Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Inside the digital image

While uploading pictures earlier this month from my digital camera, the program stalled. One of the files had downloaded, and it looked like this.

Thanks to a minor malfunction, I got to take a peek at the layers of a digital photo. I thought it might have been just strings of zeros and ones, but it's actually quite colorful.

He said his name was William...

I was out yesterday afternoon doing what felt like investigative journalism. It turns out that one of our "homeless next" characters, who we were profiling for an audio slide show isn't who he seems to be.

He gave us an elaborate story -- intricate and fascinating -- but when I went to meet him (as scheduled) at his job in Ozone Park, he and the address he gave me could not be found. He had mentioned his home address in a previous conversation, so I rushed over to East New York to an admittedly sketchy part of town -- desolate, abandoned warehouses and auto shops slapped against the above-ground subway.

Tom Davis was on the phone navigating me through the unfamiliar streets. But there was no apartment building for the address he gave me. Night was falling and I didn't feel safe wandering aimlessly through the neighborhood.

Tom and I knew he was not the most reliable source. He seldom answered his phone and didn't want his picture taken unless he was well-dressed. Something always seemed a bit off kilter, but I had several, long conversations with him, and asked him some of the same questions over and over again -- his story seemed consistent. Even the soup kitchen director mentioned that he came from Brooklyn to Staten Island twice a week to eat.

He hasn't returned my calls since Sunday. It just shows you that sometimes the best course of action is showing up in person. We could see his address on a Google map, we did a Lexis search and found he used one of the churches as his home address at one time.

But, his story doesn't seem to check out.

(Thank you, Shoe Leather. Love, Lisa)

Staten Island's hillside blues

Blending in to the wet, dank yet little-known underside of suburban Staten Island. Courtesy of ace photog MC Soft Focuz.

The Image of "Image"

So far, this is the best image that speaks to the theme of "image." Ironically, at the time, Sydney and I felt it was a failure as we did not manage to convince the subject, Cara Benedetto, to consent to having her photo taken. She did however, agree to pose with her image on her book, and we accepted it as a consolation.

Looking back, this a good depiction of an artist who calls herself the (name TK: something like non-image)

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Foto Friday — Tips #5, #6, and #7

By MC Soft Focuz (Illustration credit: Dave Burdick)

Tip #5 — Shoot a lot

Most people think that good photographers just go out and take good pictures. As the famous French photographer Robert Doisneau once said, "If I knew how to take a good photograph, I'd do it every time."

The usage ratio is very low, especially for action. Taking the roller derby photos as an example, to take the three photos you see on this post, I shot over a thousand photos over six hours in total over two sessions.

Step one: Take lots of shots to find the best place to shoot (best background, where the action happens, etc.)
Step two: Take lots of photos in the same place as people roll past.
Step three: Pan with the action.

I showed my contact sheets in class, which one should never do, as it gives away the magic. Ask me to show you sometime if you missed it.

Tip #6 — Don't Chimp

Definition: Chimping is a term originating from sports shooters. After each play, all the photographers on the sidelines look at their LCD screens simultaneously, and make the noise, "Ooh, ooh, look I got the photo."

Don't chimp. Ever.

When you next go out shooting, notice when other photographers chimp. If you look in front of them, there is almost always something interesting happening, when subjects let their guard down after the photographer stops looking at them through the camera.

Tip #7 — Becoming Invisible

I first watched Alex Majoli, one of the most famous photographers in the world, become invisible. It was the most amazing sight. It took me four years to replicate that, but when I photographed a man at the Puerto Rican day parade flashing women passers-by, I knew I had achieved the power of invisibility.

Step one: Get in close. If you were actually invisible, you would go and photograph anywhere you wanted. You wouldn't hide. Hiding is not invisibility. You need to get this attitude into your head.

Step two: Be small; not arrogant. Don't portray yourself as the famous photographer from the big newspaper, otherwise you'll get photos of what people want to show you and what they think they want on the front page. Be a nobody, "just a photographer." Then they'll ignore you. That's the beginning of invisibility.

