/11 ISO 800
1/60 sec f/22 ISO 2500

Week 3: I Shuttered

This week we learned about shutter speed and doing the exercises really helped me wrap my head around it’s importance and effects.

To put it briefly shutter speed is the time that the camera shutter is open for. Why is this important? Because it affects 2 things: the amount of light that is being let in (which affects exposure and other things). The second it changes the way the shot will be taken…if you want to take a shot of something that is moving but do you want it frozen or not frozen. Shutter speed is important because it plays a critical role in the way your photos come out, it works hand in hand with the other big 2, ISO and aperture. We need to understand fully how these 3 work in order to shoot an image that meets out goal.

With shutter speed in particular, you need to plan a bit more because if you are dealing with moving objects, you need to really select a more precise shutter speed otherwise you may not be able to edit the photo in Photoshop. You can get away with certain things like a lighting issue or color correcting (not all the time but most of the time). But with shutter speed, let’s say I was to do some sports photography, if my fast-moving subject was taken at a slow shutter speed my subject would be too blurry to be corrected in Photoshop. This is disaster!! Life just “happens”, some moments cannot be recreated. Proper shutter speed understanding is essential.

For our exercises we went to a local park to experiment with various shutter speeds and it helped me so much! For me, sometimes I need to see something in extremes to fully wrap my head around understanding something. Taking photos of moving cars helped me understand this a lot. Look at the last photo in Freezing and Blurring. It was of a white Mercedes passing by! Zoom blur was pretty cool too, however when I got home and put them up on my laptop I realized I could have zoomed my lens faster to get the effect in some shots. Main thing is I got to understand the concept from the exercise so I am ok with it.

Panning was bloody hard! I tried to keep my arms close to my body to remain still as possible but nonetheless my friend came out blurry. What was supposed to happen, should I have used a tripod as suggested, was my friend would have been in focus and the background would have been blurrier. Since she was running, I think something around 1/15 would have been best. You need to use a higher shutter speed to freeze something moving fast, lower for slower subjects. Even with the tripod, I still probably would have had to experiment with the different shutter speeds to get the shots just right however without it these did not come out well at all. Lesson learned.

ADDED NEW: Light Trails! This was soooooo cool! And, more importantly helped me understand shutter speeds even more! We used a pretty slow shutter (f/22) speed to capture the light trail by our iphones. I would love to experiment more with this using an even shower shutter speed and different “symbols”. This was painting with light!


FREEZING AND BLURRING MOTION (photo info in captions)


ZOOM BLUR (photo info in captions)


PANNING (photo info in captions)


Light Trails (photo info in captions)

Week 2: Composition

This week we learned various ways to compose an image. I always thought that taking an image was really, more “intuitive”…however when I look at images I’ve collected from the web, in my own little archives — they do seem to follow one (or sometimes 2) of the rules we’ve learned. I think that in taking photos, as in design, you start to subconsciously keep in mind these rules. What I really like about taking this course at Billy is that at the beginning of it I would see design and photos and like something but had a feeling that something wasn’t quite right — but no idea how to fix it! To be an art director, I need to offer the solution to take things to another level. It is essential. Now my second year I am starting to answer the question more and more.

Below are my images following the composition practices we learned, however they are not perfect! For example – on my rule of thirds, the pieces in focus are a bit off of being on an axis point. Since this is just an exercise I will let it go. I really want to keep this blog authentic to my learning. I like that the numbers on the camera are starting to have some meaning, but I really have to become more comfortable with my camera.

Word chosen for Assessment 1: Homesick

Negative Space – 1/60 sec f/4.0 ISO100

neg space

Framing (Symmetry too?) – 1/100 sec f/5.0 ISO100


Leading Lines – 1/250 sec f/8 ISO100

leading lines

Rule of Thirds 1 – 1/80 sec f/4.5 ISO100

rule of thirds 1

Rule of Thirds 2 – 1/400 sec f/10 ISO100

rule of thirds 2

Rule of Thirds 3 – 1/200 sec f/7.1 ISO100

rule of thirds 3

I Play by my Own Rules – 1/100 sec f/5.0 ISO100

I play by my own

***SUPER BONUS RANDOMS (just some shots I took to experiment with the camera)


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Week 1: The Blues

I am so excited to learn more about photography but using a DSLR is so intimidating! So, SO many options — exciting and stressful (but in a good way).

For this exercise I decided to go with the theme of the colour blue. We didn’t have much time so I did the best I could but the lens (something I never used before called a “prime” lens) kind of threw me off because in addition to searching for all things blue and setting the camera, I have never used that kind before…but it was fun!

In taking the photos, I tried to experiment with taking not just shots of what is blue in my proximity but “blue” in different objects, textures. A glowing blue as in our Billy card swipes…the blue in a fellow student’s sketches…the textures and variations of blue in fabrics… How would I make a blue-capped water bottle interesting? Maybe trying to use the rule of thirds? I tried to play with different angles and control what is in focus in the limited time and honestly I think my photos just reflect my inexperience with using an advanced camera. Some photos upon further inspection onscreen – are a bit blurry. I need to keep this in mind and be more careful about this. All in all, I am really excited to use my own Nikon camera and I really hope to look back at these photos and see some progression!

1/60 sec; f/2.0; ISO 500