Photography 101: The Fundamentals of Light

This is a great introduction to how light is used and measured in a photo and how that affects creative decision when composing a photograph. If you are just starting out in photography and trying to really understand the differences between shutter speed, aperture, and ISO, this would be a good article to read!

The Daily Post

We’ve talked about the philosophy of photography and offered a two-part overview of the craft, and now we’re ready to dig deeper. As Ming Thein discussed in his posts, light is crucial to this process. No light, no photograph.

Wenjie Zhang, the photographer at A Certain Slant of Light, is passionate about architecture, landscape, still life, and travel photography. Here in part one, Wenjie introduces exposure and three elements: shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. Next week, he’ll wrap up our light lesson and discuss the quality and direction of light, and more. Much of what’s covered below applies to those of you with SLRs and dSLRs and cameras with manual modes, but we’ll sprinkle in tips for those with cameraphones and point-and-shoot cameras, too.

Introducing Light

At the heart of every photo is a story, and like ink and paper, many elements come together to tell that story. One…

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Theres nothing better to eat in the summer than a fresh bowl of berries with a little bit of cereal on top! So today, my Dad and I went over to Henckle’s Berries in Baldwinsville. The raspberry season had just begun so there were thousands of great big juicy berries everywhere and we practically had the whole field to ourselves! It was a hot muggy afternoon picking berries and we were interrupted by a big 15 minute rain storm. One of my favorite parts of picking is that you can feast out on the berries as you eat, although you run the risk of eating a few spiders and inch worms, but its worth it! We ended up picking almost as many as we ate! Then we headed over to the other side of the road and tried picking a few gooseberries. I had never eaten or seen a gooseberry before, but learned to like them a bit. They are really fun to eat! Now we’ll have a good amount of berries to feast on the next few days!

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These were shot using my Nikon D600 and my 28-70mm f/2.8.


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Did you know that last weeks full moon wasn’t just any ordinary full moon, but a ‘super’ moon?? That’s right, and not only that, but it was one of the most ‘super’ moons you can get.  A super moon is a full moon at the closest position of the moon along its orbit around the earth. What made this super moon one of the most super ‘super’ moons possible was that the exact full moon happened within an hour of the closest point of the moons orbit. It can’t get much more full than that!! The difference is hardly distinguishable unless compared to a regular full moon, but it was still a pretty cool astronomical phenomenon. On June 23rd the moon was 356,991 kilometers away.  If you would like more information about super moons, check out my source on the topic at .

Now, I have to admit that this full moon photo wasn’t taken on June 23rd, but just a few days before, but its pretty close!! I was on a bike ride with my dad coming back from the city and we saw the beautiful sunset, so we pulled over at the lake to watch it. Fortunately I had my camera so I was able to capture the gorgeous colors! Then when we turned around, we saw the beautiful full moon glowing over the city. Having not had a lot of success shooting the moon in the past, I wasn’t sure how it was going to come out, so I had to try a bunch of different exposures to make sure I captured all of the detail of the face of the moon without letting the reflection of the sun completely blow out all the details. It really helped that it was right at dusk so we still had come light and color in the sky in order to keep a faster exposure. I ended up hand holding my Nikon D600 with the 70-200 mm at 200mm at f/4 ISO 200 1/400s. The sunset picture was taken at 28mm f/8 ISO400 1/100s.

Hope you liked the shots and dont forget to follow my blog to stay updated on my photos!!


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One festival that I always look forward to each summer is the Jamesville Balloon Fest! As miserable as it may sound, I have always had these fond memories of waking up at the crack of dawn on a Sunday morning to drive out to Jamesville to see these colorful, wondrous balloons float above the horizon. Its remarkable to me that filling those bags with hot air will be able to pick up a few people hundreds of feet into the air.

