Archive for March, 2010

Today, Jeff and I are embarking on another westward spring break road trip.

Whereas last year, Esten, Jeff and I planned and completed an ambitious road trip that clocked more than 4,000 miles, went through eight states and included four national parks, Jeff and I are keeping things relatively simple this year.

We’re going to Santa Fe. And that’s about it.

The only other time I've been to Santa Fe, it was a daytrip in 2007. We visited the Georgia O'Keeffe museum and, afterward, were inspired to switch our cameras to shoot in black-and-white. Silly, but fun.

Actually, our itinerary also includes stops in Philmont Scout Ranch (my beloved home for five summers), Taos, Chimayo and, on the way back, Amarillo. I’d tell you more, but you’ll find out later anyway.

Something else that makes this year’s trip different from last: I’m shooting in entirely film. No digital for me, although I’m bringing a memory card just in case I want to swipe Jeff’s gear. But my shooting (almost) entirely in film means that my editing and blogging Days XXI through XXVII of the new 30-day challenge will be delayed.

Que será será.

I’ll be back in a week! Take care, everyone!

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XX: Old dirt

This evening, I washed the oldest pair of jeans I own, to date. They haven’t been washed in a few months. In fact, they’ve been hanging, with mud caked to the knees and calf areas, since I photographed the Missouri-Nebraska football game last October.

The elements were not kind that game night — cold, windy, rainy. I slipped in the mud at the end of the game while photographing fans, and my jeans and rainjacket have hung in my closet ever since.

But now they’re all clean. Because I’ll probably need them this coming week — and it was about time I dealt with them anyway.

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My entire capstone class is finishing the group documentary project on Broadway.

Each of us has worked on an aspect of or place on Broadway — a street that is one of the oldest, if not the oldest, in Columbia and which represents so much diversity within the city. My part of the project? I’ve been working on development — specifically, a neighborhood on East Broadway/WW.

One thing that threw a curveball at quite a few of us in the project? A freak snowfall last weekend.

March 20, through the back patio door of the model home.

On Monday, the snow was melting — because it’d gone from 31 degrees to 65.

March 23.

Gotta love that midwestern weather.

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These are the shoes I wear most often:

In February.

They’re comfortable and light, and they’re usually what I wear when I do photojournalism.

XV: March 19.

On XV (March 19), I wandered around a developing neighborhood, which I’m covering for a capstone project. I’ll blog more about that project later, but that day took me about a quarter-mile out of the neighborhood, to make pictures of its proximity to East Broadway/WW.

Then a freak snowfall and some rain hit Columbia… but I still had to make some pictures.

XIX: March 25.

And when I went out yesterday (XIX), I got stuck in the mud.

And had to jump out of my shoes.

And then had to gingerly jump back into the mud to retrieve my shoes.

I spent the next few hours walking around in just my stocking feet — in a real estate office, in my car, on campus — because my shoes were so muddy and would have trucked still-wet clumps of dirt all over the place.

The thing is, these are my most waterproof shoes. Which means, I should really invest in some good photojournalism-y shoes. Soon.

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By now, practically every photographer and visual artist has surely heard of one of the features that will arrive in Adobe Creative Suite 5‘s Photoshop upgrade: content-aware fill.

If you haven’t heard of this feature, all you need to do is watch the below video. And make sure you watch it through to the end.

I don’t think anyone can deny that this fill feature is an amazing achievement in technology and software. To eliminate whole trees and roads, and to fill in blue skies, rugged desert landscape, cloudy skies and anything else — with just a few clicks — well, that’s just amazing.

It’s also incredibly dangerous. I don’t think anyone with at least a basic understanding of photo/visual journalism ethics can deny that this fill feature allows for substantial manipulation and, if used, provides a very steep “slippery slope” toward letting nothing prevent one from publishing the “perfect” photo.

This afternoon, August and I briefly discussed the temptations and dangers imposed by the feature. The following is the end of our conversation:

  • Me: This means the death of photojournalism.
  • August: No, it just means the death of people’s trust in our photos.
  • Me: Exactly — this means the death of photojournalism.
  • August: Yeah… you’re right.

