Even now I should be utilizing my prep period to grade papers, but instead I will be taking them home to grade over the weekend.
One of the reasons I felt like I had to give an update today is because I got bad news from a former employee in my department when I was still with The Independent. My friend, Matt Hinshaw, contacted me that he was laid off by his newspaper in Prescott Valley, Arizona. I feel doubly sad about this because he is not only my friend, but also because I encouraged him to move on from The Independent. I am not sure what his plans are, if he even has any. All I can say is that it must be a horrible position to be in, especially since that paper, like the one here, barely paid enough to cover monthly living expenses, and certainly did not leave room for him to set aside much money for emergencies.
Whatever happens, I am hoping that he comes out in a better place and my prayers are with him.
Now, in the entire history of my working for newspaper I have never, ever, not a single time, found myself in the spot I was today. I set up my camera, reached into my pocket for a memory card, and it wasn't there. This was not a big deal, I just dropped it into one of the pockets of my camera bag. I dig around for a while and still can't find it. Still not much of a concern, as I know I have a couple of cards with my extra gear and camera in the trunk of my car.
For 45 minutes I tore apart my car, my camera bags, anyplace that I might have a memory card. I found three. All of them SD cards for my little Nikon D80. The problem with using them? The D80 is on the shelf in my closet at home. There was no way around it - I had to leave Tohatchi, drive the 30 minutes back to the office, grab a memory card from the desk - then drive back to the gym.
Doing the math - I spent 45 minutes digging for the card, which put me leaving the gym at 10:45. Drive to the office and back took an hour. So I walk in to the gym at 11:45. I grab a few frames of the instructor demonstrating some serving skills, when she announces, completely on-time, lunch. For an hour. And she is not coming back after lunch, and the other coach will take over.
Yes, I made a couple of photos for the sports section, but I was disappointed that I did this to end my newspaper career.
Friday afternoon I turned in my two week notice and am resigning as the senior photographer for the Gallup Independent.
Why? Eleven plus years is a very long time to spend at a small, daily newspaper like this. My original plan was to work here for 18-24 months. Next, I would do the traditional thing and move up the chain to a medium size newspaper. Things kept coming up that kept me here in Gallup; like my wife's acceptance to a graduate program, or getting custody of my daughter. Each time I thought, "NOW it has to be time to leave." Obviously God had other plans for me, as I am still here.
The newspaper world is being sucked toward an event horizon. There is a black hole that no matter can escape. I have grown so tired of the way things were managed at the newspaper here, and staying at the GI was not an option for me. Moving on to another newspaper is not very promising either. So,with a lot of encouragement from my wife and others here in my life, I made the decision to leave journalism altogether.
Does this really sound like the type of employment that you would like to be working in?
L.A. Times to Cut 250 Jobs, 150 in Newsroom
Tampa Tribune Lays off 11 newsroom employees, 10 more may be cut
And also from Tampa: Photographers told to REAPPLY for their jobs!!!
Hartford Courant to Cut 60 Newsroom Jobs
The Baltimore Sun to Cut 100 Jobs via buyouts, Layoffs
Fort Worth Star-Telegram to eliminate 15 positions
McClatchy to cut 1,400 jobs (includes 130 at Star Telegram)
Second Story about McClatchy
The Daily News (Galveston County) reduces staff by 12, and 3 contract
The New York Post braces for "bloodbath" - 70 accept buy-outs; 30 cuts expected
Palm Beach Post to cut 300 jobs - including 130 newsroom
Additonal article on the Palm Beach Post
(From the article)"
San Jose Mercury News cut staff by 50
The Post is just the latest newspaper to shrink its staff as readers and advertisers shift their time and money to the Internet. The Miami Herald said last week that it would cut 17 percent of its staff. The St. Petersburg Times last month announced buyouts and said layoffs are possible later this year, and the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, Orlando Sentinel, Tampa Tribune and Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville also have cut jobs.
"We are the last major Florida newspaper to implement staff reductions," Franklin said.