Step three: As Sig Gissler said, project a sense of "joyful entitlement." If you truly believe that you have a right to take photos, and you know that you are performing a benefit for your subjects, then you will subconsciously project that level of comfort to your subjects, and they will take those clues from you and fell comfortable too.

Working Hard

MuJo Mathilde (disembodied head holding zoom recorder 4th from Left) hard at work.

Taking a Break

MuJo (MUltimedia JOurnalist) Sandra takes a break at the Marrakesh Hotel on 103rd in between interviewing.

The Sound of Light

The far more important question most often neglected by physicists when exploring the speed of light is: What is the sound of light?

Multimedia journalist Sydney finds out by collecting rich audio.


Multimedia journalist Phil trudges to the supermarket to get the story.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Dude, just chill...image isn't everything

Back when he had Bon Jovi hair, Andre Agassi used to appear in Canon camera ads and make millions of television viewers cringe by telling them: "Image.... is everything."

It was one of those forgettable pop-culture slogans that you hoped would have the life span of mosquito. But, dammit, there he was, every night for what seemed like years, exposing his God-awful Jersey hair in between innings of a baseball game or in the middle of an episode of the Simpsons. "Image.... is everything," he'd say. "Image is everything." It was like some kind of twisted Bohemian chant that was as intellectually bankrupt as a Lionel Richie song.

"Aaaarrgh!" you'd scream, though not necessarily in public.

Now retired, and bald, we thought we were rid of him and his corny words forever. Gone for good, Andre. A successful tennis career, yes. But that slogan...... somewhere buried in the trash heap of 1980s pop culture history, underneath Lionel Richie, Falco and "Baby-on-Board" signs.

Alas, it's back - the slogan, that is - but only in spirit. For, in our little corner of the world, the mere mention of the word "image" has been, at times, too much to handle.

This week, image has been everything. It has consumed us. We are reminded of it while we sleep (sleep?) and eat. We telegraph it through telephone calls and emails. We type stories that we're convinced have a connection to "image." But, perhaps, the connection is not quite there. Yet, in our heads is that Agassian chant: "Image... is everything." "Image.... is everything."

The cringe-feeling has returned. But, this time, it's not caused by shame or embarrassment. Rather, it's the creation of tension that's as thick as smog. "Image" is the name of our last homework assignment - and for those of you ready to graduate, it could be your last one ever. And, perhaps, that's caused even more tension.

"Aaaaarrrgh!" you're thinking.

I'm reminded of another 1980s icon: Jeff Spicoli, the surfer-dude from "Fast Times at Ridgemont High." To me, a guy wearing a flashy red cruise-ship shirt that's hanging wide-open - while he's sitting in a classroom with a pizza on his desk, sassing his teacher - was much cooler than a then-underachieving tennis player wearing a Miami Vice suit jacket and Ray-Ban shades.

Spicoli had a one-word solution for every problem - well, he had other solutions, too - that could prove to be useful advice for every one of us once we discover that Dreamweaver doesn't work, the lips are out-of-sinc with the voices on Final Cut Pro or that Flash upload gets stuck on "12 percent" when we try to call up that web page on Internet Explorer (who made that rule?):


Just chill.

The ability to chill is inside us. But it's locked up behind a wall of tension that has stunted our creativity and slowed our potential to imagine "Image."

We are a class of high-achieving, high-I.Q., high-SAT-scoring people. Virtually every one in this class has performed work that is the envy of journalism schools - and perhaps good enough to rival anything produced by the national news media. The "Image" issue is going to kick ass. Face it - you know it. Kenan and Dave are already kicking ass on the designs. You will, too.

Yet, some of the work produced for the "Image" issue shows - at this point, at least - there has been a need for more imagination and confidence and less tension, pain, suffering and feelings of "Aaaargh."

Just chill.

How do you chill?

