Is it a bad omen that teachers here in McKinley County, New Mexico have to report for work on Friday the 13th?!?  Or was this a deliberate plan to let us know what is ahead for the school year?

I drove past the new school building and it is hard to tell how much more work they have to do.  There were some construction vehicles in the newly paved parking lot, but there is no way to know what has been accomplished inside.  I do know that the students for the rest of the district start school on Aug. 18, and at Miyamura they are pushing the student start day to August 23.  Presumably that is to give us extra time to move our materials from storage and into the new classrooms and then set things up.

The old building - where my classroom was last year (B-wing) has no doors on it, has chain link fencing and I suspect demolition is going to begin in just a few days.

In some ways I am ready to have summer over with - but in many other ways I am not in the right mindset to be going back to work.


Remembering the Film

Now that summer is here and I am caught up on my graduate school class  I have been working with digitizing some archive items.  I started with my old journals, and then while looking through an box in the garage I came across my old Nikon LS-2000 and LS-1000 film scanners.  Not having a SCSI connector and proper drivers for my Windows XP computer they have been sitting in there for a couple of years or more.  I also found a strange item - a USB to SCSI cable.  With some searching I found a driver that allows the cable to work with Windows XP.

Next I tried repeatedly to get the Nikon software to work.  It still doesn't - it does not like the TWAIN drivers or something.  So a bit of searching on the net reminded me of Hamrick Software's program "VueScan" - which I purchased in 2001.  I reloaded the program (my license is still valid, and includes the upgrades) and after an install and restart I now have a working film scanner for my computer.

So, I found some film and slides and started scanning.  Here are a few of the images:

Neil Diamond performs at the Fargodome in Fargo, ND (July 1996)

Nicole stops for a quick photo while hiking at Red Rock State Park - (1997)


BURN - David Alan Harvey

Even though things are insane in terms of trying to get it all done before classes let out next Thursday, I still need to occasionally take some time and explore the work of other photographers.  It is sort of my version of meditation (but different).

I have just discovered an online magazine currated by David Alan Harvey (from Magnum).  Stop in and look around.   Lots of photo essays and links. It is called "burn."

No, I am not going into any in-depth analysis of the work.  Enjoy it for yourself.  I need to get back to grading and writing my final exams.


Odds - NBA or Photojournalist?

Kenneth Jarecke makes an interesting case about reasons NOT to be in the photography industry - yet he has hopes for the industry to rebound.

By his accounting, there are more players in the NBA today than there are successful freelance photographers.

Basically: Stop undervaluing (or worse, giving away) photos. 


My loss of Faith - How Toyota Has Fallen

For a long time I have had a preference for Ford vehicles. It goes back to my first car - a 1976 Mercury Montego (yes, the four-door version of the classic Starsky and Hutch Gran Torino), and continued with my LTD II and my accident prone 1986 Thunderbird (it had a bulls-eye painted on it I guess). My wife is not so fond of Fords, as she is a lot shorter than I am. Over recent years she has persuaded me that Toyotas were the vehicles to consider. Heck, they are onto something big with the Prius hybrid.

So, when reports started to come in about stuck accelerators (ALL car companies have reports of this issue - just Toyota is much higher than any other, and Hyundai is lowest on the list I saw) and things don't look so rosy for Toyota. The latest recall - about the tire latches rusting in winter weather zones - not too bothered by it , because hey, you try putting a piece of metal in that salt/sulfuric acid they spread on the roads in Minnesota and not have it rust... pretty hard to prevent.

But . . . And this is huge. This is worse than Subaru having their Outback recategorized from a car to a truck so they could decrease gas mileage on it. Toyota has decided that on top of things happening that they cannot control, they have decided that US Copyright laws are merely suggestions that big companies don't have to follow. They hired an advertising firm that took some copyrighted (and even watermarked) photos from Flickr and used them for advertising one of their vehicles. Then, when the photographer complained they did not even really apologize - and they did not say they would not do it again, or would stop doing business with the ad agency. They only regret getting caught I guess.

For the details and samples of the photos, visit here: Software Cinema Blog

And I am off. Lensbaby is having a Webinar in about an hour and I want to see if I can learn any new tricks that would be useful with my Lensbaby 3G.


Breathing room. . . .

I look around and realize something. I do not have to panic about getting anything done (until next week). My Educational psychology class is over, my application for practice teaching is filled out and ready to turn in. I even had a few minutes this evening to catch up on some of the work that former colleagues of mine have been doing in the photography world.

One photographer that I want to point out is Albuquerque Journal photographer Roberto Rosales. He has some nice stuff HERE from the 2010 Gathering of Nations Pow Wow.

Rosales, along with Steven St. John, have started Tortuga Travel Photography workshops. (They have a couple openings left in their workshop this weekend in Albuquerque).

Take a peek, leave a comment. Enjoy their work.


Unpaid Internships (the OTHER U.P.I.)

When I was looking for my first internship some 14 years ago I knew I needed to have a paid position. I could not afford to work for free. As it was I was using student loans to cover a lot of expenses while in school - so not being paid would have meant not being able to take the spot.

Today I found an article at the Poynter Institute website that talks about the practice, and how in some states there have been crackdowns on the practice due to labor laws. Others argue that it is unfair as only people who already have the money to support themselves can afford to have the experience. This is somewhat like only allowing rich people to go to school from one viewpoint. From the opposing view, rich people almost always enjoy the benefits of living in more affluent neighborhoods and attending better funded public schools - sometimes having the option of private schools - and are more able to handle the costs of going to college. We are a capitalistic society after all - so why can't those who have "earned" more get the rewards? (I ask playing devil's advocate)

It may all end as a moot point - newspaper's are soon going to be unpaid jobs for everybody if new profit models cannot be worked out. Then only the rich who can afford to do journalism as a hobby will be reporting on our society. How balanced will that take on the world be?