Chicago Tribune cuts 80 newsroom jobs (fourth round of cuts since late 2005)
Columbian (Washington state) cuts 20 jobs
Additional story about Columbian
Washington Post (Seattle) eliminates 200 jobs
Salt Lake, Utah - Deseret News sells property to fund 35 layoffs
New London, CT - The Day freezes wages, lays off 21 full-time, 17 part time
Albuquerque Tribune CLOSES completely - no buyers found
I guess that's enough... you get the idea. I remember several years ago when I lived in Minneapolis a radio station was changing format (ownership too?) and for 24 hours straight the station played one song over and over - R.E.M.s' It's the end of the World as We know It.
Glen Clark quickly turns his assigned steer to the ground, pinning it in 3.9 seconds Thursday evening during the PRCA Professional Rodeo at the Dean C. Jackson Arena in Window Rock, Ariz.
Jerad Schlegel keeps his left arm extended while riding a horse named Spitfire to score 72 points during the PRCA Professional Rodeo Thursday evening at the Dean C. Jackson Arena in Window Rock, Ariz.
Dean McIntyre, of Wickenberg, Ariz., digs in his heels and wrestles his steer to the ground in 6.4 seconds Thursday evening during the PRCA Professional Rodeo at the Dean C. Jackson Arena in Window Rock, Ariz.
Cody Glover grabs hold of his assigned steer's horns and wrestles it to the ground in 4.9 seconds.
After several years of providing free coverage and free publicity for the Wrangler Jr. High School Finals Rodeo, this year the organizers decided that news media are not allowed into the arena for "safety reasons", and for not wanting to have too many photographers on the arena floor. Yeah. Last year aside from our paper and the weekly paper in town, the only photographers in the arena were the ones that Wrangler contracted. We shared images with the Associated Press and gave national coverage to this event as a result.
The thing that gets me, is if we were pay them and be sponsors this would not be an issue and we would have arena access. My guess is the real reason behind this policy is the contract photographers felt we were costing them sales of prints.
Anyway, here is what the sports editor wrote:
Photographer ban means no coverage
By Alan Arthur
Sports coverage in the summer for many newspapers includes the basics like baseball, summer camps and all the outdoor activities that come with warm weather. At the Independent, one of our main sports is rodeo — lots and lots of rodeo.
With that coverage comes some of the best rodeo photos you can find in any newspaper. Be it the Lions Club Rodeo, the Navajo Nation PRCA Rodeo, the Ceremonial Rodeo or any of the other rodeos around the area, you can depend on excellent photography.
But not this week.
I am sorry to say that the Independent is unable to provide its usually strong coverage of the Wrangler Junior High School Finals Rodeo that will take place at Red Rock Park through the week. It was a difficult decision to make but the Independent feels that this is the only course that can be taken. This is unfortunate for all the rodeo fans in town for this event, but it is even sadder for the young competitors who have fought so hard to reach this event that they would not be able to read their names or see their photos in the Independent.
And the reason is simple — censorship.
The National High School Rodeo Association has decided that only their official NHSRA contractors and sponsors will be issued photo passes for the Wrangler and the National High School Rodeo Finals in Farmington. The 2008 WJHFR Media Personnel Rules and Regulations states in bold capital letters that ‘NO UNAUTHORIZED PHOTOGRAPHY IN THE ARENA WILL BE ALLOWED.’
It further states that “All media wishing to obtain photographs of the rodeo performances may do so in the ‘Media Office.’”
This is censorship, pure and simple. The Independent has been restricted to only using the photos that the WJHFR provides to the media. While the association may find this acceptable, the Independent and other respectable media outlets do not.
Reporters and photographers are allowed access to the rodeo where the association permits them to be. But our photographers would be severely hampered in being able to provide the excellent photography rodeo fans in this area have come to expect by trying to take photos from the grandstand. And it must be emphasized that this is a city-owned park that we are talking about.
The NHSRA’s media coordinator Mike Hausman said that the restrictions are for safety reasons. Yet, in all the time our photographers have covered rodeos, including this past week at the Lions Club Rodeo, there has yet to be an injury to a competitor, rodeo official or our own photographer due to their negligence. Independent photographers know how to cover rodeo safely.
It’s true that we would still be able to run stories on the rodeo without the photos, but complete coverage of this event requires good writing and good photography. Restricting one area of the journalism process attacks the entire process. What comes next? Will the association feel that it has to read all stories regarding the rodeo before they can run in the newspaper?