In short? If it works as effectively and efficiently as advertised, the content-aware fill feature is a godsend for portrait and commercial photographers. But I certainly hope that no photo/visual journalist considers using this tool.

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[Note: I’m running behind on Friday and Saturday, which are XV and XVI. Friday’s photo would be a panorama, which I haven’t had a chance to stitch together yet; Saturday’s would be a photo (or two) of the model home I toured. I also missed Sunday, which would have been XVII, which is why today is XVII.]

I ran a raincheck for XI, which was last Monday, because I’d used a Mamiya 645 to shoot that day’s photos on a roll of Ilford HP5.

Well — here’s one of those photos.

A bicycle on Ninth Street.

Heavy vignetting? Nope.

Photoshopped dust and scratches? Nope.

Complete laundry cycle? Yep.

Accidental partial exposure when I discovered the roll in my jacket pocket the next morning? Yep.

When I asked Jakob to develop the roll for me, he was initially skeptical because I’d mentioned I’d accidentally/momentarily exposed the roll. But he agreed to do it, and we discovered additional damage to the film that we hadn’t thought of.

No, I didn't photograph a textured wall.

Laundry lint was sticking to the emulsion.

Wanna see how the whole roll came out? Here you go:


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I’ve fallen a bit behind in blogging this second 30-day challenge. Rest assured, I’ve been making pictures! They just haven’t gone on-line yet, mostly because I’ve been busy on a project for capstone. But here are last Wednesday and Thursday.


Wednesday was St. Patrick’s Day, and Jeff and I attempted to get into a free show at The Blue Note. When the men at the door told us no SLR cameras were allowed, we had no choice but to leave, since we weren’t going to hand our cameras over to anyone else. So we meandered around a bit before going home.

At Broadway and Ninth.

For one week every year — Engineers Week — the lights on Jesse Hall shine green.

Francis Quadrangle.

Engineering students at Mizzou and elsewhere claim St. Patrick as their patron saint, so they mark the week of St. Patrick’s Day with celebrations and other events. On an unrelated note, I wish there were a patron saint of journalism — and if there were, who would it be?


On Thursday, Jakob came in to develop a roll of Ilford HP5 for me — the same roll that I shot on the Mamiya 645. I accidentally ran it through a full laundry cycle and then exposed part of it when I discovered it in my jacket pocket. So there are laundry fibers stuck to the emulsion, and there’s not a single frame that escaped my accidental exposure. Only about two exposures remain somewhat intact.

These are the most complete exposures remaining on the entire roll of 15 exposures.

I’ll scan the roll later this week when I have a spare moment! In the meantime, I’m shooting another test roll, since this test roll didn’t quite come out.

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Required by law!

For all the marketing and buzz that the 2010 Census has generated, it was one of the most boring forms I’ve ever filled out. One question (Question 10 on the first page) didn’t even make sense to my roommate and me, since we’re currently living in “college housing” but don’t live here all the time.

Fortunately, through Twitter, I found the answer as to what students at college should do. Thanks, Pew Research!

You're welcome.

So yeah. For all the hype, commercials and privacy concerns that have surrounded the Census this year, it was one of the most painless, boring forms that I’ve ever taken five minutes to complete.

I’m almost disappointed.

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XI: (raincheck)

  • UPDATE (2:45 p.m. on March 16, 2010): Earlier today, I discovered that roll of 120-film. It was in my jacket pocket. Which had just gone through the laundry last night. I’m still going to get the roll developed, since I’m interested to see how the detergent and dryer heat might have affected the crystals. Should be interesting.

I’m going to put up a raincheck for Day XI of the new 30-day challenge. While I did take some photos today, they won’t be ready for a while.

That is to say, I made pictures on film. Medium-format film. Film that places like Columbia Photo and the drugstores can’t process. Because it’s not C-41.

In fact, I made pictures with this camera and on this roll of film:

I haven’t figured out how or where I’ll be getting the Ilford processed, but it is definitely something I’ll take care of this week. Once the negatives are scanned, I’ll post the real Day XI.

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If you know me, you know I love puppies, small children and anything cute.

But especially the puppies, dammit.

Two Scottish terriers.

So when I heard that the Columbia Missouri Kennel Club Dog Show was this weekend at the Boone County Fairgrounds, of course I had to go.

