Las Vegas for Thanksgiving

For our vacation during Thanksgiving week we went with one of Nicole's friends to Sin City. They graciously allowed us to use one of their time-share units and I made a bunch of photographs along the way. These are from the Bellagio and the Eiffel Tower.


Poem - "Flight"

I wrote this in class last night as part of the final "exam" in my graduate class - "Introduction to the exceptional child."

They all soar above and move
splendidly, magically
My wings are made
differently (they say I'm special)

I want to spread my wings
They all fly as if supported with string
Smooth. Graceful
and secure
I falter and wobble and
struggle. Unsure.

Flight is a right. Perhaps, a gift?
Yet nobody has bestowed
Or, the secret remains untold.

My way is different
My wings less beautiful
Yet I want to soar
I want to experience
Freedom. (Icarus, you brilliant fool)
What is the secret?
Where did I go wrong?


Homecoming - Class Games

Homecoming week at Miyamura High School continues. This evening students from the Junior, sophomore and freshmen classes battled for class supremacy.

To start things off, students began the tricycle relay race.

I am still trying to figure out the exact purpose of the gas mask - but it made for an interesting photo....

Brandon and Michael - Passing a Life-saver candy on a toothpick as part of a relay race.

The Miyamura Chronicle

After some issues with internet access and many students not meeting multiple deadlines (more than two weeks of class time and some students have yet to turn in a single word) but the first edition of the Miyamura Chronicle is now on-line.

For every student in the journalism class, news writing is a new challenge, and making the transition from writing "school" style to news style is not easy for many of them.

Still, I wanted to get the stories from the students that did write and get their work in on time posted so that they could have something to show for their efforts.


Light: Ambient and flash mixed

I often struggle to explain the relationship between flash, shutter speed, aperture and ambient light. Especially with 14-year old students who know nothing of cameras except what is inside their cell phone. SO this evening I was browsing the web for a few minutes before getting back to work on my studies for grad school and I came across a blog that shows it very plainly.

The blog and web site are very nicely done - but be aware that some of the galleries include nudity - and he has a good mastery of light. The photographer is Ciaran Whyte. I recommend checking out the following pages:

and an even more comprehensive explanation of light and exposure is here.

He is also a Strobist Fan, so when you are done looking at his stuff, head on over to visit David Hobby's site for even more tips on lighting photos for cheap.


Not wanting business?

After months of waiting, the grant money for computers and other equipment has finally come in and orders are going out. The laptops and software (Photoshop CS4 and Photoshop Elements 8 -yes, version 8 is out already) have been easy to order. But what is not as easy is ordering cameras.
I have been trying to contact vendors that would work with a public school purchase orders - and I can now see why the economy is so bad and businesses are failing. I have money to spend and yet the vendors won't bother to return telephone calls or respond to Emails.

The one person - Jeff Snyder at Adorama cameras in New York, has refused to do business with me on several occasions. He was with a different camera company for several years - and I tried to place orders with that company when he was the newspaper sales contact, and he would not respond to calls, and when I did contact him he would promise to get back to me and not follow through. Now that he has moved to Adorama and is one of the sponsors for I was also wanting to order from him to give back. When Tokina came out with a new ultra-wide angle lens I wanted to pre-order one and he told me he would contact me when they were in stock. I never heard from him.

No big deal - it was probably just an oversight - even though he did say he would contact me. But this week I called to order 9 cameras, some accompanying memory cards, batteries, flash units and more... and not a peep either by telephone or Email.

So, Friday afternoon (I Snyder's called his office Tuesday morning) I placed a call to his competitors across town - B&H Photo. The public school sales rep that handles New Mexico was very helpful, explained a few things, apologized that he would not have the completed quote until Tuesday (it was near closing time and because of the Jewish holidays this weekend they will not be open until Tuesday) and left me feeling comfortable about doing business with B&H (again - I have used them for many of my personal purchases in the past.)

Now, before you leave thinking this rant is entirely against Mr. Snyder, it is not. Other vendors I tried to contact also did not respond. It is simply that this has been a recurring thing with this one. So, sponsor or not, my business dollars - and those of my school district - are going to a different supplier.

Zuma and DoubleTruck-check 'em out

When I was working at The Gallup Independent we somehow managed to get onto a mailing list for DoubleTruck magazine (I never contacted them to subscribe). Each issue would come filled with amazing two-page images filling page after page. (Thus the magazine's name). They are affiliated with Zuma Press, which boasts a collection of some of the best photojournalists in the industry on their staff and represented by them. The subscription rate might seem high - four issues for $33, but bear in mind that they are basically publishing soft-cover books with giant photos for every page. I just sent out a check for a subscription to have in my classroom for my journalism and yearbook students.

