Another Day, another photo

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I don’t know if this is a multimedia journalist thing or just a me thing, but I love taking pictures. My friends know that any time we go anywhere, I’ll probably be the one whipping my phone out to take the perfect picture and document the moment. I’d much rather have pictures than souvenirs.

This was from my recent spring break trip to Jupiter, Florida, a small town twenty minutes south of Palm Beach. During our time there, my friends and I checked out Square Grouper, a favorite bar/restaurant among the locals. Square Grouper is located on the bay and is almost entirely outdoors on the sand. When I took this picture, we were seated on the bay wall with our feet dangling over the water in our best impression of a Jimmy Buffett song while eating french fries.

This was taken with my iPhone, so the quality isn’t fantastic, but it was right around sunset, so there were a million different lighting opportunities. At the time I just snapped the picture, but looking back on it, I was pretty pleased with the composition of the shot, the lighting and the fact that I somehow managed to work the rule of thirds in.

Of all the places we visited while in Florida, this might be one of my favorites, and this is definitely one of my favorite shots, especially because of the good memories.

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Multimedia Minute

I love being a multimedia journalist. I love creating multimedia. And I love finding and sharing good multimedia. Ever since I took an introduction to multimedia class my sophomore year, I’ve been more attuned to finding good multimedia — ranging from the New York Times to student publications. And ok, I’ll admit. I am a major NYT fangirl. You know how 14 year-olds obsessed over One Direction when they first competed on the X-Factor? Yeah, that’s how I am with the Times. The New York Times is one of the best in the business when it comes to multimedia. They have a relatively large staff and the time, money and resources to sink into new projects. The NYT does video content better than some video stations.

Everyone’s heard of “Snowfall,” and rightly so. It’s an amazing piece of journalism. But the Times does a lot more amazing pieces, and sometimes, the lesser-known pieces are the best.

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One of my favorites is “The Russia Left Behind.” I think the reason I like this piece so much is the gorgeous integration of text, photos, video and graphics. Graphics can be tough to integrate into a multimedia piece if you don’t know what you’re doing. Luckily, the NYT has an amazing graphics staff. The parallax scrolling style works really well for this piece. Additionally, one of my favorite parts of the story is the road map on the side of the story. As the viewer scrolls through the story, the map is responsive and allows the reader to jump between cities and view parts of the story at will.

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Another component of this story I really like is that it focuses on a different person or family in each city. The various subjects show the various problems and issues facing the Russian people. While this might be confusing in another story, it works well for this piece. Even though there are a lot of components, it ties together well.

I’ve always been interested in foreign relations and politics, so the subject matter is really interesting to me. But even if this wasn’t one of my favorite topics, I’d still be interested because of the presentation. The New York Times has a way of taking even the most niche subjects and making it accessible and interesting to a larger population. It’s definitely worth a read. Screen Shot 2016-03-16 at 11.38.45 PM.png

Behind the Photo

The Image, Deconstructed is a weekly blog that spotlights different photographers. The blog looks at one or two pictures from a photographer and then interviews the photographer on every detail that went into making that photo. While I don’t consider myself at the level of these professionals, I do consider myself a fairly decent photographer, and I thought it would be interesting to share one of my own photos and how I made it.

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This photo of Mike Gesicki, a Penn State tight end, was taken at the annual Lift for Life event in July 2015. The Penn State football team’s chapter of Uplifting Athletes raises money and awareness to fight kidney cancer. Every year, the team holds a “Lift for Life” event as one of their marquee events. Basically, the team gets people to pledge money and then they lift very heavy things such as massive truck tires.

When I showed up to the lacrosse field for the event early in the morning, it was already a sweltering July day with temperatures reaching the 80s. On arrival, after I picked up my press pass, all media was herded behind the outer lines of the field and told to stay put. Getting good photos was an exercise in jockeying around other reporters — definitely an important skill for any aspiring journalist.

Split between offense and defense, the players compete in teams to finish a series of challenges, such as bench presses, tire rolls and deadlifts. There’s a lot going on, so I needed to pick and choose which events I wanted to focus on. This picture was definitely unplanned, but I’m so happy with the way my “accident” photo turned out. I was on my way to the other end of the field when I saw some of the offense getting ready for the sled pull event. I was able to elbow my way across the field just in time.

Sometimes, being five feet tall can be a hindrance while covering live events and trying to get the best shot. But in times like these, being elbow height to other reporters is an asset that allows me to dash through the crowd.

Gesicki’s team had just won the sled pull event, and I was just in time to capture this moment as Gesicki celebrated. One of the reasons I like this shot is the color. The blue and white of the players’ uniforms is a great contrast against the green field and blue sky. And I like that I was able to make the shot with Gesicki in the foreground.

But looking back, there are a few things I would have liked to do differently. I would have liked to get Gesicki more centered in the frame so he would be more of the focus. I also would have liked to frame the shot with less  distractions in the background. And of course, I would have loved to get a few shots of his face, but being corralled behind the field lines prevented that.

Covering this event was definitely one of my favorite assignments during my summer internship. I don’t usually get to cover football-related events, and as a huge football fan, it was definitely cool to see. It was also a chance to try a new style of reporting and a great learning experience.

All geared up

Lots of girls like their accessories. My preferred accessories just happen to be microphones and tripods rather than necklaces and rings. Ever since I started delving more into multimedia, I’ve been having a lot of fun figuring out the gear and equipment needed in multimedia. (Of course, let it be known that I have almost no money for all the gorgeous gear I’m drooling over, but that’s a different story).

But, as I’m learning and exploring more with multimedia, there have been times when I’m utterly confused about gear or unsure as to what the best type of microphone or camera would be the best for certain situations. Luckily, I’ve had some great professors and fellow journalists who have been great about giving advice and helping a girl out. So, in the spirit of passing it forward, I thought I would write a few posts on my favorite gear or the different things I’ve tried and how they’ve worked.

One of the first tools I started using when I began working on multimedia was at the suggestion of one of my professors. When I started playing around with audio recording, one of my professors suggested I download iRig Recorder. iRig allows you to record uncompressed audio through your iPhone. Normally, the recorder feature on an iPhone will compress audio in order to prevent people from recording and selling music from concerts and other events. Compressed audio usually sounds awful and is awful to edit.

iRig has two versions — one that’s free and another for $7.99. I would recommend spending the money for the paid version. It has been the best $8 I’ve spent. The app is downloaded directly to your iPhone and allows you to record quality uncompressed audio. While it’s not quite as powerful as the professional gear, it’s almost as good as a Zoom recorder (unfortunately iRig only records in mono, not stereo).

The app also allows you to sync a SoundCloud account to upload the audio. Audio can also be shared through email, iTunes File Sharing and several other ways. I linked my SoundCloud account and it’s worked seamlessly.

The app also has links to the store and accessories. One of my favorites (and next purchase) is the iRig lavalier mic. The mic plugs into the headphone jack and can clip to a shirt or collar. The mic could also be used for video recording. One mic is available for $49.99 or two for $79.99. Unfortunately, you can’t wear headphones and use the mic at the same time, but it’s a tradeoff for better audio.

I’ve been using iRig for about a year now in a number of different interviews and nat sound situations. So far, I’ve had good experiences, and it’s definitely my number one recommendation for both starting and seasoned journalists. It might not replace professional equipment, but it’s a great way to ensure you always have an audio recorder in your pocket.