So this morning, my Dad and I left the house at 5:30 to catch the launch at 6. It was one of the earliest mornings I have had all summer. The morning was so beautiful. There was this thick fog that just engulfed parts of the city and the surrounding hillsides. Above the fog was a beautifully clear sky that was slowly being warmed with the color of the sun. I knew then that it was going to be a perfect morning for a launch and some good pictures! And I wasn’t the only one with that idea. When we got there, just about every other person was running around with DSLR. Apparently they all too had aspirations of catching these beautifully colored shapes floating against the morning blue sky. We had come at a perfect time too as most of the balloonists had just unrolled their prizes and were opening them up by filling them with air from a fan. You can see in some of these shots the scale of these balloons as you see some people keeping that hole open to let the air in. They were massive. Once the balloon was filled with enough air, they were safely able to fit the burner in there which would inject all of the hot air and cause the balloon to become upright. Once it was upright, 4-6 people would pile in the basket and they would float away! The first few times the balloons launched, my dad and I thought they had failed because after only a minute, they would start to sink right beyond the trees. We learned later that they were sinking just to skim the bottom of their basket on the lake. Once we hear of that challenge, we ran over to the lake to try to find a few balloons attempting this. It was cool to see them do this in the early morning because the water was so still that the balloon cast a perfect reflection on the water!

I hope you all enjoy the vibrant colors of these balloons and try to make it out to the last launch tonight at 6!

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These were shot with my Nikon D600 and my 28-75mm f/2.8 lens.


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Urban exploration (often shortened as urbex or UE) is the exploration of man-made structures, usually abandoned ruins or not usually seen components of the man-made environment. Photography and historical interest/documentation are heavily featured in the hobby and, although it may sometimes involve trespass onto private property, this is not always the case and is of innocent intention. Urban exploration is also commonly referred to as infiltration, although some people consider infiltration to be more closely associated with the exploration of active or inhabited sites.






This is an activity that has recently inspired Ryan Krahmer, and he even more recently got me excited about it.  Since neither of us have full time jobs currently, and therefore have some extra free time during the day, and we live in Syracuse, NY, a city that has some incredible history and potential, and has unfortunately seen more thriving days, we decided to take on this hobby.  Yesterday was the first day that I had gone out with him.  We drove into the city with our bikes a tow on the back of my Cruze, and once we got to the inner harbor, we parked and the rest of the day was spent on two wheels or two feet. Our first stop is seen here at the corner of Spencer and N. Clinton. It was an old Furniture warehouse.  A man there collecting bottles told us that it only went out of commission about 12-13 years ago. It has since then been completely abandoned and certainly shows some aging as you can tell by the photos. We looked around the building for anyway to get inside and explore what used to happen inside, but could not find anything, at least in broad daylight.  Might be a midnight project sometime…




Photographing these old buildings is quite fun.  There is so much gritty detail in all of the decay of the building. Editing them is even more fun. For these, I simply bump up the contrast quite a bit to accentuate the sharp detail in all the cracks and damage, and then take down the vibrance in all of the colors except an orange and red to keep the old, dingy bricks alive. One of my favorite shots from this building is the one of the cracked windows. I love how you can see some of the rocks still lodged into the windows cracks, left from people throwing them.




Stay tuned for more of these urban explorations from Ryan and I.  We hope to hit a lot of the old abandoned history of Syracuse. If you have any suggestions of abandoned buildings to check out, leave a comment!

Syracuse Furn-02These were shot with my Nikon D600 with my 28-75mm f/2.8.




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A few weeks ago during the crazy hectic graduation season, I got a unique photography job opportunity. My job was to follow ESPN’s Josh Gamage for the day and document all of the behind the scenes and big moments of his day as he gave the commencement speech to the Bishop Grimes Class of 2013.  Josh was a great guy to work for and has a really cool job at ESPN setting up a lot of freelance media teams for big sporting events such as the Indy 500.

I had done many events prior to this one as I worked on yearbook staff during college and have shot many concerts and such for fun and experience.  However, this one was unique, in that while I was trying to document the overall event, my main objective was to capture it from the perspective of the key speaker.  I acted as Josh’s right hand man as I followed him into all of his meetings and his interactions and meetings with old friends.  My job was to just be the invisible eye documenting all of these moments. It was a really cool idea and I think as you look through these pictures, you’ll find it is cool having that consistent main character stay in focus in all the photos.  I also think it is cool for Josh to have this collection because now he can look back on the day and remember not only the main part of speaking, but also the small interactions he had with old friends and teachers and the behind the scenes interactions he had with the students.