Last year, the Independent ran numerous photos and stories on the rodeo, not only on local athletes but on out-of-town athletes as well. That also included running the schedule and complete results every day.
That won’t happen this year, unless the WJHFR changes its censorship policies.
Today I have officially posted an announcement for an opening in our photo staff. One of our shooters is departing Aug. 5th to go back to school, and so I am taking applications for the spot he will be vacating.
I am also accepting applications for an intern to start ASAP to help cover some summer vacations. There is the possibility that the intern could be asked to stay on as the full time staff member.
Anyway, the details for the job are located here and here.
Shouldbe easy. I'll just head out and find a busy intersection, stand around and watch for a driver on the phone. Easier said than done. I was amazed at the number of vehicles with windows tinted so dark that there is vistually no way to see inside the vehicle, let alone make a photo of a driver on the phone. A few cars drove by with their windows down and drivers on the phone, but by this point I had another issue keeping me from taking the photos.
I am going to speculate that this gentleman was inebriated, as I could only comprehend about 1/3 of what he said, and after telling me he was a Vietnam vet, doing two tours of duty in the special forces he grabbed my arm and shoulder to steady himself from keeling over. He righted himself, but continued to hang on to my arm for balance. Not really a huge issue, he wasn't trying to be a problem, and he certainly wasn't hurting me, but wouldn't you know it - just then I saw three cars, one behind the next, with windows down and drivers on the phone.
Soon it was time for me to head off to my softball game, and the light was failing fast by the time I was done. Fortunately I had been thinking about an alternative way to illustrate the cellular phone story, and with the help of fellow staff photographer Brian Leddy, I made the following images:
I prefer the top image overall, as it has some nice reds in it, but the fingers have a hot spot from the flash which bothers me. The lower image has better exposure on the hands, but none of the nice color in the windshield.
The actualy execution of the images was pretty simple. I sat in the back seat while Brian drove. I put on my 12-24mm Tokina lens on a ikon D80 camera with an SC-17 off-camera flash cord connected to an SB-800 flash. To keep the flash focused on just the telephone and hand I placed a gridspot on the front of the flash. Then I experimented to get an ambient exposure on the windshield that I liked and started shooting.
Northwest of town there is an old warehouse/industrial complex building that used to be part of a coal mining operation. My assignment was to simply go to the site and get a "building mug" to show our readers what the place looks like now.
I got my shots, and went 360-degrees around the building to see if the structure would be more interesting from another angle. That's when I saw that not only were the small doors around the building wide open, but one of the big overhead garage doors was opened about 8 feet high. A quick peak inside revealed a pretty cool scene, though it was dark with some real hot spot of light shining in. I set up my tripod and started shooting.
So what is it? It is a HDR image. That's a High Dynamic Range image, taken from a compilation of seven different exposures, each one stop different, for three stops under and three stops over exposure. Now comes the interesting part. Photoshop CS3 has an HDR processing image built into it, but it is pretty straight forward and does not create a grunge look that seems more illustration than photo.
I mentioned in an earlier post that I was taking on-line classes from Xtrain.com; and this technique is the subject of an entire class taught by Ben Willmore. Basically the photo is processed taking the details from each exposure, and then the micro-contrast setting is turned all the way up. This creates detail and contrast between pixels and the edges glow and the color gets saturated.
So in answer to the question is it a photograph or an illustration - yes. And no. It is not strictly a single photograph, and it is also not an illustration. It is HDR.
Unfortunately it appears that READERS are not among the group. Circulations keep dropping, and to stay afloat a lot of newspaper execs look for short term profits for their shareholders - so they cut costs. Employees seeming to be the biggest cost, nevermind that a smaller staff means less depth and quality, which in turn leads to less interest in the paper and so less customers buy - causing more job cuts and... you get the idea.
To illustrate just how severely the industry is being hit with job cuts THIS Link is to an interactive map of the United states showing where the job cuts have happened.
So here's a number - the site says as of today that 3,071+ newspaper jobs have been cut in 2008; and more than 2000 jobs cut in the last seven months of 2007. So in the past 12-months the industry has cut more than 5,000 jobs.
Small U.S. Flags adorn the graves of military personnel buried at Hillcrest Cemetery in Gallup, placed there as part of Monday's Memorial day celebration for the City of Gallup.
