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Archive for the ‘Photography’ Category

Instagram changed its terms of service, and it was the talk of social media on Monday. If you want a recap of the changes and what you need to know, Craig Kanalley has the best round up on the Huffington Post. Among the changes are that Instagram can use your photos for ads and for, well, anything and never pay you a cent. If you’re a photographer, this is concerning.

The talk quickly turned to people professing they will delete their Instagram account. Flickr recently pushed an update to its iPhone app, which has gotten rave reviews, so people are saying they’re going to use that instead. I’m hoping the update comes to Android soon, though I like the current version too.

But it’s all anecdotal, so I thought I’d ask the question: Are you planning to quit Instagram?

I’m in wait and see mode. I want to see what actually happens before I decide what platform to use. I did, however, promise myself recently to use Flickr more. I’ve neglected Flickr the last few months and didn’t even renew my pro account. I haven’t decided if I will renew my pro account, but I do want to give Flickr a chance.

If you want to delete your Instagram account, Wired has a rundown on how to do it, including how to download your photos.

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Should the New York Post have ran on its front page the photo of a man moments before his tragic death when he was pushed in front of a subway? Should it have run the photo at all?

Those are two questions several of my friends and peers are discussing on social media today, no matter if they’re in journalism or not. But the bigger question is: Why didn’t anyone help the man? The Atlantic Wire raises the question today too. The Atlantic also reviews the details of why the Post’s freelance photographer didn’t actually help the man (instead he was using his flash to try to signal the subway).

To quote several people: This story is a media ethics professor’s dream.

Journalists don’t want to be part of the story, but where do we draw the line? When is it O.K. to get involved? Clearly when someone’s life is on the line is a point when any human should decide to get involved. But do you snap the photo first and then help or help and then snap the photo? I think that’s a judgment call in how dangerous and imperative the situation is.

I was put in a situation where I had to get involved in a story a few years ago. A man who appeared to be drunk was driving through the middle of town and crashed into a car. I was the one who called 911 in the gathering crowd. The police later said he had hit a sign and other cars in the area. How did I resolve the issues that I was now part of the story? I told a co-worker what I saw and he got the information from the police.

But there are bigger issues with this story than journalists’ integrity or if the photo should run. Why aren’t people helping in general when incidents like this happen?

The subway story reminded me of an incident in the Washington Metro more than a year ago. A man was beaten by a group of teens and it was captured on video. Of course the video ended up on YouTube. But no one in the area, including those videoing the incident, did anything to help. No one stepped in to stop the beating (though I don’t blame people for not wanting to do that). But why didn’t anyone hit the big security buttons that are all over Metro stations? Why didn’t someone run to the station manager to get help?

But it’s not like it’s an isolated incident. There are other times when you see video and photos of beatings and fights happening at sporting events. There was a beating after the 2012 Winter Classic in Philadelphia that made its way onto YouTube, which sparked a police investigation. And in any of those incidents you don’t see anyone helping or trying to get security or police.

Are people more concerned about take a photo or video of something rather than trying to help people? Is this a new level of the bystander syndrome where people don’t want to get involved in an incident? It’s a somewhat disturbing trend.

Updates:

There’s some interesting follow-up reading on he Post’s photo and the choice to publish it as it was. Gawker caught up with some photographers — including Pulitzer Prize winners — on what they would have done in the same situation. As an aside: I don’t think anyone is blaming R. Umar Abbasi for Ki Suk Han’s death. I think people don’t understand why he didn’t try to help Han more than he did.

The Society of Professional Journalists ethics committee chairman also weighed in on the debate in an enlightening interview. He raises issues I hadn’t thought about. His comments made me think differently about the photo.

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The activity on this blog is an indication of how I’m feeling in the last two months or so: Uninspired.

Yesterday’s post was the first one I had written since before Hurricane Sandy at the end of October, and the same has been happening with my creative life in general. I’m not writing much if at all, whether it’s on this blog or elsewhere. I started a post-Sandy piece on how social media worked for us, but I haven’t been able to get back to it. I’m not taking many photos if at all lately. I’m not even debating much about journalism and social media, though I am determined to read Post Industrial Journalism: Adapting to the Present. I haven’t even been reading that much lately.

I was busy in the wake of Sandy, but I also just don’t feel like I have the energy or inspiration to dive into my creative projects now that things have calmed down.

I can point to my depression problems as one of the reasons. But my creative projects whether it’s photography, writing on a blog or scribbling in a journal has been one of my coping mechanisms.

