ASSIGNMENT: The Portfolio

Your final portfolio is due on eLC by 5 p.m. on Sunday, December 10. That is an absolute deadline – at 5 p.m., eLC will stop taking in work, even if you have started the upload before then it has to be finished by then. Please do not tempt fate on that day – get your portfolio in early.

Your portfolio is ten images that were made this semester, fully captioned, cropped and appropriately toned. They should show a variety of image types (long, medium, closeup, portrait, news, feature, etc.) to demonstrate the competencies you have mastered. Look for great light, good moments, clean compositions and storytelling.

That last part – storytelling – means a lot. It also means images without stories don’t belong here, so nothing from the Nouns & Verbs, 36 Faces or Depth of Field assignments.

You may have packages of 2-3 photos from the same subject (each image will be considered as one image), but those photos need to work as a package. You can use images from your multimedia project so long as they are not the same or substantially similar.

Do not, under any circumstances, submit images that bring your ethics into question. No friends, no family members, no fraternity brothers or sorority sisters, no one from clubs, churches or other organizations you’re a part of. An image with a provable conflict of interest issue will result in a grade of zero.

To submit, create a folder titled LastName_portfolio and inside that put your ten images plus the final version of your multimedia project, compress it and upload it.

Things to watch out for …

  • Not saving files as true JPGs – We’ve seen many images come in as Photoshop (.psd) or raw files, make sure you are doing a Save As out of Photoshop and setting the Format pull down to JPG. Just changing the extension will not work. Images not saved as a JPG will not be accepted.
  • Errors on your captions – Have someone proofread your captions. Refer back to the handout from earlier this semester, all you need is two sentences, to style, with your credit info and their contact info properly formatted. This is a bad place to be giving up points.
  • Having your caption in the wrong field – In the Adobe software, your caption goes in the Description box. Don’t put it in the Keywords field as that will be considered a missing caption.
  • Not properly naming your images – Double check to make sure the coding is right: six digit date code, your initials, story or assignment name, sequence number. We’re still seeing some images coming in with camera-assigned or improperly formatted file names. Improperly named files won’t be accepted.
  • Not having ten images – Silly, but it happens.
  • Turning in images that are not sharp – By now, you should be able to recognize an image that is sharp or not sharp. Look for fine detail, if it isn’t there it isn’t sharp.
  • Turning in images that are not properly exposed – Same thing, if it’s significantly under or over exposed, it doesn’t belong in your portfolio.

ASSIGNMENT: Multimedia

For this assignment, you need to produce an audio slideshow that is 90-120 seconds in length. This project should bring everything you have learned together in one portfolio quality story.

Every image should be technically flawless – sharp, properly exposed and with good color rendering. Every image should be exceptionally well controlled – a dynamic composition with great background and edge control. And every image should add some level of knowledge to the viewer’s understanding.

The audio should be clean (think carefully about where you interview) and have some natural sounds layered in.

You need to choose a person to profile – think about someone who is newsworthy, who does something visual and who exists in good light. (I can’t stress this enough: don’t torture yourself with fighting low light situations. Don’t choose the night watchman, don’t choose the early morning chef at your favorite diner. We won’t care how amazing her story is if all your images are a wreck.)

On your first visit, pay attention to who they are and why they do the thing they do. Look for interactions, look for details. Start thinking about what your story is, what are the key elements.

On your second visit, plan on doing your interview. Find a quiet place to record – that may not be where they work. Sketch out in your head the questions you want to ask them. Remember to be flexible – if you come in with seven questions written down and stick to those seven, you might miss a great opportunity to tell a story.

After listening to your interview, start thinking about how the audio will be sequenced together – do you have visuals to match what they say?

The third visit should be to round out your photos and collect the nat sound pops that will add life to your story.

Once you have all that done, edit your audio. Use the videos and handouts on the Tutorials page, I’ll answer questions if I can. Once the audio is exported, start getting your images together. Crop and tone them in Photoshop, saving them into one folder (preferably the folder with your exported audio).

Once they’re done, you’re ready to get into Premiere and build your audio slideshow. Again, the Tutorials page has videos and a handout.

Build it, tweak it and export it. It’s due on eLC by 12 noon on Friday, November 25.

