Thursday, February 25, 2016

Enterprise feature pictures are the bright, happy, candid moments of life

This photo is an enterprise feature I took with my new Fujifilm X-E2 mirrorless camera. I was on the hunt for a feature photo for the paper, as well as practice with my new camera. I initially stopped by the museum to document the grounds crew clearing off the steps, but then a school bus pulled up and I got this instead! (Screen grab from Toledo Blade)

Typical umbrella on the street shot. Couldn't find him to get his name, so he's nameless. It happens. Shot Feb. 25.
Northwood resident Daniel Diaz flies his self-constructed model plane at the Lark Elementary soccer field in Northwood, Ohio. Diaz has been building his own model plans for nearly two years, and has about 12 in his collection.   
Photos by Lori King  ©Toledo Blade
   Feature pictures.
   They are the bright to the dark. Happy to the sad. Feature pictures are the behind-the-scenes to the main action.
   The feature picture category is so broad that you can’t contain the definition into a single category. Features are everywhere!
   This week began our lesson into feature photography. I’ve provided lots of links to view on Blackboard. You have your textbook chapter to read. So, on this blog post I’m demonstrating feature photos I’ve taken in just the past few weeks.
                 On Enterprise Features
   Enterprise features are unplanned, candid moments. We Blade photographers call them rovers, because we rove around and search for anybody doing anything even remotely interesting. I enjoy rovers because we are on our own, with no direction from editors or reporters (no offense!)
   Basically, roving is driving around and finding something that will fit a hole in the paper or, say, go with a weather story.
   The key to successful enterprise features is capturing the spontaneous moment. Camera controls and composition are certainly important, of course, but it’s the moment that counts. To get moment, you need patience, perceptiveness and a curious nature to what just might happen in front of your lens!
     I’m writing about enterprise features because today, Feb. 25, is a snow day for most schools in Metro Detroit and Toledo. It’s a perfect day to capture one!
Clarice Nelson loses control of her umbrella as daughter Tamaro Jones watches. 

Take this photo of an umbrella gone wild, shot yesterday as I was trolling through Downtown Toledo searching for a weather rover. To make a long story short, I was actually shooting the girl on the right (because the mother didn’t want to be photographed), when all of a sudden the mom’s umbrella succumbed to the wind. There was no way I wasn’t going to shoot that! Once the mom saw the photo on the back of my camera, she graciously gave me

permission, and her name.
   The next example is another weather rover from last week.  Again, I was instructed to get a photo that demonstrated weather, this time for unseasonably warm weather. So, where to go? An ice cream stand, of course! I sat in my car and waited for customers who would fit the bill. These two teens walked up to the window, so I got out of my car, approached them, told them who I was, and to just ignore me. Using a long lens, I backed off and just let them do their thing. The rest, they say, is published!
   The final example (above) is a feature I just shot a few days ago. I like to drive through neighborhoods, looking for people out and about. I spotted this guy flying his model airplane in a soccer field. I turned around and approached him. I got a shot of him getting his plane ready - a nice reflection off of his car. Then I shot him launching his plan, but moments later the plan crashed to the ground. Moment over. But I shot everything I could. Even though I wanted the plane in the air, you have to shoot everything leading up to the moment you anticipated. In this case, I'm glad I did because when his plane crashed, my hopes of what I first envisioned was dashed. But at least I had something.
   I hope this is enough inspiration to get out there and shoot something! 
  • Charge your camera batteries
  • Put on your snowsuit
  • Pack your pencil (best in wet weather) and notebook. 
  • Go! 
  • Then post it on Twitter, and please don’t forget about your AP style caption information.

   How enterprising can you be?
Springfield High School students Mallory Phillips keeps her hair from blowing around
while her friend Trey Pontious samples her ice cream cone after school at Mr G's Barn. in
Holland, Ohio. This enterprise feature made the front page of the Toledo Blade, below the fold.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Lesson: Prezi tutorial on feature hunting in your community

This Prezi tutorial goes with a lecture. It creates discussion. If we don't have class due to weather, this will get you kick-started:

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Still frame grab exports from video clips add duplicity to storytelling

Screen grab from the eBlade. The image is also a frame grab from video. Published Feb. 14, 2016 in the Toledo Blade.   
   Multimedia = multiple types of media.
   This is the entire focus of Kent State's Teaching Multimedia grad students, who are currently learning the multitude ways of storytelling using still photos, video, audio, infographics and timelines (just to name a few) on various web publishing platforms.
   It can be pretty daunting when you're just realizing how much is available out there. But fear not. You don't have to use all of the tools every time. This blog post will highlight a simple example of using audio and video, and exports of frame stills from those videos.
   Because video was requested for a story of a man preparing to take his dog to Westminster, I had the added responsibility of capturing audio and moving images.
Top four are still images. The last two are video frame grabs used in the story.
   Taking both stills and video is always difficult because the quality of either the stills or video suffer.
   In my case, it's almost always the stills that suffer because I get so wrapped up in the video, which is captured with a Canon 5D Mark III DSLR camera and a Sennheiser MKE 400 shotgun mic. The quality from both is superb, but that's only if you use a tripod in a quiet place with minimal background noise. Autofocus is also an issue with the DSLR. The concerns add up rather quickly.
   There's also the added concern of trying not to duplicate the moments. The stills shouldn't be exactly the same as the video. For this reason, I selected and transmitted four still images that were completely different than the video.
   But alas, I was asked this question from my boss: "Where are the shots of the man training the dog?" My answer: "In the videos." His response in a nutshell: "Give us stills of the man training the dog." My reply: "I"ll select frame grabs from the video." Problem solved.
   The photo in the screen grab at top is one of those frame grabs. And here is how I did it:
  1. I drug the folder with all of the video files into Photo Mechanic and watched them one by one. 
  2. When I found the ones I wanted, I took those videos and opened them up in Quicktime. (Do not do a screen grab because the quality is poor.)
  3. Once I found the exact frames I wanted, I exported those frames onto the desktop. This process depends on which version you have, so Google it.
  4. Then I drug those frames into Adobe Elements (or Photoshop), and cropped and saved as a 200 resolution jpg. The difference is hardly noticeable.
   Screen grabs are a good way of solving the 'missing good still moments because you're shooting video' dilemma.' So, if you have to choose one or the other, choose video.
   And wouldn't you know it: None of the still photos were used in the paper. Both stills were out of my frame grabs. Go figure.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Intro to PJ class goes on field trip to news photo exhibit, news station

