Self Defense And Awareness (soundslides project)

5 Apr

This project required us to team up with a classmate and with combined efforts make a slide show with audio playing at the same time. Luckily thanks to the programs soundslide and audacity this project wasn’t nearly as hard as it initially sounds. Then again, it was fairly time consuming. I paired up with the very talented Eward Timmons for the project. We easily dispersed to work amongst ourselves in which I was responsible for the audio and Eward naturally was assigned to the photography for the project. Always remember to stick to your strengths. The angle that we ended up selecting for this assignment was a self defense course that was on campus and orchestrated by the STOP program here at the good ol’ University of Wyoming.

Since Edward and I are friends it was easy to work with him on this project. We both tend to be fairly laid back and that helped keep the stress levels down. It is also really great getting to work with someone that is so good at photography. I really enjoy shooting photographs but at the same time I understand my limitations as a photographer so to be able to team up with Edward instantly put my mind to ease about the quality of photos that would represent this project. Over the past several weeks I have become increasingly comfortable with gathering and editing audio and this was further supplemented by being able to interview two very willing participants. The first of the two women that I interviewed, Maria Almendares was just a blast to speak with. She had a lot of energy which makes my job ten times easier. The actual recorded interview that I conducted with her was just over five minutes but I spent about 12 minutes before and 30 minutes after just talking with her about almost everything under the sun. On a side note, she has a karate club that I believe that both Edward and I will at least attend one session of in the near future. That is the great thing about journalism, sometimes you are able to meet some really interesting people and further build your connections in this crazy thing we call life.

Working with soundslides was a ….unique experience. As with a lot of technological things, it was really easy for me to navigate this software then again it is pretty user friendly. The only real snafu that I had was when I went to export the project so that I could submit it. After about an hour of trial and error, I was finally able to track down some tech support and the problem was quickly remedied. If only I would have admitted defeat earlier then it wouldn’t have stolen an hour of my life. Regrettably, I will never get that hour back.

In the end my favorite thing about this project was being able to interview the great gals that I did. It often surprises me how dead on I can be with my gut feelings. That would be my advice to any journalism student. The techniques for gathering audio are one thing but what it really comes down to is having faith in yourself and your judgement calls. I just had a solid feeling about how my interview with Maria would go from the first email she sent me and it ended up being a really gratifying experience for me. The same went for when I decided that Heather would be the student that I would interview. My best advice will be to always follow your gut. I’m not saying that you will always be right but the more you do it then the more likely it is to find these meaningful experiences.  And in the end isn’t that what it is all about?

If you click here you will be able to view our final product.

Interview with Edward Timmons Edited

13 Mar

Above you will find the edited version of my interview with Edward. As I have mentioned before, I frequently battle with apprehension when endeavouring in uncharted waters. In this case, those uncharted waters are audio editing. I am slowly building experience in this realm but I am still quite self-conscious about my abilities. Luckily, the software is very easy to get the hang of and this has been a huge aid in the learning process. My main trip up with the Audacity software is remembering to stop the track in order the delete sections instead of just pausing. I’m sure that with enough practice I will become accustomed to this necessary step. What I learned from this assignment is that editing is magical. I love being able to eliminate long pauses or unnecessary words in order to create a more cohesive composition. You can take slightly choppy speech and turn it into a piece that has good flow. Being able to manipulate a track of audio is a skill that I will certainly use in the future. In a previous post I complained about how inconvenient it was to conduct an audio interview that would later be made public but in the same breath I will say that having the ability to alter the tracks is of huge comfort to me.

What I didn’t particularly like was when the Audacity software crashed on me halfway through my editing process. I’ll admit that the fresh start was probably for the best, but all the same, it was a little heartbreaking to have the software disappear and erasing my previous work. The extra practice helped my hone in on my newfound mediocre ability to edit audio. Practice, practice, practice. I can say that this snafu was the biggest surprise of my experience. The message was received loud and clear that I need to learn to save my work whilst in the midst of the project much like anything else having to do with technology. I suppose I shot myself in the foot a bit by overlooking that important step. Obviously things would have run smoother but all in all I was really satisfied with this assignment. I learned to have a greater appreciation for the audio recording and editing world. That’s a big hats off to you folks out there that do this for a living. I look forward to furthering my knowledge on how to capture and edit audio, though I have to say that the editing is my favorite part.

