Sunday, August 27, 2006

It's time to send some love

Joyce fell.

I only met her a few weeks ago and I already knew we'd still be talking five, ten years down the road. With some people you just know.

Unfortunatly two days after she asked me "how do I get to the Sierras?"... and I proceded to tell her only to then say, "Oh you mean Yosemitte." She fell 300 feet...

I can't tell you anything she can tell better herself.

This is just my way of sending some love her way and wishing her a speedy recovery.

Hurry up Joyce! I still want that postcard from the other side of the world.
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So this is where I was for a week this summer

During the first week of August I had the distinct pleasure of attending the AEJMC convention held in San Francisco, California this year.

AEJMC, the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, is a non-profit organization aimed at J-School educators, administrators, their students and media professionals. Founded in Chicago, Illinois, in 1912, the non-profit has some 3,500 members around the world.

During the five days I served as a photographer for the AEJMC Reporter, the daily newsletter of J-School educators convention, I spent little time sleeping in my nice hotel room and much time running around between the nice labyrinth of hotel lobbies and the nice production room nicely set up for us about five blocks to the east.

It was pretty nice.

For a couple days myself and 18 other students along with a few advisors worked from the wee hours of the morning, and I mean like 5 a.m. on one occasion, until the darkest hours of the cold night, many of use often didn't hit the pillow until 3 or 4 a.m. One the second night my roommate designer Tim Wickham, University of South Carolina, pulled an all nighter. Our editor can fill you in on the details.

The convention days were jam packed with lectures, discussions, award presentations, research presentations, social outings (one such visit to an Ad agency opened my eyes to another career path), lunches and swank parties for the educators to attend... and for myself and the staff to cover.

Easy you say? Not quite, just spend a day doing this and you'll quickly realize how hard it is to show the same thing a dozen different ways. Not to sound facetious, but easy. Think again.

I did however find the mock trials interesting to attend, and learned quite a bit about the ethics and principals of our line of work. The one major let down was the discussion of how to teach students to cover disasters, specifically Katrina. What I found lacking was anything said worth saying and instead a lot of self-serving horn tooting. A bit harsh? Not at all, I'm a student, it was a waste of time, that's the honest truth.

Speaking of horn tooting, take a look at the centerpiece of our multimedia presentation. I shot the pictures while walking around with reporter Shawn Chitnis, University of Southern California, as he recorded interviews and ambient sounds. Shawn then sat down with Phil De La Cruz, San Francisco State University, and recorded some narration for the package. The pieces were all put together and what you see in the link is the end result. I think we made a fine team and the results speak from themselves.

And we managed to have some fun along the way too, take a look over at fellow photographer and comrade in arms Joyce Lin's blog for some of the experience. (That's me in the lower right stealing your heart.)

As always, Ryan Sholin was on top of it (whose this guy think he is? ;) and even took it upon himself to blog on the scene. It's a pretty accurate summary of the goings on.

If that's not enough, here's another link.

Overall it was a rewarding experience. I shot various assignments, served as photo editor for the second issue, discovered BART doesn't run all night, had some adventures. I spent a few days meeting a lot of interesting people, discussing some of the biggest debates in our industry with professors from all over the world (yes, world), debated the future of journalism with the elder statesmen of journalism, learned a few things, had a few laughs and made some new friends along the way.

Make sure to check out some of the articles on the website, there are some very good reads to be found.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Oh well...

(I was looking through some of my unpublished articals and it looks like I forgot to publish this one... it's been a few months... it was supposed to go up June 3)

Looks like I won't be traveling with famed New York Times columnist Nick Kristof to Africa anytime. On a positive note, I didn't get my hopes too high, so it doesn't sting too bad...

J-School graduate Casey Parks, of University of Missouri, was the chosen one, so far I haven't been able to find anything they've produced, but I have a feeling it'll be interesting.

Read all about it

On a related note, why are the essays and such part of Times Select? Is that really the best use of the membership service? Thankfully a little digging finds an exsert from the winning essay. Hey, I've never been on an airplane either.

