Author Archives: Capturing Life

Essay #2

The blog is a blog aimed at photography hobbyists who are interested in learning more and engaging with the online photography community. The blog includes stories from my own experiences, lessons from those stories, basic information to improve photos, intermediate photography skills, and some opinion pieces regarding photography values. The imagined audience would be beginners who are interested in learning as much as they can from others to improve their photography skills. The real audience is small but is comprised of hobbyists who enjoy reading about other’s experiences for the entertainment rather than the lessons.

This imagined audience is addressed through the writing of mostly jargon-free blog posts and stories that are written from my experience, I then turn around and attempt at relaying the lessons I learned from those experiences. Photos taken by me are included in the blog posts to further explain concepts and enhance stories to give them meaning. In terms of design, the blog is made to be minimalistic yet easy to navigate. Drop down menus are made for the subcategories of the course assignments, and a static home page with an interesting photo and a short introduction are used to welcome new and returning readers.

In terms of value, the site is created to entertain readers as well as inform. This could be referred to as edutainment, which is “education meant to be educational” (Merriam Webster n.d.). However, this specific blog is meant to be read as entertainment first and education second. Playful learning is the term used by Mitchel Resnick (2004) in “Edutainment? No Thanks. I Prefer Playful Learning” in the Associazione Civita Report on Edutainment to describe an alternative approach to learning. Not through educating and entertainment, but through the active and willing participation of learners to learn through play. An example on the blog being the stories of failure having entertainment value with the secondary benefit being lessons that the readers can take away to use in their photography.

The use of stories engages the readers and teaches them a lesson through playful writing to emphasize the amusing mistakes that I make. This allows the reader to be engaged rather than knowingly consuming education that’s delivered as “a bitter medicine that needs the sugar-coating of entertainment to become palatable” (Resnick 2004).

This value would be provided to the main audience, who are readers that willingly read stories related to photography in order to gain entertainment value from it, though are interested in learning new skills and methods as well. What was learned from Google analytics was that not many people are interested in reading the lessons written on the blog, but they would rather read stories that are written with entertainment as a priority. Given this though, not many people visited the blog, so more valuable conclusions are not available to be made since google analytics were implemented too late in the semester to gather more data.

In the beginning of the term, the blog was thought of as being a purely educational blog with entertainment being secondary to education. Posts written had a stiff feeling as they truly embodied Resnick’s metaphor of the bitter pill. As posts were written throughout the semester, they became more playful as the writing got easier and flow of language along with my voice became clearer and established itself.

My thinking about writing blog has changed in that It has gotten more fluid. Syed Balkhi (n.d) wrote on the blog Constant Contact several tips to write more engaging content for online blogs. One that I had used to improve my writing is the “three sentence rule” which is keeping paragraphs short to allow the reader to process information more easily. In the beginning, I wrote posts quite long when I thought of the blog as education primary, and as I used this advice, my posts became shorter and more focused on entertainment. I became a lot more comfortable writing and it ended up being fun for me!

Looking forward, I would like to develop my blog further and possibly start integrating videos online to share stories and video content. My online self after this course will be more casual with less of an emphasis of communicating concepts to others, but rather to communicate feelings and ideas or opinions. I would also like to work on my writing skills as well. I would like to be able to more easily communicate feelings to give my readers more context for mistakes and situations. An example of this would be to cause them second-hand embarrassment.

Works cited:

Balkhi, S. (2020, November 11). How to Craft Epic Blog Posts That Engage Readers and Keep Them Coming Back. Retrieved from

Edutainment. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Resnick, M. (2004). Edutainment? No Thanks. I Prefer Playful Learning. Retrieved from

Basics: Aperture

The aperture is the iris of your camera. It controls both how much light gets in your camera and how sharp your photos are. Here is a quick tidbit review of how that works.

F-stop refers to the number you have your aperture set to. A high f-stop (Eg. f22) is a small hole, and a low f-stop (eg. f8) is a big hole. A small hole means that more will be in focus, and less light will get in, while a big hole means that only a small area will be in focus with more light.

Typically a low f-stop is used for portraits and taking photos of single subjects when you don’t care too much about the background, or want a focused image.

A high f-stop is used when you want to see more, like in landscape photography when you want to see more of the background, or even in portraits when the subject’s surroundings matter to the image.

But wait! We forgot the light! For every time you change the aperture, the light getting in is different, so make sure you have your other setting to compensate, and maybe a tripod to make sure you don’t shake when you choose to take a high f-stop photo of that mountain at 8pm.

Hobby or Work?

I wanted to write this post to talk about my personal experience with being paid for photos, specifically real estate photos.

When I started taking more photos more seriously as my hobby, I started to entertain the idea of making money from what I loved to do. I always had my photos available online for sale as prints, though I never received any orders. So when I had the opportunity to take photos for my Mother, who was a realtor, I was beyond excited. Being PAID with MONEY to take PHOTOS???!? Doing the one thing I loved for money was my dream, at the time. What I didn’t know, though, is that this would ruin taking photos for me for a quite a long time.

At first, it was alright. I went to the properties and took photos as I knew how after researching extensively online on how to photograph real estate. After taking the photos came the editing. Turns out, living with your client while you edit their photos SUCKS. They were all over me all the time asking me when things will be done, asking to see the photos, suggesting impossible corrections and suggestions, and making me feel smaller and smaller. I absolutely hated this, and after I finished those set of photos, I didn’t accept work from her anymore.

After a while, I had another opportunity to take photos for money from another realtor. It turned out the same anyways. He wanted things that coudn’t be done after the photos were taken and even suggested that I help him put photos on his website. 2/10 experience as a noob.

I stopped taking photos for a while after because I didn’t want to be reminded of my experience.

