Video Interview

I have two versions: one with a video portrait intro and one without. 

The New York Times is awesome, as per usual

One of my favorite multimedia projects of all time is the New York Times' “1 in 8 Million" project. The project features many different short audio slideshows on residents of New York, showcasing something interesting about their lives. 

My favorites of these short pieces is the one titled, Louise Nicholas: The Jury Clerk. What makes this audio slideshow is a few key components.

- First, the photos are compelling and really take you through a day with Louise from interesting perspectives.

- Second, Louise is a character. The audio interview helps move the photo story along and adds an authenticity that only her voice could do.

- Third, the natural sound gives the audience a sense of place. The photos do provide a visual sense of setting, but it’s the various sound gathered at Louise’s workplace that give the audience a full sense that they are immersed in Louise’s world. It’s not too much natural sound—it’s only a little here and there—so it doesn’t overwhelm or take away from the images. But it compliments the piece perfectly.

Color correction maybe?

This was probably the most difficult skill for me this semester. I’m still not perfect with my flash alone, but now add these weird gel things and it just complicates things so much. But it was fun to learn and practice the technique.

             My two big challenges were getting the right gel to match the color of the existing light and trying not to overpower the existing light.  For my fluorescent light shoot I went to Buck’s Ice Cream and the f-light was indeed gross. It was sort of a pinkish yellow. I went through a few of my gels and tried different combinations but I never felt like I could get it just right. I think I cam pretty close though in my select.  I ended up combining a light yellow gel and a light pink gen to match the color of the light and setting my white balance setting to warm fluorescent.

Here is my favorite shot from take 1:

MU Sophomore Molly Higgins explains the ice cream making process to a customer at Buck’s Ice Cream Place on Tuesday. “Working here is fun because we get to help invent flavors and try the ice cream,” Higgins said.

Here was the set-up:

            My tungsten light ended up being even harder. I photographed a worker at Ninth Street Video Wednesday evening. My subject was really nervous and I could tell that she calmed down significantly when I bounced the flash rather than tried direct flash. So, I decided to try and bounce my flash for most of my photographs, but the problem was that none of the walls were white. Part of the walls were blue and part were a really really light yellow. I tried to bounce off of the yellow thinking that it wouldn’t be too bad because I my gel was kind of yellow-orange anyway. However, I feel like I miss aimed a bit and I think all my photos have a bit of a blue tint. My other struggle was trying to get the photo to be properly exposed, but not having my flash light over power the existing light. I tried to bracket both my aperture and my power to solve it, but I still think even my select has some drop off. 

Here is my favorite shot from take 2:

            Honestly I think the main problem is I need to keep practicing to get used to getting my flash settings right. I understand how it works on paper and I get the formula for it, I just have trouble executing it in the field. I think I’m getting better but I’m not quite there yet. 

That one time I accidentally stole a cup of coffee

It was an accident I swear. 

But just forget my thievery and focus on my fill/balance flash techniques instead.

The more I use my flash, the more comfortable I feel with it. I’m not perfect yet, and I still fumble a bit in my execution, but I can tell that many of the techniques are becoming more second nature.

For my fill flash, I photographed on of the guys working at the hotdog stand on the corner of Ninth Street and University Avenue. My main challenge was that the day was overcast, so the sky was basically white. But, the man was still working under an umbrella on his hotdog stand, and thus his face was in a shadow and needed a fill flash. Another challenge was trying to avoid an obnoxious extra shadow my flash created on the back of the umbrella. I just had to move my camera and Lauren (who was acting once again as my human light stand). Because the sky was mostly white due to cloud cover, I had trouble knowing if I was exposing the background correctly.

Here is one of my shots

Tim Mallory prepares a hotdog for a customer at his stand on the corner of Ninth Street and University Avenue. During the day his work is pretty calm, but his nighttime shifts are a different story. He works a stand on Broadway downtown after midnight. “I have an endless amount of crazy stories from the night time shift,” Mallory said. “One of the craziest nights was when a guy climbed down from a bar roof to get a hotdog.”

For my balance flash, I photographed a barista at the new coffee shop in the Arts District, Fret Board Coffee. I loved shooting this because it was a bit challenging due to the extreme difference of light inside the shop (it was pretty dimly light with tungsten lights) and outside (very bright and sunny day. Also, positioning my camera and my flash was hard because there were a lot of metal objects in the way that were making additional reflections. I think generally, the inside of the shop looks too dark in my photos, and I had trouble lighting everything in my subjects hands and also light his face with only one flash. Many objects and the counter blocked my flash from getting to the cup in his hands sometimes. I tried to solve this by having Lauren hold the flash higher, but then that created top light on my subject, which created ugly raccoon shadows on his face. However, I was overall pretty satisfied with my take.