Zuma Press has a "Pictures of the Day" feature on their web site and it is definitely worth taking a look at. You can also follow Zuma Press on Facebook.


Soccer is brutal

(**NOTE: First of all, the two images here are NOT related. One happened on the sidelines, the other during the game. The first did not cause the second.)

So, for the first time in quite a while I dug out the "big guns" and went to shoot a sports event. Lack of practice, lack of sleep (I have been averaging only 5-6 hours a night at best) or just plain lack of thinking - whatever - led to some damaged equipment. I was swapping my camera body and putting my Nikon D2h onto my 300mm lens, and I had just connected my 1.4x teleconverter to the lens when the soccer ball came out of bounds, right to me. The lens was resting partly on my camera bag and partly on the lens hood. I took my hand off the lens to deflect the ball away from me and the camera body. The result is that somehow the lens tipped off the camera bag and the mount smashed against the ground. Now, it is bad, but at least the damage is to the teleconverter and not to the lens. I have a second teleconverter, and even if I didn't at least I still had the lens, intact, to shoot with.

Photo #2 - is a quick grab shot after two players both used their heads to try to win the ball. One of the Miyamura players ended up head-butting the Grants Pirate and opened a nasty gash over his eye that ended up needing stitches.

I was greatly disappointed that the student from the yearbook class who asked to use a camera to photograph the games this evening never showed up. The STUDENTS are supposed to be creating the yearbook, but I guess there is a lot of attention to what I will get the final product to look like. It does not ease the pressure much to learn that my school's principal and one of hte vice principals were on the radio recently and talking about how great things are that I am at the school to help create the yearbook and newspaper...


Blank looks and lots of tech

I stood in front of my students today and talked about composition and diagonal lines; the effect of color and when it is okay to ignore the "rule of thirds". I showed photos and talked about them. During the day I went over the same topics and only a small number of students seemed to have any interest.

Next came the technical stuff. The last portion of my class focused on file formats and image resolution. I talked about JPG files, the limitations of only having 8 bits per color channel, the loss of data for each time the photo is re-saved... I talked about the RAW file format, how it gives the full range of data from the camera but the raw files are not universal and they take up a lot of space. I explained TIF files and ended with the PSD file formats.

Then I asked, "any questions?"

The only sound was the roar of the three box fans in my room trying to keep the temperature from broiling the students.

Not a single question. I know they didn't all get it. I know that they were confused. I also had no idea where to start expanding the explanation without them asking some kind of question. I have been working with digital photography files and Photoshop since the mid-1990s. So much of what I know about this stuff has been gained in little bits and pieces as I have wanted to get more understanding. We are three weeks into the semester and still do not have computers or cameras(with exceptions) for the students, so that means that not only is the material all complicated and new, it is also very abstract. They need to DO, not just have me explain and show them.

The biggest thing is they need to get over their unwritten "code of coolness" that says they are not supposed to ask questions or engage in conversations with the teacher. If they are not going to ask, and I don't know what the point is they have lost me, then I might as well sit and play solitaire. The results will be the same.



Every once in a while I hear somebody ask, "Do you miss the newspaper?" This makes me pause. For the most part I have been far too busy with my new life to dwell on what I left behind. Between lesson planning for three different subjects (each one a brand new program), teaching six class periods a day (with somewhere around 160 students to try and learn their names and preferences and personalities), spending some time with my family, recuperating from my leg infection, and now taking more classes for my Master's degree there is not a lot of down time (of which that IS something I miss).

On Thursday a photographer from California sent me (my students) a Canon 10D and 50mm lens. I am very grateful for the generous gift. But, I shoot Nikon and the only lens we have for the Canon is the 50mm. While the 50mm will be great for volleyball, basketball and portraits, it is not so good for football or soccer, so I was browsing around at the KEH used cameras web site just to get an idea of what was even available.

I am not even sure what made me think of it, but I ended up visiting their Nikon film camera section. They have Nikon F4s bodies for under $200 and they have/had a N6006 for $17. Yep - for the cost of a pizza you can buy one of these cameras which was one of my main cameras when I first started at the newspaper..... Anyway, the F4s listings made me reminisce about the F4e (top - with the bigger battery grip) and F4s (bottom photo) bodies I had and what incredible pieces of equipment they were. I had a passing thought that maybe I should buy one - but then I came to my senses. What would I do with a film camera? It would take money every time I wanted to use it - film, processing and printing... nah. Not just for a sentimental toy. Still, they do LOOK COOL.

I know, I should have some kind of connection with my F5 - it was the ultimate in high tech film gear, but... for one thing, the shutter failed on it in the middle of my trip to Moab. The other, only a few weeks after getting it our publisher made the announcement that I was to convert our newspaper to digital and I never got to really use the camera to the point of it being a part of me on a daily basis.


Desperately needing some kindness!

It is always interesting how in life things don't work out as nice and neat as planned. My courses, which were originally intended to be mostly newspaper writing, have changed into only one newspaper class and one yearbook class (34 students) and four more digital darkroom classes. That puts me at more than 150 students and only three little point and shoot digital cameras to let the students use. Now, the cameras (Nikon Coolpix 3200 models) are plenty in terms of resolution and will be sufficient for basic skills with shooting and then editing - but I need MORE. I simply cannot rotate three cameras to 150 students to do assignments with.

If you have ANY type of working digital camera - even something as small as one of these 3-megapixel units - and could see your way clear to donate them to the yearbook and journalism program at my high school I and my students would be immensely indebted to you.

Contact me through this blog - or you can send the camera(s) to the school at:
Miyamura High School
680 S. Boardman Avenue
Journalism department - Room B29
Gallup, NM 87301
Attn: Jeff Jones

Again, I cannot tell you how much you would be helping my program through your donation...


My Review of Sigma 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 DG Macro Auto Focus Wide Angle Telephoto Macro Zoom Lens for Nikon AF-D.


Sigma 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 DG Macro Auto Focus Wide Angle Telephoto Macro Zoom Lens for Nikon AF-D.

Lightweight and overall okay

jjpixels Gallup, NM 8/9/2009


4 5

Pros: Macro, Zoom Range, Easily Interchangeable, Lightweight

Cons: Lens Creep

Best Uses: Wildlife, Macro, General Use

Describe Yourself: Professional

I bought this lens for a throw in the bag and go alternative to my Nikkor f/2.8 lenses. It has a good range, acceptable focus and I love the macro focus of this. It is very compact and lightweight. The downside is that at 300mm the lens is f/6.3 - making it dark to see and the lightness of the lens make stability a bit of a problem at 300mm. I suggest a mono-pod when at the long focal lengths.



Photoshop BANNED!

How is that for a sensationalistic headline? See, I can write, not just take purty pictures.

Interesting read about British Parliament supposedly wanting to ban all Photoshop use in ads for children under 16, and disclosures/disclaimers in ads for adults.

I am not a fan of this over-idealized world of perfect people and things we have shoved in our faces on a daily basis, but this is a slippery slope to walk on. First of all, who determines how much is too much? Photos straight out of the camera often need color correction, brightness and contrast tweaking and conversion from RGB to CMYK color space. Actually, even the photo coming out of the camera has already been "Photoshopped" - if you shoot RAW format then you use Adobe RAW or some other raw file conversion software to optimize the photo. If you shoot JPEG format then the camera is doing it before putting the info on the memory card.

New cameras have all types of atuo features built in. Things like mid-tone contrast (Nikon calls it D-lighting); facial recognition, smile detection and so amny other things that people would have to work hard to keep their cameras from doing something to the file.

Photos have always been staged/adjusted. The early portraits had the subjects sit with bolts in vises holding their heads still. Portraits were worked on by retouching artists - airbrushers and people with paint brushes and black inks that they used to paint onto the negatives before the prints were made... and the news photographer in a hurry was often known to rub the tip of his finger on the edge of his nose, then smear the oil from his skin onto a scratched negative to hide some of the defects. Old B&W sports photos were easily "improved" by the photographer placing a cotton ball on the paper where it would block the light for a while, then the photographer would give a light puff of breath and blow the cotton away - resulting in a whit blurry spot that resembled the blur of a ball.

Now cameras and computers and software are in the hands of almost everybody. Those with training and some incentive to be trustworthy - while others just want to be noticed. So people go after the tools that make it possible, rather than look at the problem of the people who are so unscrupulous as to alter reality and claim it as truth.

Look back over my images in this blog. Many are simply adequate. Getting adequate images day in and day out takes work and dedication. How easy my job would be if I had the personal moral ambiguities that allowed me to change the photos . . .

The answer is not to regulate Photoshop, but to teach people to learn to filter the information and know if the source is trusted or not.

"Citizen Journalists" are so often an unknown quantity - and yet more and more news organizations want to take their "reports" as facts because it was free, and the cost of having paid professionals was too great. You get what you pay for.

Stop the deliveries - or a Bumble Ball?

Being in the vast expanses of the New Mexico high desert I seldom think about the traffic and congestion that are a way of life for so many people. When I left Minneapolis so many years ago it was not so much for the traffic and the noise as it was for the weather.