Interview with Edward Timmons in the Raw

8 Mar

Above you will find an audio clip of my interview with a fellow journalism student, Edward Timmons. The audio is in the raw and the edited version will be posted next week.

I have conducted a number of interviews on previous occasions using my audio recorder but this assignment was a bit harder for me than the previous times I’ve performed this task. Typically, I use the audio I’ve collected during an interview to make sure that my notes are correct and that I can easily access all the information that was gathered from the interview. Knowing that I would be actually presenting the audio this time put a little more pressure on my techniques. To begin with, my mannerisms are not conducive to holding still even when the time frame is for five minutes. Apart from that, I don’t particularly enjoy the strict bounds of not being able to interact with the interviewees as I typically would. Remaining silent except for asking the questions was really hard. When you strip a conversation of the interaction it becomes harder to focus no matter how interesting the subject matter, or perhaps this merely pertains to people with insufficient attention spans. All in all, it was really hard for me to be engaging when the method of audio interviewing feels so unnatural to me.

On the other side of this equation, I was being interviewed and that was slightly less uncomfortable but nonetheless still wasn’t my cup of tea, so to speak. Once again my mannerisms are just not conducive to holding still for any length of time. I speak with my hands and when I can’t move them I all of a sudden have issues focusing as well as articulating what it is that I want to say. I grew up in a Japanese-Irish family and flailing of limbs for expression has always been the tradition. It may not seem like a big deal to some people but in my case it caused a snafu.

The most enjoyable part of this assignment was being able to talk to Edward because in addition to him being a classmate I also consider him a friend so I am thankful that I was able to do the interviewing sessions with him because as uncomfortable as I was, my issues would have been exacerbated had a been paired with someone who I didn’t know. One difficult portion of the interviewing process was finding a quiet space to conduct the interviews. Eventually, Edward and I ended up interviewing in an obviously seldom used elevator. It was unconventional but worked out well for us.

I learned the most from the tips provided in class. Even though I was displeased with the protocol for an audio interview it would have turned out truly awful had I not known how to conduct myself prior to the actual interview. The best thing that I learned was about leaving sufficient time after someone is done speaking so that they may elaborate but also because it will make my editing process later on a lot easier when I have nice gaps to manipulate the tracks.

I feel as though things could have gone a lot smoother but best case scenario would result in me being tranquilized and bound to a chair with duct tape. I believe that audio interviews are just one of those things that I won’t ever really get used to but force myself though regardless. I really enjoy audio interviews but preferably the ones that I am no way a participant to. In the mean time I’ll be looking into those aforementioned tranquilizers.

Ambient Ten Count

4 Mar

The first ambient noise track in the set is of a car getting unlocked, the door opening and then the vehicle starting. This was gathered while getting into my car. This sort of ambient noise could be used for news stories about gas costs, emissions as well as other transportation topics.

The second ambient noise track is of a crowd. I gathered this audio clip while waiting in line at the Union to get my morning cup of tea. This ambient noise could be used with a story about campus gathering places if you were to use it specifically in context. If not, then you could use it with any story in relation to a gathering or crowd.

The third ambient noise in the set is of a soda can being opened. I recorded this track while I was in my house. This audio could be used with a story about the nation’s soda consumption habits or with an aluminum usage story.

Forth is the faucet ambient noise that I gathered while at my house. This ambient noise could be used with stories about water usage or plumbing issues in mountain towns.

In the fifth clip you will hear the sounds that come from one of my fish tanks at home. It is specifically the sound of water spilling out of the filter at the top of the tank. This sort of ambient noise could be used with a story about pet stores or how the growing popularity of salt water tank ownership in the United States.

The sixth clip is that of typing on a keyboard. I recorded it while I was in the basement of COE library. This could be used with news stories about the hours that students put into school work outside of class or to talk about the average typing proficiency of college students now compared to ten years ago.

For this assignment I recorded myself doing a ten count  out of order and the objective was to then go into Audacity with the track and edit it to put the ten count into order. This assignment’s purpose was to familiarize the class with the simplistic features of audio editing with the Audacity software. This was my first time editing audio and I had a lot of apprehensions going into this portion of the assignment. Luckily, Audacity is really user friendly and it made the entire experience a lot easier. The only thing that got in my way was leaving the number seven out of my initial attempts. Don’t judge. It is harder than you think to do a ten count out of order. After finally gathering the correct recording of a ten count then the audio editing portion went by really fast. It took me longer to attach the links to this blog than it did just editing the audio. I am sure that I will become more confident with the whole process once I get more experience using the recorder and then later going back and editing to get a final product.

