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Sunday, May 30, 2010

How NOT to write an article

The article on sounds like a joke to me and it is the perfect example of how NOT to write an article. I mean, I get it that reporters run out of time and this and that but still. Fact checking, doing research and actually interviewing people IS YOUR JOB. Dear Tribune correspondent, I don't want to see a press release, a quote from an email and a quote from the artist's website presented to the readers as "a story," PLEASE. If it's a blog, that's fine. If it's an article, then it's not fine. USF and I bet other universities offer reporting 101 courses and TBO editors can also have a higher regard for their audience. That's why journalism goes down the drain.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Multimedia Story Ideas- Challenge Yourself

Some of my students asked me for photo story/multimedia story ideas.
Well, how about localizing a national event (for example, oil spill story with a local angle when the oil disaster hits us. Sadly, it will hit Tampa Bay in a matter of days).
Also, look how other newspapers come up with their stories. For instance, Time has an album called Today in Pictures and Pictures of the Week.
In this means, that yes, you should have your camera everywhere with you at all times :)
I am also looking for stories on my own. This story in the NY Times, One in 8 Million, just yelled at me- do a Tampa Bay version!
Make a list and include places and faces that interest you. This way, you can come up with a story idea almost every day.

Digital Alteration of News Photographs

Back to media ethics again. This time The Dominion Post's credibility is questioned. Obviously, the NPPA Objects To Dominion Post's Digital Alteration Of News Photograph
That's all very good, but how can ethics be enforced if newspapers' editors think outside these ethics rules?
I agree with the NPPA that news photographs should not be altered when used in news context. I do dodging and burning and I still crop the image if it is too much headroom space. Ken Irby from Poynter approves the use of these tools within limits.So what are these limits? Ken Irby's answer is when these practices "obliterate(d) background detail, and this overdramatization, or gross exaggeration of what's real, goes too far."

And then he goes on by saying that the "removal of visual content" is unnacceptable in news images. The editors at The Dominion Post did not consider at all ethical standards when they removed the candidates running for re-election from the image and they attached the image to the news story.
I hope to have a heated debate with fellow photojournalists and j students in the Tampa Bay about this issue.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Photography exhibition at the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts (FMOPA)

In conjunction with the exhibition at the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts (FMOPA), “Infected Landscape: Works by Shai Kremer,” FMOPA is presenting two events addressing the controversial topics raised by the show.
Kremer will speak on his work at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 29 at FMOPA.
Born in 1974 in Israel, Kremer photographs a Middle East landscape that is scarred by the warfare of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For him, the wounded, infected landscape is a stand-in for the war-torn lives of people on both sides. He does not take a pro-Israeli or pro-Palestinian stand. He takes pro-human stand.
Admission to the talk is free for FMOPA members and $4 for non-members.
A PANEL DISCUSSION on the social, political, military and psychological ramifications addressed Kremer’s work takes place on Sunday, June 6, from 2 to 3:30 pm at FMOPA. The museum opens that day at 1 pm. so attendees can view the show before the panel discussion. Admission is free for FMOPA members and $4 for non-members.
Panel moderator is Rob Lorei of WMNF. He also is host of “Florida This Week on WEDU. Panelists: USF Professor Abdelwahab Hechiche is a native of Tunisia. A Fulbright scholar, he studied at the Sorbonne and has been a Fellow at Harvard University, among many other honors. Steve Schwersky was born in Boston. The Clearwater resident is currently Chair of the Jewish Community Relations Council for Pinellas and Pasco Counties, as well as being a member of B’nai B’rith. Kuwaiti-born Samar Jarrah has been a reporter for Jordan Television in Amman, Jordan, and for CNN World Report. She has lived in Kuwait, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt. Dr. Simon Firer was born in Israel and studied psychology, dentistry and business at three universities in Wisconsin. He is also a sculptor who works in bronze.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Royalty Free Music for Photographers

Even though I often advise my students against using music for their multimedia projects sometimes it is necessary. Here is a site that is worthy to explore:
Make sure you check out the FAQs, mention the creator/company and DONATE to ensure that this music stays free.
Another option is to look for a local band, ask permission to record a track from them that would add to your story and mention the name of the band.
I do not use music in my multimedia stories but I have seen stories on that use music.

How to Shoot Flowers

I will take pictures on May 20th for the Tampa Bay Orchid Society. While I mostly shoot events, I decided to take the challenge and learn how to shoot flowers. Here are some shots I posted on my Flickr before I decided to cover the event. All images were taken using available light. The first 15 pictures were taken with a normal lens and the last 16 and 17 were taken with a 17-50 mm Tamron 2.8, and the rest with a 50 mm Quantaray 2.8. I borrowed the Quantaray lens from a friend and I love it. In the next couple of days, I hope to post more flower images and hopefully better ones.
Based on Jim Tear’s advice, here is what I plan to do on May 20th to cover the event that starts at 6:00 p.m.:
1. Arrive at 5:30 p.m.
2. Reserve an end of the bloom table for use as my mini studio
3. Tape a black velvet backdrop to the wall with masking tape with the middle about eye level or higher. Mine is 34x41". Bigger would be more efficient
4. Place an 8 inch posing block on the bloom table. Mine is 8x12x20". This way I can turn it 3 ways to place the flower I’m shooting near eye level.
Further tips:
4a. Be careful. Many orchids are top heavy and tip over easily
4b. Keep flowers about 2 feet from the backdrop to ensure that the backdrop will be solid black
5. Place the daylight balanced hot light at the same level as the flower and move it in close to eliminate shadows and to reduce the exposure needed. Someone in the orchid society brings in the lamp so everyone can see the true colors of the flowers when they show each plant to the members and talk about it.
5a. Do a custom white balance and also shoot a white sheet of paper for white balance in Lightroom
6. Shoot all the larger flowers. Jim Tear uses a Canon 24-105 mm f/4 is lens. Flowers 4" or larger will fill the frame with his full frame 13 mp canon 5d.
7. Shoot all the smaller flowers with my sigma 150 mm macro lens.
8. Move the black velvet to a wall behind the hanging plants.
9. Shoot all the hanging plants.
10. Shoot the 2 bloom winners
11. Finish & and leave by 9:30