Nevertheless, browsing on various sites and linking to other sites led me to some articles about getting rid of all the delivery vehicles on the streets in the cities. The idea is to re-purpose the existing sewer and other underground infrastructures for some cargo delivery system.

That led me to a link about a device called UnitX which has a prototype developed and it seems like a great idea. Small robots that carry cargo boxes through the tunnel systems to the assigned address, some can be set up for delivering hot or cold items (pizza delivery?). The system might be something special - and at the same time simple. The robots are the moving parts - the tunnels only provide the path and electricity. Now, I wonder how long it would take to get an order of Kung Pao Chicken from Albuquerque to me out here. . . ?

Is it just me, or does the first image on the site remind anybody else of the classic "Bumble ball" toy?


Ironic irony

Welcome to the Hall of Freedom. In here you can see the Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution and other important documents that founded our country. We are the land of the free. Oh, and by the way, you are not allowed to . . .

Pretty much, that what is going on over at the National Archives. They are proposing a rule prohibiting any type of recording (filming/photographing) of the famous documents. The rule says that it is to reduce damage to the documents from people using flash (although video does not use flash....)

Now this post is NOT a rant that they shouldn't regulate the things that people do there. The documents are reportedly in BAD condition. They are parchment, not paper, so they are not holding the ink pigments as well. A photographer on Sportsshooter stated that at first look the Declaration of Independence loos like a blank sheet since it has faded so much. He also said that despite signs - and guards - telling people not to, the visitors are firing flashes non-stop.

Also, from my understanding there is a long line all the time just to get in for a quick glimpse, and people with video cameras and still cameras slow things down by taking time to focus, check lighting/exposure and so on.... so if it is truly a case of allowing more people access to the documents when they have made the trip to go to the archives then by all means. Rather than having the headache of checking every person that stands in the long lines and ensuring that they have the right type of camera and that they know how to make sure the flash will not fire, they are feeling the need to put a blanket statement about no cameras in place.

Instead, this post is merely finding the discord between calling someplace the Hall of Freedom and filling it with documents saying we can live free, then having to restrict what you can do. To me, that is irony.

To see the documents you can order exact duplicates to keep, or simply view them on-line.


A different type of scam?

I checked my Email this morning and had a curious note from a former co-worker from my days at the newspaper. It reads as follows:

How are you doing?hope all is well, I"m sorry that i didn't inform you about my traveling to England for a Seminar.I need a favour from you as soon as you receive this e-mail because i misplaced my wallet on my way to the hotel where my money is and other valuable things were kept, i will like you to assist me with a loan urgently. I will be needing the sum of $2,500 to sort-out my hotel bills and get myself back home.I will appreciate whatever you can afford to help me with, i'll pay you back as soon as i return. Kindly let me know if you can be of help? so that i can send you the details.

Your reply will be greatly appreciated

The note is not signed, but it does show that it came from his account. I sent out a couple of quick text messages to confirm and no, he is NOT out of the country, or even out of the city here. I am not sure how this scm plays out, but I can only imagine it ends up costing you some serious money if you follow through with it to the end.

Have a great Monday, okay?


Time magazine cover pays big coin

The decline in newspapers has been on-going. Photographers also continue to struggle. For a long time the freelance shooters whined about those of us that had staff jobs taking assignments on the cheap because it was supplemental income. Now that staff jobs are vanishing the hobbyist is to blame. Or something.

How about the corporate bastards over at Time magazine as a place to point the fingers? Get this: A photographer got paid a staggering $30.00 for his image that was the FRONT COVER of the magazine. Now, they go even further and offer to sell reprints of their cover for $15.95. So all they have to do is sell TWO reprints and they have made money.

I am sure that people will tell me to get over it, the people at time are simply running a business and maximizing profits. I am so damned sick of hearing about how profits are the ONLY thing that matters. No wonder so many high school kids thrive on gang-banger music, hardcore violence in movies and are not asserting themselves. Why bother? Being a good citizen is for chumps. Why would anybody bother to go and have ethics and morals and treat people with fairness?

I think that $30 for a magazine cover photo is like buying a copy of Fantastic Four #1 for $1.25 because the seller didn't know the real value.

People at Getty and Time and everywhere else think about this: what is going to happen when you are 80 years old and you want somebody to help take care of you, but instead you get kicked to the street or even put down like a dog because the people that tried to have principals and treat people fairly were long ago done away with, and the society that is left won't have any interest in your dignity, but in your bank account and your fixed income checks that stopped years earlier because Social Security was not really something that we needed to be doing to help people be dignified.

