Sunday, May 15, 2016

A Newfound Interest

Leading up to the tutorial, I was not particularly thrilled at the prospect of showing up at De Anza at 8 in the morning on a Saturday, certainly not after two weeks of AP testing, but once I got over the agony of waking up at 6:45 AM, it actually turned out to be really interesting. 

As someone who struggles with punctuality, I made sure to set numerous alarms in various locations around my room to make me get up so that I could make it to the tutorial on time. I managed to make it to De Anza at 7:45, but I was far from the first to arrive. Once the tutorial started, we were asked to pick up several stacks of paper, which was rather intimidating, as that meant we would have to learn or at least look over all the information provided. However, it turned out to be much less daunting a task to accomplish than it initially appeared to be, especially because Don patiently went over all of it with us.

The tutorial also included a section on blogging and photography. For the blogging section, he told us how to format our blogs and reminded us that we should include plenty of photos, which quite conveniently led to the next section: photography. He gave us some tips to get us started (e.g. tucking our arms in when taking photos and finding the right lighting) before releasing us to try it out for ourselves. We spent the next twenty minutes or so ambling around the campus, looking for interesting objects or scenes to take pictures of, before returning to the tutorial room to publish our first practice blogs, using the photos we had just taken.

I found my interest piqued by the photography session, so once the tutorial was over, out of curiosity, I ended up spending the rest of my day experimenting with various aspects of photography. First, I had to find a camera to use, so I dug up my sister's old (well, relatively old) point-and-shoot camera, a Nikon Coolpix S3000, and compared it to the camera on my iPhone 6s. Since they were both about 12 megapixels, I decided to take pictures of random scenes and objects and choose a camera to use based on the results. In the end, I preferred my iPhone's pictures, so from there, I set out to find an iOS app that could improve my pictures. I downloaded various free camera apps (e.g. Camera+ Free, VSCO) and a photo editor, Snapseed, to see what they could do. I didn't feel like the camera apps made much difference, but here are some of the edited photos from Snapseed along with the originals:
Before (left) and after (right) editing
Before (left) and after (right) editing
As you can probably tell, the edited photos have more vivid colors, along with some other slight differences, that enhance the appearances of the photos from the original versions. In addition to experimenting with different photo apps, I also looked into iPhone lenses, such as the Moment Lens, the Olloclip, and the CamKix to possibly allow me to further improve my photos, but the various products were either out of my price range or had unfavorable reviews. Finally, I read another blog specifically for iPhone photography to help me improve my basic skills with a camera. This blog taught me some of the more technical features of cameras and how to use them in various situations. For example, in low-light situations, one can use a higher ISO (the camera’s sensitivity to light) and a slower shutter speed to capture better images.

From all the research and experimentation that I did with photography, I will probably be using my iPhone 6s to take pictures, using Snapseed to edit images, and perhaps investing in a tripod to get clearer photos. Hopefully, all the time I spent exploring photography will improve my skills and be time well-spent in preparation of my trip to the University of Pennsylvania. I'm glad that I spent my Saturday morning at the ILC Tutorial (even though it was early) because it allowed me to find a new interest.

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