Natural Beauty


Above shot: Malibu beach, Malibu California

Below shot: Sunset over Santa Monica Pier on a foggy day, Santa Monica California


While on vacation it is a natural reaction to take a ton of photos worth with a phone and not really think about the lighting or any technical aspect. It is quick and easy rather than what most photographers do, bring a full camera with equipment and stage all of their shots by scouting locations and waiting for the perfect light out of the thousands of photos they take.

These are two amazing shots that I happened to get lucky while shooting with my phone in California. I wasn’t able to take my camera or any equipment with me, even though I wanted to because I expected to see beautiful beaches and piers in the sunny California weather, but it wasn’t possible. Instead I got a wonderful surprise of foggy weather and eary lighting over the harbors of Santa Monica and Malibu that took me off guard because realized what natural lighting and photo technique habits have been ingrained within me over time.

I will be completely honest that for both of these shots I wasn’t trying to take them. I saw something and took a photo and didn’t really think about it for framing or anything, but instinctively that framing and looking for the proper lighting or as many will call it, “honing that photo eye” without even realizing. This was really incredible to realize because it had me reflecting on my past photography experiences and helped me to realize how much I have actually grown and learned over the several years of school. Neither of these photos have any sort of editing or, as I said, any forced technique.

My favorite of the two photos is the top one taken in Malibu. As I arrived it was a perfectly sunny day and I was very excited for the potential. Then after a nice lunch that lasted maybe forty five minutes the weather had completely changed due to the mountains and atmospheric temperature and other science, weather stuff, it became incredibly foggy and cloudy with the sun barely shining through. Which turned out to be an even better surprise for me to get a shot that looks almost black and white without any real effort and is now one of my favorite shots from the trip.

Always be shooting and sometimes just shoot for fun. Go out and don’t force lighting or looking for that perfect angle. It will help to show you how much growth you have achieved as well as expose areas that may be weak in your skills and should be focused on. Obviously this is not something to do all the time since technical skills are important and will add to a portfolio, but still great idea for photography friends to spend time together or just to blow off some steam and get back to enjoying the roots of photography.


Brightening up the holiday season

For the final project for this class we were assigned a photo story. Thinking of what event to actually do was quiet hard for me because the events that I would have loved to do for this that were happening around me or that I was attending happened before we were assigned this project and I was not thinking about it far enough in advance to be able to get the photos needed for this with the interview and everything involved. So when I thought about what to do I wanted to somehow include the amazing city that I live in and what was going on around me.

My mind immediately went to ice skating at Campus Martius because I go every year with my friends and it is such a staple in the community around this time of year. They do a tree lighting ceremony, have an ice rink and really make the area look so great with Christmas and holiday decorations that it is one of those feel good events that really completes the Christmas experience.

This year the area is especially cool because they added these urban looking greenhouses that then were turned into pop up shops. They feature local artists and businesses within them. There is still the classic ice rink and tree, which is always a favorite of mine since this is the rink I learned how to ice skate on as a child. The area is not just the rink anymore though, as you walk down towards the river front these pop up shops are there, with the Briar Beer Garten for food and refreshments as well as a decorated path way leading down to more green houses, but in the style of igloos that house gamin areas, a coffee shop and an organic fruit market. This has made the whole area really come up and look very grand. It adds a lot to the city I think as well to the overall Campus Martius experience. It can be a day trip now with family and friends instead of just thought as somewhere to go ice skating.

I really enjoy just the overall feeling of the area now. You can feel the holiday spirit as well as the welcoming and enjoyment of others. With the holiday tunes blasting and the beautiful decorations surrounding the area day or night there are so many things to capture your attention. It truly is a must see experience this year and could be completely different next year, which also just makes it that much more special.

My favorite part of this project though was capturing the moments of people having a great time and seeing all the families taking Christmas photos or ice skating together. Talking to everyone about the new shops to see others views was interesting. It was a very positive environment that gave off really great vibes making it where I don’t see how anyone wouldn’t want to hang out for a great night in the wonderful city of Detroit

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Playing the game

This is not the first time I have shot sports and this is not the first time I had the opportunity to shoot the Schoolcraft Women’s basketball team. I have been able to shoot them multiple times over the course of three different seasons. This has been really exciting for me to watch different players work on the team together and to see what challenges each new season has brought. I am comfortable with shooting sports because I have been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to shoot several different types.

This shoot was easier than I expected. It has been almost a year since I shot a sporting event and I was nervous about adjusting my settings properly as well as getting the best action shots because it is so fast pace that I have not been around in awhile. Thankfully I quickly adjusted tot he setting again and was easily able to enjoy this game without feeling stressed about if the photos and setting would be right. I also always over shoot when it comes to sports because I want to assure I actually have enough photos to choose from as well as different angle options and a variety of shots to choose from.

