Saturday, May 6, 2017

Sharing the pros, cons, photo stories of the hybrid Wayne State PJ course

  Another semester has ended at Wayne State University, and it was one of the best classes I’ve had the honor of leading.
   As I do for most semester endings, I’ll highlight a few positives and negatives. This is a good way for me to collect my thoughts so I can improve next semester.
   This particular Digital Photojournalism class earned a collective A. Rarely did a student miss any of the three quizzes, attendance was very strong, and though they had a tendency to turn in assignments late, they eventually turned them in.
   On the negative side:
  • We, meaning university, experimented with a hybrid course format. The course typically meets once a week (on Thursdays) for 2.5 hours. But this semester we only met for 1.15 hours, cutting class time in half.
   This didn’t work for me, or the students. I found that I couldn’t fit in important lecture time, particularly on teaching technical issues on software like Audacity or Premiere Pro CC.
  •    I also didn’t have time to critique their homework assignments, which are posted on their blogs each week. Homework involves shooting real photojournalism assignments: features, portraits, sports and a photo story.
   This class definitely goes beyond theory, thus they practice what is preached. For example, after a lecture on shooting sports, they’re required to attend a sporting event and shoot it. This entails them to get rosters for athlete identifications, and shoot action, reaction, fans and coaches.
   When I critique their work in class, they are collectively learning from one another what to do and what not to do on assignments. So not to critique their work in class is a missed learning opportunity.
   However, because I use Blackboard, a lot, and my own course blog (which you are reading now), they still had all of the lectures available to them.  I also created a few how-to YouTube videos as supplements. But, bottom line, I don’t like the hybrid approach for this course, so it’s back to full classes next semester.
   On the positive side:
  •     From the negative came to the positive. I began creating instructional YouTube videos using Camtasia Studio, which records my computer screen, allowing me to show them how to use Audacity and Premiere Pro CC. 
   The videos allow them to view the content at their own pace, and soak it in. They can follow along with the videos while doing their own projects.
  •    I am also convinced that allowing them to turn in late assignments is a good thing. I’m more concerned that each student learns the content at their own pace, rather not doing it at all. Yes, deadlines are critical in the journalism field, but they’ll learn that soon enough. At this point in their scholastic environment, they need to learn before they do.
   Now is the time I'm proud to present three of the photo stories they shot and produced. They are all different, and showcase how talented Wayne State students are.
   I present to you final projects by Taylor Lutz, Lucas Bell and Janika Green:

Monday, April 17, 2017

Adobe Premiere Pro CC training for still/video production

   Wayne State students: If you feel like this final project is a bit daunting, you’re not alone!

   There is a lot of work that goes into a big project like this, so it’s important to concentrate on each step of the process as you go along. 
   Be systematic:
  • Find a story that lends to visual variety.
  • Pay attention to your camera settings as you shoot. Remember that there’s no need to constantly change your settings while shooting. As long as the available light doesn’t change, the settings don’t need to change (unless you want to change your depth of field or motion). 
  • Don’t shoot under 400 ISO, or slower than 1/60th of a second.
  • When shooting the story, collect caption information as you go. 
  • Record at least one interview, possibly in a quiet place. However, if you are collecting audio at the scene, like during a parade, just keep the audio device close to the subject so we can hear them.
  • If you are shooting multiple days, keep your photos in a single folder as you go.
  • When finished with your shoot: drag your working folder into Photo Mechanic; make a final selection via color coding them; isolate those color-coded images; select all photos at once and drag them into Photoshop to edit them.
  • In Photoshop, only crop, and fix color balance and exposure issues.
  • When saving each image, hit Save As and rename the pic so it doesn’t overwrite the original.
  • Select only the edited images and copy or drag them into a final folder.
  • Now write your captions. First do a skeleton caption for all photos so your meta data information is tagged to all pics. Then finish the captions per individual photo.
  • Next select the two photos you’ll use for the title and end slides, and edit in Photoshop. Directions are in this YouTube tutorial. Once you’re done with these slides, Save As: Rename them Title Slide and End Slide.
  • Edit your audio using Audacity (directions for using Audacity is an earlier post in this blog) and put that edited audio into the final folder. If you have audio from a video camera, then don’t worry about using Audacity. You can edit the audio in Premiere (directions are in this YouTube tutorial).
  • Once all of your working elements (edited/captioned stills; audio file(s); title/end slides; music file) are complete and in the final folder, then it’s time to produce your story. See tutorial below:
  • Review the workflow sheet for YouTube information, which is at the bottom of the sheet. You need to upload your story as an Mp4 to the course YouTube account so you can retrieve the embed code or URL code. You need the embed code to load the story onto your blog.
  • You can also view these tutorials if you need more training with Premiere: 
- Tutorial for Beginners 1