No flash, No edit, No nonsense.

1 Mar

Below, you will find some more recent images that I have captured. Lately, I have really been working with angles, lighting and contrast. I wanted to keep a certain level of anonymity of subjects since many were students and the entirety of this assignment was shot on campus. There is something about anonymous feature photography that is appealing to me. So, have a gander and feel free to leave comments.

I have rarely noticed the oblong spiral staircase in the library but luckily through lurking in the basement of the building and then gazing up I fell in love with the pattern that was created and then I just had to wait for someone to inevitably walk down the stairs. The varying lightness against darkness really adds depth to this image. The only thing that I really do not like about this image is the fact that you can see a smoke sensor in the frame and I didn’t have the room to naturally crop that our while sustaining the important content of the image.

"Chandelier Showcase"An UWYO student descends into the basement of COE library.

“Chandelier Showcase”
An UWYO student descends into the basement of COE library.

 

Here in “Secluded Studies” the subject of the image is a student that is framed by the railing of the staircase. When I walked past this student in the basement of the library he had books splayed all over a desk and was working on a computer at the same time and I knew that I wanted to make him my subject and from there I just had to find the right framing. I also like the unyielding pattern that the staircase railing provides. The lighting fixtures add another level of pattern. If I could do it again I would have tried to make the subject of the image larger.

"Secluded Studies"An UWYO students quietly scans his notes at a lab computer.

“Secluded Studies”
An UWYO students quietly scans his notes at a lab computer.

 

“Harlem Shake” is the first of my Harlem Shake series and it shows the absurdity of the attire of the attendants of the event. In the image there are several masked people in addition to various other props. This image does a good job of expressing the motion of the event. I had heard that this event was taking place online and decided that it would at least provide some interesting images and it did. Due to the size of the crowd I was photographing in addition to those gathered around me it was difficult trying to get the right vantage point and I wish that I could have shot this from above.

Harlem ShakeIn front of the Union on the UWYO campus, people gather in strange attire to dance.

“Harlem Shake”
In front of the Union on the UWYO campus, people gather in strange attire to dance.

 

Here is, “Harlem Shake Two” the second of the Harlem Shake images that I captured. In this one you can see the contrast between what the people are wearing compared to what type of weather there is. I also like the framing of this image. The subjects of the photo are framed by the snow line and the trees.

Harlem Shake TwoStudents and residents of Laramie gather outside the Union building on campus in strange attire to dance.

“”Harlem Shake Two”
Students and residents of Laramie gather outside the Union building on campus in strange attire to dance.

In this image, BMX on the Pasture, a cyclist glides into the frame of the image after he had just completed a handlebar spin. I found the subject while walking on campus near Prexy’s Pasture. This is an unconventional sports feature. I like the angles of this image and the drastic shadowing that occurs due to the late afternoon lighting. The rule of thirds is also used in this photograph.

BMX on the PastureA cyclist glides into frame after completing a handlebar spin.

“BMX on the Pasture”
A cyclist glides into frame after completing a handlebar spin.

Photos and Whatnot

20 Feb

Karaoke night at Roxie’s on Grand

I feel that this first image is a good example of balancing elements. Based upon the context of the caption you know that the image depicts a karaoke night at Roxie’s on Grand and in the image you first are drawn to Karl, who is singing, and then you will notice the window behind him has the Roxie’s logo and represents where the action in the photo is taking place. In short, the creative device used for this photo adds context to the action. This photo also follows the creative device of rule of thirds. The rule of thirds made it possible for this image to follow balancing of elements as well. The lighting was horrendous to try to take photographs in but there wasn’t much I could do about that seeing how bars don’t like a lot of lighting at night…go figure.

IMG_1393

Josh Lowe examines the dusty state of his camera.

This next image is an example of using viewpoint as a creative device. I was able to catch my subject off guard as he was fiddling with his camera. This adds interesting perspective and the image is captured using the vantage point through an older model of camera’s lens. This photograph uses the creative device of framing and rule of thirds as the focal point is offset. The photograph was a lucky combination of speedy timing, alignment and having an interesting subject. If I had the chance to do this over I would have gotten ahold of the older camera aforehand and cleaned it. The dust does lend age to the camera but I feel that it is unecessary and distracting from the main subject of the photograph. The old camera hogs all the attention with its many layers of dust.