Overall, I didn’t have a good time, but I would do it again with the experience I have now as an adult. I may have let them push me around too much with led them to believe they could get away with asking for anything, but I wouldn’t have gotten to try something like it if I didn’t.

For now, I’m keeping my hobby MY hobby and not anyone else’s project. I like doing this because I have control and I make the calls for what I want for myself. I could take photos for free for friends and family, but that’s only because people have lower expectations for free services.

Maybe you’ll have a different experience if you find an opportunity to be paid for doing something you already love. But I hope that it makes something clear to you like it did for me.

Basics: Lights

Photos are literally made by light, so we should try to make sense of it.

Cameras capture light, not pictures. I like to consider several things about lighting when taking a photo. I’ll be referring to taking photos of a single subject, or object, as a focus.

Is there enough light?

The most important of these. You need light to capture light. Make sure there’s enough light. In most situations, there can’t be too much light.

Where the light is coming from

Lighting direction is very important. Think of it like when you hold a flashlight to someone’s face. Would you want to shine under their chin like a horror film, or from the side for some contrast.

Where it’s going

Where the light bounces off of should also be considered. When you have a main source of light, the extra light will always bounce off the background and back to the subject. You should think of how much of that light you need to fill in the shadows on your subject, and what the reflected light will look like on your subject (like not a neon yellow poster making them look weird)

The source

What time of day is it? Is it sunny? Cloudy? Are you in the shadows? Indoors? What type of light bulbs are being used? Pay attention to how the color of the light affects your subject and your image. Typically a cloudy but bright day is the best time for outdoor photos, and fluorescent lights don’t look great in photos (kinda green)

Process #10

In this week’s peer review, I received feedback on my website structure.

My peer mentioned that I had a lack of sub menus and my home page was lacking as a landing page. They stressed that my landing page allows users to see my posts right away, although the value of an introduction is high with an unknown blog. I addressed this my creating more selections within my menu for categories as well as updating my home page to be a static page with an intro.

Does equipment matter?

A lot of times people get obsessed with equipment and getting the latest and greatest. Every artist knows this cycle of regret where they feel like getting an expensive kit would make them better. But it won’t. Here’s my experience with this.

I used to obsess over equipment. I would browse for new cameras constantly and droll over specs. I had a half-decent beginner DSLR ( that I barely knew how to use) and went crazy thinking that it was a bad camera (hint: it was me. I was bad). So I save all of my money in high school to splurge on a $700 kit for a new DSLR. What came from this was obsession. I thought I could take photos like a pro! Like those advertisements for new cameras: “Take photos like a pro with this new $2000 camera only pros can really use anyways”

I was initially so happy with my new camera and thought everything looked great, but once the honeymoon period ended, I started to search for more. I was hungry once again. I hunted and hunted and found a pro-ish (it was old) grade camera for cheap! NOW i can be a pro. Or so i thought.

I bought that camera and went crazy once again. But as expected, I still sucked, and now I was actually broke. So I couldn’t afford to buy a new camera.

I went on to explore the camera and found out that there were so many features that were useless to me. I honestly wish I stopped after the first big purchase because that semi-pro camera actually died after two years. I barely used it and it actually failed mechanically. So then I had to use my older kit once again. This is where I started to improve. Now with a camera that “wasn’t as good” I had restrictions and had to make the most of what I had. My photos became more focused and I started to pay so much more attention to what was in front of the lens and even around it.

Try using an old camera!

Vacation Photos

So many times when I go places where tourists would go, I notice people taking photos everywhere with phones, DSLRs, iPads, or anything else with a camera. So many people spend so much time trying to immortalize their experiences with photos that they don’t actually get to enjoy their surroundings! I had this problem too! I would take photos everywhere I went the whole time on hikes, at museums, at new places I visited, in hotel rooms. Why do we do this though and why is it bad?

Time and time again you’ll hear people talk about this topic and say “just enjoy the moment”. I wholeheartedly agree with this despite how trite it is to say. I used to take photos and never get to actually make memories when I thought I was making them by taking photos!! What I really got though was a bunch of rushed bad photos with vague memories attached to them.

In this post’s featured image, I climbed a mountain with some friends and brought a whole camera with me. I regret this now because I don’t remember much other than the bad photos that resulted haha.

In my experience, the saying “quality over quantity” applies greatly to this situation. If you feel so inclined to take photos on a trip, choose the right moments, and make it count. Take your time with that one shot at a memorable location and don’t take too many more! No matter how many photos you take, they’re only for memories so you’re only going to need the few to remember what happened, instead of remembering how you took a bunch of rushed crappy photos.

Essay #1: Internet freedom?

In 2018 the Pew Research Center conducted a survey of Americans and found that 53% of their respondents got their news from internet sources in 2017 (PRC 2018), 20% from social media, and 33% from online news articles. In recent history, social media websites such as Facebook started to censor posts that they deemed to be “abusive”, with conservative news posts being left out from trending pages sorted by algorithms (The Guardian 2016).

In the early days of the popularization of social media as a news source, Twitter was hailed as the most efficient method of distributing news to the general population, with journalists relying on updates from regular people for content on live events and disasters. But today, we are censored by algorithms that former Facebook employees admit to being biased (The Guardian 2016). How can we trust what we see online? Are we all being groomed to think and act a specific way based on what we are told to read and listen to? Social media isn’t as democratic as we think, however, the internet as a whole is still free as long as we seek neutral sources of information and purposefully explore alternative opinions.

When we post online, usually we expect to have complete control over our content as an individual with freedom just as someone would expect when speaking in public. However, many posts can be subject to censorship or removal based on community guidelines set out by many sites. An example is Facebook. In their terms and conditions, they list that