Warnings: Based off of past classes, these are the things that hurt:

  • Waiting to decide – if you delay, your options on subject matter narrow and you end up trying to force a bad idea
  • Waiting to start – if you delay, you won’t have the images you need
  • Waiting to record – if you delay, they may not be available
  • Waiting to start production – as a general rule, a minute of audio will take you an hour of editing; video production will take longer
  • Waiting to export – video rendering takes a long time unless you have a high end computer, do not wait until deadline day to do this
  • Waiting to upload – your internet connection is not that fast, this will be a big file, akin to the size of Nouns and Verbs. Plan on uploading the night before at the absolute latest.

Happy to answer questions as they arise, but be aware I may take some time – I won’t be answering emails at 3 a.m. on deadline day. (Unless something has really gone wrong in my life … which is possible.)

Multimedia Samples and Tips

Some options to look at as you work on your multimedia project …

  • Overcoming Arthritis – The matches between her narration and the images are very nicely done in here. The visual variety is strong, but there are some technical issues with exposure.
  • Opening Day – There are nice matches in this project and a lot of variety. Look at the way some of the images are layered, look at the why light is bouncing around and being used as a fill.
  • Club Gymnastics – This was shot amazingly clean, pay attention to the foreground and background relationships here. Nice matches, great details – the visual variety helps this flow. There’s a nice sequence in here of her tumbling, as well, and some strong natural sounds.

You don’t want to be dallying on this – schedule more time with the people you’re documenting, figure out what that storyline is going to be and get the audio recorded and edited. You’ll need both the interview and some natural sounds, so always be listening.

As you’re building your multimedia piece, check these things:

  • Is your audio recording quality clean? Are there any errant noises in the background? Is there an annoying hum? Have someone else listen to it using headphones, what do they hear?
  • Do you have some natural sound in there? Does the placement make sense for the story? Does it transition in and out easily and logically?
  • Does the audio story make sense? Is there something in the opening few seconds that will serve as a good hook, something to hold your audience’s attention, to pique their curiosity?
  • Are the images sharp? Are they properly exposed? By this point in the semester, those should be givens – if an image doesn’t demonstrate technical excellence, it doesn’t belong in here.
  • Are the images well controlled? Have you cropped for impact? Are the edges clean? Is the background under control?
  • Do you have strong moments and interactions?
  • Do you have strong visual variety? If you don’t, the images will start to feel redundant.
  • Do you have an introductory title slide or lower third graphic that tells us what the story is about and/or who is in it?
  • Do you have a closing slide with your credit and copyright information?
  • Have you exported the video properly? Be very careful that you upload the correct file – it should have either a .mov or .mp4 extension at the end. If you upload the .prproj file, that’s not playable. Check the size of the file – if it’s less than a couple of megabytes, something has gone wrong or you have the wrong file. I’d expect files in the 60-150 MB size range.

I’m working on an update to the video tutorial on building slideshows in Premiere (they changed one thing in the newest edition, there’s no longer a check box in the preferences to resize all images – I’ll have a new video and handout by the end of next week for you. Remember you have access to Lynda.com through the university. And, as always, Google is your BFF.

ASSIGNMENT: Features

Johnson Mark 024

Two feature photos, due on eLC by 12 noon on Friday, November 10.

Look for a great moment, a telling slice-of-life image that speaks to what living, studying or working on the UGA campus or surrounding area is like. This is to be a found moment – meaning it’s not from a scheduled or regularly occurring event. This is why you carry your camera everywhere, waiting for those little moments that makes us feel our world a little more.

Light matters: use a different type of light in each photo (hard, soft or, perhaps, diffused). Moments matter, relationships matter, story matters.

I promised you more on Dave LaBelle, so here are all of the videos on him that Francis Gardler did:

Wait until you get to Chapter 2 … powerful stuff.

Now that you’ve fallen for him (everyone does, it’s okay to admit it), head over to order your own copy of The Great Picture Hunt 2. It truly is the greatest community journalism book.

ASSIGNMENT: Audio Exercise

Here’s your challenge – can you tell a story without voices?

This is an audio exercise, something to get you playing with sound.

Watch the audio recording and editing tutorials. Record and edit (I recommend using Audacity, but you can use whatever program your are comfortable with), then email the MP3 to me Sunday night.