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Gathering photo captions: Practicing what I preach


   This is me, a working photojournalist gathering caption information on a photo I took during an Empowerment Zone meeting in North Toledo March 3 for the Toledo Blade. (Photo Credit goes to my friend Rhonda Sewell)
   As you can see, my cameras are dangling off of my shoulders as I use my trusty pen and notebook to take down this kid's name, since I photographed him during the event.
   My Wayne State Digital Photojournalism students just completed their caption writing block of instruction, which included clipping captions from newspapers and taking a quiz. Spending time on caption, or cutline, writing is necessary in a photojournalism course because it's the journalism part of photojournalism.
   Most of the time I write down names and other pertinent information in my reporter's notebook, but sometimes I record that information into my camera, especially when my hands are too full to write or the weather isn't friendly to notebook paper. Whatever the method, taking down the who, what, where and when are the active ingredients to a good caption.
   This post is just a visual reminder that you are learning about captions because they are a part of a photojournalist's job. It is also the part that is sometimes the most challenging: Taking the photo from afar is one thing, but going up to strangers and asking them for their name, age and hometown is another.
   Gathering captions can give shy scholastic photojournalists a panic attack.
   When you are out there shooting your final photo story in the next few weeks, remember that the later half of the word photojournalism is journalism, or the art of writing.
 

Monday, March 6, 2017

Audacity training: Posting an edited podcast from folder to Wordpress

   This is the Audacity training recorded during the Kent State Teaching Multimedia course chat March 5.
   It takes your through the steps for editing audio using Audacity.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Why photojournalists prefer using Photo Mechanic to Adobe Bridge

An example how an edited photo using Photoshop returns beside the unedited version in Photo Mechanic.
   During a recent course chat with a Kent State grad student in the Teaching Multimedia course, she questioned the use of Photo Mechanic as part of the photography assignment workflow. She thought using Photo Mechanic was an extra, unnecessary step in the photo editing process.
   It is a good question. After all, if you already have access to Adobe Bridge, then why bother with Photo Mechanic (PM)? After all, both are media browsers that accelerate your workflow. Once photos are ingested, both allow you to preview your photo shoot and tag your selection via color codes or stars. 
   And neither offer the editing option. Although PM allows you to do a simple crop and crooked horizon adjustment. You still have to edit your images through Photoshop, Adobe Elements or Lightroom.
   But there are a few distinct differences that make PM an industry standard for photojournalists.     
   Here are a few reasons why PM is the browser of choice for photojournalists:
  • PM is cheaper. Version 5 is a one-time price of $150. No monthly fee. You also get an education discount.
  • It is a cross-platform, standalone browser that is compatible for both MACs and PCs, and one license will work on up to three different computers.
  • You can write captions in the IPTC Stationary Pad. You can caption a single image, or a group of images fast and simple; and those captions carry over onto your Wordpress blog posts. The IPTC Stationary Pad also allows you to add copyright information.
  • You can transmit your images right out of PM to your newspaper or organization. This prevents you from having to email, Dropbox or Google Drive your images.    
   So, if you are a Digital Photojournalism or Teaching Multimedia student of mine, it would be a disservice not to expose you to Photo Mechanic, a powerful image browser and workflow accelerator made for photojournalists who work fast and furious on deadlines.
   Consider this: After an assignment, we are expected to quickly upload hundreds of images, select and write captions for the chosen ones, edit them, and then transmit (export) them moments after the assignment has ended. 
   Adobe Bridge is just too impractical for what we have to accomplish.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Taking you through the editing workflow: Photo Mechanic & Photoshop

   The following Camtasia tutorial takes you through the motions of photo selection, editing and uploading photos to your Wordpress blog.
   It's certainly not perfect, but I hope it's a helpful guide. Please take 35 minutes out of your day to view it. This video will answer a lot of your questions. Thanks!

Monday, February 6, 2017

How to add keywords to your Wordpress posts

   Keywords are certain words in your blog post that are searchable. 
   For example, in the blog post (see below) about autism, notice that two of the keywords on the left, under the Category and Tags tab are autism, Bittersweet Farms, etc. When a reader is searching for those topics, your blog post could pop up.

To add a keyword, follow these steps:
1.              Log into your site by going to Wordpress.com
2.              Click on My Site
3.              Click on the words Blog Posts (to edit existing blog post), or the Add button to add a new blog post
4.              If adding keywords to an existing blog post, find that blog post then hit the Edit button and open up the blog post.
5.              In the left menu, Click on Categories & Tags
6.              Write your keywords that you should pull out of your blog post. Typically, add your keywords after you write your blog post so you know what words to use.

Example: