Thursday, November 29, 2007

Offline for a Few Days

I'll be at the Atlanta Photojournalism Seminar for the next two days. If something big happens, I'm sure you'll find out about it.

Full report when I return.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Internship: Washington Times

FYI ...

Summer Photo Intern - The Washington Times

Washington, D.C., is the place to be this summer as candidates
race to the White House.

The Washington Times is a metro daily located in the District of
Columbia, with an award-winning photo staff. We are now
accepting applications for our summer internship program. Our
coverage, which centers on national political trends, stresses
thoughtful, analytical long-term photo projects, as well as
daily assignments.

The intern will work with 12 staff photographers and a video
journalist, including last year's NPPA Photographer of the Year
and Pulitzer Prize finalist.

At least three current members of the staff started here as
interns. Will you be next?

The perfect candidate will have experience working with both
audio and video, and the ability to produce rich multimedia
stories for our website.

Applicants must have the use of a car, and even though some pool
equipment is provided, their own camera equipment. The intern
will have access to pool lenses and lighting kits. The pay is
$350 per week.

The application package must include a resume, a 500 word
autobiography, references with daytime phone numbers and a
portfolio of not more than 20-40 images with at least two photo
stories and one multimedia piece. Edit tightly. Show us your
best work.

Portfolios cannot be returned, and should be Mac-friendly. (We
will review images via Photo Mechanic, therefore images should
be in a folder separate from the multimedia piece(s) and include
full caption information. Grammar, spelling and AP style should
be carefully examined before the portfolio is submitted.)

The deadline for applications/portfolios is December 14, 2007;
however, they will be reviewed as they arrive. It has been said
that the early bird gets the worm.

Staff work can be seen at

Please send materials to:

C.D. McGonigal
Photo Editor
The Washington Times
3600 New York Ave. NE
Washington, DC 20002

Questions can be emailed to:

New Lincoln Photo

Some of you may have seen the news that a "new" photo of President Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg was found. Now, the New York Times has a column about the photo and it asks some questions we, as photojournalists, should be thinking about.

In class this week we talked about the differences between "general news" photographs and "documentary" photographs. How one shows the here-and-now and the other deals more with time and space, with the era in which it was created. I particularly like how the writer, Verlyn Klinkenborg, wraps it up:

And this is somehow the inherent bias of the camera. It always directs us toward the center of attention, never away to the periphery, even though that is where our attention eventually wanders.

60 Ways to Find Inspiration

Over on the Photopreneur blog, they've got a list of 60 things you can do to get inspired.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Sunday, November 25, 2007

REVIEW: Flip Ultra

My wife was sent a Flip Ultra video camera from Pure Digital Technologies for her to review on her bargain finding web site. Since she doesn’t deal with technology stuff as much as we do, she handed it off to me.

First impressions were positive. It’s a simple little device, easily fits in a shirt or jeans pocket. The model we have has a one gigabyte flash drive in it which will provide 30 minutes of video and costs about $100. There’s a 60 minute version for $150, as well.

The build quality is pretty good with a decent heft to it and the number of buttons and switches is kept to a minimum power, record, play, delete, and a four-way rocker switch for zoom and playback selection. There’s also a standard tripod thread on the bottom.

It runs on two AA batteries and, after filling it twice, it’s still running on my first set of alkalines. Go figure, with no moving parts it’s pretty efficient.

There’s a built in microphone and speaker and two ways to get video out - a jack on the side that’ll feed a TV or VCR with audio and video signals (cable included) and a built-in USB jack.

Wait, a what?

Yep - there’s a switchblade-like USB plug on the side of this thing. Open it and plug it right into your computer, no extra cables to haul around. The camera writes .avi files and it has built-in editing software for Macs and PCs. Meaning you can connect to just about any computer, edit and upload to the web. (You will need to install a specific codec to get the audio to work, but it’s in the camera as well and only takes a minute.)

Video is of limited quality which you’d expect for a $100 camera. But, to be honest, it’s better than most of what you find on YouTube and beats most cell phones hands down. If you’re in close, the audio isn’t bad, either. Though move back a few feet and it has trouble hearing what you want. The only thing that would make this better is a mic jack - a simple stick mic would make all the difference.

How’s it to use? Brilliantly simple. With it’s limited number of buttons, it’s a true point-and-shoot camera. There’s a 2-1 digital zoom, but after looking at the results I’m tempted to say just leave it at the wide (i.e., full resolution) setting. The zoomed images get really chunky.

