Background: Ever since I was young and have been viewing pictures I have been fascinated with photography. I used to love taking pictures of hundreds upon hundreds of things with a point-and-shoot just to look for the one or two that turned out okay. Until I studied photography in High School, I had never bothered to actually learn how to manually take a picture. In fact, I had never even considered the possibility. I was absolutely clueless in how a camera actually works. Nonetheless, I ended up making a few photography-based videos that merely relied on taking ridiculous quantities of photographs, rather than good ones.

Photography 1:
In Photography 1, I learned the core basics of how cameras work and how to manually control the settings of a camera to take a photograph. I had always enjoyed taking pictures, but learning the ideas of shutter speed and aperture was what really gave me an absolute epiphany in what it meant to be a photographer. It opened me up to the wide variety of creativity and opportunity that exists in the world of photography.

Aperture: Aperture, to put it simply, controls depth-of-field. The larger the aperture- or hole, the less area in focus and the more light that's allowed in the camera lens. The smaller the aperture, the more in focus, but the less light. Being able to control Aperture manually gives the photographer the ability to drastically alter the final look of what could have been just a boring old picture. Aperture was the first photography concept I learned in Photography 1. It completely changed my idea of photography. The idea of being able to control what and how much is in focus was completely new to me. The project always offered are first picture assignment. I was extremely apprehensive about roaming the school to take pictures. I was also easily sidetracked by the possibility of taking pictures of other interesting things. Nonetheless, I ended up finishing the project with a new-found respect for what it means to be a photographer.
Manning_Aperture_1.jpgManning_Aperture_2.jpgManning_Aperure_3.jpgDifference in aperture can clearly be seen between the photos. The first picture has a low aperture number and thus only the water bottle is in focus. The second picture has more in focus while the last picture has the highest aperture number on the camera, which not only the hat to be in focus, but also the rock and surrounding areas as well. The first picture has an aperture of 3.5, the second and aperture of 9, and the third an aperture of 22.

Shutter Speed:Shutter speed is arguably the most important, and certainly my favorite, aspect in photography. Shutter speed is, to put it simply, the speed of the shutter. Shutter speed usually has the most significant impact on how well exposed a picture will turn out. Just the slightest change sets apart a completely dark picture to a completely white one. Shutter speed also has a big affect on how sharp or blurry and object may appear. Fast shutter speeds can freeze life, like in sports photography, to take crisp photos of moving subjects. Slow shutter speeds on the other hand can turn even slow moving objects into nice calming, blurs of color. Low shutter speeds also allow people to literally draw by moving around the only light sources in a photo in an otherwise dark and colorless environment. When taking pictures without a tripod, a shutter speed of slower than 1/60th of a second should never be used to avoid significant blurriness within the photograph.
A panning shot at 1/20 of a second, fast shutter speed at 1/2000 of a second, and light painting with a slow shutter speed of 30 seconds.

Rule of Thirds: Rule of thirds (ROT) is a general guideline for where to place the focal point in a picture. According to the rule of thirds, there are 20 acceptable places for this focal point to lie, but in general, the most important thing to remember is to not leave the focal point at the center of a picture. Such a decision would lead to a plain awkward photograph that people would feel more unlikely to want to view for an extended period of time.
Three pictures taking eerily close chronologically displaying a few possible places to put the focal point. These photos aren't the best example, and because I try to incorporate the rule of thirds in every photograph I take, most pictures on this page should also help to demonstrate this rule.

Field of View: Field of view defines how much of life is captured with the camera frame. Field of view is just a more technical term for zoom. Telephoto lenses (long range zoom/small field of view) allow for one to take pictures as if you were close to an object while being far away. The only real downfall of is that less light is allowed in the lens and and it's harder to keep the camera steady, leading to contrasting views of what is necessarily in a shutter speed. The default lens allow for the field of view at which the human eyes see (about 50 mm) all the way down to fish-eye-like zoom at 18 mm.

manning_zoom.pngThree pictures of a dandelion, all taken from the same spot with different field of views. The first being with a telephoto lens (80-250 mm), the next being with the standard lens (18-55 mm) zoomed in at 55 mm, and the last being fully zoomed out at 18 mm.

