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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:

BOO!

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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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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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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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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According to Columbia College, a real estate agency, the city’s Chamber of Commerce and other very biased parties, Columbia is known as “Collegetown, U.S.A.”

I can’t find any vaguely objective sources for this factoid. But there’s little question in my mind that Columbia is a good college town, especially with downtown on the doorstep of three higher education institutes.

Yesterday was Thursday, which means last night in every college town and most bars was “thirsty Thursday.” Usually on weeknights, I stay in, but last night when I was out and about, I saw that thirsty Thursday also means the cops are on standby in case things get a little rough.

Thursday night.

Friday morning. Or any typical morning.

Is it strange that, for me, it was somewhat disarming to see two police cars (one is out of the frame) simply idling outside of downtown establishments?

Maybe I just don’t get out enough.

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Three years ago, I was a freshman staff photographer for The Maneater student newspaper, and I was in enemy territory to cover the 2007 Border Showdown basketball game.

With former Maneater photo editor Ryan beside me, I was shooting only my second basketball game ever. Hell, it was also only my second sports event to cover as a photographer. I’d long overcome my timidity as a student photojournalist, but at that point, I had no confidence in my ability as a sports photographer.

But I came out of that game all right. And I captured this moment, which has remained in my portfolio:

Missouri forward Leo Lyons tries to hold onto the ball as Kansas guards Sherron Collins and Brandon Rush grab at Lyons' forearm on Jan. 15, 2007, at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kan. The Tigers attempted a failed three-point play in the game's final 11 seconds and lost the Border Showdown 80-77 to the Jayhawks.

Missouri lost that game. And the Tigers have lost every Border Showdown basketball game since, with the exception of one in Feb. 2009. And the Tigers will probably lose tonight’s game against No. 2 Kansas.

But, even though Jeff has turned the TV off with the Tigers down 20 points at halftime, I’m sure it’s at least a good game to shoot.

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Late last night, Jeff and I took advantage of Hot Box Cookies‘ late hours and a Facebook special to get some fresh oatmeal cookies.

I also took advantage of it as an opportunity for another photographic sequence.

First, the ubiquitous box in which all Hot Box cookies arrive:

Then, the cookies. Jeff and I ordered half a dozen oatmeal cookies: three with chocolate chips and three with raisins.

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As a second-semester senior, I’m now in my photojournalism capstone: a course titled “The Picture Story & Photographic Essay.” My instructor is David Rees, who is also the photojournalism chair at the MU School of Journalism.

That I’m finally in my capstone is a little daunting. Fortunately, we’re going lightly — for now. David is encouraging us to be active equally in making pictures and blogging. For partly that reason, I’m going to try to inject a little more life into this blog. Not everything will be strictly journalism-related, as has usually been the case.

On Friday, David presented to us a few examples of photographic sequences. Although we don’t technically have anything due until this coming Friday, I played around a little with photographic sequences last night, starting with the ever-patient Jeff.

Before you get in a tizzy over how these photos look, let me explain something about Jeff’s bathroom mirror.

It’s divided into thirds. And the middle panel is on hinges, too.

Hopefully that will help you understand some of the mirrored wackiness in the following photos that illustrate a sequence of shaving.

My original plan was to shoot the entire process using one lens (an 85/1.4 on a D700) and from one vantage point. This became boring.

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It’s the end of football season.

Missouri sophomore quarterback Blaine Gabbert and the Missouri players walk off the field after losing the Texas Bowl game.

Which means, on New Year’s Eve, I shot my last college football game.

Carrying two backpacks (one covered by the pink jacket), a camera messenger bag and a 400mm lens on a monopod, on the way to the media entrance at Reliant Stadium. Blame the wind for the bad hair. Photo by Jeff.

Okay — more accurately, the Texas Bowl game was the last college football game I’ll ever have shot as an undergraduate photojournalism student. And boy, was it a tough one.

I’d like to think that I’ve improved with every football game I’ve shot this season. I started out a little rough with the Illinois game, which I chalk up to my previously not having ever used Nikon equipment and shooting with a D3, a D2H and a 500/4 lens. Photographing the Nebraska game turned out a lot better, despite the personal misery associated with the inclement weather conditions. And I felt really on top of things when I shot Missouri’s unexpected victory at Kansas State and happened to be in exactly the right places to capture most of Missouri’s touchdowns.

But boy, did the Navy throw Missouri — and me — a curveball with the Texas Bowl game.