For this shoot I really enjoyed the action because I got some really unexpected shots that I have never gotten before so I was excited to see how those turned out. I found it challenging to get any coach shots because most of the time the coach would turn away when she noticed the camera or was just not ever facing my proper direction. I also found it difficult to get any shots of the crowd that were interesting to involve the fans. It was an incredibly small crowd that did not show much enthusiasm or enjoyment besides simple applause, which did not turn out to be very interesting. The other teams bench was very entertaining though and I enjoyed that shot more than an actual fan shot, but I would not normally expect that.

Overall it was fun to shoot sports again after being on hiatus for so long and the game gave em some very interesting shots that I am excited to explore more.

Action 1
Schoolcraft forward and guard Megan Sandiha is knocked to the floor as she tries to gain control of a rebound ball and fight back again the Muskegon Jayhawks scoring.
Action 2
 Schoolcraft forward and guard C’Erra Maholmes tries to assist her fellow teammates shot into the basket.



Coach 1
Coach Kara Kinzer encourages the team with a new game plan at the end of the halftime period.
Coach 2
Coach Kinzer and Assistant Coach Katy Pierson draw out the next plays during a second quarter time out to try and defeat the Muskegon Jayhawks.
Sideline 1
Muskegon Jayhawk sideline teammates as their fellow jayhawks score the winning basket.

Meeting the subject

I just joined a sorority on Wayne States campus called Alpha Epsilon Phi. This sorority has 60 girls as members and it is hard to get to know all of the girls right away. For my portrait subject I decided to use the opportunity to help out a sister, get to know her better as well as make a friend. Liliana just joined AEPhi as well as a freshman, most of the new member class of 20 girls are sophomores or juniors. Since accepting her bid nine weeks ago this sorority has become a big part of her life through making friends, attending weekly meetings and events as well as finding a new group of mentors. It now has become her main place of comfort and a big part of her personality so when I asked her what would represent her she of course chose our letters and the giraffe which is the sorority mascot.

What I learned from this experience was more than just getting more experience with portraits. I got to learn about my subject and have a really fun shoot. She had never had portraits before and I didn’t know her that well so we both had a great time just messing around and feeling the shoot out instead of being serious and over posing every shot. I do not necessarily think shooting portraits are hard unless you have a stiff or uncomfortable subject. I felt this shoot was quiet easy because we had a good time and just went with whatever we were feeling so that the shots looked natural and not rigid or stiff. It was fun not having to feel like there was high expectations or pressure to impress anyone for an important headshot for a client. The aspect of this shoot that I found challenging was finding interesting angles working with just an ordinary headshot and then understanding exactly what is expected for an environmental portrait shot. I had never heard this exact terminology so experimenting with that concept was a challenge, but fun as well to see the personality brought out through shots even though they were posed.

I really enjoy shooting people and getting to know my subject. I am more comfortable taking shots when people ask or are aware then true photojournalism where it is the shoot first and ask questions later kind of mentality. It has been a great experience all around though and I am really glad with the experience.

IMG_5813 edited
Liliana Lemus is a Wayne State student and active member of Alpha Epsilon Phi sorority on campus. She is a fun and bubbly person who loves to sit in the leaves in the fall and watch the colors of the trees change.
IMG_5752 edited
Liliana Lemus is a Wayne State freshman majoring in Juvenile Social Work with a minor in the field of criminal justice. She hopes to get a job helping youth within the local area once she graduates.

IMG_5803 editedIMG_5749 edited

Behind the screen, inside the lens

Taking photos as a photojournalist is a very different experience than just writing an article as a journalist or reporting from behind the camera as a broadcast journalist. An image is used to take place of were words usually tell the tale of the world. Learning about photography from a textbook to explore how these worlds differ can get kind of dull sometimes or cause one to glaze over a bit trying to read through all of the fine text of camera operations, different rules and ethics, ect. It can be quiet a lot to wrap one’s head around. Reading about photography from a magazine, especially one that features articles about famous photojournalists and their work though can be an interesting read that keeps one entertained.

“News Photographer” is a magazine printed by the National Press Photographers Association and is dedicated to news photography and photojournalists work. I have never read a magazine like this and I have to admit I am probably one of their latest subscribers because I really enjoyed it. This gave me a different perspective as to what type of different work photojournalist do as well as the vast range of images that exist within this field. I particularly enjoyed to articles about specific photographers and their thoughts on the work they had produced over their career, compared to the critiques they may have faced from the public.

