Manipulating Light

The key to any good photo is based on the proper lighting conditions. Achieving this can be easier said than done, especially if you rely on your natural environment as the only source of light. Fortunately, there are tools and techniques a photographer can use to help manipulate light.





Reflectors work just as their name implies, they reflect light. Cheaper than lighting kits and much more adaptive, reflectors can be used to focus light to where it is needed the most. Most reflectors also come with different colored surfaces to give an added hue to a subject, and a diffuser surface to soften harsh light.

The following photo was taken outside on a sunny day. Notice how the light is coming in from behind the subject and leaves his face in a shadow.


We then used reflectors to bounce the light back onto his face to even out the surface lighting.


Reflectors are great for directing the light where your need it; however, they do require extra people to hold them in place while you are shooting.

Studio Lighting:


If you are shooting indoors and there are no light sources that you can use a reflector with, such as a window, then studio lighting is the preferred choice.

While good studio lighting is generally more expensive than using reflectors, they can provide light in dark environments and you don’t need an assistant to hold them in place.


-Glenn Hiller

photo sources:

The Phoblographer’s Introduction to Collapsible Photo Reflectors

(portraits by GH)

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Toying With Photography


When I think of toys, the first thing that comes to my mind are the times I enjoyed as a child creating my own make-believe adventures. Waging war with my armies of action figures. Building magnificent cities with Legos, only to have them crushed by Godzilla. Even racing the greatest cars on earth that could submerse under water and fly through the sky. As a child, my enjoyment wasn’t confined to the bounds of the toy itself, instead I made it my own experience by creating a story for each adventure.

This same concept is critical to the photographer who wishes to use toys as his subjects. Almost any photographer can take a landscape photo and make it look good, but not everyone can snap a photo of an action figure and pass it up as A+ work.

So what is the secret formula for photographing a good toy shot? Well, according to my college photography instructor, “You need to have a story behind your photo, make it interesting.”

Take this photo by Brian McCarty for example:


In his photo, McCarty replicated a scene straight out of a sailor’s nightmare by having the toy squid “attack” the toy submarine in a swimming pool.

In Chris McVeigh’s album, he features pictures of his action figures interacting with neighborhood critters:

Under Siege!

My personal favorite is a photo album of the character Danbo by Arielle Nadel. Danbo was originally a manga character, then became an action figure, and finally was photographed by Nadel in an album called “365 days of Danboard:”

A Little Soaked

The key is to not just photograph toys as the subject of your picture, but instead use them to create your own world of imagination.


-Glenn Hiller

photo sources:

35 Extraordinarily Clever Examples of Toy Photography

(link for featured image)

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Lola Alvarez Bravo


Lola Alvarez Bravo was the first female photographer in Mexico, during the post-revolution renaissance. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico 1907. She married Manuel Alvarez Bravo who got her involved in the world of art, and taught her all the photography skills such as developing prints and make films in the darkroom. They traveled around Mexico taking pictures, but Lola’s pictures always were shadowed by her husbands, so later on they divorced and she continued with photography. Her images interpreted the lifestyle of people, with crisp details, and light and shadow on surfaces.

Entierro en Yalalag

Posthumous reproduction from original negative

During her successful career she worked as a photojournalist, commercial photographer, professional portraitist, political artist, teacher, and gallery curator. And she received her first aesthetic in the 1940s in street photography and portraiture. Her photography remains in varies well known museums in cities such as: Houston, Manhattan, Tucson, and Mexico City.


The reason I chose to talk about Lola Alvarez Bravo is because she’s a key figure to all the independent women that have surpassed with their talent the competetive world of male figures. And as being the first female photographer, who also was close friends to Frida Kahlo. She was the first person to exhibited the work of Frida in an art gallery in Mexico City, 1951. Lola never gave up and worked hard all her life, until she became blind at the age of seventy-nine. An quote of hers that i really admired is “If my photographs have any meaning, it’s that they stand for a Mexico that once existed.” And I absolutely agree with her, her images capture the beauty within people, culture, loyalty, and freedom that Mexico once had.