Marching Mizzou bandmembers Elysia Gooding and Alyssa Cowman perform as members of the Naval Academy band pass by and shout their cheer before the game outside the Reliant Stadium in Houston.

Going into the game, I had a few thoughts that shook me up a bit:

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It’s finals week at many universities and colleges, including Missouri. Because I’m not entirely engrossed in scouring the on-line Oxford English Dictionary for my History of the English Language take-home exam, I’ve taken inspiration from an old 10,000 Words post and am instead announcing my journalism-minded goals and plans for this winter break.

(For those of you not familiar with the 10,000 Words blog — it’s a great resource for journalists/journalism students where blogger Mark S. Luckie provides tutorials, pontificates on relevant issues/questions in the industry and frequently refers to other examples of good journalism and/or branding.)

Without further ado, here’s what this journalism senior is doing over winter break:

  1. Revamping my Web site, especially the setup and some CSS. I’ll be changing some things around in my photo portfolio section and adding my written reporting clips. And nope, I’m not going to link to it now — once it’s more complete, I’ll post the URL and invite everyone and anyone to provide any feedback/criticism/praise.
  2. Going through the last two months’ photos. Thanks to projects, I haven’t had time to go over my recent Missourian assignments or my just-for-fun photos (Texas Renaissance Festival?). But starting next week, I’ll have time to do that, as well as post them for you to see here.
  3. Continuing/finishing posting New York City summer photos. Okay, so these photos are about four and a half months old now, but I’m still proud of and excited about them. So you can expect to see those soon, too.
  4. Tweaking my photo final projects. For one photo class, I produced an audio slideshow about on-site beer brewing at the Texas Renaissance Festival. For another photo class, I created a two-story package about what happens on a dairy farm after the farmer is killed by lightning. Both these projects are complete and on-line, as of yesterday, but I’m going to clean them up a little more before linking them to my Web site and sharing them with the general public.
  5. Covering the Texas Bowl game for The Missourian. As far as I know, Ivy and I are the only Missourian photo people credentialed to go — and she’s the designated editor, which means she’ll be in the photo workroom for most of the game. Which means I’m the only actual Missourian photographer for the game. Which is a lot of pressure. But hell if I’m not excited.
  6. Start reading The Atlanta Journal-Constitution regularly. If I’m going to be there this summer, I’d best get started on learning about the city and the paper.

Time for me to hit up the Oxford English Dictionary now. But — got any more suggestions for my winter break? I’d love to hear what you think!

(Of course I’ll also be sleeping and eating far more than is healthy for me, but that was already a given.)

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Today, I accepted a summer photo internship at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

And got credentialed to photograph the Texas Bowl on Dec. 31 in Houston.

Today is a good day.

In other news, I’ve been working on various projects for the past few weeks. These include:

  • my final project for Staff Photo (about a brewery at the Texas Renaissance Festival),
  • my final project for Electronic Photojournalism (about a dairy farm) and
  • my portfolio Web site.

These projects are the main reason why I haven’t had much time to continue posting New York City photos and other photography expeditions I’ve recently had. Rest assured, these blog entries will come soon. I’m hoping to unveil my portfolio Web site and share my final projects in the middle of next week, and to pick up the NYC and other photos during winter break.

But in the meantime, I’m thrilled to spend the summer in Atlanta and honored to receive the internship offer. I really can’t wait to work in a larger newsroom and be in a new city. And I’m pumped to photograph the bowl game — I’ve come a long way in my football photography this semester, and I’m excited for the opportunity to cover a big game.

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Introduction

As perhaps thousands of people now know, my conflict (for lack of a better word) with the Boone County Courthouse didn’t end a month ago.

If anything, these people know that:

  • the judge rejected my written apology and offered a second opportunity to send another apology,
  • I declined that second opportunity and did not send another apology; and
  • the judge declared a 30-day ban for me to enter the Boone County Courthouse effective Dec. 15 unless I filed a request for a hearing.

What the vast majority of those people do not know is this: I never declined that second opportunity. Additionally, the 30-day ban has — as of yesterday around 10:45 a.m. — been lifted.

In this entry, I will attempt the following:

  • explain how it was that I’d never declined that second opportunity,
  • divulge all relevant details, including associated court documents and e-mails,
  • discuss the importance of reporters’ getting ALL sides of a story and
  • express my gratitude to the many who helped me and supported me through this tough time.