I'd love to see one of those **Extensive list of Expletives deleted** from Time be handled so fairly. Never mind what the going rate is for your job Mr. Employee, we are going to give you $15.00 this week because that's all we want to.


Not everyone is abandoning newspapers....

For a long time newspaper owners on the high end of the spectrum have been gutting newsroom staff and demanding unrealistic profits. Across the country newspapers are apparently on life support. Lay-offs and salary cuts are the norm.

So, how about this: a former Wall Street type has bailed on the corporate life and purchased several newspapers in Iowa (including the Charles City Press).... and in a posting shared with members of, the buyer - Gene Hall - shares his reasons (follow the link in bold, below) and why he believes he is NOT taking a huge risk.

THIS POST with his reasons makes me think that maybe there actually are a few people out there that are thinking about newspapers in the right way.

Good luck. Hopefully he can start a trend...


Glued to my screen

I cannot believe how much time I am putting in at my computer. So you are wondering if you can see the results – maybe I have been writing, or editing a major photo project. . . ? No, I have been sorting through thousands of images that I can delete. For 2008 I have over 45k images still on my one drive. A lot of that number consists of junk. Basketball games where I hit the motor drive for an action sequence. I got the shot, and then a bunch of extra stuff too. All of those can be dumped. All of the images I just dumped into the drive that were things like ads for used cars and furniture. Lots of things need to be eliminated. The rest needed to be keyworded and flagged so I can find them later on.

Right now my photo hard-drive is like the old shoe box full of negatives. In addition to the stuff from The Independent, I also have my own personal work and my family images to organize. It is amazing how quickly it packs up and gets away from somebody when shooting five or six days a week for more than 14 years. I don’t even want to begin trying to figure out what to do with my negatives and slides.


Photo Software: cheap=free=cool

I met with my school's principal today and was told that I should not count on having Photoshop or even Photoshop Elements on the computers for my students. This left me in a panic - what am I going to do with 3 classes full of 25+ students each for an entire semester in the digital darkroom class?

I know I certainly cannot afford to purchase any software for my students - and not 24-28 copies of it! So I did some looking on Google and I ran across somebody mentioning a piece of software called "GIMP".

Now, the name made me hesitate for a moment, as all I could think of was the guy all dressed in leather and chained in a box in Pulp Fiction. Thankfully, that has NOTHING to do with this software.

GIMP is open source software - for FREE (I love that word) and the name is an acronym for GNU Image Manipulation Program. So I just downloaded and installed the newest release and it totally knocked my socks off. I figured it would be something along the lines of Picasa - a basic adjust the brightness and you're done type of thing. Not hardly!

This program has layers, cloning brushes, color adjustments, handles image color profiles, text tools and even unsharp mask. Now, as I said, I just downloaded this and have only played with it for about 20 minutes, but for anybody that needs some serious editing power - on a budget - this is the way to go.

Yes, the tools/icons and menus are very different looking from Photoshop CS3, but once you find where things are (like brightness/contrast tool is in the color section) it is easy enough to use.

I am soooooo glad I found this, and I actually have time to learn it before schooll starts.

Now to explore the wavelet plug-ins, including one that is supposed to handle RAW files (and possibly .DNG???)


Maybe I should get into a photo program

Hey there! Did you know that there are great opportunities for photographers out there to earn real money (as opposed to the kind you make yourself, I guess).

All you have to do is take an On-line photography course. Like THIS ONE.

Or, you can do like the lady at the New York Times said, don't bother taking any photos - just go to Flickr and appropriate whatever catches your interest.

Onto other photo related things. I have a 1TB hard drive, and it only has 34 GB left on it. The only thing on the drive are photographs that I have taken. So now I have spent a good portion of this past week letting my desktop computer import and catalog the images (by year) into Adobe Lightroom. In the current ingest for 2008 (which I have had to do in segments to keep the computer from locking up) I have 50,641 images. Now I know that some of those photos are in multiple folders, but even if they are not, 50k images for one year is not really all that excessive. Think about it and you get less than 1,000 photos a week. Say I shoot 5 days per, and that comes in at about 200 images per day.

So, I shot a LOT of images. What does that mean? I have no idea really. Perhaps it means that it is possible to shoot 43,000 images with your lens cap on and not know it....


Image manipulation is a global problem

Mark Hancock is a photojournalist who spends an incredible amount of time on his blog - with research, trends and explanations of his work.

I have heard about various cases of image manipulation in news outlets over the years, and always wondered what these people were thinking. In the post linked to below, Hancock has detailed the specifics of multiple cases - going all the way back to Mathew Brady in the 1860s.

I encourage you to read through it - it is long, but very thorough and definately worth the time. I will be sharing this entry with my journalism students this fall.