Here was my select: 

Bryan Arri, 20, practices his newly learned milk pouring technique in a break between customers at Fret Board Coffee in Columbia, Mo. Arri was Fret Board’s first employee and will soon be promoted to Senior Lead Barista. “I love my job,” Arri said. “I’ve wanted to be a barista since I was in seventh grade because I thought it would be such a cool job.”

Here was my set-up:

I would make a pretty unsuccessful octopus.

So, I guess my life long dream of living in the ocean as a sea-creature is just not in the cards for me. :p

Okay, but like back to the single flash assignment.

This assignment was just a whole bunch of conflicting emotions. One on hand, I was so thrilled the entire time because I felt so powerful finally understanding how to use a flash. It was like this whole new part of photography was opened to me now that I had the power to bring light to dark (or just poorly lit) situations. On the other hand though, I was so frustrated by the fact that with every single exposure, I seemed to miss something. I’m hoping that with more time to work with my flash, all of the intricacies of the technique will become second nature. For the most part, it wasn’t that I didn’t understand how to execute my photo, it was that I would try too hard to focus on one specific thing: the composition (the angle of my light, etc) that I would forget about something else and it would make something in my image a bit off.

For my direct flash, I found it sooooooo much easier to have my flash set up a few feet away from me off camera (shout out to my human light stand Lauren Kastner). This freed up my hands and it also put my light at the angle I wanted and allowed my to stand far away to get the composition I wanted.

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Brendan Forshee, 42, tries to sink the eight ball to win his game of pool. He plays pool a few evenings each week at Billiards on Broadway with his friend Warren Lawson, 42.


For the bounce flash, my human light stand was not present and I didn’t have anything to set up my flash on. So, I tried to be an octopus and hold my flash in one hand and camera in the other. Sounds easy right? It’s not. I am the farthest thing from grace and coordination so I clumsily tried to properly light my subject and didn’t do the best job. I had some problems with fall off (which I could have remedied with an aperture change, oops) and I wasn’t too satisfied with my composition. But, the more I practice bouncing my flash, the more I learn how to channel my inner octopus and the better I get at it. For only my third time really trying to bounce my flash, I think I did relatively fine.

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Hailey Moore, 19, finishes packing a to-go salad for a customer at The Upper Crust Bakery and Cafe on Wednesday evening. In between her daily duties in the kitchen, Moore experiments with food to work on perfecting her signature dish. Each week, the cafe features a chef and Moore is preparing for her debut moment. 

Here was my set-up:

That one time I almost died in the studio…

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: I think I’ve actually reached a stage in my life where I’m not totally and completely horrible at studio lighting.

Also, I kind of didn’t totally hate the metal and glass assignment, which is weird because everyone made it out to be like the seventh circle of hell. I thought I would fail miserably and then curl up into a ball of distress because lighting metal and glass would be so difficult, but that’s just not what happened. I brainstormed an editorial concept (mine was mobile journalism, but I’ll get into that later), I gathered some props, went into the studio, set up the infinity table and three lights and an hour and a half later I had some photos. Boom. Done.

Now, my shoot was by no means perfect. At first, I forgot to set up a second light behind the infinity table to completely get rid of my horizon line. Then I wanted to do an overhead shot, but getting myself high enough over the infinity table wasn’t too easy and almost cost me my life when the ladder almost fell. Now that would’ve been a fabulous way to die: falling off of a ladder while shooting my metal and glass assignment. Thankfully though, I survived and I got some cool images.

Here is my favorite shot:

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Here’s the set up:

My concept was old vs. new journalism. The idea started out because I’m a dork and I have a pica pole and some film cameras that I thought would be interesting to light. I wanted to demonstrate how the way we report and document the world has shifted. Today we see mobile journalism everywhere: Photojournalist Michael Christopher Brown documents international crises via instagram, Apple films a short movie with only iPhones and J2150 lab sections are creating projects with iPads. What used to take many different steps and multiple pieces of equipment can be essentially by done with the click of a button on an iPhone.

I know what you’re thinking: OMG WHAT, BIA YOU ARE A SHAME TO PHOTOJOURNALISM WHY WOULD YOU EVER SAY THAT AN IPHONE CAN DO EVERYTHING. Calm down. I don’t think that. I wouldn’t be pursuing a degree in photojournalism if I thought that. But, while I do value photojournalism, I recognize that mobile journalism has a place in the world. Magmum photographer Susan Meiselas told the New York Times Lens Blog last month that the “uncertain future” of the digital world really isn’t all that scary and that it’s all just about embracing the new with the old.

