strxwberry cat 🌸

elysia cameraology

this is a document about our photography things. it's gonna be pretty chaotic and messy and awesome !!

time related information like shutter is displayed as a fraction and decimal format, since displaying fractional numbers is hard.

our cameras

These are the cameras we actively take images with!
We have one cellphone camera

a smartphone back lit in a dark area dramatically, wearing a floral case.

Maple has a wide angle lense, especially compared to our previous cellphones. Their cameras are also much more flexible overall, compared to previous phone cameras!

tag info f size: f/2.8
exposure time: 0.5 seconds
ISO: 200
35mm film equiv focal length: 38mm
taken with dslr
3 quaters angle image of a DSLR camera in well lit room. small, non removable optical zoom lens.

this was a gift from our grandfather, who we think inherited it from our great-grandpa? thank you grandpa(s)!

both the software and hardware are somewhat limitted, and seem proprietary. It has a really awesome optical zoom lense and aperture control, unlike all our cellphones.

tag info f size: f/1.7
exposure time: 1/33 seconds
ISO: 1250
taken with maple!

camera settings

in photography, there are a ton of different settings that you can use to speak your photograph. From our experience, the most common of these are:

  • white balance (colour tempeprature)
  • shutter speed (how long the lense is open for; how long it recieves light)
  • iso (image grain; useful to make images appear brighter)
  • aperture control (how wide the lense opens)
  • exposure metering (how exposure is determined)
  • focus (we have no idea how this one works)
  • exposure bias (exponential image processing effect that lets you dramatically alter exposure quickly)
we like to imagine that light itself is an option, too! we use photography options to come up with inspiration, and once we've mastered a certain way of using an option, we are able to automatically recognise our strategies and implement them when trying to figure out a photo.

for comparision: the more and more we learn and use colours in graphic design, the better we get at intuitively understanding how we make colours work well together for what we're doing. another is art! its super hard for us to draw proportions and perspectives initially for something we're unfamilar with, but it becomes natural and intuitive once we've drawn something based on a reference in multiple positions!

heres some of the awesome things we've learned and like to use for some of these! [huge work in progress and under contrscution.]

white balance

[note to self: make cute two-tone icons for each of these, like the items in umugen. also, make a section about umugen!!!!

shutter speed

shutter speed is how long the camera's shutter is open for, usually expressed in seconds. sometimes we and others call it "exposure time" instead, because it is the amount of time the lense is exposed to light!

a higher shutter speed will usually also mean a more bright image, because more light rays can make their way into the lense! the main case where this isn't true is when the light hits the image sensor or film in a different way!

when this happens, instead of the light rays stacking into the same place on the final image and making it brighter, totally new light rays are captured in the image. if someone moves while the shutter is open,for example, they will appear to be stretched and blurred in the final image!

this is motion blur! motion blur can be caused by basically anything moving while the shutter is open. Subjects, backgrounds, and the camera itself!

suburban australia masonry house that has had the camera twisted during open shutter, so it appears cirlcular.

we moved the camera quickly here!

tag info f size: f/2.0
exposure time: 1/40 seconds
ISO: 112
focal length: 3.5mm

sometimes we may only want some or no parts of the image blurred, and the key to controlling this is by having the light get recorded in a constant place.

when we take a picture from a stable tripod of a non-moving subject,the subject and background will likely appear to be be clear! this is because we are moving at roughly the same speed. if we wanted to take a clear picture of luigi on the race track while blurring only the background to emphasise their awesome speed, we'd most likely need to be moving in the same direction at the same speed as them!

we like using low shutter speeds to take pictures quickly and accessibly! they work especially well in sunlight, where the intensity of light is pretty high.

we like using higher shutter speeds to do really cool things with motion blur, or to make something appear brighter. In low light environments, we find keeping the shutter open for a long time is one of the most elegant ways to make the image clear!

underground metro station from a low angle. the train is moving out of the station, and there is a box of strawberries on the platform.
strxwberry cat

this métro station is poorly lit, so we used a high exposure time to get enough light in the lense!

version without motion.

tag info f size: f/3
exposure time: 1/30 seconds
ISO: 400
35mm film equiv focal length: 48mm
taken by dslr

sometimes, taking photographs like the above one with motion blur only works in low light settings. this is because the image may look brighter than we want if the exposure is too high! this métro station was perfect for motion blur, since it is lit only slightly, so the extra exposure time made it look lit normally instead of brighter than in real life.

at shutter speeds like this (1/30 seconds), it is pretty accessible for us to hold the camera very still during the open shutter. this takes some practice, and we do it by trying to hold our body in a stable pose and support the camera thoroughly, and to hold our breath and shutter release finger while opening the shutter.

plush toys laying on a carpeted floor, under etheral lights.
night light💫🌌

soft friends cuddling :) 🥰

tag info f size: f/1.7
exposure time: 1.3 seconds
ISO: 200
35mm film equiv focal length: 24mm
taken by maple

in this image, we move some lights in the background as the shutter is open to make it look really cool! we set our camera onto a hardcover book to keep it steady! this was more accessible than holding it since the camera was even closer to the ground, and because the exposure was longer.


