Some blogging assignments

In class on Thursday, Oct. 25, each student completed an in-class critique exercise. Each student was assigned to review the first Soundslides produced by another student in the class (they are linked on each student’s blog — that’s how they were “handed in”). Then the student posted a review in his or her own blog and linked to the exact Soundslides that received the critique.

There are TWO more parts to this blogging exercise:

(1) Using the list I gave you in class, figure out which student reviewed YOUR Soundslides. Open that student’s blog, read and think about the critique, and POST A COMMENT right there on the critique post. Don’t answer defensively (“I did it that way because …”), but rather, try to expand on what the person said about your Soundslides. Respond to their remarks.

(2) Choose any OTHER student’s critique and read it. Then watch the Soundslides he or she critiqued. (Not your own, of course!) POST A COMMENT on the critique post saying whether you agree or disagree — and WHY. Try to add something useful for the author of the Soundslides that was critiqued.

The motive behind these assignments is to get you to think about the people in the audience. If you just make a story to get a grade, it’s not going to move people. Your classmates are real people — they are members of a real audience. If you can reach them with your stories, you will be on the way to becoming a good storyteller!

Also in class on Thursday:

We viewed the excellent Soundslides “After the Riots” and discussed the four-part Ira Glass lecture about how to become a good storyteller. These are all linked on the Week 10 page of the online syllabus.

If you did not watch every second of the four Ira Glass videos, DO IT NOW!!! They are too good to miss!

Extra goodness:

Angela Grant has a very good post on her blog, News Videographer, about learning how to do voiceovers (narration). Even though she is talking about video and not Soundslides, the same rules apply!

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Personalize the issue!

Thanks to a comment on my TOJou blog, I found this article:

The story is not about child labor. The story is about Johnnie Smith who works 10 hours a day in a rubber chicken factory because his mother is sick and his father was killed in the war. The story is not about breast cancer, the story is about Leslie Faithcart who was diagnosed with breast cancer. She lives in Marin, a city that was just found to have the highest rate of breast cancer in California.

Yeah, I’m starting to think your third Soundslides (and package) has to be an issue story …

Learning more about photo stories

Here is a suggestion for your next blog post:

  1. Choose one winning photo story from NPPA: Best of Photojournalism 2007.
  2. Write about what Kobré says — in the context of the one story you have chosen. That is, apply what you read in the Kobré textbook.

Try it! There are more story categories here. Feel free to choose any photo story, even an honorable mention.

Other students’ photo work

Do you remember the video about hip-hop culture? The photographer, David Alan Harvey, is posting his students’ work on a blog! How cool is that? Wouldn’t you like to take a class with him?

Student Work/Workshops

More nice tips for Photoshop

Here is a good seven-page tutorial for Photoshop. This gets into a few tricks I have not shown you, including the useful “Unsharp Mask” filter. It’s okay for you to use this. Be careful not to overdo it.

However, BE AWARE that I am completely against erasing ANYTHING, even specks of dust, in your images. It is a slippery slope. One day you’re erasing dust, and the next day, you will be erasing a bird or a wire. So, NEVER ERASE.
“Cloning” in Photoshop is EVIL and WRONG, in my opinion.

So, please keep in mind that I hold a very black-and-white view of photo-retouching ethics:

  • Never erase.
  • Never add.
  • Adjusting the lightness and darkness is okay, but within reason. It must still look the way it looked in real life.
  • Dodging and burning can really change reality. So if it starts to look better than it did in real life … you are crossing the ethical line into DISHONESTY. Don’t do it!

If any of this is unclear to you in any way, ASK ME.

Searching for your photos …

If you read the Week 7 page on the online syllabus, you know that you’re supposed to post two of your Photo 1 pictures in your blog!

I noticed that some people’s pictures are TOO WIDE for the blog template they are using. The photo can be resized, you know!

If you are wondering how to figure out the pixel width of your blog post area, I recommend that you install the Firefox add-on called MeasureIt. It will put a little icon in the lower left corner of the Firefox browser window. When you click the icon, you can draw a box around anything in the browser and see how wide it is — in pixels! I use this often.

Example of MeasureIt

Once you know how much space (width) is available to you, you can resize the image to fit your blog perfectly!

Class on Sept. 27

I showed a PowerPoint related to the assigned readings. The PowerPoint also contained links to extra stuff, including a guide to ethics for editing audio. You can copy the PowerPoint from the “Handouts” folder on the network drive.

We talked about interview tips; use of microphones (including the wireless lavaliers and shotgun mics), boom poles and table mic stands; the Nat SOT in the koala story; how broadcast journalists write their scripts.

I showed a Soundslides about an indoor archery class. It demonstrates a nice use of a “sound bed.” This example is similar to what you should be able to get for your Soundslides 1 assignment.

We also talked about picking the most interesting character. Who is the most interesting person in the archery photos?

Then you learned some techniques for multitrack editing in Audacity. The second Audacity handout can be found here. Note: The “Split” command is on the Edit menu in Audacity. The “Duplicate” command is explained in the handout, but sometimes, you will want to use “Split” instead.

The two WAV files for the in-class editing assignment are linked on this page. I recommend that you also listen to the five MP3 files linked there. Each one is about one minute in length. I think you will understand a little more about “sound beds” if you listen to these. Like the guitar player, these sounds were recorded by me while I was in Mexico in the summer of 2006. You’ll hear differing quality even though I used the same recorder and mic for all the files.

You can really hear a big difference between the street band MP3 and the church singing MP3. Why? Think about where I was standing or sitting. Think about the space. I was walking in the street right beside the band, with brass horns! Ouch!

Are you too close? Are you too far away? Use your headphones!