   The Intro to Photojournalism class at Owens Community College kicked off the month by going on a field trip Feb. 1.
   We first went to the Toledo School for the Arts Gallery to view the Blade Photos By... a month-long photo exhibit, which showcased 40 prints by eight photojournalists.
   Then we toured the newly renovated Channel 13abc news station. Our tour guide was Diane Larson, the evening WTVG news anchor, who is a former student of this class!
   There's nothing better than getting out of the classroom to view the work of employed photojournalists (in full disclosure, I'm one of them), and to get a glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes at a local television station.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Photojournalism students learn ISOs, shutters speeds and f/stops...oh my!

Wayne State's COM 2280 Digital Photojournalism class pose after practicing with motion. (Photos by Lori King)
    Photography is easy. Just put your camera mode on Auto or Program and shoot. The camera will think for you!
    But we don't do things the easy way. My photojournalism and multimedia students are required to shoot on Manual mode, giving them full control of the camera, and their images. And this ain't easy. It's expected they will make lots of mistakes. After all, isn't that how we learn?
  • This is a recap, in a nutshell, of what was learned this past week:                              The camera is an instrument that controls light. It doesn't know what the subject is that it's capturing, whether that be a human, building or pet.
  • The camera is built to read light that bounces off of 18% gray tones. White or bright objects will reflect too much light, while black or dark objects will absorb the light; hence light bouncing off of gray is the magic tone for correct exposure.
  • The three controls that take away or add light are ISO, shutter speed and aperture (f/stop).
    - ISO is one way to control light, and you should always set that first. It is the camera sensor's sensitivity to light. The higher the ISO, the more light you add to the scene, or the lower the ISO, the less light you add.
    These are the standard ISOs: 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, 6400. ISO 400 is a good middle ground, but it is on the slow side. We refer to ISOs as slow or fast speed. A 200 ISO is slow, and a 1600 ISO is fast. Because 1600 adds more light to the sensor, you can set a fast shutter speed, which takes away light. Simple formula: The faster the ISO, the faster the shutter speed.
    - Shutter speed is when you trigger the shutter button and a mirror (for cameras with mirrors) opens and closes. All you need to know is that the longer the mirror stays open, the more light hits the sensor. The faster the mirror opens and closes, the less light hits the sensor.
    The shutter speed has another job, as well: motion. The three types of motion are blur, panned and stopped. Blur and panned are best accomplished at around 1/30th of a second. While stopped action is best shot at 1/500th of a second and faster.
    These are the standard shutter speeds: 1/30, 1/60, 1/125, 1/250, 1/500, 1/1000, 1/2000, 1/4000.
    - Apertures, also called f/stops, are controlled through the lens.
    These are the standard f/stops: f2.8, f4, f5.6, f8, f11, f16, f22, f32.
    When you set your aperture, you're opening or closing a hole in the lens. F2.8 is the biggest hole, allowing in more light, while f32 is the smallest, allowing in very little light. This concept can be confusing because the smaller number is the bigger hole. Just remember that these numbers are actually fractions that measure the diameter of the hole. So, f/4 is actually 1/4th, and F/8 is actually 1/8th: 1/4th is twice as big as 1/8th. Yes, there's math involved!
         Aperture also has another job. It controls depth of field. A shallow depth of field (subject in focus while foreground and background is out of focus) is at the f2.8 range, while a wide depth of field (subject and fore/background is in focus) is around f/16 and smaller.
    These three controls work together to add or take away light. This is called reciprocity, as they are reciprocal to one another.
    Photographically, we measure light in stops. The setting between ISO 400 and 800 is one stop, which is the exact same amount of light as between f/4 and f5.6, which is the same amount as between 1/125th of a second and 1/250th.
   So, to meter properly, set the ISO first; then set your either your aperture or shutter speed, depending on the depth of field or motion you want to achieve; meter on a gray tone; and then set the third control accordingly. It's very important you pay attention to your inside camera meter, because it is your measuring cup, so to speak. Once you meter on the gray tone, then you can shoot your subject (and ignore the meter). 
    See how easy this is? Actually, it's not that easy. But once you comprehend the numbers game, it actually makes sense.
    Keep in mind that this might all sound very confusing, but we talked about this lesson during class. So, I hope it makes sense to them.
    I could go on and on, but after a while the numbers get all jumbled, so I'll stop here and let it all soak in. 
    (Sometime soon: lenses and white balance, and whatever else we talked about.)
Students prepare to capture me running back and forth for a panning exercise, and doing jump jacks to stop and blur motion.