The lens is also so wide, due to the small video chip, that hand-holding it doesn’t make you ill on playback. With almost no magnification of movement, motion isn’t as bad as most other video cameras.

So who should buy this? Is this what every newspaper reporter should be handed?
Well, no. The video and audio quality aren’t there for professional pieces.

That said, it may be the way to introduce video into journalism classes. At $100 a pop, it’s just a little more than the audio kits we’ve been buying here at Grady College. It’ll let students experiment, it’ll let them learn concepts of storytelling and it won’t be a huge financial burden. Additionally, given the compact size, it’s easy enough to order them to carry it everywhere.

Families would be the next in line to pick one of these up. As long as you can get close to your subjects (remember, zoom=bad) you can get some good stuff with it. Haul it to the beach or the park, haul it everywhere you go. You never know when those moments will happen.

I took it over to Stone Mountain this weekend to play. I did not use the built-in editing software, so this was done in about 20 minutes in iMovie. Check out the video (and, yeah, I know - jump cuts galore).

Saturday, November 24, 2007

News Photographers Refused Access to Illinois High School Football Championship Games

The Illinois High School Association, who oversees high school sports in the state last night denied access to several newspapers, according to an article in the Pantagraph.

At issue here is the policy of newspapers to sell reprints of published photos. The IHSA is considering this a commercial use of the images, and they claim ownership of the commercial rights to the games. Newspapers claim that reprints are a long-established customer service initiative. The vast majority of those reprints are sold to parents with no rights beyond personal display.

As a former photojournalist (and editor) who covered a lot of high school sports, I offer this opinion: While newspapers may be charging $20-30 a print which the average person believes can be made for a few bucks, the reprint "business" is not a profit-making one for most papers. The time it takes is substantial. The need to maintain printing equipment that meets the professional standards of the newspaper is substantial.

Now, newspapers that are creating photo galleries of everything that's sharp, with no thought to news value, those papers are looking at it as a revenue stream and, well, I'm not sure I can support that, ethically, as they may be profiting off of the players.

There's a slightly off-center middle ground here, giving newspapers the ability to sell prints - with no additional rights granted - to the public as long as those images are part of their "standard" news coverage.

Now, go define "standard."

(See earlier post about the Illinois Press Association suing the Illinois High School Association, a suit which was dropped when the IPA believed they were close to an agreement with the IHSA.)

Black Friday (Updated 11/26)

Ugh. I hated Black Friday when I was shooting. Dealing with the mall PR office to get permission to shoot, then still having to deal with the mall cops ... just, ugh. And for what? Pictures of people shopping. Blechh.

So how would this work in video for a newspaper site? Check out how the San Jose Mercury News did it. Feels almost as chaotic as being there.

The Pittsburg Post-Gazette's video has a nicely done opening shot and a bit of humor at the end. Some audio issues with the interviews, and it could use some better detail shots, but that opener works well.

UPDATE: The Roanoke Times followed a group of high school friends as they camped out in front of a BestBuy. Why? There's nothing else to do in Roanoke ....

Friday, November 23, 2007

Upon Reflection ...

The Reuters photo blog has a collection of photos of reflections. Something to think about as you put together an end-of-semester portfolio - can you make one that works?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Five Legal Horrors

Not as catchy as Richard Feynman's "Six Easy Pieces," but you get the point ... over on Photopreneur is a listing of five recent court cases involving photographs. Worth taking a look at.

The lesson on some: You can't use any photo you take any way you want.

Monday, November 19, 2007

"A New Dawn"

David Stephenson's two year coverage of a woman going through drug court is up on the Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader's web site. Broken into several chapters, it follows her through the courts and treatment programs and ends up ... close to where she started.

Canon Makes Significant Loan to Grady

Okay, I don't like to brag. Much.

But we scored a big loan from Canon this semester, and there's now a story up on our web site about it.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

It Pays to Reedit

Sometimes. Other times, it just annoys you. But after shooting what will probably be my last football game of the season on Saturday, I sent my 18 photos out to my clients and headed home. Sitting on the couch Sunday evening, I poked through again, just to see what else was in there.

Sometimes, you find nothing. Sometimes, you shake your head and ask how you missed that. This time, I just wondered if this is worth anything.

Moral? Edit and reedit, or, better yet, have someone else edit. New eyes see new things.