One article I enjoyed in particular was about Pulitzer prize winner Eddie Adams. He was a photojournalist that shot many incredible events such as the funeral of President John F. Kennedy, refugees and many other worldwide events. The photo that Adams won his Pulitzer prize for was “Saigon Execution.” In this photo the execution of a Vietcong prisoner named Nguyen Van Lem is taking place by a South Vietnamese national police chief Brig. General, who goes by the name of Nguyen Ngoc Loan, in Saigon, South Vietnam on February 1, 1968. This is an incredibly striking photo and also incredibly sad. Adams did not ever want to enter this photo for a prize, but rather it was entered for him by a colleague. When he won the award he tried to return it as he wrote in many of his journals before his death that he won this prize for the wrong photo. He regretted this for most of his career and always was haunted by this experience. He continuously tried to win another Pulitzer so that he would not be remembered for the “Saigon Execution” shot that he felt did not represent him or his work.

I was watching a PBS documentary about the Vietnam war and the ultimate fall of Saigon right after reading this article. This photograph and photographer were mentioned in a very different light within the documentary. Adams was a servicemen and traveled to Vietnam to shoot the events occurring. He knew from the moment he saw this scene that the prisoner would be executed and instinctively started shooting. As a service member though he was instilled with a certain set of values that was very opposed to exposing moments such as these to the world in this very harsh and realistic light as this was a man moments before his death. He did not want to upset the family if they were to ever see this shot or dishonor this man’s life through a photo of his final moments. In the documentary it discussed how great his work was and how Adams shots such as these really impacted the view of the war front for those back home in the U.S.

It was just interesting to see how a famous photojournalist would have that view of his own work and to get the perspective that he had at how some experiences and moments do really haunt those within this field for their whole lives. Also how many are worried about how their images will portray their career after they pass on. I really enjoyed the magnitude of different types of articles and shots they offered. It was a great perspective of those behind the lens through their own words or articles rather than just by their photos. IMG_2498

Finest Features

Shooting features is always fun and can lead to some really great shots that are unexpected. There are different kinds of features though. This week and last week I shot an enterprise feature and an event feature shoot. The event feature is a shoot that I am used to. Working for newspapers in the past I have shot events many times before and am used to this type of running around constantly shooting to try and get the best shots from different angles while the world still moves around me.

I have never shot a swing dance event though so this was very interesting for me to experience and find interesting ways to get shots when the dancers were moving all around, flipping, dipping, twirling and flipping, without warning and very quickly. I also had to deal with some difficult lighting, but I really liked the challenge. It made for some interesting shots, many that were blurry or at awkward angles because of the movement of the dance, but still a valuable learning experience.

On Monday, Oct. 23, Alysa Khater and Laura Broquet attended the Swing Dance Club meeting in the basement of the Wayne State Student Center. Khater is an active member of the club and is teaching Ross, a newcomer to swing dance, different dance steps and lifts.
Madison Hostetler and Zach Rich are both active members of the Swing Dance club and more advanced swing dancers. They attend meetings twice a week to practice their moves and help others to improve on their craft through teaching and demonstrations.
Madison Hostetler and Bilal Dabboussi demonstrate different dips and spins to other members that are trying to advance past basic steps.


An Enterprise feature shot is something that before this assignment I have never actually heard of. This is a feature shot that is not planned at all, like I planned on shooting an event and knew when it was going on and where it would be. This type of shot would be captured by driving around and falling upon a moment. I was simply walking from class to a different building on Wayne States’ Campus when I saw the DIA looking empty (because it was closed, which I did not realize until after I talked to this young women) and only one person out front. This is a rare sight. I am really glad I was able to capture this moment though because it turned out to be a beautiful photo and a great chat with a fellow student that was trying to visit an exhibition in between classes.

Wayne State Student Tessa Valentini walks away from the Detroit Institute of Arts after finding it closed on the night of October 26. She wanted to visit the special D-Cyphered: Portraits by Jenny Risher Exhibition that is being featured until February 18.

Recognizing First Amendment Rights

Amendment I. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceable to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. (found at )

The First Amendment is incredibly important in general, but especially for journalism and media as a whole as it has developed over the course of history within this nation. This amendment has developed his exact meanings and reach immensely over time to include more protection for those who have needed it, many of those being in cases of ethical and law debates about media. As a collegiate photojournalist this amendment gives me many freedoms to do my job and cover what is happening in real time.

Some of these freedoms are the freedom to be able to shoot on public property and basically shoot photos first and ask questions later. I do not have to constantly ask for permission for photos, I can shoot in places that many may not want to be shot, but because it is public it is within my rights. It is important to know as a student photojournalist though what exactly this amendment does and does not protect. There may be situations that this is questionable that could lead to trouble, but if you clearly know these rights it is comforting to be able to lean on these protections and gives me the capacity to actual go into situations I may not be comfortable with otherwise because of the legal ramifications.