Back when I used to surf (poorly), we discovered ways of chilling. We didn't think hard. In fact, we never really ever thought hard about anything. But we discovered methods that were simple enough to follow, and effective enough to rival popular solutions produced by intense sessions of psychotherapy:

1. Work hard, yeah, but, you know, have a beer. Have two. OK, if beer's not your thing, have a glass of wine. OK, fine, make it a shot of Jack Daniels. But, please, chill.

2. Watch an episode of "House." Tape it, too, or put it on TiVo, because, with House, you've gotta be quick. Watch it a second time so you can pay close attention to every little obnoxious remark House makes. Once you process each little snide statement, you'll laugh your ass off.

3. While you're at it, watch "Monty Python and the Holy Grail." Yeah, I know. You've seen it 20 times. Get the 25th anniversary edition, however, and watch the outtakes. Before they produced this work of art, they were a mess. But they got through it because, well, there was a lot of chilling going on (at times, they accomplished this through artificial means, but that's not the point).

4. Read that earlier paragraph about "kicking ass." Read it again. Know it. Learn it. Love it.

5. Use the style guide as a rule book, yes. But use it as a guide, too. Remember that each story should have a voice - get to know these voices. Enjoy these voices. Go out for a cup of coffee with the people who produce these voices. If you chill, they'll chill. Then you'll find more voices and, from there, a theme. Then you'll feel the Zen, and you'll find your nut graph that answers the question: What is this story about?

6. If you're stuck, tense, etc., call an editor. I'm at 732-546-1531.

7. If chanting is your thing, as a way of psyching yourself up, forget Andre and consider the words of another American cultural icon, Bill Murray:

"It just doesn't matter."
"It just doesn't matter."
"It just doesn't matter."

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Filming Asian eyelid surgery

I'm doing a story on Asian eyelid surgery. It's a cosmetic surgery that's commonly performed in northeast Asia, especially in South Korea. It makes the eye opening bigger and adds a crease to the eyelid. (If you or someone you know has had it done and would be willing to talk about it with me, please get in touch ASAP!)

I went to film a surgery performed by Dr. Edmund Kwan. I donned my scrubs and joined the team in the operating room in Kwan's Upper East Side office. He does a few such surgeries a week, so he seemed quite relaxed.

I, on the other hand, was in full-on freakout mode. I got about four minutes past the first cut before I started feeling light-headed. I'm not particularly sensitive about this stuff, but the smell of the topical anesthetic and the sight of the fatty tissue in the eyelid bobbing around was too much for me.

Soon the room was swirling, and luckily I was able to set the camera on the tripod before fleeing for a breather. I forced myself to return a couple minutes later, and the anesthesiologist gave me a caramel and a chair so that I make it through the remaining half hour.

The photographer behind the camera

Our fearless Photo Editor fiercely at work on location.

Yian Huang hangs curbside in Staten Island with some snacks.

Who's behind the J-School graffiti?

There's another talk organized by the Dart Center at the J-School today (aside from the one on reporting on violence against women). It's about "Covering Trauma Victims" and it's at noon in the World Room. Someone overnight has gone around with big a red sharpie has crossed out all the "victims" and replaced with "survivors." This person obviously felt very strongly about this because he/she went and did this on most of the posters in the building.

The choice of words matters to many people. Survivor is meant to be more a more empowering term than victim, who has has things done to him/her rather than actively pulled through and been able to cope. Prof. Joe Cutbirth in class yesterday said he thought the term had been popularized in the 80s to refer to AIDS as well as domestic violence survivors.

A simple google search for survivor and victim doesn't yield much information about the history behind the linguistics. Anyone care to enlighten me?