And it’s not like I don’t have ideas. I’ve had a story idea brewing in my mind for a few weeks, but I’ve just never gotten to the point of putting the words on the page. I haven’t had a driving desire to sit down and write them down. I’ve shot photos, but I have yet to edit them. Editing them leads to sharing them, which is the fulfilling part of shooting photos.

I’ve had times in my life where I’ve felt uninspired, but it’s usually in one area and not all of my creative life. I was writing a story yesterday at work and struggled to write a creative lede. I wrote something straight forward, which is a bit more unusual for me. Lede writing can be a joy and I’ve rarely had that problem.

So where do I go from here? I have to find my inner inspiration (hey, I can’t sit around waiting for it to strike, right?), but it can be a hard task when you’ve lost something like that.

I’d love to hear stories from people who have gone through this struggle. Or maybe you have suggestions? Either way, leave them in the comments section or send me a tweet at @jenconnic.

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If you shoot photos, you want to share them, right? Why shoot photos if you don’t share them. And with the Internet and social media combined with digital photography, it’s much easier today than it was when I was a kid. It used to be a big deal when my dad pulled out the slide projector and showed us his photos from his many European vacations.

But there are also inherit problems with sharing digital photos online.

You can shoot tons of photos, which is both a blessing and a curse. I shot at least 200 photos when I attended a wedding back in September. I shot 500 photos when I traveled to California last year. When you have no film and just a memory card that has space for hundreds of photos, it’s really easy to take hundreds of photos.

Editing those photos can be a pain in the butt. I still haven’t edited my photos from Cape Ann in August because, well, it’s a hassle. I shoot in RAW and editing in Photoshop (I wish I had Lightroom) is a painful process because there’s no good way to batch edit. But even if I was not shooting RAW, it would be a time-consuming process to go through hundreds of photos.

And then Facebook and other sites will allow you to upload hundreds of photos at a time. I’ve seen friends share galleries of photos on Facebook with 350-400 photos.

Combine everything together, and you end up with ugly photo sharing. Everyone wants to take the photos and wants to share them but don’t want to go through a process to self edit and pick the best.

Not to mention some people have the mentality of “if I shot it, I need to share it.” I have been asked a gazillion times for the photos I didn’t publish with an article online. “If the photos are good, they’re on the story.” Of course, no one wants to hear that, but I’m not sharing photos that have motion blur or are poorly lit or have something else wrong with them.

Unfortunately that’s what I see in photo galleries people post on social networks, especially Facebook. There’s motion blur or the lighting is off or there’s four photos in a row that are virtually the same thing. And that’s not to mention the photos where everyone looks awful. It makes a poor experience for the audience.

Here’s some ideas on how to make a better experience for everyone in shooting and sharing photos online.

Don’t take multiple shots on the same thing

Back when everyone was shooting film, it made sense to take two, three shots of the same thing. You couldn’t check to make sure everyone’s eyes were open or a bird flew through your shot. Maybe we shouldn’t be peeking at the back of the camera as much as many of us do, but it gives you the confidence you got the shot. If you stop shooting three or four photos of the same thing, it’ll help cut down on the number of photos you have to review and edit.

And don’t hold down that shutter button for a multiple shot unless you really need it. A sporting event is one case you would need it, but someone posing for a shot is not.

Put thought into your photos

Too often I’ve seen friends and other people just take random photos with absolutely no thought. It’s almost like they’re thinking “oh my God, I have a camera so I have to take photos!” Or they think they should take candid photos, so let’s just shoot photos of our friends being random.

But shooting photos without thought means they have motion blur and poor lighting. Even worse, everyone ends up looking awful in them. The best photos, even candid ones, have thought in them. The photographer considers light and the angle at which someone is doing something. They consider what makes the photo interesting, which is not a bunch of people standing around with drinks in their hands.

Even if you’re taking a posed shot, put some thought in it. How can everyone look good in the photo? What pose does it? Where’s the best lighting for the photo?

And consider the rule of thirds when shooting photos. It will instantly make your photos better.

Edit, edit, edit, edit

When you sit down at the computer with your photos, edit them as best you can. Take the time to review every photo. Even if you don’t play with the more advanced settings in your photo editor (like correcting color), you can adjust the brightness. And you should use the unsharp mask tool.

But editing, especially self editing, is more than making sure the levels are right in a photo. It’s narrowing down your choices so they are the best ones. You may think those 200 photos are pretty awesome, but your friends aren’t going to want to look through the whole thing. They’ll get tired at some point if there’s a lot of duplication or fuzzy photos. So look at those four photos that are virtually identical. Do you really need all four? Or even two of them? No, you don’t. It’s good to keep those photos in a file, but you don’t need to share them all.

