Archive for February, 2010

DAY 9: Thaw

Columbia is supposed to get some snowfall again tomorrow evening, but right now, everything is generally thawing out a bit. Although, some big fat flakes were falling earlier while the sun was out.

I caught at least a dozen snowflakes on my tongue. I almost choked on one of them.

Anyway. Earlier, I wrote in two tweets:

  1. It’s only Day 9 of the 30-day challenge, and I’m already bored with my life / staggered over how boring my life is.
  2. I need to break my routine and get out more, or I need to examine more closely that same routine. Or – I need to do both. #visualagony

I decided to break my routine. So Jeff and I went to the Green Valley Drive bridge over Hinkson Creek — just off of Broadway near Old 63 — and took some photos there.

Hinkson Creek. That overpass bridge is Broadway.

Detail of the icemelt on top of the creekwater's surface.

Then, as Jeff and I were walking from my apartment building to the journalism school, we both spotted this pipe at about the same time:


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Walking downtown.

Today, my Business Practices in Photojournalism class visited L.G. Patterson‘s studio in downtown. (His Web site either is down or won’t load on my computer, which is why I linked to his Twitter.)

L.G. — whom I’ve seen at various MU athletic events — is an Associated Press photographer who also does a lot of commercial and portraiture work. Among the tips he gave us:

  1. Meet people, and make it meaningful. Don’t just sit in front of a computer screen or hand out business cards because…
  2. …The business of photography — like many others — is often more about whom you know.
  3. We as students often undersell ourselves.

In other news, today was my last day with the 14-24/2.8, at least for a while. I shot the above image on our way back to the journalism school. Here’s an outtake:


On our way out of L.G.’s studio, Jason kinda popped out at me and I snapped this frame. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have cut off his fingers or foot. If not for that, and if Jessica weren’t in the background, I think this would have been my designated photo for today.

Oh well.

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90ish days of summer

After our encounter with Edwardo Alvarado in the Times Square station, Jeff and I had a pretty chill time on our way to and at Columbia University.

The typical college kid thing — you know, playing Frisbee in front of Butler Library.

Why leave lower Manhattan and make such a big detour to Columbia if our next stop was the Brooklyn Bridge? Well, we still had time to kill, and I remembered enjoying my time on campus when I was there for the Columbia for the Columbia Scholastic Press Association‘s Gold Circle Awards with five other staffers of my high school newspaper.

Low Library, back in March 2004 when my high school newspaper adviser took six of us staffers to New York City. This photo was taken with a really crappy disposable film camera.

That was a really great trip. I had joined the newspaper staff at the beginning of the schoolyear and loved it more than anything. It was also my first out-of-town trip without my parents, which was liberating and wonderful. It’s no exaggeration to say that I felt a lot better and more confident about myself after spending a week in New York City with some of my favorite people.

Now, of course, I’m a bit out of touch with them. A few months ago, I e-mailed everyone on the trip to see how they were doing, but no one has replied. I’m wondering, especially because each of us were particularly passionate and eventually became editors on the paper, if anyone else in the group is still pursuing journalism as I am.


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Who doesn’t love a little distortion in photos?

The stairs/amphitheatre outside of the Reynolds Journalism Institute.

I’ve checked out a 14-24/2.8 lens for a few days, and it’s a lot of fun to use on a full-frame camera body like the D700.

I remember David telling us in Fundamentals — the first photojournalism course in the sequence — that we should distort our photos only when distortion enhances or adds to the photos’ quality or storytelling ability. So I’ve been keeping this in mind, and am on the lookout for scenarios and environments where warping the image via the lens would contribute to the image.

Here’s another one:

Some gnarly little tree near Middlebush.

And one more, which I took last night:

Some poor abandoned sweater in a tree next to the Manor House graduate apartments.

I have this lens until tomorrow evening. I’m bound and determined to have fun with it until then.

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Patrick T. Fallon has way too much time on his hands.

Patrick, a junior photojournalism student here at MU, is known by all and beloved by many. It’s prudent, accurate and inoffensive to say simply that he is a character.

Patrick (center, in Mizzou sweatshirt) shares his newest Facebook album with MU photojournalism chair David Rees (center right, with glasses). From left to right, fellow photo-j students Grant, Sam, Nick and Jeff gather around. I shot this photo with a D700 and a 14-24/2.8, which explains the distortion.

Patrick’s latest Facebook album consists of diptychs of two Joels: Joel Kowsky and Joel Hawksley.

Joel Kowsky is a fellow photojournalism senior at MU. He photographs for the university’s athletic department and is generally a gearhead.

Joel Hawksley is a photojournalism sophomore at Ohio. He photographs for the university’s athletic department and seems to be a gearhead.