...OK, it stings...
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Sunday, August 20, 2006

Some cold hard RAW

Adobe has been rumbling about RAW again.

As I pointed out… way back when… Adobe looked to be answering Apple’s challenge of Aperture with LightRoom. (Oh no, I see a soapbox! Why didn’t Adobe call it LightTable? Doesn’t that make more sense? It’s an editing program and where did we edit our takes in the film days? Right… on a *bleep* LightTable! Rant over!)

If you’re unfamiliar…

… programs like Apple Aperture and Adobe LightRoom are cataloging, organizing and minor editing programs used to help shooters edit their takes quickly and easily before taking the final edit into a larger fully-integrated software, such as Photoshop. The programs are going after the professionals and emerging pro-am that works in a RAW environment.

Working in RAW is akin to an unprocessed role of film. These programs are like the chemical bath that processed that film in the negative days. You might be wondering what the advantages of shooting RAW. Well, for the most part there aren’t many. The files are larger, processing them in a computer program takes longer and adds many steps and to be honest, (and as elitist as this may sound) not many people know what to do beyond cropping (or even desire to know for that matter) to even justify learning this extra step.

So who needs it? Professionals in need of control over every detail, sports photographers for sure for the greater latitude and those that are producing very large prints.

RAW has its advantages, but what I’ve seen is it becoming a buzzword that many do not fully understand or grasp. For instance a friend was shooting for a client recently and they demanded RAW images for their publisher. What they failed to understand, despite my friend and myself trying to explain it, is that a RAW image is useless until it is processed into a CMYK or RGB image. Still they persisted, most assuredly the buzz about RAW was ringing in their ears, and in the end the publisher informed them of the facts and the RAWs were processed into Jpegs.

Repeat after me, RAW is a buzzword. Learn about it if you’re interested. If you haven’t needed it yet, don’t worry about it.

But I digress… back to LightRoom.

At the time I was very interested in taking a look under the hood myself, but it was only available to Mac users. Perhaps another clue to the ‘answering apple’ theory.

Many moons have risen and fallen since, and now finally PC users like myself have been give a key to enter the gates and play. (Plus Aperture won’t play with Windows… for now, who knows what awaits in the next version with the new Intel chips.) On Wednesday, Adobe quietly released Windows beta 1.0.

Oh and it’s cross-platform as well. So if everything is as promised, now you’ll be able to work from your iMac at home, drop the files on a thumb drive and take them to your client who uses a Windows PC. Sweet!

According to a press release: recommended system requirements are Windows XP SP2, Pentium 4 Processor, 768MB RAM and a 1024x768 resolution screen. The final shipping version for both Windows and Macintosh will be released in late 2006. Further details around pricing, system requirements and availability have yet to be determined.

It’s downloading as I write this and I should be rolling up my sleeves soon. If you’re a PC user like myself and want to give it a spin…. Download LightRoom Beta for Windows and let’s compare notes!

What, you don’t wanna share your notes with me? Fine, I don’t really like you either. Share your feedback with Adobe and help LightRoom become the tool we want it to be.

Now I’m on my way to try this baby out…

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Saturday, August 12, 2006

So this is where I've been

While I was away from SLR, one of the things that was keeping me busy was serving as Online/Multimedia Editor for The Spartan Daily.

Among the new things I worked toward implementing, one of my proudest moments was the implementation of multimedia and the new multimedia section.

But enough about me, let's take a look at what we produced.

We started off with a 24-hour from conception to publication production of the first annual Amgen Tour of California.

On Tuesday, February 21 and Wednesday, February 22 the riders raced their way through San Jose. On Tuesday, I woke up and realized it was race day and it dawned on me perhaps it was time to try our hand at multimedia. I made a call to Kevin White, one of our shooters at the race and worked with him to gather audio. At the same time, knowing that many other shooters were going to be covering the race, I made some calls to them and from that I knew the staff had the visuals covered.

That night it was editing time, I sat down at an iMac at the daily and started mixing audio tracks and editing together a video with the dozens upon dozens of still images. Click the image to the left to see what became the end result, "Into the Valley."