Friday, November 16, 2007

More on Bokeh

I mentioned this concept of "bokeh" in class the other day - the term for how a lens renders the out-of-focus areas in an image. (I think I likened it to trying to explain to a high school friend why the silence of CDs was important in 1986 ... he kept asking why anyone was paying attention to the time between tracks ...)

ANYWAY ... The Online Photographer has a nice bit up about bad bokeh.

BBQ & Multimedia ...

... does it get better than that?

Mark Dolan, a former faculty member at my old school, has been on the road for two years now telling the story of barbecue in America through his BBQ Pilgrim web site. The collection of audio slideshows is developing into a nice catalog of work.

Worth checking out, but you'll be hungry when you're done ...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

College Photographer of the Year

The College Photographer of the Year awards are out - and up. All the photos, audio slideshows and videos have now been posted online. Go, explore, question.

Monday, November 12, 2007

On Campus

From our friends in TeleComm ...

Dan Goslee, an emerging specialist in Telecine and Digital Imaging will visit Grady College November 14 - 16th. Dan will give a short lecture/demo on Wednesday, November 14th in Room 214 of the SLC from 4:30pm - 6pm.

Worth exploring.

Joel Meyerowitz on Printing

HP has a video on Joel Meyerowitz - shooting and printing for a Paris show. Yes, it's a puff piece for HP, but there's some good information in there and he talks about the creative process.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Sunday Morning Humor

My generation believed that "War Games" was about as cool as computer movies could get. Of course, we also thought that "Tron" had the greatest graphics ever, too ... so what did we know?

But imagine what would happen if some modern shows were done in an earlier time ... say, "24" being done in 1994 ...

Friday, November 9, 2007

Sports Portfolio - John Biever

Okay, aside from this being basically an ad for (our excellent and truly supportive friends at) Canon, Sports Illustrated's gallery of photos by John Biever is worth wandering through.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Filter Ethics

I've been sitting on this one for a while because I'm not sure how I feel about it. Part of me is angry, part annoyed and part ... well, just accepting. posted a video several weeks ago about a Scottish farmer who is refusing to sell his land to Donald Trump. Trump wants to build a golf course, the farmer says his family has lived there for generations and he has everything he wants. Trump claims he's stalling to drive up the price.

Good story, and being of Irish descent I tend to migrate to the little-guy stories like this. While watching the video, though, something didn't seem quite right. I've never been to Scotland, though I've spent time in Ireland. The skies in the video seemed ... very blue. Which was fine, until I noticed this sequence of images. Watch the way the "line" of blue moves.

Based on how the depth of blue never changes as the composition does, I suspect there was either a graduated filter dropped in front of the lens or this was punched up by an editor. Either way, in a news story, I'm not sure I'm comfortable with this.


Monday, November 5, 2007

Motion Graphics Talk - Wednesday Night

From David Hazinski in Broadcast, something to think about going to. Meaning, GO!!

Motion graphics workshop Wednesday night in the photo lab, room 130. Unless we get too many people, then we'll probably move to the newsroom.

My classes had asked for 'more' on motion graphics, so I set this up... then invited Mark Wright. Mark has been the chief graphics designer for CNN. He now holds the same job at CNN International. Runs a crew of about a dozen folks I think who create all the graphics for them and is also responsible for creating the new, clean look they've had for about nine months. Mark says he's also bring a UGA grad who works for him, but I don't know who he or she is.

The original idea was to give students some "hands on" in creating simple screen grabs, backgrounds and "read on" full screens. It will also now morph to whatever Mark wants to explain and as much hands on as we can accomplish.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Illinois Press Association sues Illinois High School Association

As the headline says, the IPA is suing the IHSA. The IHSA has set restrictions on how photos and video from high school sporting events can be used - limiting still photos to printed newspaper stories only and video to 30 second clips, a maximum of two minutes per game and not to be used for more than two days after an event.


They've signed a contract with Visual Image Photography for the "exclusive and unlimited access to IHSA tournament locations and photo opportunities."

There's a slippery slope in here that I've mentioned before, but the IHSA's action has huge issues in its limitations on how a newspaper uses images for editorial purposes. It would be extremely hard to say a paper's web site is not an editorial usage. It would also be difficult to deny the editorial value of archived stories - or stories that are season-wrap ups.

The problem for newspapers comes when they start to defend their rights to sell reprints, as that is a fairly clear commercial, i.e. non-editorial, usage of the images. Granted, those images are going into private hands and not being used for publications, but a portrait photographer, for example, is in different realm than a photojournalist. The value in the formers images is the specific subject whereas in the latter it's in the moment or story the subject represents - the individual could have been replaced by someone else, doing the same thing, and still had value.

