Archives for the month of: February, 2014
Parkour athletes train on the decorative stone benches and walls beneath the opulent Shelby Engineering Center at Auburn University. The ruins of recently demolished Dunstan Hall lie in the background.

Parkour athletes train on the decorative stone benches and walls beneath the opulent Shelby Engineering Center at Auburn University. The ruins of recently demolished Dunstan Hall lie in the background.

First among the rules of photography I’ve emphasized in Multimedia Journalism is the Rule of Thirds, which I was studiously applying Tuesday afternoon after a day on campus as I composed an urban blightscape of the ruins of Dunstan Hall, which, along with some other buildings in the background and to the right in this image, is destined to become a parking garage. But then the unexpected happened. You’ll want to click the thumbnail to enlarge since it’s easy to miss at thumb size.

I had seen Parkour athletes training on utility boxes, stone walls by the parking deck at RBD Library, and other fixtures on campus. As the man in mid-somersault crossed along the bricks and pavement above the steps, I figured he’d just provide a sense of scale for the destruction behind him. And then, he began his run. About six strides along a loping curve led to his leap into the air, perhaps five feet high and 10 feet long, landing atop the oddly shaped stone bench from which he hurtled, tucked, spun tightly as if on a string, and stretched his arms to catch the top of the wall at the bottom of the frame.

It was a magnificent act, wholly unexpected, and perhaps as much a delight to me as to its executor. And it illustrated other key rules of photography beyond the Rule of Thirds:

  • F/8 and Be There: This saying admonishes us to not fixate so much on technical perfection so much as to be present and alert and mindful of the possibilities presented by the moment at hand. F/8 is the f-stop that provides optimal depth of field. OK, so my antiquated Droid2 smartphone’s camera has no such thing as f-stop settings. The key part, however is to BE THERE.
  • Capture the decisive moment: As the Top L Project blog points out, you have to be ready to capture the exact time when something great happens; without doing so, you risk losing your shot. Top L says to do this, you have to know your camera. In the moment, I saw our Parkour artist act abruptly. I knew from shooting baseball with low-grade gear that I had a split second to have a chance of capturing anything. I got lucky this time. But I have maybe hundreds of garbage frames from the Detroit Tigers at Spring Training last March and maybe two frames where the ball explodes off the bat or the ball is in the frame after a pitcher releases it. As Charles Bukowski wrote in a fight scene in “Barfly,” a guy gutted with a knife shouts at his attacker, “Damn luck, motherf*cker!” to which the assailant responded, “Yeah, but that counts, too!”
  • Use the light: I’m borrowing from Top L’s list here, but it’s so true: Photography is about the light. This shot didn’t have the greatest, on account of the cloud cover and the shadow of the massive Shelby Engineering Center buildings in which the action took place. I think the moment makes up for it, though, and being there. It could have been worse; it could have been harsh mid-day, overhead light. This was the hour before dusk when the photo took place, and the building shadows eliminated the advantage of shooting during the magic hour. And naturalistic documentary photography demands that you shoot things where they take place. No staging. Capture the moment, be there, and use what light is there. Available light is the key to being nonintrusive.

If only I had one of those sweet DSLR rigs that Canon so graciously loaned me at the National Press Photographers Association’s Multimedia Immersion last summer. I’m saving my pennies until the day comes to take the plunge. Suggestions for good gear are appreciated.

No. No. Not Bob 2. Devo co-founder and punk guitar god Bob Casale’s death is a saddening reminder that Generation X’s role models are getting older faster than we realize. The band was a beacon for most of the nonconformists, nerds, geeks, freaks, Dungeons & Dragons gamers, Renaissance Festival street personalities and other such nonconformists I knew growing up in a small rural Kansas town outside Kansas City.

I remember when I was an alienated proto-intellectual during junior high school (possibly the unhappiest years of my life), when I heard Jim Ladd’s interview of Mark Mothersbaugh and Jerry Casale on the program Innerview, which incidentally was the first thing I’d ever heard that made me think that perhaps I might be interested in journalism if I couldn’t make it as something else, like a standup comedian, in-the-round actor, cartoonist or rock ‘n’ roll singer. I recorded it off the radio … on an eight-track tape/AM/FM radio/turntable about the size of one of those storage cubes that double as end tables.

The format of the show was introductions, plug for the band’s new album, a track or two off the new album, short interview segment asking about the inspiration for the new songs or plans for the coming tour to promote the album, some reminiscences about the beginnings of the band, and occasionally some controversial stuff.  Oh, how Mothersbaugh and Casale seemed to enjoy controversy.

Ladd played the song “Through Being Cool” off the new album, “New Traditionalists.” He asked about a character in a lyric, “Mr. Hinky-Dink,” in the lyric, “If you live in a big place, many factions underground, chase down Mr. Hinky-Dink, so no trace can be found.” And one of them (perhaps both finishing each other’s sentences) said (and this is rough, given I haven’t heard it in a couple of decades), “Mr. Hinky-Dink is Ronald Reagan, he’s the AMA. He’s the IRS. He’s everybody who tries to make you behave just like they do and tries to make you conform.”

The refrain went:

We’re through being cool!
We’re through being cool!
Spank the pank who try to drive you nuts!
If you live in a small town,
You might need a dozen or two
Young alien types who step out,
And dare to decleare:
We’re through being cool! 

That came to be sort of a nerdy anthem for my clique of weird and awkward 13- and 14-year-olds. I was indeed one of those young alien types. And I was through being cool, through with living in fear of being different and ready to love and embrace my difference, not just because conformity was boring, but also because denying my burgeoning strangeness would have led to a life less extraordinary than I desired.