Present your photos well and respect others

I have a bad habit of not captioning photos on Facebook, but I should take the time to caption them so people know what they’re looking at, including who is in the photo. So often I’ve looked at photos and thought “what am I looking at here?” There are times it’s obvious or the album information gives it away, but not often. So give some information in the caption when it’s not so obvious.

And then there is the question of respecting others on social media with your photos. How often does someone post a photo of you that is unflattering and then tags you in it? It’s bad enough the photo even exists, but I don’t want everyone to see it, which tagging will do. There are lots of instances when I don’t want to be tagged. Plus people use social media, including Facebook, for lots of things. You don’t know who the other person is friends with. Suppose you tag the person when they look their worst and then that photo is shared with people like their coworkers and boss?

So be respectful of others on social media. Tag judiciously. There are times I don’t tag people because of the circumstances and will post them saying “tag yourself.” It irritates me when I do that and a fellow friend will tag themselves and everyone else in the photos. There are reasons I didn’t tag anyone and gave people the choice to do it. Think before you tag.

I’m sure there is plenty of other advice to be given on shooting photos and then sharing them on social media. Post your advice in the comments.

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Facebook has been a blessing for me to stay connected with my friends and family, especially since so many of my friends are many miles away. But some of them are flooding my news feed with a disturbing trend. I’m sure it’s all over yours too.

People are posting some beautiful photos, but they’re ruined. Nearly every single one of them have some sort of “inspirational” message on them. I admit that sometimes they make me smile, but the amount of them I see on Facebook disturbs me. And I see them elsewhere too, like on Twitter.

What I don’t understand is why someone needs to to ruin a photo by scrawling a message across them. What is the end game here?

Someone once said a picture is worth 1,000 words. Of course you’ve heard he saying. A well-taken photo can say something so much better than anything I could ever write.

So does the saying still hold true today? If it does, why are we seeing photos with words on them? Shouldn’t the photo be able to stand for itself with its message?

I guess my message is this: Stop ruining photos with quotes and messages. If the photo is good enough, you don’t need to say any other words.

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I’ve looked longingly at my old film camera, wondering if it’s worth getting fixed. I bought the camera more than a decade ago, and it stopped working a few years ago. It was about that time I got my first digital SLR, so it wasn’t a big loss to me.

But I still wish I could shoot film at times. And then it dawned on me — I could commandeer my dad’s old SLR. Or ask him to borrow it. He’s not using it (he doesn’t even use my old digital SLR), so why not?

His SLR (I can never remember the brand) has seen the world in his travels to Europe and elsewhere. It’s also the camera on which I learned to shoot in college before I bought my first SLR. The big difference between my first SLR and my dad’s camera? His is fully mechanical. That means I have to set everything on it, which I haven’t done since, well, the last time I used it.

The electronics and technology of digital cameras — even my old film SLR — makes it extremely simple to meter and set your camera. And if you don’t get it right, you can see it right away in the back of your camera and fix your settings. That’s not the case with a mechanical camera.

That doesn’t mean I don’t know f-stops and other settings. I just am rusty in having to set everything by hand because the last time I used this camera was in, oh, 1998ish. We’re talking 15 years (and boy do I feel old right now). And it’s good that I’ll have to go back and remember everything I learned in my basic photography class because those are skills I shouldn’t be losing, even if technology makes it easy to forget them.

And I thought finding film would be the hardest part of this exercise.

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I admit I’ve used Flickr for years. To me it’s a good place to post a slew of photographs and easily be able to share them on other social networks. But I also admit I don’t use the site like I use my other social networks. I will look around at other photos sometimes, but I don’t interact a great deal with other people there. To me, it’s a dumping ground so then I can share elsewhere.

In fact, I posted photos last night on Flickr and then shared them elsewhere.

And that probably is why some will say Yahoo has killed Flickr. Like Gizmodo’s fabulous feature about how Yahoo killed Flickr. If you haven’t read the article — which has been getting a lot of buzz this week on my social networks — you should because it’s an incredible read and points to the reasons Flickr probably will disappear some day.

One could say other services on the web have replaced what Flickr can and did do at one time. You can share photos on your Facebook page. Instagram is another way to share photos. Tumblr, to me, also is a great way to share photos.

But each to me doesn’t really offer how I want to post photos. Facebook is a somewhat closed network for me and not everything I post is public, which means I’m not sharing my photos with everyone. Instagram is a good place to share your phone photos, but what about when you shoot a lot on a SLR or have a lot of photos to share? The same also goes with Tumblr. I love the way it can display photos large and easily can be shared, but what if I want to share 20 or 30 photos?