PhotoJournalism: Image manipulation is a global problem


Phoenix was REALLY hot...!

The temperatures in Phoenix topped 100 F for the second half of our time at the Cronkite School. Wandering around in a sweat-soaked shirt and wondering why people lived in this crazy place I decided to take a photo that said "hot."

To me, plam trees imply warm weather, but California and Florida have pleasant places with palm trees, so I went into Photoshop and using the basic Hue/Saturation tool shifted the sky from blue to red. Now to me it says blazing heat.

It is so nice to be able to editorialize and not worry about every photo from my camera being real.


Multi-Media learning

Part of my experience this week has been dabbling with video and sound, and learning to use the powerful piece of editing software: Final Cut Pro. We divided into groups to shoot a short package on dealing with the heat in Phoenix, and hit the streets. We shot some video, I shot still photos (also part of the assignment) and we wrapped it up.

Our adviser had the computer lab open on Saturday and Sunday, so I decided to take Saturday to run some errands (like doing laundry) and then Sunday I went to the lab. Group member Mark Salvatore was in working on the video when I got there. Turns out he also spent a good deal of time in the lab Saturday and he had pretty much wrapped up the editing issues for the clip. I feel bad because I did not contribute more to the back-end of things... but he said he wanted to really learn the software and he was fine with doing the bulk of the work.

Anyway, we are not going to win any awards for our video package, but if you care to view it, this is the link to the ASNE/Reynold's Institute blog where it is posted.


Racism: Intentional or ignorance?

The topic of the day was diversity. During the discussion of being aware of race representations in the media Sharon Bramlett-Solomon (at left) spoke her ideas and opinions about the issue.

One of the initial comments she made was that she examined the representation of blacks in The Arizona Republic and found that in eight out of 10 photographs they were shown in an unfavorable way - being in need, or underprivileged. What Bramlett-Solomon did not share during the conversation was how often the white people in the paper were also shown as being in need. I say this not to try to discredit her statement (as her statement is factual and the issue does need addressing) - but to give some comparison. After all, newspapers are full of stories about the problems in our world.

Conflict sells. But I ask if the majority of the photos of white people are favorable? Or, is there a bias in the paper to show ALL people in an unfavorable light? Bramlett-Solomon said she had a discussion with the photography higher-ups at the paper and things improved. Certainly showing the majority of the photos of black people in unfavorable ways is not a good thing. But is it really an issue of a certain race being singled out, or is it the nature of the news industry to show the majority of all people in bad light? Does the newspaper simply have an issue of reporting unfavorably about many people and topics?

I do not have answers. I did not talk at length with her about the entire study she did. Maybe the conclusions need to be beyond "look how they are portraying black people" and instead need to be "look how they are portraying all people."

A second item I want to mention briefly is that perhaps I am far more ignorant of how mean and petty other people can be, but I do not think that the majority of news photographers consciously lighten the skin color of successful people of color to make them more palatable to the general white audiences. I personally have been taught many times that when color correcting photographs for printing, and when learning lighting techniques for photographing people, adjustments need to be made to allow for the darker skin tones to be reproduced with some detail when the ink hits the news print. (And for light skinned people - Scandinavians for example - skin tones need to be darkened).

The human eye can discern from more than 11 levels of lightness and darkness in a scene. A good camera can handle about seven increments (called 'stops'). Then we get to newspaper printing. The paper that many newspapers print on these days are at least partially recycled and are very porous. When black drops of ink are splattered across the paper as the drums and plates roll at high speed the result is the dots of black ink spread (This is called dot gain - the size of the dot of ink spreads - it gains area). Shadows and dark colors lose detail and become murky. Newspaper presses are not run (at least as far as I know) with a concern about super high quality images that will look good framed on a wall. The images are printed to give information. So to keep the details of a person's face recognizable and within the reproducible range their skin tones get tweaked.

Color correction is very subjective to begin with, and then to add in variables such as mixed colors of light sources, the potential for the computer monitor not to be profiled and calibrated properly, and variants in the printing process itself and color is a tough thing to produce accurately.

Just to make things even more interesting, many newspapers now do not use people to tone their images. Instead they have autmoated software that is supposedy smart and corrects the colors and scenes for the presses tp "optimal levels." I'll leave optimal up to your own imagination to define.

Now, having explained a bit about why it happens - my standpoint is that I never considered it as being a problem (this is where I show my own insensitivity/ignorance). Getting photos to be clear in a newspaper can be tough. If the presses are all in registration and the color is halfway close I was generally pretty happy (colors shift during the press run, depending on how much of each color of ink is going onto the plate... the process is so much an art rather than en exact science it is amazing at times the papers look decent at all -- a good press operator is vital!)