In my introduction to Journalism class I do not tell students of the bright future careers ahead of them in newspapers. I tell them this is the process of reporting the news, understand it so you can decode it and get the information you need.

Unpaid internships? The publisher and the EIC and the shareholders get paid. I would not volunteer to work at McDonald's in an unpaid capacity - they want a person's time and effort they need to compensate them with more than just by-lines. A by-line and a buck will buy you a cup of coffee at McD's. The only person that the by-line without the cash will matter to is your mother who will say she is proud of you (as she loans you the money you should have gotten paid for by the news organization).


The Shrinking Path - NY Times

A fellow photographer on posted a link to an article in the New York Times that I read this morning. It details a lot of the issues most photographers, especially freelance shooters, have been aware of for a while now, and explains what is behind them.

Why can't photographers make a living doing what they are good at these days? Technology is the main culprit. As the internet and digital cameras make it easier to take photos and share them the value has dropped.

Supply and demand - economics 101. Too many people are willing to give away their photos. Too many people don't see the photos as costing anything to produce and have no idea what a Cost of Doing Business analysis is.

To read the full story, click here.

A few days ago I was going through my archives of photos, looking for some examples to use for teaching in my digital darkroom class, and it really hit me how much I miss being able to go out and make pictures every day. I loved the job when I was making images, but I am not the hardcore self-promoter and business person that I would need to be to even have half a chance of making a living as a freelance photographer.

There are a lot of good photographers out there looking for work. A lot more are like me who have decided the risk is too great - too many responsibilities and commitments - and have moved in to other fields.


Student Newspaper story ideas

This is my second semester of teaching journalism, and I am already seeing the same story ideas come up again and again. Dress code is not fair, students should be allowed to listen to their MP3s/iPods etc. With no history of a student newspaper at our school (it is a new high school after all), there are no benchmarks established yet. We don't have a tradition of doing strong journalism and the students don't really know what hard hitting reporting looks like. Yet.

Today I was browsing through what other teachers are having their students do, and I stumbled upon this site that has dozens and dozens of news story ideas for high school journalism students. The best part, the ideas are from students, so they might be a bit more palatable than something I might assign them.

So now I am going to direct all of my students to the High School Journalism Institute site when they complain they don't have any story ideas.


National Geographic photography links

There are so many thousands of photo sites out there, and nowhere near enough time to look at all of them. Some of them are even so filled with mediocre (and even poor) photos that they just don't pass muster.

So, some of the best shooters can sometimes get lost in the shuffle. I know I often overlook National Geographic when I am looking for things on the web. I look through the magazine in print, but I have a tendency to forget about things like their photo of the day and their on-line photo tips.

Plus, they have a lot of their images available as free downloads to use as computer wallpaper. Very cool.

So head on over and take a browse when you have some spare time.


Washed out week

Not a lot of teaching going on this week. We started with the Martin Luther King holiday on Monday.

Tuesday we had parent conferences (moved up from when they were originally scheduled).

Wednesday we had some snow and had a two hour delay. I had classes with my 3rd, 4th, 5th and 7th period students.

Then Thursday we had a snow day (when I got out of bed to go to work there was not even a delayed start, and when I finished my shower school was cancelled.

That brings us to today. We had rain most of the evening, and before the 10 pm news last night they announced cancellations for today. By midnight the rain had changed to snow, and this morning awoke to nearly six inches of snow.

I wandered out into the front yard today and took a few frames, but the purist in me thinks that snow and nature photos don't look right with houses, cars and power lines, so I didn't put a lot of effort into them.

I think that this is the largest accumulation of snow I have seen in one storm since moving here to Gallup.

This afternoon the sun came out, but now clouds are rolling back in and another storm cell is supposed to hit us tonight.


Winter Can be Useful

Having a little bit of down time as Christmas vacation comes to a close I stopped by David Hobby's blog to see what is happening with him. . . I always find fascinating quick and CHEAP ways of lighting images on his blog. Anyway, he is out east and got hammered with 23" of snow last week. And, in true creative fashion he has come up with a great use for the snow. If it's there, might as well make use of it, eh?

I thought I was a Diet Mt. Dew fan, but he is truly hard-core.

Oh yeah, Happy New Year.



I could make some flip comment about resolving not to make any resolutions, or have some sage or life altering ideas. Truth is, that I have been on a mental vacation for the majority of this two week vacation and have not really taken time to come up with anything.

We return to school next week and have only that one week together before the semester ends. (I personally think it was pretty poor planning to have vacation and then have students return from break for finals week). The second semester will (hopefully) be more productive - especially for my digital darkroom students - as I actually have the computers and Photoshop Elements 8 (instead of using old PC machines with only 125 to 256 MB of RAM and the GIMP software). Having a computer for every student should help get rid of a lot of the issues from this past semester - students waiting their turn to use the computers get bored and start distracting each other.

I picked up a copy of Scott Kelby's The photoshop elements 8 book for digital photographers to give me some insight into things that Elements 8 has that are not in CS3 and to think about some tricks that I never used when working for a newspaper.

I guess my resolution for 2010 is to be as effective at teaching as possible, and to not let all of my teaching and grad school responsibilities prevent me from making images for myself.