Portrait: Portrait photography is a lot harder than it seems. In addition to having to keep the shutter speed fast enough to keep the subject in focus, there are also numerous human elements that must be avoided such as the obvious ones of blinking and inappropriate mergers, as well as less obvious commonly encountered problems such as awkward face shadows and a sense of being overly posed and fake. And as much as any photographer would hate to admit, a crucial part of a good portrait photograph relies solely on how attractive the model is. In addition to these problems, I also found it daunting to have fully command and construct another human being to get what I want after a photograph. As a generally antisocial person, I much prefer to photograph objects I can manually control myself.

Three portraits I took for the project, not only tried to capture a good-looking face, but also a good representation of the subject's personality.

ISO: ISO, short for International Organization for Standardization (why it isn't abbreviated IOS, I do not know), is a tool that lets you control how sensitive your camera is to light. Higher ISOs yield far more sensitivity to light, but result in graininess and compromised and diluted colors. Lower ISOs require higher shutter speeds to maintain the same levels of exposure, but don't compromise colors or graininess. I completed the ISO project in a matter of minutes by simply taking a picture of the same object in the same place on different ISOs. As a more experienced photographer today, I now always aim to shoot on ISO 100 (or whatever the lowest value available is on the camera) when shooting still objects. Graininess from high ISO tends to really bug me unless the picture couldn't be captured without it, such as in sports or candid photography.
Manning_100.jpgManning_400.jpgManning_1600.jpgNote: This project was shot on AV mode, and thus the shutter speed was automatically controlled to make up for differences in exposure that could have easily been visible otherwise.Shutter speed was 1/200 for ISO100,1/800 for ISO400 and 1/3200 for ISO1600. Regardless, take note of the more vivid colors on the left compared to the more drowned-out colors of the high ISO pictured to the right.

Landscape: The key in landscape, and with any non-moving subject for that matter, is to use a tripod so keeping the shutter speed fast enough to hold steady is not an issue. With a tripod, the photographer is allowed to set to their lowest ISO and setting their aperture to its maximum. Despite these mainly being central themes for landscape, I now end up implementing them wherever I get the chance with all non-moving subjects.
Three landscape photographs, all taken with a tripod, ISO 100, and the highest aperture possible on the camera. A tripod was used to take all the pictures due to the long shutter speeds required to substitute the lack of light caused by having the least light friendly settings in ISO and aperture.

Fashion: Fashion is related to portraits, but in theory, has a much larger emphasis on the clothes people wear rather than the people wearing them. As a person with no sense of fashion, I thought I would do absolutely horrible on the project. I focused on just taking technically proficient photos, while letting the models wear whatever they thought was most fashionable. I ended up doing much better on the project than I had expected. Sometimes the most important part of photography is just to focus on taking technically accurate photographs. .
Mergers: Mergers were one of the biggest mistakes commonly encountered in photographs that I had never even considered before Photography 1. For this assignment, in two of the pictures we focused on purposely created mergers to show how they can negatively impact a photo. In the first photo, the tree in the back is merging out of the subject's head, making him look absolutely silly. In the last picture the eagle in the background merges with the subject in the foreground as if they're touching. These pictures fail to showcase a more commonly encountered merger, which occurs when an object is obnoxiously cut off at the border of a photograph, making it almost impossible to look away from it.
The first and third picture demonstrate why mergers are distracting, while the second photograph is a picture with no annoying mergers are present.

Photography 2:
In Photography 2 is we were finally given the freedom to put all the skills we had learned in Photography 1 to test. Practically no limits were put on what we could or couldn't take pictures of. All that mattered was that they were good pictures, however that may be. It really opened the box not only to taking creative pictures, but also in proper time management and planning. Over the course of the semester, we were to turn in four projects of three or more pictures each equidistant apart.