supposedly, ISO is a measure of how sensitive the sensor or film is to light. we're pretty sure this is true in analog film, but not sure if it is true for digital cameras. Even if it is emulated in digital cameras, it still does work like that!

we use iso as the grain button, however.

we LOVE iso and image grain and image artifacts. we believe the main purpose of ISO is to help "artificially" raise exposure. very useful! under this traditional design use case, we can use ISO to actually get less overall exposure time, since we no longer need the extra light recieved in those extra moments if we ISO can make it appear like the exposure is higher than it really is

this is SO cool. by default, our current cellphone, Maple, does this exact behaviour. the photograph of our dslr on this page has a massive ISO rating and a TINY shutter speed, my goodness!

for non traditional use cases, we use ISO for image grain. image grain. it looks sick! image grain has its own kind of appearance that we really love for so many things. in general, we love anything that distorts or degrades the appearance of images from their natural look! we have a habit of photographing in "realistic" ways. we want to take more abstract and chaotic images!! yes yes yes yes!!!

elysia is feral uwu

dramatically tilted camera on a subruban arterial signalled intersection. it is night time, and the illumination of the street lights is reflecting off the wet road surface.
faint life
tag info f size: f/2
exposure time: 0.03 seconds
ISO: 3112
focal length (not 35mm equiv): 3.54mm

aperture control

aperture is how wide the lense is! it is measured with f numbers. smaller numbers means wider shutters!

when the lense is open wider, it can recieve more light! it also creates more intense depth of field than narrower lenses.

comparison of two images of a flat park in front of a forested mountain. The left image has a 3.1 f number, and the right has a 4.5 f number, and is also slightly dimmer.
aperture size exposure! both images are at the same time of day with the same shutter!
tag info

left image

f size: f/3.1
exposure time: 1/500 seconds
ISO: 80
35mm film equiv focal length: 59mm

right image

f size: f/4.5
exposure time: 1/500 seconds
ISO: 80
35mm film equiv focal length: 38mm (appears similar because photo editing)

depth of field is when the things out of focus appear to be blurred, in a different way from motion blur. it makes things appear less clear and smushier!! this type of blurring is called bokeh.

it can make images look awesome and is one of our favourite effects to play with. it can be good for drawing attention to the focus, or to blur distant lights to make them look ominous, and so much more! the ability to control the strength alone gives us a lot of happy ideas!

we can use small depth of fields for gently guiding people's eyes to what we want, no depth of field to have everything in focus, lots of depth of field for portraits, and super a lot of depth of field for dramatic images! (we use them more fluidly than this; these are just some of our ideas!)

razor blade handle on carpet. The foreground and background are blurred, including the pink foreground object.
weak depth of field look at the bokeh on the object close to the camera! smushed! the background is also blurred.
tag info f size: f/3.2
exposure time: 1/45 seconds
ISO: 80
35mm film equiv focal length: 94mm
taken by dslr
medium haired brown tabby cat laying on a very large clay brick outside in a summer day. There is a lot of foliage in the background, and the kitty is looking into the distance.
focus guiding! thee background foliage is basically all blurred!
tag info f size: f/3.3
exposure time: 1/1000 seconds
ISO: 80
35mm film equiv focal length: 238mm
this image was cropped in editing for a better composition
taken by dslr

in this picture of molly, we used a really big focal length (238mm)! generally, longer focal lengths makes depth of field stronger. so does moving the camera closer to the thing you're photographing!

lights are especially fun to use depth of field and bokeh, and really pronounce the smushing effect! a lot of our favourite images have pretty blurry lights.

in this image, the reason why depth of field is so strong, is because the camera is completely unfocused! everything is blurry because nothing is in focus!

low lit freeway at night. the streetlamps and car lights are a blurred, and nearly the only visible element.
20 over 💨
tag info f size: f/3.2
exposure time: 1/3 seconds
ISO: 80
35mm film equiv focal length: 94mm
taken by dslr


flash is when the camera goes boome!! many cameras have a light attached to them, and when flash is enabled, the light goes boom!

flash is good for when you want a light source directly from your camera, or another source for external flashes. Depending on the hardware, sometimes you can adjust things like the length the flash goes for!

built in flash, like other direct lighting, can change the appearance of something compared to real life. for example, on people, it can illuminate places that are normally shadowed by other parts of the body, so it can make them look unreal because we're used to seeing people with those shadows.

something that we find fun is trying to get flash to only effect certain parts of a scene! we can do this by pointing the flash light at a floor, for example, so that the light doesn't reach the background elements. We can also place an external flash light behind someone so that the wall behind them looks unaturally well lit, while simultaneously making the person poorly lit and ominous.

we are most familiar using flash to make a scene look solemn or in some way dark, emotionally. we,,,, goth clothes ads do this a lot to make it look dramatic we've noticed, and we really like that. When using direct flash on our body in low light scenes, we think it represents some kind of mental health and emotional thing, too, and that is awesome!

