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
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.


Thursday, February 2, 2017

Podcast on camera controls: ISO, shutter speed and aperture explained

Beautiful chaos: The method of math in photography. White board at WSU for camera control lesson Feb. 2.
   The dual podcasts below offer simple explanations of camera controls: ISO, shutter speed and aperture.
   Because of time constraints on the free version of AudioBoom, which only allows you to record 10-minute podcasts, this lesson is broken down into two parts: ISO and shutter speed is segment one; aperture is segment two.
   Thank you for listening!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Guidelines for building a Wordpress website that works for you

Social Media

This semester, you will use your Wordpress website for several reasons:

  •       Build a portfolio
  •       Turn in your homework
  •       Create a platform to share information with students
  •       Share your vision and voice
Consider these guidelines to help you find and organize your website.

Step One:
Template. It is very important you choose the right template; it could become a part of your portfolio/resume. 
  • Spend at least an hour searching through various templates until you find one that works for you
  • Make sure it’s easy to read and follow
  • Keep it simply organized
  • It absolutely needs to be photo friendly
  • Stay away from websites designed for marketing or selling stuff
  • Don’t feel you need to select the first one you find. Go through them until you find the right fit
  • When you do find one you like, but then decide two weeks later it doesn’t work, then change it
  • Spend the first month getting to understand and know your website. Experiment!
Lori King's website: With dynamic photo and menu
Step Two:
Homepage or cover page? When a visitor lands on your blog, what will they see? Will it begin with a cover page, with a dynamic photo and a menu like what on the right? Or a homepage, with a menu for the various pages? Or will visitors be greeted with your blog and social media right away?
Consider these options:
Visuals and Voices – This doesn’t have a homepage
Lori King’s Website – This one does
King’s Klass Blog – This is a true blog, not a website
King's Klass Blog: All elements on homepage

Step Three:
Blog. Once you’ve chosen your homepage option, then add a blog, or not.
Some websites are blogs, while others have separate pages for blogs. You have to decide which one works for you. Whatever you decide, your blog posts need to be found fast and easy, because this is where you will post 99% of your essays and photos.

Step Four:
Twitter. Your Twitter feed should be on the homepage.
Visitors need to be able to read your most recent Tweets. They also should be able to click on your name to go directly to your Twitter feed.
Remember the following requirements:
  • Upload professional headshot
  • Brief but informative description
  • Include Website URL in your description
  • For WSU students: Include #WSUpj and @intro2pj in every post
  • For KSU students: Include #TeachMM and @intro2pj in every post
  • Follow @intro2pj + five others from my feed
Step Five:
Instagram. Your Instagram feed should be on the homepage.
Visitors need to be able to view your most recent Instagram posts. They should also be able to click on your name to go directly to your Instagram feed.
Remember the following requirements:

  • Upload professional headshot
  • Brief but informative description. This can be the same as your Twitter description
  • Include Website URL in your description
  • For WSU students: Include #WSUpj and @toledophotog in every post
  • For KSU students: Include #TeachMM and @toledophotog in every post
  • You must post a first photo to make it active on your website
  • Open a new account if your original account is mostly selfies and personal content
  • Follow @toledophotog + five others from my feed

Your Wordpress: The site that binds

Thursday, January 5, 2017

WSU Digital Photojournalism: Q & A for a new hybrid format course

   The Wayne State Digital Photojournalism course is going to be a bit different this semester.
   The course is typically a one-day a week, three-hour class. But beginning next week, the classroom time will be cut down to 1:15 minutes. It will be a hybrid course, otherwise known as a flipped class. This means most of the lectures will be available either on Blackboard or this course blog. Lectures will be prepared, recorded and posted, and students must view them by due dates, which will be announced on the assignment sheets. This will give them the time they need to soak up the information. Class periods will be used for using the software, taking quizzes and contributing to classmate critiques.
Digital PJ course schedule for winter 2017 semester
This does not mean they can skip class, even if they already have the software at home. This is the only time I can see their images, answer their questions, and critique their work. 
Every class is mandatory.
   Speaking of questions, here are a few popular questions students have asked over the years.

Q:  Why do I have to take this course? I’m a journalist/broadcaster/PR specialist, not a photojournalist.
A:  This course is necessary because at some point in your career you probably will be asked to take your own photos. It is a stark, real and unfortunate reality that staff photojournalism jobs are dwindling each year, leaving journalists to pick up the slack with point and shoot cameras and cell phones. 
   Despite their lack of photography experience, journalists are being tasked (and sometimes forced) to produce their own images. The only way to combat poor photo quality and legal/ethical issues is to offer courses like COM 2280, which is designed to prepare you for the inevitable.
   Also, even if you never take another photo in this field, this class will help you understand the photographers you will work with, for, or who will work for you.
Q: How hard is this course?
A:  Moderately difficult. This course is designed to give you basic photojournalism skills that will prepare you to work in 21st Century journalism newsrooms. It is a practical-skills driven course, meaning you will practice what you learn. 
   You will be exposed to camera operations, and many of the industry standard software used by most photojournalists, like Photo Mechanic, Photoshop and Adobe Premiere Pro CC. You'll even learn how to capture and edit audio using Audacity. So yes, expect a steep learning curve on a few assignments.
   The two most important tips I can give are to pay attention and keep up
   Please be fully engaged in every lesson, even if you’ve already been exposed to photography and some of the digital editing tools. After all, practice makes perfect (I never say perfect in this course) precision. Once you think you know it all, you stop learning and improving. 
Q: How can I get an A?
A: I understand that most students expect an A in every class they take. That’s human nature, but it’s not realistic to issue 20 As per class. If you don’t earn an A, don’t fret. Remember that you are learning the building blocks of a very technical profession. Practice and opportunity in the field are what truly matters, not an A in a single class.
   That said, here are several ways that will NOT earn you an A:  
          Here are several ways that will help you earn an A, because I don't just strictly look at the assignment assessments:
  •             Be willing to help your classmates
  •             Have no fear of asking questions when you don’t understand something
  •             Pay attention to the little details, like spelling, AP styles, blog design, etc., how to post your assignments
  •             Redo less-than-stellar assignments
  •             Have a good attitude
   Here are several ways that will prevent you from earning an A: 
  •        Telling me you need an A because you have a perfect GPA so far won't help your case. If you want an A, you have to earn it with great attendance; zero missed assignments; good class participation; and a willingness to climb out of your comfort zone.
  •      Miss more than two classes
  •      Miss one assignment or quiz
   Warning: It is possible to get a D or flunk this course. All you have to do is miss a lot of classes and homework assignments. I have issued too many Ds and Fs, and I don't like doing it. I don’t like dishing out Cs and below, either, but I won’t give credit where it’s not due. Not only is it not fair to those students who earned their As and Bs, but I'm all too aware how competitive it is out there in the real world, and it's my job to prepare you for that, which means being rigorous sometimes.

   If you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to email me at