Newspapers will defend their reprints as a public service, which to some extent they are. The problem may arise when they defend their pricing. As a "public service" you're implying there is no profit margin on those reprints, which I know is not the case. If you're doing it in-house, the prints are costing you a dollar or two and you're selling them for $20-30 each.

There are some newspapers that are treading on extremely dangerous grounds by generating "web galleries" that have limited or no editorial value - dumping everything that's sharp online and hoping to either drive traffic to the web site or make reprint sales. There's no storytelling aspect to those galleries and could, in my non-legal opinion, be considered commercial ventures.

The IPA and their 600 member newspapers are on the right track - but they need to make sure the reprint issues isn't brought into this because, again in my non-legal opinion, that's been thin ice for years and will only get thinner. As for the IHSA, think - without local newspapers covering high school athletics, you essentially cease to exist in certain communities.

To that end, if the Illinois High School Association doesn't back down and admit they have overstepped their bounds here, then the Illinois Press Association should explain to their readers why there is no coverage of high school sports in their paper. The parents' outrage should send a clear message.

Friday, November 2, 2007

The Smile - and Other - Shutters

Okay, so Sony has a new camera that recognizes smiles. Now I could make some comment about how if the person behind the camera can't recognize a smile they must be in art school or be a 20-year newspaper veteran, but that just seems cruel.

So, instead, I give you the other shutter releases I would like to see on cameras ...

  • Tree Branch/Telephone Pole Shutter - Waits for it to fall down or blow over in a hurricane before releasing the shutter.
  • Zebra Crossing Shutter - Waits for referees to move out of the frame before firing.
  • Paparazzi Shutter - Only fires when (in)famous people do stupid things in semi-public places.
  • Golden Hour Shutter - Will only activate when the color temperature is below 4300 degrees Kelvin (which is sunrise or sunset).
  • James Nachtwey Shutter - Waits for you to have at least three layers of information of a relevant issue to a world-wide audience.
  • Double-Truck Shutter - Will only fire when your composition allows for a gutter through the center of the frame.
  • Stan Grossfeld Burn Shutter - Will only fire when the sky is overcast to allow you to burn it down to black later.
  • Annie Liebovitz Shutter - Fired only after you have sweet-talked some celebrity into doing something totally out of character.
  • The HCB/Decisive Moment Shutter - In honor of Henri Cartier-Bresson, only fires when it recognizes “both the fact itself and the rigorous organization of visually perceived forms that give it meaning.”
Feel free to add your own, I'm sure you have some in mind already

The Mundane Becomes Cool

One of the things I love about newspapers moving into new storytelling modes is the ability to make a seemingly mundane thing more interesting. Had I ever told my staff to go to a football game and cover the chain gang - the volunteers who move the first down markers around - they would have had a fit.

But the Portland (Maine) Press Herald has a series looking at high school football called "Beyond the Scoreboard." Check out the chain gang story, has some severe audio problems but the concept is really nice.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Okay, I Know It's for Charity ...

But, still, this just doesn't seem right - Harper's Bazaar is auctioning off a one-month internship at the magazine. It's bad enough so many places aren't paying interns, but to have to pay for one ...

Geek Alert - Eye-Fi

So you think downloading your cards takes too much time? Wish you could "live post" images to the web as you shoot them? Without having to spend hundreds of dollars on wireless bits from Canon or Nikon?

Check out the EyeFi - a SD card that acts as a wireless transmitter, moving images from your camera to computer to the web.

(Super Geeky Continuity Alert - If you watch the video, about half of the photos have been flopped. Grrrr ...)

Playing with Light

See, photography can be fun ...

"Media & Public Life" lecture - TODAY

The Peabody Awards will present its inaugural Peabody-Smithgall Lecture on the theme of "The Media and Public Life" at 4 p.m. on Thursday, November 1, in the University of Georgia Chapel. Author and journalism professor Michael Schudson will be the first speaker at what is scheduled to become an annual event.

His lecture will focus on the news media, but he will also comment on universities, think tanks, the research, information and investigation capabilities of government agencies, and the openness of legislatures themselves to public and media scrutiny. A primary concern will be the re-configuration of informational sources in public life over the past 30-40 years. His specific topic will be "Moderating the Conversation of Democracy."

Should be worth a listen. (Thursday's class will wrap up early enough to get over to the chapel.)