So I got to wondering what the best photo sharing site is, so I posted this last night on Twitter:

And I got some interesting responses.

I don’t know if there’s any conclusions I can draw from the few responses I received and I still don’t know what to think about Flickr and its future. But I want to hear your input. What’s the best place to share photos? Do you still use Flickr? How do you still use it? Leave a comment below or you can send me a tweet at @jenconnic.

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Two weeks ago I was in Washington, D.C. The week before I was at Mets Opening Day at Citi Field. More than a week ago I did a solo photo walk through one of the parks near me. Yet all the photos are still on the camera and haven’t been processed yet.

Part of it is being busy. Part of it is procrastination. Both are because it is a pain in the neck to process RAW photos using Photoshop. It’s time consuming. You have to open each individual RAW photo, adjust it before converting it. I want that control over the photos because it makes for better editing in the end, but the price I pay is the time I have to spend on it. I have no problem working on each individual photo, but I would like to just be able to open a whole bunch of them at once.

I’ve looked around at blogs about batch editing for RAW photos, and it’s not an easy process in Photoshop. And then there’s Lightroom, which apparently has a better process to edit RAW photos. But it costs $150. That’s on top of the price I’ve already paid for Photoshop. I have always defaulted to Photoshop because it’s what I’ve been using for more than a decade.

I wax on poetically about processing and printing photos in the dark room when I was in college. There was something relaxing and fulfilling about it. Sitting at a computer and processing photos like I do today doesn’t give me the same feeling because of how tedious it can be. And, really, what I was doing in a dark room was even more time consuming than the processing on a computer. But there was just something magical about it.

Would love to hear suggestions and recommendations on making photo processing less of a chore and more fun again.

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Writers always get to that point where we feel blocked or we’re stuck and we need to figure out how to get out of the rut. But what happens when it’s photography? What’s the photography version of writers block?

My friend @inthefade and I were having a discussion on Twitter Sunday night how we both felt lethargic about our photography.

I’m not really a professional photographer (although it was part of some of my more recent jobs, a part of the work I really enjoyed). I’m not shooting weddings or have clients. It’s something fulfilling to me that completes my soul. It’s a stress reliever and something I enjoy. And I like sharing what I shoot whether it’s online or in prints to family and friends.

But sometimes I get into a funk where I don’t know what to shoot. I think I could just go to the same park yet again. Or I just run out of ideas. Or the ideas I have require work, like how I want to shoot historic churches and graveyards. That requires research.

I’ve been driving around with my camera in my trunk for weeks, thinking I need to shoot something, but I haven’t. Sure, I used my point and shoot camera to take some shots at recent family events and used it at Mets Opening Day (still haven’t processed the latter). But shooting things with the DSLR? Hasn’t happened.

There are websites around that give you daily photography suggestions, but sometimes you can’t get to shooting those photos. And shooting a photo a day can be a bothersome task, although it’s something we should be doing, because it becomes work rather than a fun, fulfilling thing.

If you Google search “photography self assignments,” you come up with a lot of websites exploring the virtues of giving yourself assignments. In fact, I really liked the first article that came up in the Google search that gives you actual ideas.

I think the best thing for me is to brain storm ideas and carry a notebook like I do for my writing ideas. When I get an idea for a photography assignment or a place or something else I can shoot, I’ll write it down. Perhaps I’ll have to brain storm like I do for my writing. Or perhaps you have ideas to suggest me, and you can leave those in the comments or by sending me a tweet.

Meanwhile, Michele and I started talking about doing a photo walk together some time, including out on Long Island or even in the city. Grabbing a partner probably also will help get my photography juices flowing.

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Cherry blossoms have been part of my spring as long as I can remember. When I was a kid, my family frequently traveled to Washington in the spring to see them. I lived in Washington during college, which was fun for my allergies every spring. And I’ve continued to travel to Washington frequently during cherry blossom season through the years (although the blossoms were gone by the time we got down there the last time I visited in the spring two years ago). I’m planning to go to Washington again this April, but while we will be able to take part in some of the festivities the blossoms will be well beyond peak.

But did you know New Jersey has more cherry blossom trees than Washington in one of its parks. In fact, the park is in Newark. There are over 4,000 cherry trees in Branch Brook Park, which is on the Newark-Belleville border, and Essex County celebrates those blossoms each spring. The trees were starting to blossom when I visited last weekend, but they probably will peak long before the festival day at the end of April.

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