IMG_1273

Duke gazes across the room following the movement of his owner, Josh.

Here, my main creative device was framing. The main subject of the photography has a border between it and the second image of the subject that is reflected in the mirror. This image also has the rule of thirds in play. I learned that dogs don’t make very good marks for photography…especially when they are skittish. Every time my shutter went of the dog would leap from the couch and I would have to wait five minutes to have him crawl back up and get comfortable. That being said, if I could have done anything different I would have tranquilized the dog. As a side bar, I felt that the contrast of this image is fairly strong as well.

IMG_1315

Duke tries to fight sleep.

I feel like this image is a good example of texture…and of a sleepy dog. After frightening the poor animal with my shutter going off hundreds of time I had apprehensions of harassing him while he slept, but I got over it. There is also a good deal of contrast going on in this photo. I like the texture that the dogs fur has against that of his nose, the blanket and the couch.

IMG_1372

Josh Lowe attempts to manipulate shutter on his camera.

In this final image I used the rule of thirds. I just felt this was a decent portrait style image that displays the subject doing one of the many things that he loves. The antiquity of the camera adds intrigue to the image and you can tell that his hand is in motion while trying to open the shutter of his camera. One important thing I learned here is that when your subject also enjoys photography, you better keep a firm grip on your equipment. My camera was kidnapped on multiple occasions but luckily he was gentle in handling it and it made for a good time.

The thing that surprised me about this assignment was the level of difficulty associated with taking a “good” photograph of a dog. Many dogs don’t take direction well and their finicky movements make it hard to capture this image that you had in mind. One other thing that was surprising was my lack of attention span for changing the settings on my camera. Typically, when I do a shoot I don’t move from indoors to outdoors so frequently and it is easy to remember when to change settings for the different light exposure. I didn’t post any of my outdoor photos due to that issue. By the time I would remember to reset my camera, the moment had passed resulting in several overexposed images.

Soaking Site Usability Review

30 Jan

100 Gallons: Reflections From a Nation Powered by Water

On the downside of this site, I had some initial technical difficulties due to the browser I was using but fortunately was able to get the full experience when I used Mozilla FireFox. When you are able to view the site with the full features it enhances the overall message.

This site has a lot of appealing design aspects with the main attraction being a video. The media player has the location and size that says, “Click on me. DO IT NOW!” I just do what I am told and thus, the video was the first thing I clicked on when newly exploring the page. The video was eye candy more than anything else but the upside of is that underneath the ratio scale of the media player there are various bubbles you can click on. These little bubbles suppy a whole gamut of multimedia goodies. They feature text, audio, adjacent videos, and graphics. Within these supplemental bubbles of information you find the main information that the organization has gathered about water use, water shifting and the impact that all of this has on people’s lives.

The good news is that if you want to find out information on the creation of this site or what you can do to raise more awareness,  the contact information is an easily navigable few clicks away. Just click on About and you will be taken to a page in which you can scroll down the page find a short bio of each team member and their contact information. Twada, it is that simple.

I ran a usability test on another person and luckily they had a similar experience to my own. Just as I did, they first clicked on the showcase video and watched the whole thing but they did not click on the magical bubbles, that I spoke of before, until they were done watching the whole video. Once they started clicking on the subsequent information provided by the bubbles, their confusion was cleared up. This issue wouldn’t have happened if the person had clicked on HOW TO VIEW. Unfortunately I didn’t initially go that route either, but blind intuition and cat-like reflexes led me down the correct path….or it could have been my lack of attention span. (Watching a very important video)…”Oooo bubbles!”

The three things I would not change would be the color palette, access to information to team members and the informational bubbles. The color palette is simplistic and the varying blues reflect the purpose of the site, water. The team members’ information, as of current, are easy to access. I don’t need to explain why I wouldn’t change the bubbles, I’ve made my affections for the bubbles very clear by this point.

The three things that I would change would be the HOW TO VIEW button’s color, it blends in almost too well. Some of the text bubbles are a little lengthy and need to be broken up or presented in a different fashion. One last thing to change would be the grave that this site has dug for itself. I prefer sites that present information that appears to be the product of ongoing research gathering entities but this site gives the distinct impression that this was a project for a particular year and has an expiration date since no new information may be added. Luckily, the relevancy of the site and its information will last for a couple of years. This may give them time to contemplate further research and thus expand the life of their site.