Project 1: For project 1 I wanted to do something that no one else in the class would replicate. I decided on taking pictures with shutter speeds in excess of ten minutes. Not only did I know that most people wouldn't have the required cable release cord, but I also knew that simply no other classmate would be patient enough to take sometimes hours worth of 10+ minute shutter speed pictures just to get it right. I also knew it was difficult to properly light meter such photographs, as the light meter is useless once the camera is set to bulb. Among these problems, the hardest part ultimately turned out to be none other than the cold Alaskan winters. Overall, the project turned out well except for the last picture, which I grudgingly had to include in this portfolio despite it being heavily scrutinized and unanimously voted not relevant to the rest of the project due to the fact that it's shutter speed was only 30 seconds.

Project 2: For my second project I shifted my challenge from technical aspects of the photo to the photograph's subject. My goal was to shoot pictures of interesting icicles throughout Anchorage. I didn't do much good in this regard, but the pictures ended up having a sort of abstract charm. Unfortunately, I only realized this after my pictures had been submitted, and thus some of the pictures simply don't fit. One of my biggest problems with Photography 2 projects continued to be tying all the pictures together.
Project 3: In the third project I combined both technical and subject by shooting pictures of bubbles in macro- by taking off the lens and shooting a picture looking through it in the opposite direction. The class seemed to lose interest after the first picture. Because really none of the first three pictures were very unique from each other. I thought the last picture would offer some good relief from the monochromatic nature of the first three, but unfortunately I hadn't taken any time to alter the colors and composition, leading to an unfavorable look . In the end the project wasn't the best, but offered a great learning experience.

Project 4: I was forced to do my last project in film. Because of the limitation of only being able to take a limited amount of photos, I wanted to take pictures that I know would turn out. Despite this, I found the need to do massive ammounts of photoshop to all my pictures. It was almost impossible to take good pictures while knowing you only had a limited amount of shots of getting it right. Without photoshop, my project would have been an utter catastrophe. It was interesting to see the process of how all photos had to be taken until recently, but I just don't see any reason one would willingly work in the more limited and expensive way of taking pictures. Digital is just so much more satisfying and less stressful to me.


Photoshop Tutorials
In Photography 2 throughout the year we learned how to use photoshop. This offered a huge dilemma for me, as I felt like a cheater by knowing that I could alter even the worst of pictures to be made incredibly amazing with only a tiny bit of photoshopping. At first I did my best to continue to focus on the camera aspects of photographs, but then I finally realized that no one really cares how the photo got good or was made, they just care if it's good. And it's always much, much easier to make a good picture with some simple photoshopping, as opposed to relying solely on mastering the settings of taking a picture in camera. I now photoshop pictures I turn in for a grade. Although honestly when just taking pictures for myself, I still feel more satisfied with my work looking at picturse with no photoshopping done instead of looking at photos that may look better, but have the almost repugnant distinction of having been photoshopped.

Brightness and Contrast
Adjusting a photographs's brightness and contrast is a surefire way of making any picture more aesthetically appealing. Unless shooting for affect, I've found that just about every picture looks better with added contrast. It's also nearly impossible to expose a picture perfectly optimally in camera, so changing the brightness is usually also a good idea. The only problem one must generally avoid is to not make the picture look completely fake. It always depends on the project, but often people (myself included) can end up making the picture look too good to be true (which it is), which often leads to negative feelings of the viewer. On the other hand, sometimes it really doesn't matter how 'real' the photograph looks. In this case, there's hardly ever any reason not to blast contrast up to max and to fix the brightness accordingly. Manning_Brightness_Before.jpgManning_Brightness_Afterfix.jpg
Erasing Blemishes
The tool of erasing blemishes is another one that is sure to make any picture- especially portraits, more aesthetically appealing. Just about every published photo nowadays is at least photoshopped in erasing obvious blemishes such as acne, so learning this tool was quite helpful for anyone who wants to constantly take pictures of good-looking people. The only problem with this, is again, the moral issue of creating 'fake' people. Sure, it always looks more perfect to erase blemishes, but sometimes some reality in the world is what the world needs. And I would go as far as arguing that imperfections are even more beautiful than perfection. But unfortunately, any major fashion magazine would absolutely scoff at the idea of not completely removing every little imperfection on their subjects.
Although I've found that photoshop can be a necessity quite often in deleting mergers. In this picture I always used the spot heal tool to get rid of two mergers in the picture on the bottom right.