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Category Archives: Technique

This has popped up in a few places from a few people, and I’ve been just enough out of it to not remember who has sent it to me. So, whoever you are, um, thanks …

This month’s National Geographic has a cover story on redwoods – the massive, ancient trees. And there’s a foldout image that will blow your mind away. NPR did a story on how it was made, and Gizmodo has one, too.


Okay, I admit I haven’t read this as a whole, but I read all of the pieces as Mindy McAdams, Flash Goddess, posted them over the last year or so. She’s now compiled a 42 page PDF of her advice on stepping up your online journalism game. Given the thoroughness and inventiveness of her past work, this is a Must Read.

And it’s FREE. Yes, all that knowledge, FOR FREE. Because she cares about journalism, that’s why.

Also first seen on the New York Times‘ Lens blog … a marvelously simple and effective documentary piece on the conversion of the abandoned High Line railway into a park. The framing of the two interviews is bordering on exquisite and there are some artsy camera movements that work amazingly well to help the viewer get s sense of place and scale.

For those who think about online compression, around 2:30 into the piece is a massive pan – and the compression is just about killing it, wiping out most of the detail. The smaller movements work, but that big one – while it would look fine at full resolution – really suffers here.

Many of you know that Polaroid has shut down production of its instant films – the days of those white bordered prints are seriously numbered. But there is another, lesser known, Polaroid film that has been a mainstay of photographers for years – Type 55, a 4 inch by 5 inch instant negative film.

On the New York Times’s Lens blog, Fred Conrad talks about it and has an excellent collection of images made with the film.

I love audio slide shows. They are wonderful journalistic creations, able to mix the depth of still images with the power of a subject’s voice. I teach all my students how to do them – and they do them well.

The wire services have started to push them out, as well, which is fantastic. There are so many stories that can be told so well this way.
But … and you knew there was a but … not all of them succeed. It is not enough to just do one anymore because they are easy to build with programs like SoundSlides. They have to be crafted, they have to be shot for this reason and they need to have a story.
Take, for instance, Brian Synder’s foreclosure auction piece on the Reuters site. Snyder, who I’ve known for 15 years, is an amazing photographer – and the images here prove that. Good variety, strong technical skills and great moments.
But the audio – of one auction, start to finish – doesn’t tell us a story and it doesn’t match with the photos very well. During our workshop last week, one of our editors was showing me a few audio slide shows his staff had done. Thirty seconds into one of them – one which was beautifully shot – I stopped the player and said I couldn’t watch anymore. There was no connection between the photos and the audio. There was no sense of synchronization, there were really good photos AND really good audio, but they weren’t working together. The timing of the transitions didn’t make any sense. Even the types of transitions didn’t make any sense.
It’s time we stop playing with audio slide shows and start telling stories with them. It’s not enough to say, “Gee whiz, that’s cool!” when one finishes watching. You need to have a deeper understanding of the story.
And I feel the same way about video … when did we decide to abdicate storytelling and just play with technology?

I admit, it’s been years since I ran a roll through a camera, but this AP story on whether digital imaging has killed off Kodachrome has me thinking of ordering up a few rolls. 

For you young’uns, if you’ve never shot a roll of film, once, just once, borrow your parents’ (or grandparents’) camera and run a roll of Kodachrome 64 through it. Send it off and wait for that little box of magic to come back to you … so worth it.

David Pogue at the New York Times pointed this out … Kirk Mastin, from the University of Washington, shot a story on a Canon high definition camera and a Flip Ultra, then edited them exactly the same way in Final Cut Pro … and the results are, well, surprising

It is not the gear, folks. It is the story.

One for everyone – “7 Bad Habits of Digital Photographers.

While heading to lunch, one of my colleagues, Dr. Hugh Martin, said one of our shared students came in to class on Monday a little frazzled. Seems she’d spent most of the weekend working on an audio editing project and said, “I now know what an ‘um’ looks like …

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