Sunday, November 25, 2007

Quick hits: First in Line

If you're working at a newspaper around the Thanksgiving holidays then it's a guarantee that at some point you'll be sent out to cover Black Friday, the annual post T-day holiday marked by long lines, shivering toes and AP video of grandmas being trampled in the aisles of some big box store as they mad dash for that last bagle sized wide slot toaster with the chrome accents that they'll later take home and eventually gift away when they can't figure out why they even bought it in the first place... I mean, I love commercialism.

Evelio Contreras of The Roanoke Times created a piece on a group of high school kids waiting in line at a Best Buy (They say there's nothing better to do in Roanoke, makes sense to me!) that's entertaining and shows that there are stories to be found everywhere. It's the best Black Friday multimedia I've this year, perhaps ever.

Steven Hutto, Andrew Tuck and Daniel Sarver, all students who know each other from Hidden Valley High School, played badminton, flew kites and sang songs to pass the time in order to be among the first in line when Best Buy opened early on Friday, Nov. 23.

Oh and be sure to keep at look out for your next American Idols at the 6 p.m. mark.

Labels: , ,

Monday, November 19, 2007

Quick hits: Out of Town

It's the holiday weekend and that can only mean one thing, it's time to get Out of Town (ok, two if you're working at a paper: that you're working at a paper).

While Out of Town is not affiliated with any newspaper, that doesn't stop this web series from delivering short and sweet feature-y community news.

My favorite is the trip to a Wisconsin amusement park, good times. There are six installments up so far from the first stop in the series and there are promises for more from the second leg in Pennsylvania to launch in February.

The site itself, designed by the man behind the world's first internet fire, is a shmorgusboard of visual beeps and boops.

A very clean and well thought out presentation of a new take on covering local oddities. And if you think having a host in front of the camera is not in keeping with journalism, really it's nothing new, it's just the weekly columnist in multimedia form, and boy is it fun to watch.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Quick hits: Heroes of HIV

The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and The Palm Beach Post got together to create a very in depth exploration of an HIV/AIDS epidemic in our backyard, or should I say playground.

The Caribbean islands, a popular American vacation destination, has the highest rate of infection in the western hemisphere, with rates rivaling that of Africa.

Two hours from South Florida shores the island of Hispaniola has the highest rates in this hemisphere.

There, in the Dominican Republic and Haiti, heroes have fought the epidemic with little but conviction and courage – some with new help now from U.S. money, some continuing without, but all with optimism.

Heroes of HIV approaches the stories from a very classical documentary approach and doesn't get too fancy with its multimedia, but you don't need to when some of the pieces can have you on the verge of tears and rage at the same time.

Sideshows, articles, video, historical analysis, external links to additional information-- there's so much to explore, and still more on the way.

Also the piece moves beyond good journalism by including PDfs for the major statistics and a section for teachers, with handouts and everything an educator would need for the classroom.

Social documentary in a new media age done right.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Quick hits: Feels like fall

It looks like Laurie Skrivan of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch decided to try something different in painting a picture of the changing season in her corner of Missouri.

Experience the colors, sounds and feelings of fall in this esoteric look at the season. Marked by football, rain, the falling of the leaves, corn mazes and beautiful sunsets, Missouri's fall is distinct.

This is the type of moody pieces I personally love, and it's another good example of new-wave vignetting.

Who says everything has to be dry and boring or monumental and earth-shattering? Sometimes it good just to focus on the little things.

Labels: ,

Monday, November 12, 2007

PhotoJournal: When in Rome, post a Veteran's day pic

It was just another of those men in pressed suits giving speeches about how great they are things, but for the veterans that came out to hear them I could see it meant a lot.

Fred was very interesting. At first he didn't notice me, when he did he tried to force a smile and hide his tears, but after a moment he forgot all about me again. I stepped away after taking the picture, I felt that I had my image and could tell he wanted to let the tears out but couldn't with my lens there.

About 5 min later I came back to get his info and we had a pretty long conversation. Very nice man who has lived a hard life. This job doesn't pay much, but I love that I get to meet people like Fred everyday. (Ding! The more you know.)

Caption: Fred Cobley, a Vietnam vet, air force, tries to hold back his emotions during an opening prayer during a ceremony honoring veterans at Veterans Memorial Park, Sunday, November 11, 2007.

For more of my Veteran's day work, check out my Flickr feed.

Labels: ,

Saturday, November 10, 2007

CPOY 2008 winners announced

The annual contest marking the best work coming out of college photographers announced their picks for 2008.

A lot of familiar names on there and a few really gripping images to.

Although some of the images left me scratching my head, I won't name names but how it is in one breath we denounce overdoing toning in photoshop (Patrick Schneider) and than at the same time applaud those who have obviously done the same with contrast ratios and levels?

And in some of the stories I can't see a narrative thread. Yes all the pictures are extraordinary and I'm better for seeing them, but where is the storytelling?

This is a touchy subject, and I'm trying to be very careful in what I say as not to appear bitter or elitist. Well, first I didn't enter so I can't be bitter and I'm a nobody so I have no reason to be an elitist. (So that's settled.)

All the folks that won are obviously talented and I'm very glad I clicked on the pictures, don't get it twisted, I'm just thinking out loud here.

On another note, it's nice to see some of the multimedia work coming out of schools these days. There is so much cool, moody, thoughtful, informative, intimate and at times inspiring work to check out. I haven't even got through it all yet (there's so much!) but I can see there are some really nice projects there.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, November 09, 2007

Organizing photos goes all Philip K. Dick

I don't write about technology often, I know, this coming from the guy that posts about video-hosting websites, new cameras, RAW processing and Microsoft's table computer thing, but honest I don't do it often, check!

