Bay Bridge at Night

I took around 100 photographs to create this photograph
I photographed the recently built Eastern section of Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge taken at night on September 2013 from Treasure Island, San Francisco. In 1989 the 6.9 Loma Prieta Earthquake collapsed the cantilever section of the Bay Bridge. It took 24 years to finally rebuild the Eastern span of the Bay Bridge.

The Simplicity of Photography

Photography in its basic form is simple. You basically want to take the best possible photograph under the circumstances. Photography is not really complicated or difficult.

The most important aspect of photography is yourself – you are the one who can make good photographs. How well you are prepared with your photography will make the difference in your results. Good photographers are doers – just go out and take photographs. Your overall attitude is very important – it’s important to have a good attitude towards learning.

Three Photography Keys

Camera Operation

How to use the camera. It’s important to learn how to use the camera properly – be confident with the camera. The camera is your photographic tool. Know how to use automatic, as well as, TV, AV, program, and manual. Learn how to use fast and slow shutter speeds to capture action or movement. It’s important to use the timer for group shoots to include yourself. Understanding ISO or camera speed is very important also. Use 100 to 160 ISO for daylight photographs and the subject will look cleaner. 800 to 1600 to use indoors without flash and the subject will be more coarse. In summation you want to control the camera and not let the camera control you.


Focus, Shutter, Aperture and lighting. First of all practice on focusing your subject – especially moving objects. A big part of good photography to know how to expose your photograph manipulating the shutter and aperture. You want to expose each picture correctly to get the best possible photograph and you do this by adjusting the shutter and aperture for your desired effect. Get enough practice so your exposure comes out right most of the time. Knowledge of lighting on your subject is very important. It’s important to locate the direction is the light be natural lighting or artificial lighting. Softer type of lighting is always best for your subject.


How well you compose each photograph is also a major characteristic of good photography. What makes for well composed photograph? 1) Good photographs show movement in the picture – usually in circular motion. 2) The best photographs are simple – showing no distractions in foreground or background 3) What is the focus of your photograph? A person, a group, or a band playing music 4) Shoot candid photographs – they show people as they naturally are 5) Stay away from centered photographs – they look rather static 6) Get a wide variety of shots of your subject – not just 1-2 shots 7) What is your focal point of the photographs with respect to action, message, and composition. Try to anticipate the best shot when you photograph.

Be open to learning new photography skills and techniques and keep improving your photography skills are the keys to being a good photographer.

Higashikawa International Photo Festival

I visited the Higashikawa International Photo Festival in 2000 and 2001 when I brought my photography students from Community Images. It was definitely a memorable experience for our program to experience the hospitality of the community, the well-organized festival, and the local environment.


The first Photo Fiesta occurred 1985 in Higashikawa as the town was declared the “Town of Photography” to impact the photographic world and to protect the local environment. Higashikawa is located the middle of Hokkaido, Japan near Asahikawa and is a rich farming community.

The festival occurs during the last weekend of July every year. This year the photography festival starts on July 24th and ends 29th 2012. In addition, the festival is the site of the Japan National High-school photo championships. The festival is great opportunity to meet high-school students and teachers, amateurs, and professional photographers from Japan and around the world.

The Higashikawa International Photo Festival has five photography awards at the festival: 1) Overseas Photographer Award 2) Domestic Photographer Award 3) New Photographer Award 4) The Special Photographer Award – a photographer who was born or lives in Hokkaido 5) The Hidano Kazuemon Award – a photographer who has contributed to society through photography.

Other photography activities at the festival include: Independent Photography Exhibition and portfolio review that our students participated in, a Street Photo Gallery involving photography fans and college students and collaborations between photography and music, and photography lessons.

For more information see websites:

‘Xinjiang Through My Lens’










Wonderful photographs from Xinjiang.

This 14 day photography project was sponsored by China Radio International (CRI) and The Information Office of the Government of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. There were 14 photographers and reporters from the East including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Iran, Nigeria, Kenya, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Pakistan.

Autonomous Regions are provincial governments in China but with more legislative rights. They have a higher population of a particular minority ethnic group. China has 5 autonomous regions: Guangxi, Inner Mongolia, Ningxia, Tibet (Xizang), and Xinjiang.

Xinjiang has a population of 21 million people with 60 percent ethnic minorities such as Uygur, Han, Kazak, Hui, Mongolian, Kirgiz, Xibe, Tajik, Ozbek, Manchu, Daur, Tatar, and Russian. It is bordered by Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kirgizstan, and Tajikistan.

It has five autonomous prefectures for four ethnic groups: Kazak, Hui, Kirgiz, and Mongolian; six autonomous counties and 43 ethnic townships. Xinjiang major religions are Islam, Buddhism (including Tibetan Buddhism), Protestantism, Catholicism and Taoism.

The cities photographed in this project were: Urumqi, Turpan, Ili Kazakh Autonomous Region, Altan, Burqin, Korla, Kasgar, and Aksu.

What Makes a Good Photograph?


1) The best photographs are simple. The background of your picture shouldn’t have clutter or anything to distract from the photographs. Aim for simplicity in your photography.

2) Good photographs shows movement. When viewing a photograph — close your eyes and then open them — do your eyes move around in the photograph? This is a critical element in good photography. Movement in a photograph greatly improves a picture and makes it dynamic.

3) What is the main point in your picture? All good photographs have a main focus. Figure out the main focus like a person’s face, the sun setting, a landscape, or a musician playing a piano.

4) Get a variety of shots. Shot at different angles. Take some pictures looking up at people. Try taking photographs from above like from bridges or in back of a flatbed truck. Try not to take all photographs from eye level to get better overall results.

5) Look for moments when things come together like the focal point or highlight of an event or activity. You want to capture the highest point of the action where you will generally see people’s emotion.

6) Take more than one picture of your subject. Try taking pictures with slightly different exposures and different angles. You will receive better results by taking 5-10 pictures than just one.

Photographers should have a balance of wide-angle, medium, and close up shoots. Close up shoots of people or objects are very dramatic. Medium distance photographs tells a story and are the ones people generally take. Wide angle pictures can say a lot about people or things like how many people are at an event.


The key to good photographs is to have good shadow detail (dark areas) and highlight detail (light areas). Well lit pictures are very sharp and distinct. Be careful when taking photographs during the midday when you often get harsh shadows in the your photographs. Camera flash can also be too harsh many times. Diffused (indirect) lighting that will generally give you better results be it with flash or natural lighting.


Extremely important to expose the image correctly otherwise you have very light or very dark photographs. With a digital camera you have a better opportunity to get the exposure correctly since all of them have automatic exposure settings. If you want more control over your camera exposure you can either use shutter priority Tv, aperture priority Av, or manual M.

Updated from Community Images “The Photography Manual” May 2011.