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.

ASSIGNMENT: Depth of Field, Lens Compression and Asking Uncomfortable Questions

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Four photographs with the same composition, altering the focal length and the aperture as follows:

  • Widest focal length, widest aperture (~ f/3.5)
  • Widest focal length, aperture between f/11-f/22
  • Longest focal length, widest aperture (~ f/4.5-5.6)
  • Longest focal length, aperture between f/11-f/22

In the wide angle images, you need to have a primary subject within four feet of the camera. (Generally speaking, in a horizontal image, your primary subject would be shown from their waist to just above their head.) If you don’t, you may not see the full effect of lens expansion and compression. Remember that you need to physically move yourself between the first two and the second two so the primary subject stays the same size in all four images.

Captions count, don’t forget to collect that information while you are making the images.

Due on eLC as a compressed (zipped) file by 12 noon on Friday, September 29. Full resolution (no need to run through the resizing routine), full captions and the captions will be identical on all four.

If you’re still struggling with the effects of aperture and shutter speed, take a look at this Canon simulator – you can play with ISO, aperture and shutter speed to see the effects.

I have another podcast I’d like you to listen to, this one from Rob Rosenthal’s HowSound series. Rosenthal works for Transom, an organization dedicated to making better radio stories. He travels around the country doing week-long workshops that are insanely good – we’ve hosted them twice and, hopefully, will again next summer.

He is brilliant and comical and self-deprecating and insightful … I’m a fanboy, I’ll admit it.

He reached out to ask podcaster Ashley Ahern an uncomfortable question – about her appearance. Go listen.

And if you’re interested in audio storytelling, from public radio to podcasting, Transom.org is the place to start. The tutorials, the gear reviews and Rosenthal’s HowSound podcast are musts as you move forward.

Questions? Send them along, as always.

A Little Theory, a Little History and a Little Fun

A couple pieces for you to ponder before class next week.

We don’t spend a ton of time on color in this class (it’s a journalism class, remember, not a photography class), but this is kind of fun and touches on the way humans communicate.

I try really hard not to talk about the “good old days” because you hear that enough from others and, well, they weren’t all that good. They were kind of a pain – the search for power, water and phone lines and the collection of toxic chemistry that sloshed around in the back of my car for years … of course, I never had a panel van with a darkroom in it and I never needed to climb a telephone pole to send a photo.

And, in case you haven’t gotten this yet, I like cars so I kind of want to hang out with Amy Shore. Many lessons in there that pertain to what we do.

You have your critiques in your inbox from Nouns and Verbs, go ahead and start in on 36 Faces.

Pieces of Advice

Independent photojournalist Yunghi Kim, who has put a lot of effort into help educate others on good business and copyright practices, has assembled a nice collection of comments from ten women photojournalists.

I love this from Jane Evelyn Atwood:

I don’t like to be called a “female photographer”. We don’t refer to Salgado or Cartier-Bresson as “male photographers”. I feel that calling us “female photographers” perpetuates the idea that we are “lesser than”, in some way. It defines us by gender rather than by the quality of our pictures.

The term “female photographer” is sexist.

All of the women in this piece are worth studying.