There are some situations though that even though they may be considered legal are not always considered ethical. There are three types of ethical decision making foundations that every person exhibits at least one of in this field. These three foundations are Utilitarian, Absolutist and the Golden Rule. The Utilitarian approach outlines that the information is critical to society, whether good or bad, and needs to be shared. The Absolutist approach would be that people have their right to privacy and no matter what lesson could be learned from a tragedy or scandal that people have a right to their own privacy and stand firmly by their legally-based First Amendment principals. The Golden Rule is to basically treat others how you would wish to be treated. A photographer that follows this rule would not take a photo because they felt that they wouldn’t want their business shared in public if they were int he same situation.  I feel that I am mainly a Golden Rule photojournalist. I am very sensitive to others feelings and really would not be able to live with myself if I shared a situation with the world that I would also not be okay sharing myself. This may mean getting passed up for some jobs or definitely having to question my morals in some situations, but I feel that working with this ideal and the absolutist approach to find creative ways to shoot scenes and be as moral as possible will not only help to make me a better photojournalist, but will help me overall be happier in life.

These three foundations of ethical decision making relate to the profession of photojournalism by really giving photographers guidelines as to what is okay and what is not okay or what is actual considered journalism and what is considered tabloids or paparazzi (dirty) photography. Many people may not like to have their photos taken or in certain situations such as crime or accidents there is definitely a line of what should be shown visually and what should not be. These foundations help to outline and justify what kind of photojournalist you want to be and what kind of ethical values you want to personally uphold. These three are all apart of a photojournalist with one always being the strongest voice. It helps to continually shape the industry as technology and ethical societal lines begin to blur and change and shapes the future of where visual photography can and should go.

Photography Best 10 Assignment Shots

The first actual post is here! These are the ten best shots from my camera operations photo adventure. These shots are of different photographic categories such as depth of field, blurred action, panned motion, ect. This assignment focuses on lighting and mainly camera operations within these different shot techniques while shooting fully in manual mode to learn the camera as well as add intent and thought to photos instead of just blindly shooting.

There is very little editing on these photos at all besides brightening or darkening the lighting of the photo. These shots all vary with their ISO, shutter speed, F-stop and aperture depending on the lighting as well as the type of shot. For the shots on the horse, they were action shots and needed much higher shutter speeds than the other photos that were taken in a more regular setting were there was not as fast motion. All the other photos that are not of the barn were taken around Detroit and in Mexican town at my friend’s house.

Most of these photos were shot at higher ISO speeds like 1600 or 3200 because the lighting situations were so dark and most of the outside ones were actually shot around sunset, so to make them look bright and clear enough I had to bump up to the higher ISO speeds to actually get clear enough images, by letting more light into the camera. The barn was a particularly hard place to shoot as well as the church silhouette image due to the different lighting situations from the outside light being let in as well as the overall lack of quality lighting inside the location as well. For the barn there was relatively no inside lighting and several openings into the field letting in a ton of outside light, so I had to have a high ISO while also choosing a particular corner to shoot in to allow time to adjust settings. This also allowed me time to capture a clear background to be blurred or blur my subject for these panned, stopped motion and blurred action.

I also really enjoyed using different lenses to shoot and see how they affected my actual shots. I typically shoot with my standard 18mm to 55mm lens so that I can have a wide range of options for zooming in and out. It worked well when I was shooting around Detroit because most of those shots were taken while I was in a car or just walking around and I could not get as up close as I wanted to the subject. This lens was also helpful shooting at the barn because I needed to give the horse space to move without being in the way and having the option to use a zoom lens really helped with that. I decided to use my 50mm lens for some of the shots like the extreme light image and the rule of thirds photo because I had the freedom to get as close or far from the subject in my friends house environment as needed. It just offered a more reasonable setting for this type of fixed lens. It offers a very nice composition to the photos as well that I enjoy that I can’t necessarily get with other lenses.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Who is she?

My name is Elizabeth Casella. I am from Detroit, Michigan and I am a Broadcast Journalism Major at Wayne State University. I have been interested in journalism since I was a child and hope to one day be a news anchor or foreign correspondent. I have worked for the Award Winning Schoolcraft Connection newspaper for three years as a High School student intern, as well as a staff writer and then as the Managing Editor for a year and a half. In my final year working for the paper we won 13 individual awards as well as best overall Division II college newspaper at the MCCPA Awards. I also have worked freelance for local papers since I was 14 years old. I am experienced in photography, web design, journalism and videography.

Since I was five years old I have known that I wanted to be a Broadcast Journalist. I always aimed to be like my idol Katie Couric and Meredith Viera on the “Today” morning news show.  I learned photograph in my early years from my father; he was a wedding photographer for ten years.

Blog at

Up ↑