I’ll leave you with the Meiselas’s last quote from the blog:

"It’s about having impact in a very noisy environment. How do we create a focus so people can still feel connected emotionally to what’s happening in a very fractured world? Feel connected in ways that they once did? Without Life magazine, without the front page that everybody reads, how do we create the kind of communication we hope will connect people?"

           

 

Classmate Studio Portrait

This week I was challenged with the task of lighting my partner in a way that described her personality. I decided to focus on Kendra’s two sides of her personality: the nice and shy Kendra that everyone sees, and the sassy and aggressive Kendra that she keeps mostly hidden.

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(Single light image)Most people know Kendra Johnson as the quiet girl in class. However, there is much more to Kendra than just her shy demeanor. Kendra is a complex person behind the quiet and nice face she puts on for everyone.

> For this image, I tried to show how Kendra has a hidden part of her personality that most people don’t see by keeping one side of her face in the shadows.

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(Multiple light image) While many people think of Kendra Johnson as simply a quiet girl, there is another side of her that is unknown to most. Kendra has a sassy side. When she gets irritated by self-absorbed people or horribly slow drivers, she lets loose a her inner sass and agressive personality. 

> For this image, I wanted to show Kendra’s sassy side in full view and no longer hidden, so I shot it in high key light and had her scream as if she was angry at a very slow driver on the road. 

Here was the set up for my two set ups 

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Light Exploration: A Tale of How Incorrect White Balance Can Make You Want to Vomit.

Okay, perhaps that title is unnecessarily long, but it is what it is. 

For this assignment, Tim and Lauren ventured through the Antarctic like terrain that was Columbia, Mo. last week and photographed various things in different (sometimes totally and completely horrible) lighting conditions with different (sometimes horribly incorrect) white balances.

I knew what white balance was and how to change it on my camera prior to doing this assignment, but I’m going to go ahead and be honest: I never really gave it that much thought. It was always that thing that’d I’d strive to do correctly, but I also had a sort of “ehhhh, I can just fix it later” lazy attitude toward it. I’m not proud of that, but here I am taking this class with the intention of no longer treating white-balance like that. 

So here’s how it went: 

We went to the library and made our way to West Stacks. 
*Side note: can we just all take a minute and recognize how the west stacks looks like a dungeon meant to trap students until they slowly die? 

I’m just saying.

Okay, back to the story. So, Lauren and Tim searched the stacks for the book, while I pretended to read the spines of books and to make it seem like I was helping. Yeah, I don’t know how to use the dewey decimal system. Sue me. 

After we found the book and followed the instructions, we realized we’d have to shoot under the disgusting florescent lighting in the West Stacks. Great. 

Ew. (Tungsten)

Eh. (white fluorescent)

Ewwww. (Sunlight)

Then as Lauren did her shots, Tim and I got bored and this happened.

Off to visit Beetle Bailey.

Tim decides to make it snow. (sunlight)

Tim force feeds Beetle Bailey. Rude. (white fluorescent)

Sensual Tim. (tungsten)

After freezing in the cold and complaining about it for roughly 15 minutes, we grabbed lunch and headed to the shack. Tim and Lauren don’t trust me with knives so I had to settle with photographing someone else’s carving handiwork at the shack. 

(white fluorescent)

(tungsten)

(sunlight)

Things I learned from this assignment:

- Columbia is really cold in January omg.

- Tim cannot smile in photos

- Also, your white balance really matters so just look around at your surroundings and adjust the setting accordingly.

Portraits on portraits on portraits

Portraiture is foreign to me. It’s not something I know how to do well, but something I’ve always wanted to learn how to do well. 

Here are a few portraits that I love and why:

First I chose these two portraits from Richard Avedon’s In the American West photo book.

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These might seem sort of plain or simple in regards to lighting, but that’s exactly why I love these series of photographs. In these portraits, the subjects have nothing to hide. The lack of shadows (also known as “snakes” in Rita Reed speak) adds a layer of stark vulnerability to the subjects. The viewer sees just about every visible feature in the subjects and they look very non threatening. I especially love the photo on the left, because of the girl almost fades into the white background because of the light color of her hair. 

The next portrait I like is this one actress Mellica Mehraban taken by Laerke Posselt.
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I love that a lot of the woman gets lost as it fades into black background and all we really see is her face. It gives a bit of mysteriousness to because so much is lost in the black, but the viewer still gets to see great detail in the face and eyes. Also, the stark contrast of the black make the face and eyes pop and really allow that to be the center of the photo. I also like the touch of having her hair across her face. It makes me wonder why it’s like that at and want to know more and it always makes the picture interesting and quirky, which probably says something about the actress.

Original photo by Joao Silva, featured in his book In the Company of God.