If lightening or darkening skin tones is truly a problem that is being overlooked by people at the newspaper, then it does not matter that it is happening because it makes things easier for the printers. If there is really a problem then the results need to be changed.

I think so many times people give members of the press, and us middle-class white people too much credit. We do things not because we are trying to cause harm (or at least I don't) but rather we do things out of ignorance of the things being an issue.

There are absolutely issues of race and and culture inequality in this country. They absolutely need to be addressed. Sometimes they are not meant to happen. Sometimes people blunder along blindly believing that things are fine, and it takes people speaking up to tell us there is an issue.


Light Rail blur

After our session of the High School Journalism Institute concluded we all hopped onto the lightrail train in Phoenix and went to have dinner at The Old Spaghetti Factory two rail stops away.

After the meal we all made our way back to the Cronkite school building, also via rail, to watch "All the President's Men". So the train was coming, the sun was setting, and my camera was ready.


Missing it - finally

The first day of the ASNE (American Society of News Editors) Reynolds High School Journalism Institute has started and the first day is done. This is an amazing event, not only that the event is running so well, but also the care they are taking of us. Meals, hotel, and great people!!!

I tried to put away the role of photojournalist and just be a participant, but when things like this happen, and knowing that the blog needs input I turned to my stronger suit and out came the camera.

Now, today's events are simply talking heads giving speeches - you know, the old reliable podium shots. Still, it made me miss the challenges of newspaper work. In almost a year since I left the newspaper I have never really missed it. I needed a break, a way to recharge? Regardless, it is time to move on from what I used to do and focus on what I am doing. I don't want to end up like the people in the Bruce Sprinstein song, singing about "glory days."

So, back to the events - multiple students already posted their impressions from the events of today. I simply posted a few images and extended captions rather than make things too repetitive.

To read what they wrote, and see the photos:

Reynolds High School Journalism Institute blog


What Influences the Teenager's Thoughts?

On Friday I confiscated an Mp3 player from one of my students. For some reason they seem to think that the district rules which ban all cell phones and other electronic devices from use do not apply to them. I wonder why they feel that they need a personal soundtrack for every second of the day. Research shows that “multi-tasking” is a myth. The people who are supposedly proficient at it are actually switching their attention from task to task at a faster rate. So listening to music is NOT something they can do without distracting them from their assignments.

Whether students should be allowed to use Mp3 and cell phones during class is not the point of this though. Instead, I decided that for my own personal curiosity I wanted to know just what it was that was on this music player… so I plugged it into my laptop and downloaded a list of the sing titles. Now, these are simply the titles, and not even the lyrics. Regardless of how you feel about the students having the “right” to listen to their own music, certainly there is a real problem with the material they are choosing to engulf their brains in. It is no wonder that the youth of today have no respect for themselves or any hopes for the future – instead they consume and allow themselves to be constantly bombarded with brainwashing that endorses violence and hatred.

am I exaggerating? Here are some of the titles on this list (and these are only the titles-the lyrics go much beyond this):

“Shorty wanna be a thug” – 2 pac-Tupac
“The big bad ass” – Ant Banks
“F****n’ with banks” – Ant Banks
“Suicidal Thoughts” – Biggie smalls
“Mo Murda” (more murder) – Bone Thugs N Harmony
“Shoot Em Up (screwed and chopped)” – Bone Thugs N Harmony
“Smoke da weed” – Clika One
“Hits from the Bong” – Cypress Hill
“I wanna get high” – Cypress Hill
“Smoke Weed” – Cypress Hill
“Doobie Ashtray” – Devin the Dude
“Assassination Day” – Ghostface Killah (killer)
“Waiting to die” – Hed PE
“F*** Dying” – Ice Cube & Korn
“Smoking on a J” – Koopsta Knicca – Da Devil’s Playground
“Stash Pot” - Koopsta Knicca
“Smoking Buddah” – Krazie Bone
“Thug Mentality” – Krazie Bone
“Live Ni**a rap”
“So F*****g What” – Metallica
“Ain’t my b*tch” – Metallica
“Drop a gem on ‘em” – Mobb Deep
“Silent Murder” – Nas
“Watch Dem Ni**as” – Nas
“Take it in blood” – Nas
“Party and B*llsh*t” – Notorious B.I.G.
“Give me the loot” - Notorious B.I.G.
“Me & My B*tch” - Notorious B.I.G.
“Ready to die” - Notorious B.I.G.
“F***ing Hostile” – Pantera
“Suicide Note Pt. 1″ – Pantera
“Murderers and Robbers” – Project Pat
“Guillotine [Swordz]” – Raekwon
“Angel of Death” – Slayer
“Fight till Death” – Slayer
“Mandatory Suicide” – Slayer
“People=Sh*t” – Slipknot
“Psychosocial” Slipknot
“Move mutha F***a” – The Kaze
“Porno Movie” – Three Six Mafia
“Break da law” – Three Six Mafia
“Ain’t no B*tches (like the ones I got)” – Too Short
“Blow Job Betty” – Too Short
“Dope Fiend Beat” – Too short
“I’d rather be your NI**A” – Tupac Shakur
“Shame on a Ni**a” – Wu Tang Clan