Again, I loved working with Josh and he did a great job speaking and hopefully Ill get to visit him someday at ESPN. If you are ever having a special day or opportunity and would like that invisible eye to follow you around and capture all of the small moments of the day, feel free to contact me at

Josh Gamage-07These were shot using my Nikon D600 with my 28-70mm f/2.8 lens.


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The Nikon D600 is mine!! I had been looking into getting a new camera for a few months now knowing that I would want to expand some of my photographing abilities especially as I near graduation and moving onto more professional work.  I was thinking it might be a end of the school year reward for myself, but as I was taking an advanced photography class and learning more and more of the insufficiencies of my current model, I decided it would be advantageous to be taking classes and learning with a model that would be more long lasting to me, rather than one that I had practically out grown thus far.

My photography hobby started the summer after tenth grade when I, on a whim, bought cheap, but nice looking camera to take with me to Africa.  I bought the Fujifilm Finepix S700.  It served me very well in Kenya and I came back with many pictures that I loved showing off. A few years later, it came to my realization that although my camera looked like a DSLR, it in fact was not.  I figured this out when I knew I wanted varied focal lengths by buying alternate lenses for my camera and couldn’t.  That’s when I had my mind set on a true DSLR.  Not knowing a bunch about the mechanics of photography, I just was solely worried about price. As long as I could buy a variety of lenses for it, I would be happy.  Thats when I settled on the Nikon D3100. It was one of the newest entry level cameras at the time so technologically it was quite advanced, and not bad on most of the camera specs. I grew a lot with that camera! I learned a lot about composition through my first camera, but this one taught me about the technical aspect of photography and how exactly it captures exposure. I learned about stops and how to configure those using shutter speed, aperture, and ISO speed. I bought a lot of lenses to improve my shooting conditions and abilities and lean red a lot about their different capabilities.  However, as I was doing more studying on advanced photography, I realized a lot of things that could be improved or were missing from my D3100.  A few of these were that I wanted to reduce noise in my photos and be able to shoot at higher ISOs so I could be comfortable shooting in indoor settings, more frames per second, faster shutter response time, a full frame sensor for true focal lengths, more megapixels, and a few basic settings, such as AEB and U1/U2, that my camera was lacking.  After doing a lot of research and drooling over the D4 for a while, I came across the D800.  This seemed to be a great fit for a lot of what I wanted, but the 36 mp number scared me because that would be a nightmare post processing and would bog up my computer.  Then I came across the D600 a few weeks ago and instantly fell in love and started dreaming about it every night.  Everything about it seemed just so perfect and filled all of the gaps I had in my D3100. And the fact that it was one of the most recent full frame DSLRs out and one of the cheapest made it even more enticing.  So the camera was on my mind for a few weeks, but the actual purchase was very spontaneous.  Spring Break was about a week away and it dawned on me, if I have the money currently, Spring Break would be a perfect time to have a new camera to shoot with. First, I would be in a really cool and different part of the country, so I could do some interesting travel photography, and secondly, I would have a lot of free time to really study and learn my new camera. So Monday morning I called Cameta Camera and had them rush order the D600 to me to make sure I received it before leaving for Florida.  That proved to be slightly more complicated because they don’t ship to school addresses and someone had to be home to sign for the package. So I had to find enough of my friends who were willing to hang out at the house to receive the package for the times that I wasn’t able to be there. Nonetheless, the package came in time and I had enough opportunity to break it open tonight and practice some shots and get used to some of the features of the camera before heading to Florida tomorrow.  The package I got it in included a 32 gb card, a wireless remote, a spare battery, and a subscription to Digital Photo, all for $1800. Hefty price, but I see it as an investment in my photography career, and a lot of that money was earned through photographic endeavors.

That being said, I hope that this nicer piece of equipment will boost my career to a more professional level.  With all of the features and quality the D600 has to offer, along with a little practice, I hope to feel completely comfortable in any kind of setting!

ImageThese are hopefully some of the last shots taken with my D3100.  I used the 50 mm lens at f/3.5 with Neewer tt520 off camera flashes.