When Jeff and I arrived yesterday on the second and last day of the show, the first thing I noticed was the smell. Then I saw that there were dogs everywhere (of course), and that just made everything so much better.

Dog handler Sarah Riedel with Jetta the standard poodle during the Best in Show round. Jetta won Best in Show.

I just had a blast with making pictures. This was my first time at a dog show, so I was a little overwhelmed by all the breeds at first. But everything started falling into place, especially once I learned about how the different categories (sporting, toy, etc.) worked.


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IX: Pineapple dump

Jeff bought and cut up a whole pineapple.

We ate most of it within a few hours.

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Friday night photo-editing shifts at The Columbia Missourian always seem like the longest ones, even if they’re not. I don’t know if that’s because it’s the Friday-night mentality or because assignments actually do tend to run later.

Stephanie in barefeet, Jeff in muddy shoes with ridiculous shoelaces. This is how we roll.

The completion of a Friday shift, though, calls for celebration in multiple forms.

A quick - and our first - stop at Yogoluv, a frozen yogurt bar that's struck a chord among especially high school and college students.

I’m borrowing Nick‘s Mamiya 645 1000S for the next few weeks, and Erin gave me a roll of Ilford 400 to use as a test roll. I’m pretty excited — I haven’t shot medium-format film in years, and this is my first time using a waist-level viewfinder. It’ll take a while to get used to, especially since I feel like it takes an entirely different perspective and visual eye from an SLR-esque viewfinder.

A borrowed camera with borrowed film. That's how I roll.

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VII: Gong

My sister-in-law Emily went to Singapore a few weeks ago to meet her husband/my brother Matt, who’s spent the majority of the past four months in a Navy submarine. Because Matt was deployed 36 hours after the wedding, this Singapore excursion was basically their honeymoon.

Before she left, Emily asked if I’d like anything from Singapore. The conversation, which we had over IM, went like this:

  • Emily: want any cool souvenirs from Country X? [Note: At the time, Emily and Matt could not disclose the location of their meeting, and Matt typically can’t disclose his future port calls with us.]
  • Me: um of course!
  • Emily: what is something you would use?
  • Me: I have no clue what you might find
  • Emily: ideas might be textiles, potter (mug, plate, bowl, vase), pewter something-or-other. apparently there’s a gong factory, but gongs are too large for a suitcase 🙂

So Emily brought back a gong, and it arrived on Wednesday along with some Girl Scout cookies.

Some assembly required. For reference, the whole contraption is about eight inches high.

So now I have a gong. And it is awesome.

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In capstone, we’re all working on a a group documentary project about Broadway.

That’s Broadway the street, mind you.

I campaigned heavily for Broadway to be our project topic because I think Broadway epitomizes the city of Columbia. It’s got the eclectic/trendy downtown, City Hall, historic residential neighborhoods, student apartments, developing neighborhoods, big commercial strip malls and it’s the oldest street in the city.

My contribution to the project? I’ll be working on the development aspect. Broadway “began” where downtown is now, and ever since, it’s been expanding and developing on its western and eastern ends. So I’ve been exploring those two “ends” of Broadway.

Today, I went to the eastern end — past Hwy 63, where I’ve never been before. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was hoping to find a developing neighborhood whose growth has been stunted by the economic crisis and recession. Sure enough, I found that neighborhood.

The sales office at The Vineyards, a partially-developed neighborhood on East Broadway/East Hwy WW.

The speed limit on East Broadway past Hwy 63 is 45; I was going at 35 because I wanted to look around as I was driving. But it’s a two-lane road, and when I saw that the two drivers behind me were getting impatient with me, I threw on my turn signal and drove into a neighborhood. After a quick drive around, I observed that:

  • each lot was fairly large and not every lot had a house built yet,
  • mailboxes were completely identical to each other (much like those in the Village of Cherry Hill), and
  • quite a few houses had signs indicating they were for sale or sold.

I parked at the clubhouse near the neighborhood’s entrance and approached a woman who was walking with her young son. After introducing myself as a photojournalism student looking into development in Columbia, I was pleasantly surprised when the woman — Becky — said she was a builder before the economic crisis hit.