“We’re through, being cool!” Hearing that wasn’t exactly a born-again moment. Yet examples like Devo helped us get over being afraid of being who we actually were and wanted to be (and what several of the meaner kids labeled us): nerds, geeks, nonconformists, cutups, four-eyes brainiacs with our noses buried in our books.

Bob 2 was low-key. Mark Mothersbaugh praised him as a solid musician and fantastic audio engineer. Add to his list of achievements that he was a pioneer of new wave and punk.

Yes, Bob 2, you were a role model. You were  just 61. It’s a shame you had to die this young. You and your bandmates provided a lot of joy and a lot of inspiration. Thank you.

The audio slideshow was the first truly multimedia storytelling form in the world of online news. It originated in newspaper newsrooms at the beginning of the Internet era in the 1990s. As we work from learning to use the simple Web 2.0 story form (blogging on WordPress) toward the most complex (creating video stories), students in JRNL 3510 this week are completing their 10-picture photo galleries on their blogs, complete with captions. Audio slideshows are the logical next step after this assignment.

Our next major assignment in Multimedia Journalism will be an audio slideshow created in SoundSlides. An audio slideshow consists of still photos and audio. The highly recommended audio recording gear for this assignment is the Zoom H1 Handy Recorder. It’s lightweight, but it provides excellent sound quality and reasonably fine input control for the mobile journalist. AmazonB&H Photo and New Egg have them for between $95 and $100. I’ve had great luck with all three vendors.

As one might logically assume, photojournalists were the pioneers of the audio slideshow. Because they were mostly visual thinkers and not audio producers, photojournalists’ earliest audio slideshows typically used one continuous interview clip, a single linear narration recorded by the photos’ creator, or a song as an audio “backdrop” for their stories. This was an important step toward integrating visuals with sound. But in its early stages, the audio slideshow often consisted of two separate stories on slightly different tracks: one visual, the other audio. One complemented the other, but they didn’t tell the same story simultaneously. Our goal is to develop integrated stories in which the audio track speaks about or provided context for the visuals simultaneously visible onscreen.

Thus, the audio slideshows we create will use some of the logic of writing for TV. In a television voiceover script (or VO), producers use the SWAP method: Synchronize words and pictures.That’s what you’re going for here: The audio track could stand by itself. Or the sequence of photos with captions could stand by itself. But the voices and sounds in the audio track must be relevant to each of the images onscreen while the audio track can be hears. Sound and images sync together.

The best way to understand this story form is to view and listen to great examples. Here are a variety of them from major news sites, including the British Broadcasting Corp., The Guardian, Australian Broadcasting Corp., and the New York Times. They come from Maureen Fisher’s list of examples on a class blog at Temple University.

A Surgeon in Somalia

The Dog and the Whale

Down the Local

All Round the Houses: Confessions of a Milkman

Disappearing Acts: Turning a Bowl on a Pole Lathe

The Mobile Nurse: Rebecca Wilner

Skulls, Strings and Philosophy: An Exploration into the Life of a Tattoo Artist

Mulch Fest

Cut in Half

Burlesque Art

Kitten Rescue

Now presenting my Valentine’s Day gift to the world: The Grumpy Cat Emoticon. Ready? Here it is:


You’re welcome!

Melita Garza

Melita Garza’s work on Latin American culture in media

Rahul Mitra

Resilient Institutions and Sustainable Environments (RISE) Lab @ Wayne State

Strong & Empowered

Confessions of a recovering perfectionist

Marc Hemingway

Trying to keep track of my life (and my life on track)

Auburn Baseball Blog

Auburn starts the year with a new coach and a new direction and focus to win.

Overriding Ordinary

"Society is unity in diversity." -George H. Mead

The Changing Newsroom

New Media. Enduring Values.

Ed Mooney Photography

The official blog of Ed Mooney Photography. Dad of 3, Photographer, Martial Artist, Gym Rat & Blogger. Exploring the historical sites of Ireland.

In Flow with Otto

Creativity is within us all


NYU/Topics in Media Criticism

The Press and The Bench

Interaction between the media and the courts

MulinBlog: A digital journalism blog

with free online courses

The Buttry Diary

Steve Buttry, Dearly Departed Husband, Father and Grandfather. Former Director of Student Media, LSU's Manship School of Mass Communication

Theme Showcase

Find the perfect theme for your blog.

Auburn Campus Trends

The latest trends around Auburn, from fashion, to hot spots, to food.

Trending In Bama

All Things Happening In Alabama

Off the Vine

Life is too short to drink bad wine


What to do in Auburn after football season

Ripping Culture

Art by Derek Herscovici

Project Light to Life

A bucket list blog: exploring happiness, growth, and the world.

Scott Priz, Dog Reporter!

Reporting on the important things- The Dogs I meet!


Updates from the College News Design Contest

Appetites in Auburn

Experiencing life one meal at a time

A Taste of the Plains

Taking a look at local restaurants in Auburn and Opelika.

A Foreigner on Your Own Soil

When "y'all" meets "youse guys:" An exploration of why Northerners and Southerners don't coexist in sweet tea bliss

Culture Crazed

Finding color in unexpected places

Derencz's Corner

A glimpse inside the mind of a college journalist

Joy Mayer



The blog of Academe magazine

Discover WordPress

A daily selection of the best content published on WordPress, collected for you by humans who love to read.

Spirit, Word, Art

Lectionary-based creative spiritual direction

Cash or Charge

Adventures in Retail's Front Line from one of america's underemployed