The Gallup chapter of the Knights of Columbus salute the flag during the singing of the Star Spangled Banner at the McKinley County Courthouse Square as part of the Memorial day celebration for the City of Gallup.
The Knights of Columbus stand at attention as clergymen walk past them for the start of Memorial day mass at Hillcrest Cemetery in Gallup. The Knights have been absent from events involving the Gallup Catholic church for many years.
Posing as the Statue of Liberty, Aurelia Hooper stands on the trailer for Earl's Restaurant during the Memorial Day Parade through downtown Gallup.
Gallup's last Bataan Death March survivor, Tim Smith, sits at center-stage during the Memorial day celebration for the City of Gallup at the Courthouse Square. In addition to recognizing Smith, Air Force Sr. Airman Jason Cunningham and Army chief warrant officer Christopher Johnson, both of who died while serving, were recognized through proclomations read by Harry Mendoza, mayor of Gallup.
New Mexico state representative Patty Lundstrom struggles to regain her composure Monday while reading a plaque in recognition of Tim Smith, Gallup's last survivor of the Bataan Death March.
Karl Katenay Jr holds a flag and stands with his mother, Juanita Sherman, while watching a military vehicle pass during the Memorial day parade through downtown Gallup.
And of course, we couldn't let an afternoon go to waste, so a softball game was in order. Now that school is out and with no major sports to cover, the sports section and the photo staff turn our attention to the Boys and Girls Club of Gallup league.
Fort Defiance Wildcats runner Heather Biakeddy (4) steps onto first base as the ball passes between her and Gallup Mets infielder Patricia Lasiloo (15) as the two Boys and Girls Club of Gallup softball teams played each other Wednesday at Ford Canyon Park in Gallup.
Fort Defiance Wildcats first baseman Alexis Arnold (11) stretches to catch the ball while Gallup Mets runner Tyra West (4) safely steps on the bag Wednesday at Ford Canyon Park in Gallup.
Fort Defiance Wildcats runner Armani Anthony (5) lands on home plate Wednesday to score a run while Gallup Mets pitcher Patricia Lasiloo (15) waits for the catcher to throw her the ball at Ford Canyon Park in Gallup.
Newspapers are in a lot of trouble. It is no secret - even the popular television show The Simpson's made fun of newspapers ("ha-ha, the industry is dying" - followed by principal Skinner scolding, "Just because something is true doesn't mean you have to say it.")
I have tried to write, re-write and edit this post many times now. It always ends up being a long, rambling and meandering thing in which I keep trying to justify my thoughts on leaving the industry, and at the same time trying to talk myself into staying put.
So rather than try to get things written out, when it is so much planning and speculation - trying to explore my best options - I'll merely leave this post as follows:
The news industry is changing, and there are a lot of people leaving it, voluntarily or not. I am at a point in my life where because of family and other reasons I am considering what my other career choice will be. I don't want to blindly sit around and then be caught unprepared when the axe falls for me in this industry. Even if I don't leave the paper for another 10 years, I need to have a plan in place.
In summary, two words: Exit Strategy.
After a scary incident on the two-lane highway between Ganado and Chinle that involved my old car not having the acceleration it once did;and my misjudging how much time I had to get around a slow moving vehicle, I arrived at the home to find that Miss Navajo Nation wouldn't be attending this morning as planned. She got sick. It happens. Instead the children scheduled to perform at 10:30 started early and I had little time to set up and get images like I wanted to. (see the bottom two images below) It will be alright though, I told myself. After all, the reading buddies will be here at 11:00 and I can get some photos that are more personal - the buddies being one-on-one with the residents.
The top two photos here are from the time I spent waiting for hte reading buddies to come. They never did make it. Apparently the group of them had to attend a staff meeting and couldn't make it.
Chinle Nursing Home resident Annie Tsosie sits in a hallway and looks out the window Tuesday in Chinle, Ariz. May 12 through 16 is National Nursing Home Week.
Chinle Nursing Home residents Pauline Begaye, left, of Rock Point, and Ruth Addakai, from Shonto, Ariz., sit together and talk while looking out the window at the facility in Chinle, Ariz. This week is National Nursing Home Week, and the staff in Chinle scheduled multiple events throughout the week to celebrate.