By, Maricela Hernandez


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Steve McCurry


Born in 1950 and raised in Pennsylvania Steve McCurry is a world famous photographer known best for his work “Afghan Girl” which was featured on the 1985 cover of national geographic.


McCurry graduated from Penn State University with a degree in theater arts but became interested in photography while he was working for the Penn State newspaper and after working with them for two years he left for India to do some freelance work. His career really lifted off after he crossed the Pakistan border which was controlled by rebel Afghanistan forces. Disguised in Afghan garbs with rolls of film sewn into the clothes McCurry would become one of the first photographers to report the conflict over in the middle east. This would win him the Robert Capa gold medal for best photographic reporting from abroad and numerous other awards. After this McCurry continued to cover many conflicts around the world focusing on the consequences of war and what it can do to the landscape and people involved.


Steve McCurry is still an active photographer traveling the world captivating people with his photos showing everyone what war is really like.

SRI LANKA. South Coast. Weligama. 1995. Fishermen.

SRI LANKA. South Coast. Weligama. 1995. Fishermen.


Author: Chris Heisler


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Exploring The Aperture

The aperture is located on the camera lens and effects the depth of field and the light of the picture you want to take.


The depth of field is determined on your focal ratio. The larger your focal ratio is the greater the depth of field is causing everything in your photo to be in focus. With a smaller focal ratio your depth of field decreases causing the main subject in your picture to be in focus while the background is blurry.


Now the aperture also affects the amount of light that enters a picture. With a smaller focal ratio more light is allowed to enter the picture. When your focal point is at a larger setting less light enters the picture you wish to take.



Author: Chris Heisler


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Jacob August Riis Photography

Jacob August Riis was a photography from Denmark that emigrated to the United States in 1870. Working as a police reporter gave him the opportunity to see the poverty side of America, and everything the people went through. He decided to teach himself basic skill of photography to show the upper class how the poor people lived, in slums, crowded tenements, and unsanitary environment. Riis wrote a book called How the Other Half Lives, along with many more which were a success and instantly made a change.

Below are some images..

Homeless kids sleeping in the slums of New York.
hine-the-spinnersAn image of child labor, in unprotected attire and dangerous conditions.

For my first blog I decided to talk about Jacob Riis, because he is a very important photographer that through his images he made a major change in America. How I mentioned earlier he taught himself photography skills, with flash which had recently been invented at the time. He would wonder in the slums and took pictures of the daytime and night time. I think this is a subject that would interest everyone, because it proves what America went through in the early years. And also the terrible conditions that the underclass lived in. This also proves how much more of an impact an image can do, rather then text. According to, the upper-class did know about the conditions that the poor were going through, but it wasn’t much of an impact until Riis images went viral. His photography became so famous that was shown in newspapers, magazines, book, and thanks to him there was a change in the underclass life style.

jacob-riis-dens-of-deathThe slums were overly crowded and full of violence and dangerous conditions.
46bebf806d8b51568c38508c9593247fKids in unsanitary environment.



By, Maricela Hernandez

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techniques for Silhouettes

Image result for halo effect silhouettes sunset

Being able to create silhouettes in photography is an advanced concept and skill and overall kind of tricky. being able to capture a silhouette will involve some trial and error before you get it right meaning that it will take some practice. There are a few tips that might help you.

Aperture and selective focus- you’re going to want to focus the camera on a person where the outline of that person should be crisp and you can tell its actually a person. So you can try using a larger aperture like f8 or if you want to, maybe even a little higher. The reasoning for this is because you will want the background to be in focus as well as the silhouette of the person.  Continue to adjust your shutter speed until the exposure is correct and where you want it to be. You might want to have a long exposure time so keeping a tripod on hand is a good idea to avoid camera movement. If you want to have a halo effect on your subject as well, move the object in directly in front of something such as the sunset thus creating a halo like aspect.

By: Colleen Carney

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