I’m not sure what Patrick was thinking, but he went through photos of the two Joels on Facebook and found seven uncannily similar photos of the two, who, it’s safe to assume, have never met.

Here’s an example of one of Patrick’s diptychs:

Click the image above for more diptychs of Joel and Joel.

Patrick shared with me the public link to the Facebook album where you can view more eery diptychs of these two photographers doing very photographer-y things (like taking photos of themselves in mirrors). You can view this album either by clicking on the image above or here.

My photo for today in the 30-day challenge is the first photo, which shows Patrick showing the album to photojournalism chair David Rees. I daresay David enjoyed Patrick’s efforts, as has hopefully everyone else who knows either Joel.

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I love the Food Network‘s competition shows.

Chopped“? It’s great when I don’t mind a slightly higher blood pressure. (For me, it’s stressful to watch. But enjoyable.)

Food Network Challenge“? Entertaining, but even more so when non-pros take on a challenge.

Worst Cooks in America“? I’ve only seen a few episodes, but Chef Anne’s voice is sometimes a bit too grating. That said, I have to admit that watching it makes me feel that much better about myself as a cook.

Iron Chef America“? …best show on the Food Network. Period. My favorite, by far.

That said, Bobby Flay is not my favorite Iron Chef. That said, I don’t have a favorite Iron Chef. But if I did, it wouldn’t be Bobby Flay.

Jeff decided to make Bobby Flay’s chili recipe for our Super Bowl XLIV enjoyment, as well as some traditional corn-and-bean salad.

Suffice it to say, it was delicious and boasted a deep, hearty flavor. It was also beyond my tolerance for spiciness. Admittedly, my threshold is fairly low, and Jeff claims he added only half the amount of spices in the recipe.

The recipe also called for a “toasted cumin crema” and “avocado relish,” which Jeff made and said would help cool my palate after some bites of chili.

Well. As a born-and-raised Texan, I don’t want any of that creamy silliness in my chili, spicy or not.

So thank you, Bobby Flay, for publishing an over-spiced recipe and then having the gall to suggest that we should truss it up with creamy silliness.

Here are a few more photos of our Super Bowl menu lineup:


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Saw these while at the register at Hy-Vee.

Apparently these balloons sing.

If I were younger and had been dragged to the grocery store by my mother, I probably would have found some way to pull one of these balloons down and make it sing for the sole purpose of annoying my mother.

But I haven’t. And I didn’t.

Not today.

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Answer: “Who is Lindsay Eanet?”

Yes, I took a photo of a CRT TV screen.

Lindsay and I met while working at The Maneater student newspaper in our freshman year. I don’t remember exactly how we met, but we became friends when we worked together on a fashion story for MOVE, which is The Maneater‘s biweekly arts and entertainment magazine. The next year, when everyone was moving off-campus, we became roommates.

Linds tried out for the College Championship series in Jeopardy! that year as well as the next. She didn’t make it until this year — and earlier this evening, a large group of us all gathered at The Heidelberg for a watch party to see Lindsay win $22,100, triumph in her first round and sail into the semifinals.

At the "Jeo-party." This is THE photo for Day 3 of the 30-day challenge.

Lindsay’s semifinal round airs on Wednesday, so check your local listings to see when Jeopardy! is played wherever you are. For those of you in Columbia, be sure to tune to ABC/KMIZ-17 at 5 p.m. on Wednesday the 10th.

On an unrelated note, I carried a camera around with me all day to see what I could get. Here are a few more photos that almost made the cut:


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Last night, I was disappointed it wasn’t snowing when I got out of work.

But it was snowing on my way to work this morning.

Outside my apartment building this morning. The vignetting is natural.

And it’s going to keep snowing.

And I’m glad that the weather gods don’t hate me too much after all.

P.S. This is not my entry for the 30-day challenge — I have a few more photo opportunities to milk before I blog again today!

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The weather gods hate me.

The chance of snow was 30 percent this evening, and while I was at work, several people were tweeting about flurries in Columbia. I was excited to take snow photos once I got out of work, but whatever snow had been falling was reduced to a very light mist when I left the building. Undeterred, I took a gander around downtown anyway.

Once, while staying at my roommate Chelsea’s house in St. Louis for a few days, her father pointed out the wet pavement in a movie we were watching. I asked him what he meant. He explained that art directors tend to wet the pavement before a nighttime shoot — regardless of whether the weather is supposed to be clear — for aesthetic purposes.

To this day, every time I see wet pavement during a nighttime scene in a movie or in real life, I remember what Chelsea’s dad said.

So tonight, I set about looking for wet pavement.

Wet pavement in an alley in downtown Columbia. The door is the employees' back entrance to Sycamore Restaurant.