Anywho I was looking at the Natchway speech from the TED awards again, and I saw this other video on the site for a software application called Photosynth, which presents us with a new way of organizing, manipulating and viewing digital images.

(They were recently acquired by Microsoft as well... It looks like Microsoft is positioning itself as a major player in digital imaging?)

Pretty amazing right?

I think it's cool to think about organizing and being able to move stuff around and arrange your files in a GUI that's both slick and fast, not to mention the amazingly innovative and revolutionary idea of, as its creator Blaise Aguera y Arcas calls it "creating hyperlinks between images" based on the content of those pictures. Which is like the Google Maps new local pictures tab (which got into some trouble) but ten times cooler!

Still not getting it?

Imagine all the pictures on Flickr of the Golden Gate bridge being combined to create a mosic of images rendered into a 3-D space that you as the user are free to move around, zoom in and out off, click on any point to see a real picture of that point, from that point and from virtually every angle allowing for you to generally direct your own unique navigational experience though the collection.

This is revolutionary and can change the way we store and call up information.

It creates a "collective memory" of the real world space and archives it for anyone looking to see it.

Think of it as a visual wiki (btw, if that term catches on, I coined it!)

I've seen some baby steps made into this area in journalism with data based multimedia, most notably Andrew DeVigal is steering some really intertesting experiments in this area at the New York Times, but after seeing Photosynth in action, it only hints at the potential and challenges us to go much further.

What I find really interesting

Now this is all new and as you can see, quite fascinating (for me) and "from the world of tomorrow!", but what I find to be really the most interesting thing is what's found at 1:42 of the video.

The video goes on to show how this technology is so developed for image processing and delivery, that it can not only store entire novels, but also newspapers; that can be zoomed in and out of and navigated from pages within a section or other sections all together within seconds. (Look just watch the video, I'm never going to do it justice by trying to describe it.)

My pal Ryan's been talking about e-Paper for a while and how it's going to replace printed newspapers, well, as much as I'll miss the smell of ink (maybe they can sell it in a mist?) and tearing out interesting articles, pictures, comics and ads that I'll want to place in my sketchbook or research more about (maybe e-Paper can come with I can't deny it.

E-paper is coming, assuming RSS and online delivery doesn't replace it as wi-fi comes to cell phones and everything from a PSP to TiVo to refrigerators with built-in screens (I've still got one on reserve Hanna ;) are starting to connect to the web and offer information everywhere anytime whenever.

I can see e-paper and something like photosynth combining and giving us the next newspaper, or newspaper 2.0 or whatever the techie marketers will call it.

What I find really-really interesting

Ok, that's what I find to be really fascinating, but what I find to be really-really fascinating is the new forms of multimedia we can produce with this technology on newspapers.

Yes folks, this is the most important part and the ideas that I think are relevent to our industry and to me as a photographer and new-media thinker.

Say we're sent out to cover another protest story (yes, another one) and we're looking for a new angle (just to challenge ourselves if nothing else) and of course if you're anything like me, you're thinking multimedia. So why not cover the protest and get all the killer pictures you always do (you're so good) and of course we'll get the ambient sounds and interviews (of course) but what about the presentation?

Many of us just throw it in soundslides or edit a video in Final Cut, Premier Pro or iMovie, but we never really think about presentation or what sort of interface the viewer will use to engage with our work.

Some of this can be caulked up to time constraints and impeding deadlines (I know every time I've done multimedia it's always been on my own time) but a larger reason is that everyone already at a paper is so busy trying to learn the new programs and tools used to make these new things that no one is thinking about how to show them off... because Flash is hard and many papers don't have multimedia editors (yet) to budget for these things.

So I'm looking at Photosynth and I'm thinking of that protest story and I'm getting excited thinking about all the possibilities.

Like rendering the photos into a 3-D environment and interviews could be mapped to the subjects with a picture of them where they were in the 3-D space when you spoke to them and then map the ambient sounds to their sources within the environment. Birds chirping in the tree, the plane flying over at the end of the street, the ding-dong of the cross walk sign, the wheels of the skateboard from that kid on the sidewalk...

This could allow letting people navigate their own way through the story and find interviews and story blocks and pictures in completely unique and innovative ways.

Copy from a story could show up in newspaper boxes, posters on walls could link to related stories, zooming out to a birds eye view could turn the scene into info graphics or other data-based multimedia).

And we can then take it one step further by inviting the public to submit their pictures from the event to further develop the archive of the collective memory.

How cool is that?

I know some folks on photo staffs will hear things like this and fear it, but I say embrace it. Embrace it before the kid fresh out of college (me) embraces it and comes into your newsroom.

Want more? Here's NASA's take on it.

There isn't any reason why we shouldn't be doing this.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Time out Tuesdays: Modest

Welcome back to Time out Tuesdays, a continuing effort to share the stories that resonate with me and to keep myself constantly spelunking for the very best in photojournalism week after week.

Every week, I'll post up a new photo story, video, picture or multimedia piece that I think gets it right and is worth taking a look at for study, ideas, appreciation and inspiration.

This week I take a look at Modest, the piece that the late Alexandra Boulat created for VII's spring show.

Modest takes a more traditional approach to multimedia and relies on the power of the image rather than editing tricks or emphasizing sound.

A very impactful production that reminds us that what storytelling is all about. (And also that Boulat will be sorely missed.)

Labels: , , ,