Remember your naming conventions and make sure you’ve exported an MP3 file – if you send me the .aup file, it won’t work. (Pro tip – email it to a friend and ask them to listen. If they can’t, I can’t.)

A couple of things to get you thinking about sound and stories … I love this ultra-nerdy piece about Nathaniel Gordon:

Passion For Sound from Musicbed on Vimeo.

And Scott Simon talking about storytelling:

And if you really want to get geeky, NPR has a lot of training info on recording and editing audio and you really need to spend some time on the Transom site (and listen to all the HowSound podcasts you can squeeze in).

In the same way you’ll never see the world the same way again, you’re about to start hearing in a whole new way.

Sorry, not sorry.

ASSIGNMENT: Multimedia, Part the First

It’s time to start working on your multimedia project. This is the one story where you will start to pull together all of the little pieces of your lessons – how to control the camera, how to compose an image, how to build visual variety into a collection of images and how to listen.

You need to choose a person to profile. Think about who has an interesting story, one that involves visual interactions, preferably in good light. Think carefully about those three criteria – don’t put yourself in a position to fail, put yourself in a position to succeed.

Start listening as you document.

Start the process. Don’t delay – shallowness shows.

This first look of 3-5 images is due on eLC by 12 noon on Friday, October 27. Get started.

Seeing Spot News Through a Lens of Visual Variety

Over the last few weeks we have talked about covering news and how to use multiple compositions to engage and move readers. I want you to go through this CNN gallery, assembled by photo editors Brett Roegiers and Eliott McLaughlin and study the images they selected.

Pay close attention to the sequencing, do you feel like you are moving through these scenes in person? Do you feel like you’re getting multiple ways of understanding the impact of this story? Which image resonates with you the most? 

ASSIGNMENT: News

Due on eLC by 12 noon on Friday, October 20, is a news package of three to five images. The images can come from either a calendared news event or be related to an ongoing issue in the community.

The focus here is on news – not entertainment, not sports, not features. News. The event or issue needs to be something the community must know about, something that will empower them to make decisions about their community.

You should be reading the local news publications (the Athens Banner-Herald, the Red & Black) and listening to local news media (WUGA) to know what’s happening in the community, that will help inform you and guide you to a newsworthy topic.

How else could you handle this crosswalk safety story?

At The New York Times, George Etheridge has a nice package of photos about a food cart operator who is trying to connect with high school kids. This goes beyond just a food story.

Even better is this Caitlin Ochs (and others) piece about what makes a New York City kid – this gets to who kids are and how they see themselves in society.

Think about what’s going on locally – concerns about decisions being made in Washington, access to local politicians, building and grounds maintenance as the winter months end, the impact of construction projects on students or local residents. The UGA calendar is full of things that can work.

As always, send along questions.

ASSIGNMENT: The Portrait

A portrait, completely controlled, of someone we should know about on campus. SHOW US something about them, tell their story, in a single frame. Due on eLC by 12 noon on Friday, October 6. Think about light and color, think about place.

Some tips …

  • Choose your subject carefully. Make sure there is something visual that you can include – this is an environmental portrait, one where we should see what someone looks like and why we need to know about them in the same frame.
  • You control this – you’re in charge of when and where this is shot, what’s in the frame and what’s not. How they pose, which way they look, what they wear, the angle you shoot from – all of those are your responsibility.
  • Think carefully about light – quality, as we discussed in class, as well as quantity. I can’t stress this enough – don’t add unnecessary challenges by choosing someone who does not exist in good light. What’s the right light? What’s the right mood to establish the story?
  • Give yourself enough time – be honest with them when setting this up, you’re slow with the camera. Gregory Heisler can get it shot in 10-15 minutes, you’re going to need more. And shoot a lot – different angles, different focal lengths. Move around, experiment – take what you learned from the effects of focal length from the Depth of Field and 36 Faces assignments and apply it here.
  • Don’t wait. Start now.

(Don’t forget that you need a complete caption.)

Here’s some more on Heisler, one of the greats of our time:

Maine Media Interview with Gregory Heisler from Maine Media Workshops + College on Vimeo.

Heisler made several references to Arnold Newman, so here’s an interview with him:

Look at the way light wraps, slices through and hides in his frames.

Some more info on portraits …

Jane Bown’s obituary contained some of her work and her approach to it.