I was crouching down and snapping some photos in this alley for a few minutes before a car drove up halfway. (You can still see its headlights in the righthand side of the photo.) I stayed put and noticed a figure approaching. All I could hope was that the person would enter the big orange-lit door — and, sure enough, she did.

Quickly, I refocused the lens and snapped the photo right when she was framed in the rectangle of light.

Here’s my runner-up for the day:

The Tiger Hotel entrance, shown from the stairwell of the parking garage on Eighth and Cherry Streets.

As I wrote in my previous post, I’m hoping not to have to resort to nighttime photography for every day of this 30-day challenge.

That said, I have reached several conclusions:


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I’m furious.

Today in Picture Story class, we watched a video chronicling photographer Jim Brandenburg’s self-challenge to take one photograph a day for 90 days in his extensive backyard near Ely, Minn. He undertook this project in 1994 — an age predating digital technology and 16GB memory cards, but photographers of his pedigree were unfazed by shooting thousands of frames per day while on assignment. I encourage you to check out the gallery. Each photo is technically and aesthetically wonderful, and the visual variety is stunning.

I’m not sure exactly what prompted him, but David suddenly proposed a challenge: Each of us should post a new photo to our blogs every day for 30 days. We accepted this challenge.

That’s not why I’m furious.

I’m furious because I have to read this book:

"Money-Driven Medicine" by Maggie Mahar

I’m in my final undergraduate semester, and only now am I taking my first-ever political science course. The class is Public Policy, and for our first paper, we are to read this entire book and write a book review.

That’s not (exactly) why I’m furious.

I’m furious because I’m learning, in detail, about the failures of the American health care system according to one author-journalist.

I’m furious because I procrastinated in starting this book, which has prevented me from going out and making pictures and blogging a real photo for my first entry in this 30-day series.

I’m furious because, although I’m far more interested in being a photographer than in being a student, my academics and work schedule this semester are severely limiting the time and opportunities I could have to pursue better photography.

My weekly schedule, not including my occasional photo-editing shifts on Fridays, Saturdays, and/or Sundays. The purple are classes; the green are worktime or photo-editing duties.

I’m excited about this 30-day challenge. I want to incorporate a theme or motif — and soon, so I can pursue that for the remainder of the challenge. I just hope I can find enough time to make good pictures to blog every day.

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I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore.

I’m tired of seeing student photographers/journalists getting ripped off and taken advantage of.

I’m tired of knowing that companies — big and small — and individual clients think they can offer us little to no pay or, even better, “exposure” and a credit line in exchange for our hard work.

I’m tired of seeing fellow (photo)journalists willingly give up their work for little to no pay and/or not realize they should charge for their work.

I attribute my fury to two incidents/events in the past week: First, a large company’s trying to take advantage of another photographer and me, and second, a Twitter debate over content farms.

How a big-time company tried to rip me off

Almost two years ago, Esten, some other friends and I hopped in a car and drove 1200 miles roundtrip to Mangum, Okla., for the Mangum Rattlesnake Derby. For three days in this annual event, rattlesnake hunters comb through the nearby hills in search of rattlesnakes, which are brought back to town and butchered. We were there purely for the novelty of it all — and to photograph it, of course.

About a week ago, a representative with a very well-known travel guidebook company sent me the following message via Flickr Mail:

Hi Chris,

We produce and distribute one of the Web’s most popular travel guide products and have selected the Mangum Rattlesnake Derby to be included in the guide.

We are in the process of enhancing our listing with photos and would like to request an image from you (http://www.flickr.com/photos/chris_dunn/2458007330/) that can be used alongside the description of the event.

The image will appear alongside our editorial review of the Mangum Rattlesnake Derby and will go live on http://www.whatsonwhen.com, http://www.frommers.com and selected partner sites, reaching around 5 million unique users a month and generating 30 million page views.

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David challenged us to find another sequence for Picture Story for today. I hoped to emulate my earlier sequence and to expand on the Columbia nightlife. When work ran late on both Friday and Saturday nights, I was left with only Sunday.

So, Jeff and I went to Rocheport.

Along the Katy Trail.

My plan was to photograph the sun setting over the Missouri River, along the Katy Trail. Using the D3’s intervalometer, I did photograph the sunset at one frame every 20 seconds, but because I had been in such a hurry to set up my tripod, my framing was off.

This is one of the photos in the sequence, but after I straightened and cropped it according to the horizon line.

So I quickly switched up my tripod and exposure settings and shot another sequence as the sun’s light faded away. I shot on manual exposure at ISO 320, f/5 and 1/250, and took one frame every 20 seconds for almost 20 minutes.

The frames below were shot three minutes apart and do well to represent the passage of time.


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