Gallup Catholic high school students Elena Maldanado and Dylan Chavez strike poses together at the end of a musical piece during rehearsal for their upcoming performance of Disney High School Musical. The performance is Friday through Sunday at the Ken Halloway Auditorium at Gallup High School.
Students at Gallup Catholic high school practice the choreography of a song during rehearsal for their upcoming performance of Disney's High School Musical. The performance features 21 musical numbers,
The sky was less than ideal - hazy high clouds and patches of blue that gave me either extremely dark subjects or blown out skies with no details. Getting the shot the way I wanted required a two-part process. To start with, I under-exposed the scene on-camera by 2/3 to 1 stop of exposure. Then I applied an SB-800 speedlight flash set to over-expose by 1-1/3 stops. This gave the darker background and made the golfer have some illumination.
For a second step, I looked at a technique that is either very simple or very complex in Photoshop. I have been using RAW (NEF) file formats for my photos for some time, and have been interested in HDR imaging (High Dynamic Range) - so this was my chance. I merely opened the file up twice, using Adobe Camera Raw 4.4. One copy was set for the sky details, and the second copy set to give her good exposure. I simply dragged the background layer from the one image and dropped it into the other. Then I created a layer mask for the added layer and painted out the areas of the top layer that were not right. The end was an image that has detail in the darker areas and detail in the clouds above.
Is this ethical? In my opinion it is. The image is the exact same frame, and all I have done is manipulate the shadows to be bright enough to see into, and darkened the brighter areas so that they did not simply turn into white highlights. In my opinion this process is nothing more than a controlled way of dodging and burning the image. It is making the image fit within the limitations of highlights and shadows inherent inour photography equipment and our printing processes. I merely brought the range of tone to a level where the newsprint will deliver detail in all areas for the reader to view.
Gallup Catholic Panther golfer Marqui Armstrong is taking her game on the
road, traveling to compete in the New Mexico state golf tournament.
He was enthusiastic about the images when I showed him the display screen on the back of my camera - something I don't do often but I wanted him to understand the shots I was getting and the adjustments I was making. This is my favorite shot from the session, but DJ was less than excited about the red shirt. He soon changed to a black shift and we cotinued with the session.
This final shot too a bit of work - even though it probably looks simple. He wanted his name to be visible on his laptop cover in one of the images. Problem is that I set up my two SB-800 units with umbrellas for lighting him. I really didn't want to move my lights around and change the feel of hiw he was lit.
My solution was to take a third flash and wrap a flexible/nylon padded filter carrying case (with a velcro-style strip on it) around the flash and fashiona small snoot. Then I shot with the camera in my right hand and the snooted flash in my left, aimed at the top portion of the laptop.
Dr. Clayton Small, center left, talks with participants in the Native H.O.P.E. youth suicide prevention advocate training program Tuesday at Shiprock High School as they prepare to perform a skit about violence in the home.
Tessa Medina-Lucero and Dr. Jeff Powell play the roles of high school students while performing a skit about alternative sexual orientation Tuesday during the Native H.O.P.E. youth suicide prevention advocate training program at Shiprock High School. The three day program is led by Dr. Clayton Small and designed to offer a culturally appropriate peer-to-peer suicide prevention model.
Norm Joe portrays an intoxicated father passed out while his teenage children try to sneak back into the house after staying out late as part of a skit during the Native H.O.P.E. youth suicide prevention advocate training program Tuesday at Shiprock High School.
A hand-written poster with ideas to stay out of trouble and away from drugs adorns the wall of the gymnasium Tuesday at the Native H.O.P.E. youth suicide prevention advocate training program at Shiprock High School.
Husband and wife pastors Roger and Lynn Perkins provide spiritual guidance for the congregants of The Church of the Holy Spirit located at 1334 Country Club Drive in Gallup. Although the couple have been working for the church since last November, they will officially be installed in a special service on May 31.
After a jewel encrusted cross was stolen from the Church of the Holy Spirit several years ago, Gallup resident Sally Noe donated this new cross to the church in memory of her late husband.
Outside of the church building.
This final detail shot was mostly for myself. I was surprised to see such a wide range of versions of the Bible inside the church. The Presbyterian church I attend uses the NRSV as the standard translation, and other churches I have visited in the past seem to have their favorite versions on hand as well.