This particular student has a parent who is a school teacher and plays on the soccer team. The models of character and citizenship . . . where are the heroes?


ASNE Reynolds Institute in Arizona

My departure from journalism has proven to be only a sabbatical.  After a year of teaching English my school's principal has asked me to create a journalism program for the school starting this fall.  Despite working in a newsroom for a dozen years, the fact is that there are a lot of things I do not know about how other aspects of a newspaper work - especially a student newspaper.

Shortly after I was presented with the opportunity to start a school newspaper, take over as the yearbook advisor and teach a broadcasting/multi-media class I received an invitation from the ASNE (American Society of News Editors) to apply for one of the spots in their Reynolds Institute.  Over 600 people applied to the program and 35 were accepted. I was one of the candidates that was selected.

So, to find out the details about the program (at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism in Arizona) you can visit our blog:  Reynolds Institute


Not helping matters

There are two newspapers in Gallup.  My former employer, The Gallup Independent, and The Gallup Herald.  The Herald is a Sunday tabloid that is run by former Independent staff member Joe Kolb. With no love lost between Kolb and Independent publisher Bob Zollinger they seem to enjoy yellow-journalism.  No, I should not be so harsh.  I suspect both men think that they are doing the right thing, and maybe they are both right in their own ways.  Not my place to judge them.  So let me just leave it at saying that they will not be exchanging Christmas cards this year.

So, who cares?  Why am I starting down this path?  After all, I no longer work there (with the exception of a few side jobs covering high school sports).  Well it is because I keep hearing about some exchanges between Zollinger and a city of Gallup employee (golf course director), Bob Weekes.  Rumors actually.  Then today I spotted a copy of The Herald and it features a blurry blob of a photo of Zollinger at his desk and the main story is that he could be facing criminal charges.

Time to do a bit of checking on what is available on the web and I stumbled across some things on You-Tube, presented by Kevin Killough - who was (still is?  Not likely) a reporter for the Independent.  He has some surveillance footage from the confrontation and a running, sarcastic commentary to go along with it.  To me, it is inconclusive, except that the two men did face each other, Weekes landed on the ground on top of Zollinger, and surveillance cameras work a lot better when Gil Grisam and his CSI team look at them.

(If you want to view just the surveillance footage fast-forward to 8:29 in the clip)


Freelancing - Feb 28, 09 - Hoops

I have been picking up a few games as side jobs for The Independent, including the district championship game between the Rehoboth Lynx and the Navajo Pine Warriors.  The Warriors really tried, but the three tall students on the Rehoboth team made the challenge insurmountable, and the Lynx won 74-47.

Rehoboth Lynx Russell Kamps (11) leaps past Navajo Pine Warriors Orien Tsosie (31) during Saturday night's district championship game at Rehoboth Christian High School.
Rehoboth Lynx Russell Kamps (11) keeps the ball away from Navajo Pine Warrior Jermaine Chee (14) as he tries to knock the ball away.

Rehoboth Lynx Christopher Smith (10) leaps in the air and shoots while Navajo Pine Warriors Keithan Sandoval (12) tries to knock the ball away during Saturday night's district championship game.

Rehoboth Lynx Aaron Pinto (24) maneuvers past Navajo Pine Warrior Tristan Dawes (32).

Rehoboth Lynx Joshua Holwerda (25) leaps in the air and shoots the ball over the head of Navajo Pine Warriors Tristan Dawes (32) and Theron Nez (15). 
Rehoboth Lynx Jacob Jones (32) leaps in the air and shoots the ball over the head of Navajo Pine Warrior Jermaine Chee (14).


Moving over

Since I am not working as a photojournalist in the Southwest, this particular blog is now dead. My daily hits have dropped from the 50+ range to single digits. However, some people want to know what it is I am up to (okay, maybe only one other person?) so I have a brand new blog for general stuff.

Here is the link:

I am still, on occassion, doing work for the newspaper, and I might add an image or two here and there on this blog, so it is not completely forgotten.