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Okay, so I’ve fallen a few days behind in blogging for the new 30-day photo challenge. But here’s a two-day blog post!

Day IV

I was taking photos of a church window on the way home from work on Monday when Jeff alerted me to the puppy in the car behind us.

I want a puppy so, so badly.

Check out a few more photos from Monday!

Day V

Yesterday, I went to Townsend Hall to deliver some photos to Carolyn.

The side entrance to Townsend Hall.

Townsend used to be a K-12 school building, as Elliot told me in freshman year. I’m not sure how he knew that, but if you look at an overall photo of the building, it’s pretty easy to see that.

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I have a big, fat radical idea for the MU School of Journalism:

Start early.

Do more journalism.

In other words: Instead of only one or two required semesters for students at any given newsroom  — how about three full years?

Click on the image to view/download the full PDF file.

In light of recent discussions and in anticipation of tomorrow’s forum (flier above), here are the facts, the problems and my totally radical ideas.

The facts

Don’t know how the MU School of Journalism works? Here’s a fast run-down:

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I spent the entirety of yesterday — Day III — asleep.

Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but my point is that I neither saw nor did anything of which I would want to make a picture.

There was, however, this book that I bought for Jeff:

Classic children's book. Obviously for very young children.

I spotted it at Wal-mart a few days ago and, upon asking Jeff if he’d ever read it, bought it when he said he hadn’t.

It’s classic stuff. And it’s only $3.50. Everyone should buy a copy, now.

And I should try to fight off my next prolonged attack of lethargy.

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I run in my Chuck Taylors.

These Chucks have been my trusty shoes since my junior year of high school.

I’ve hiked mountains, rock-climbed, gone trail-running and danced the two-step in them. I’ve worn them while editor-in-chief of my high school newspaper and while on countless photo assignments in college. They’ve stepped in horse poop, sludged through mud, shimmied up trees and been branded with the Philmont Scout Ranch cattle and horse brands.

So, their apple-green color has faded, and they have more holes than my other pairs of shoes combined. I’ve had to retire them from everyday usage and photo assignments, and use just-as-impractical footwear in their place. I have yet to find a new pair in that same color, so I haven’t been able to replace them.

But I still use these Chucks for running because, frankly, I don’t have any other shoe that vaguely resembles sneakers.

So I went running today. Because the weather was nice. And I went running in my Chuck Taylors.

If they last another year, I’ll be very, very surprised.

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This afternoon, my capstone class decided to start another 30-day challenge. This will take us through to the end of spring break.

So, what better way to kick off this new 30-day period than with a food photo?

Jeff's heart attack of a spinach-mushroom-cheese-bacon, three-egg omelette.

Better yet, these photos were all taken with a 10.5/2.8 fisheye lens.

The omelette looks almost normal in this one. But nothing else does.

David Rees does not like wide-angle distortion. (Feel free to pick apart my word choice, DK.) Therefore, I hope everyone appreciates my using a fisheye for a food photo as a doubly snarky way to start this new 30-day challenge.

Jeff needed two spatulas to flip the omelette. Healthy late-night dinner, indeed.

Note: To reduce any confusion between this new challenge (effective today) and the first one, I’m using Roman numerals in the entry titles for the second set of 30 days.

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Last night, I cut up some green onions to garnish dinner. I’d never cut green onions before — usually Jeff takes care of it — and my eyes actually were watering a little by the end. (Weak, I know.)

It was during this chopping exercise that I suddenly realized what a pretty gradient green onions have.

Later, we went to Eastside Tavern for karaoke night.

As always, an epic end to the non-proverbial week.

Foul play.

And, I suppose, an epic end to the 30-day challenge.

(Almost) every day for the past 30 days, I’ve posted a new photo. I blogged more food photos than I should have, but other than that, I think I’ve done reasonably well with getting a variety of pictures.

I’ll continue taking photos on a regular basis, but it certainly won’t be an everyday thing. The next time I do a photo-a-day thing, I’ll be in Atlanta and starting my photo internship at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in the beginning of June, about three weeks after graduation. I’ve never been in Atlanta — or Georgia, for that matter — before.

So that’ll be a fresh start in an unfamiliar environment. The best way to get to know a new place? Get out, explore and make pictures.

I’m excited for that.

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