Lights, colors, shutter speed and aperture value

Power went out at around 2.30 p.m. I saw my computer monitor flicker then I heard an explosion from a distance. Of course, it must have happened in reverse order — the explosion came first before the monitor died. If I need evidence that sound travels, that’s it. Because the explosion took place from a distance, I heard it a split-second after I knew that power had gone out. But I needed Alex to point that out. Science is really not among my strong points.

Anyway, power was restored at 8.30 p.m. I was actually in touch with the Meralco crew assigned to our area (that’s how persistent I can be) and I was told that their truck broke down and, hence, the delay. Between the time power went out and the time it was restored, the girls and I tried to amuse ourselves as best as we could. The first half hour wasn’t so bad. I was on the phone making a report to Meralco when I saw the sky from the second floor balcony… Sunlight filtering through the clouds

I can’t resist sights like that. I see something that beautiful and I feel compelled to run for my cam. Yes, run, because most times, these scenes don’t last for more than a few seconds. When the clouds completely covered the sun, there was nothing more exciting to shoot so the girls and I took a walk around the neighborhood, then I went swimming (ten laps and my fats and muscles were aching beyond words), we had an early dinner after that, then it was dark — that was when the boredom really started eating into my being. I was lying on the bed, looking out through the open door to the garden, counting the fireflies fluttering among the plants, watching Twix jump up at them and thinking how nice it would be to have a greenhouse beside the house.

The girls… they wanted to play Scrabble but Scrabble by candlelight is too much strain on my eyes. They found their own source of amusement by playing with melted candle wax. It was after they got tired of the wax (oh, okay, it was after I started scolding them for allowing the hot wax to drip on the coffee table in the living room) and they came into my bedroom that the only real exciting event in the brown out episode took place — Sam started experimenting with lights, aperture values and shutter speeds with Alex as her model. A minute later, I was running up the stairs for my camera to get into the action. A few adjustments of the camera’s settings and… Photography experiments

Okay, when I say Alex was our model, it actually means she had to hold a cell phone with the screen facing Sam and me. Sam and I focused on the light and adjusted our cameras’ settings, then, on the count of three, we pressed the buttons. During the time that the cameras’ shutter were open, Alex drew shapes in the air. The lights in the photo above are from the screen of Alex’s HTC Hermes. Experiments with lights, shutter speed and aperture value

Above, the heart was “drawn” with the camera spotlight (or whatever it’s called) of Alex’s HTC Hermes. Lights, shutter speed and aperture value in photography

The spiral’s colors come from the blue and orange analog clock wallpaper of my Samsung phone. After a while, Alex complained that her arm was aching, refused to draw any more figures then proceeded to bury her face in the pillows. Sam took over the drawing job. All three photos below were made with the lights and colors from the opening menu of my iPhone. Sam had to adjust the brightness because the iPhone was running on low battery supply and we wanted the lights to last as long as they could. Shutter speed at 8; aperture value at 3.2 Shutter speed at 8; aperture value at 3.2 Shutter speed at 8; aperture value at 3.2

The nice thing about the iPhone’s opening menu is that the background is black and the buttons are far apart enough to create black spaces in between. With the shutter speed set at 8 and the aperture value at 3.2, the light and colors of each button was discernible.

We managed to kill an hour doing all those light drawings. Then, Alex noticed that the ceiling fan was on, we all screamed with delight (I’m sure the screaming was heard all the way to the subdivision gate and I wouldn’t have been surprised if the security guard had come knocking to check if something was wrong) and it was time to pack up the cams.


    • says

      Kotsengkuba, di ganun kadami. Pero pwede na rin pag trip-an ehehehe

      d0d0ng, the first time I experienced a sonic boom was the first time I heard the term hehehe I was in high school, I think.

      Asianmommy, maybe, when there’s more time I can post the exact aperture value and shutter speed setting used for each pic.

      Tito Rolly, I was thinking nga of having the best ones framed hehehehe

  1. says

    who knew that the brownout would bring out you and your girls’ creative juices flowing. Serendipity talaga. You’re becoming to be a real pro with your camera.

    • says

      What a delightful series of photos. It’s pictures like this that also remind me why I love photography.

      I’m so glad I discovered your blog!

  2. says

    hehehe! Ang ganda ng mga “neon” lights. I once saw a picture of Pablo Picasso doing something similar to this. He was drawing an abstract on air with a penlight while somebody took his photograph with full aperture and a slow shutter speed setting.

  3. says

    Alex tried writing her name and Sam’s. Galing nung effect but I was using a 50mm lens and I didn’t capture the full names. Sam has photos of them though. Dunno where she’s going to post them.

  4. says

    We do not experience as much power failures in Southern California but it does happen every so infrequently and when it does, it is a moment (unbelievebably) of joy for me. I get to momentarily relive the days when I had to use candles or a “gasera” to light up my room to continue to do my school assignment. I felt annoyed, frustrated and angry then, but now I feel nostalgic and I embarrasingly yearn for those days again.

  5. says

    If the climate here is as good as what you have there, bertN, it probably wouldn’t be such a hassle and we’ll always find ways to make the most our of the situation — enjoy it even. Last Saturday, had the brownout lasted much longer, I would have suggested getting jars and catching fireflies in the garden. :) But imagine brownouts during a Philippine summer. I can still remember 1992 and it scares me. No lights, no water… for as long as 16 hours a day.

  6. d0d0ng says


    The moment we heard a loud boom, we all went out of the house. My wife thought it was our roof. I could not blame her after the Sta Ana wind tore our roof. But I thought, it was a gas station blown up, not a good feeling after too close of being gutted twice in Oct 13 and Nov 14 California wildfires. And then our white neighbor (who woke us up during the last early morning fire) surprised to see all of us outside told us, it was the sonic boom of the space shuttle endeavor landing at Edwards AFB about 40 miles from us.

    Whew. We could only laugh…. di kasi nanood ng news sa tv after too much carnage at Mumbai.