Instead of using the hot light, you could use a studio flash with a softbox. One medium or large box is sufficient if placed 1-3 feet away to eliminate shadows. Or you could use a speedlight with a flash diffuser. It might be necessary to turn down the speedlight exposure and to angle down the flash head. Using the equipment he uses, Jim Tear can carry everything himself in 1 trip: camera around his neck, camera bag with lenses and spare batteries and spare cards, cloth shopping bag with the backdrop, tape, speedlight, and posing block. According to Jim Tear, 1 photographer should do all the shooting. The 2nd photographer moves the orchids in and out of the shooting position; turn the plant so the best flower faces the camera; look carefully to avoid using a fading flower with brown spots. The photographers can switch roles but it's best to have 1 shooter & 1 orchid wrangler for several shots.

Here is how Jim Tear shoots these events:

- I shoot with the camera horizontally for all shots. It’s easier to hold the camera this way.
- I process all images in Lightroom
- I crop to a vertical frame in Lightroom if necessary. With 13 mp I have enough pixels to throw away for the results needed for this shoot.
- I often use ISO 3200 but 1600 or 800 would be better
- I use aperture around f/14 but f/22 would be better
- I use shutter around 1/80 sec
- Check histogram to be sure highlights are not blown out--especially for white flowers
- I shoot hand held for speed and convenience but using a tripod would be better
- I use a full frame 13 mp canon 5d. It’s rather low noise at high ISO.
- For large flowers (>= 4 inches across) I use a canon 24-105 mm f/4 is lens.
- For small flowers I use a sigma 150 mm f/2.8 macro lens
- Make sure the flower is not moving before shooting it
- For each plant shoot the label as well as the flower--preferably just before the flower. color balance and exposure is not critical for the label as long as it is legible
- Shoot 1 flower straight on filling the frame but not cropping any part of the flower
- It is a documentary shot--not an art shot--keep it simple smarty
- In addition, shoot a flower cluster, if you like

For more tips, see the American Orchid Society's website.
Common mistakes when shooting flower quality awards

More helpful hints from AOS

He also shoots the meeting. The photographer should try to get a good shot of each person who stands to give a committee report, take pictures of the president, the education speaker, the main speaker, the bloom table speakers. It is very important to shoot the members who won the bloom table awards. There are two winners: the main winner & the novice winner. For all of these people pix, he uses his full frame 13 mp Canon 5D with a 70-200 mm f/4 lens. He uses a Canon speedlight with a flash diffuser. Because the ceiling is too high to bounce, he points it horizontally. ISO 3200 is okay for the quality needed, Jim Tear said.

How the images are used:

-in the monthly society newsletter: they use small pix of the orchids
-on the web site: they use both people pix and flower pix
-for slideshows: they use both people pix and flower pix
- he delivers 450x450 pixels jpegs via his website.

See Jim Tear’s images from the Tampa Bay Orchid Society's meetings. See the gallery of the most beautiful orchids in Tampa Bay.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Master Portraits from Pepito

It was a pleasure meeting Pepito a couple of weeks ago when he demonstrated how to do a nice portrait, set up lights and proper posture. He refers to the portraiture as a form of art.
He is known for his sepia portraiture collection and his simple lighting.
Every day Pepito studies master painters' artwork and yes, he is still using his Haselblad medium format camera. He says he prefers to get the picture in the camera and does little post processing.

He also develops a relationship with his clients.
"I talk to the people, I am like a psychologist. I tell them how to think of something," Pepito said. He talks to his client prior to the shooting about wearing long sleeved shirts in the same color. The reason for long sleeves is that the arms of the subject may become a focal point in the image (the skin has a lighter tone and it attracts the eyes).

What size image should I buy?
Pepito always answers this question prior to the shooting.
- The size of the wall determines the size of the picture
- What impact does the client want to achieve with the picture?
- The investment the client would like to make
All three elements play a role in the image size selection.

If Pepito is using available light, he prefers the light after sunset or the subtractive lighting in the park (shade).

Here is his advice about how to be a good photographer and business person:
1. compose in the camera
2. learn from master painters
3. always get to the scene earlier than your client
4. give your clients a questionnaire and keep it after they fill it out. It has their names, Bday, pets, hobbies, it is easier for a photographer to engage in conversation and "warm up" a client
5. on the clients' Bday, Pepito sends a postcard with their portrait as a reminder

Here are some behind the scene shots where you can see him setting up the light and positioning the subjects. His main light is a softbox to the left of the subject, a white reflector panel to the right of the subject, a background light or hair light behind the subject and an umbrella behind his camera.

Here are some portraits too where I used the same settings.

Posing a male client is different.

"You can be the greatest photographer, but you will starve to death if you don't do marketing," he said.

Pepito's blog is here.
Pepito's website is here.

Portrait Lighting techniques.