On March 20, 2006, Ryan Sholin shoot some video for his story on the Silicon Valley regional contest of the FIRST Robotics Competition, held at the San Jose State University Event Center.

The result was a presentation we called "Robot Invasion!" Filled with interviews and footage of the games, it was packing with informative segments and provided a window into a culture seldom seen. It was also the most straight forward presentation we produced and yet took me much longer to edit than "Into the Valley."

March 23, 2006 brought our third opportunity. Photographer Daniel Esch and writer Evie Smith were on their way to cover a story on the San Jose State University Boxing Club and they clued me in on it. I had wanted to try my hand at video and decided to go with them. The story became about two of the club's boxers, Patrick Myers and Jeremiah Smith, and their chances in an upcoming tourney.

The result: "An education in the sweet science: From the Ringside." Senergery became the word, as this package became the most convergent thus far with a slideshow, a text story and a mini-documentary video. Three branches all interwoven to explore the story it it's fullest.

Then came the lull. Spring break, mid-terms, term papers, other features to implement, my commitments to my internship... and on and on. The lull came.

The first day of May brought our last, and agruably most polished, presentation. The immigration issue was at the forefront of the national phyce, from debates in Congress to debates at the dinner table. Not everyone had formed an opinion or made up thier mind, but everyone was talking about it. On this day, San Jose became the canvas for one of the largest immigration protests in the nation and the Spartan Daily was there to cover it. This story also became our first experiment with Sound Slides. I think it came out well, take a look.

My aim was to bring our paper and staff closer to the emerging "new journalism" being practiced in the real world and make the trial-by-fire education provided by the Daily more relevant. Hopefully all those involved learned a thing or two and if the paper continues to produce multimedia packages, all my efforts will not have been in vain.

Here's hoping.

Maybe a tube was clogged

Happened to be purusing by Daniel Sato's blog and to my surprise, fellow photographer and San Jose State University student Diana Diroy has decided to start up a blog of her own.

She's off in the Philippines working on a documentary project, and in the process is reconnecting with her cultural roots. Along the way she's decided to share the journey.

In Diana's words, "What good are ideas, thoughts, analyzations, opinions, emotions, lessons, and experiences if locked in one's head. They're as useless as a roll of film that will never be developed." Check her out and see what makes her great for yourself.

Luckily I happened to trip over it and now you to can check out her travels.

You help a girl move and she forgets all about you.

*Tear... drop...splash...

From the files of Duh!

If it wasn't obvious before, now it should be without a doubt. Wikipedia isn't a source of research, at least not as the end all authoritative voice.

During a speech at the University of Pennsylvania back in June, Wikipedia'’s founder, Jimmy Wales, warned students against using the online encyclopedia as an academic source for class projects or serious research.

In the speach entitled "“The Hyperlinked Society,"“ Wales cited that he gets about 10 e-mails a week from students complaining that Wikipedia got them into trouble.

"“They say, Please help me. I got an F on my paper because I cited Wikipedia and the information turned out to be wrong,"” Wales told The Chronicle of Higher Education. But he said he has no sympathy for their plight, noting that he thinks to himself, "For God sake, you're in college; don'’t cite the encyclopedia."“

It's funny to me that some people don't realize what Wikipedia is, it even came up in conversation earlier tonight.

To understand what it is, you need to understand what a wiki is. A wiki is a electronic collaborative authoring tool that operates on websites allowing visitors to easily add, edit and remove content often without registration. The idea being that everyone that visits adds their piece and makes the whole picture.

So Wiki-pedia is an encyclopedia that anyone can add, edit or remove content from... meaning that if anyone can do it-- a while back someone played a prank on a co-worker by stating that the co-worker was once the prime suspect in John F. Kennedy's assassination... it went a little too far and a lawsuit emerged-- then maybe you don't want it to be using it as a citation.

So wise up, use it as a spring board, but don't stop there. It seems obvious, but apparently it's still a rash on acedamia.