pink ribbon laying on a carpeted floor with a razor attached to a handle slanted into it from above. Both are stained red. The razor's steel and the sparkles in the ribbon are very bright. The background is nearly entirely dark and blurry.
cat girl blood 🌺💝
tag info f size: f/3
exposure time: 1/1000 seconds
ISO: 100
35mm film equiv focal length: 51mm
flash: yes
taken by dslr

we really love experimenting with directing where flash goes (we did this in cat girl blood!). covering the flash light, or blocking the light from traveling in a certain direction, for example!

it is very fun to have flash only affect certain parts of an image. we especially like using it outside!

exposure metering


exposure bias

exposure bias is the +3 to -3 number that you have probably seen if you've used a camera before.

it let's you quickly adjust the exposure through a cute slider! it is usually done through stops between -3 and +3, with every integer being either halve the previous or double the previous, depending on if the direction is negative or positive.

literally the one time we've seen a good use for special photography styles is a case study on wikipedia that says someone point their camera at the sun, and to compensate for the over metred light, they stopped up the exposure bias to +1.

when doing photography, we mainly use exposure bias when light is metred in a way we don't like, and we use it especially when taking quick photos, especially with our cellphone.

it is very fast and convenient to use with imediate results unlike when we go through the other light settings.

on both our cellphone and dslr, the option to use exposure bias goes away when using manual program mode, which makes sense, because we are setting all the light related settings manually. the number changes to a indicator of estimated exposure being metred! with +-0 reading being a well exposed image in the camera's opinion.

focal length

focal length is how long the lense is. the length of the lense determines how physically close something is to the camera, and and how much of a scene can fit into the lense!

focal lenght is usually measured in millimetres, and also usually referred to as their equivalent for 35mm film.

digital cameras have different sized lenses and image sensors, so using 35mm film equivalent helps make focal lengths comparable. it is useful because focal length determins field of view,

we like using eyes as a base to talk about different focal lengths.


photography at its core is recording light and saving it. light is what makes photographs!

using this knowledge and the mechanics of a camera, we can take advantage of light! to transform pictures!!!

this is one of the coolest parts of photography and something we're always exploring ☺️

washed out pictures

in photography, exposure can usually only be based off of one thing at a time.

as a result, when an image has both low lit and bright environments, capturing it like it looks in real life can be tough!

high dynamic range photos are where we can capture both these environemnts at the same time! the traditional way to do this is by taking two identical pictures, with different exposure metering.

user interface

likely one of the few forces that is able to contain and limit elysia amazing photo skillz is the software that she uses to make them.

most cellphone camera software is pretty poor. it's difficult to use, not very convenient, and super inflexible from our experiences. we thought this, until our last phone operating system. it was AWESOME. we could choose exposure metering and focus point separately and anywhere we wanted, something we've never been able to do before, and something the touchscreen made super intuitive. we could change the shutter speed as we wanted, and had a lot of control over colour temperature!!

on our old dslr camera, the software has some big limitations. it has somewhat low range shutter speed options, bad colour temperature settings, poor auto settings compared to modern cameras, and some things were iconvenient to use.

we think camera software being accessible to use and experiment in real time with is radical, and we hope good user experience is commonplace in modern dslr cameras. we are often heavily discouraged from making photographs, because of how long it takes to set up our dslr, and because of how our cellphone's options are just not robust or outward facing enough!

something we also want, is an umurangi generation style approach to post image taking. we want to make this. we want to have a bunch of settings appear immediately after photographing something like in umugen!! we want the cool options and settings!! we want user experience in real life to be like umugen!!!
the main thing we dislike is how changing things like iso and aperture works in umugen, its not fun, it's probably faster and more convenient and intuitive in real life. the audio visual joy it gives us is way more good, though 🥰!!

umugen having good user experience is one of the main reasons we discovered how cool flash is! we used to hate flash and thought it was bad lighting and not ideal. umugen's camera never jostles, and you can preview a lot in the sights and adjust settings accessibly, so it usually only takes one photograph to get the image we want. this makes it super accessible and fun to experiment! flash is sick.

angled camera looking at a cool yellow propped up skateboard and casette tape, resting against a concrete retaining wall.
positive yellow! a elysia umugen photograph.
umugen doesn't save picture metadata :(
nintendo switch handheld game console leaning against a plastic container vertically. they are both basked in red light, and washed out by other, more intense light.
bleeding the switch screen had cool lighting effects on it too. we covered the screen since it was displaying someone else's art.
tag info f size: f/3.2
exposure time: 1 second
ISO: 80
35mm film equiv focal length: 82mm
Flash: yes!
taken with dslr


we've been thinking about recently if we'd like a new camera. and yeah!!! it seems like newer cameras have much betterr user interface and experience, and are more flexible and accessible.

beyond interface we think it would be cool to have one that has a very big max aperture.