This account will be told chronologically. As was the case with my first account pertaining to this incident, it will be long. But so many people have read my account about how I made my mistake and tried to atone for it, and I can only hope that at least half that many will read this follow-up.

How it happened

As was published first in a Columbia Daily Tribune article and then picked up by the Associated Press, I received a statement from the court on Friday, Nov. 20. This statement came almost a full month after the Missourian director of photography, the photo editor who edited with me on that assignment and I sent letters of apology to the judge.

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

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Somehow, Missouri got it together and knocked the socks off of Kansas State yesterday, when the Tigers pulled off a 38-12 victory in Manhattan, Kan. This was a victory completely unexpected by almost everyone I talked to before leaving for the “Little Apple” to photograph the game.

A player (yet to be identified) embraces Missouri junior tailback Derrick Washington (No. 24) after Washington ran a 13-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.

But I’m not here to ponder, consider or explain how or why the Tigers secured their victory.

Senior Leslie Horn reaches out to senior linebacker Sean Weatherspoon after Missouri defeated Kansas State 38-12 at the Billy Snyder Family Stadium in Manhattan, Kan.

Rather, this entry’s title refers to the facts that:

All this means that, now that I know the game and know I can get the action, I can and should focus on working different angles and getting shots unlike what editors, fans and readers expect to see from a football game.

But as it is for now, I’ve got a few action shots from the game I’d like to share with you.

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City lights

Last night, Third Eye Blind played a sold-out show at The Blue Note. I was there not as a fan, but as a photographer for The Missourian.

But before I photo’ed the show, I wandered downtown Columbia a bit.

Eighth and Cherry.

When I first came to Columbia three years ago, I fell hard for downtown. Having an eclectic assortment of restaurants, shops, services and government buildings right at my doorstep was a complete novelty after living in Houston for my entire life. Within a month of living in Columbia, I knew downtown better than I knew the MU campus.

Then I started exploring downtown at night. And downtown at night is a completely different creature.

It’s just more beautiful.

Ninth and Broadway.

This was the first time I had time to wander downtown at night since at least April, and the first time I’d done so with a camera since freshman year. So I kept it simple. Having no tripod, I couldn’t hand-hold long exposures for too long.

I love this parking garage, even though it doesn't have nearly enough public-parking spots. (Everything else is permit.)

I’ll have Third Eye Blind photos up either later tonight or tomorrow before I leave for Houston for my brother’s wedding.

No, I’m not the wedding photographer. But I will be bringing my film camera and a roll of black-and-white!

As for the severe lack of photo updates this past month? I’ll get on it. I promise.

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  • UPDATE (10:38 a.m., Nov. 25, 2009) — By my general reckoning, at least thousands of people know there’s more to this story, as of this past Friday. Various editors, journalism school faculty and I have since worked to remedy the situation. Now that we’ve tied up our loose ends, I believe now is the time to clarify exactly what happened — at least on my part. Please read my blog entry for the second (and final) component to this incident.

“Hello, this is Chris.”

“Hi Chris, this is Josh. You need to tell me the truth about what happened in court yesterday. And don’t lie to me, because lying isn’t going to get you anywhere.”

That’s how, via a phone call today at 9:13 a.m., I found out I was in trouble.

Here’s why:

Yesterday, I spent almost six hours in the Boone County Courthouse as the pool photographer for the fourth day of William Clinch’s first-degree murder trial. Armed with a 300mm lens, a 70-200mm and a 17-35mm, I knew the following before I entered the courtroom at 12:45 p.m.:

  • Do not photograph the jury.
  • Do what the judge tells me to do. Do not anger or even mildly irritate the judge.
  • Be respectful and quiet. This means not firing off more than three frames at a time.
  • Do not photograph the jury.

I photographed the jury.

That is why:

  • the Missourian reporter was kicked out of the courtroom this morning,
  • the photo director (Josh, above) called me,
  • I had to explain exactly what happened to several editors,
  • I could have been put in jail for contempt of court,
  • I spent the next hour tearfully worrying and wondering what would happen next,
  • I wrote a letter of apology to the judge,
  • I ended up on A1 of The Columbia Daily Tribune and
  • I am writing this blog post.

More specifically, I am writing this blog post to clarify exactly what happened. I believe in transparency, and I believe that other journalism students and journalists can learn from my mistakes.

Therefore, I am laying out everything that happened. This is the truth and is consistent with my letter of apology and my explanation to various Missourian editors and colleagues. And the truth is long, so this blog post is long. But I hope you’ll keep reading.

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