UPDATE 10:15 am: a few emails later, the culprit has been found. It was Prof. Laura Muha who is organizing the event. She thought it would make people look at the poster again. Well, it worked for me!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Sports are not easy to shoot

What you think you clicked in the frame and what you see in the end should jive. Here they do not. Catching the movement, getting close enough to the subject and composing the frame is multitasking at its journalistic-ly most awesome. Sadly these photos do not display this awesomeness.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Reporting on violence against women

Mark your calendars: this Wednesday (April 23rd), the Dart Center for Journalism & Trauma is having another great panel discussion. It's actually a reception with the winners 2008 Dart Awards for Excellence in Coverage of Trauma, followed by a panel with them on reporting on violence against women.

From the Dart Center's press release:
"The Cleveland Plain Dealer received the Dart Award for “Johanna: Facing Forward” (Rachel Dissell, reporter; Gus Chan, photographer). This remarkable nine-day series traced events leading to the 2007 shooting of 18-year-old Johanna Orozco by her 17-year-old boyfriend. Exploring the roots of relationship violence through Johanna's eyes, the series – reported and photographed over six months - particularly struck a chord in Cleveland's Latino community and led to the creation of abuse-awareness programs for teens.

National Public Radio received the Dart Award for "Sexual Abuse of Native American Women" (Laura Sullivan, correspondent; Amy Walters, producer; Maria Godoy, Digital Media Producer), a startling two-part investigative series that opened a new window onto a national disgrace. The series exposed both the fate of women assaulted on reservations, and the web of impunity protecting their assailants."
I just read the story about Johanna. Wow. She'll be on the panel too.

It's at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism at 116th Street and Broadway (in the Joseph Pulitzer World Room), Wednesday, April 23, 2008, from 5:30 to 8:00 pm. Oh and it's free. Details here.

Staten Island's Music Scene

Tom Davis and I spent Sunday afternoon reporting on homelessness in Staten Island. Here is the result of our trip (watch video)

Don Juan's House of Styles - What does hair say about your image?

The vibe at Don Juan's, a barbershop on East 4th Street in the Lower East Side, is like a continuous party. There is always someone laughing, cracking a joke, or eating.

Olympia Shakespeare and her daughter, Sanaa, dropped by one afternoon last week. Olympia wanted to get her Mohawk trimmed up before her interview for a fashion shoot the next day.

I chatted to them both to see how they liked their hair and how it defined their image.

Click here to watch the slideshow.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Healing trauma, one t-shirt at a time

As you may or may not know, April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (hence the Take Back the Night marches happening around the country). This past week was also Crime Victim Rights Week, which the Bronx District Attorney's office launched with the 12th annual Bronx Clothesline Project. The shirts are decorated by survivors of crime as art therapy.

The Clothesline Project originally started in Cape Cod in 1990 to raise awareness about domestic violence. The idea was that traditionally women would talk to each other over their backyard fences as they hung their laundry to dry. Because of the stigma surrounding domestic violence, the shirts were also meant to symbolize the airing out society's dirty laundry.

In the Bronx, it was expanded to include other crime types and genders: white shirts for homicide, yellow shirts for domestic violence, pink and blue for sexual abuse, and purple for hate crimes (although not everyone follows this color-coding).

“That’s what is really important about this week,” said Beth Ann Holzhay, director of Bronx County District Attorney’s Crime Victims Assistance Unit. “It’s the only week that all crime victims come together. People need to understand there are many types of victimization.”

“We wanted to include men because men are victims as well,” she added.

“It doesn’t matter what kind of incident happened,” agreed said Celeni Perez-Allen, of the Fordham-Tremont Mental Health Clinic.. “The common thread is that they are all survivors.”

Here were my favorite ones (click photo to enlarge):

Do you know of any other clothesline projects taking place in NYC?

As You Wish

Channtal submitted a very detailed shot list to the photo editor, specifics about what she kind of non-voters she wanted to find at the Obama rally. This allowed me to find her two non-voting (under-aged) Obama supporters.

The Woman Issue

Women's rugby, along with roller derby, is on its way to making this the "women's" issue. Or the "sports" issue.

Women's rugby league training in Prospect Park.

Detail shot.

Ingredients of a successful multimedia journnalist:

1. Video camera. Check.
2. Digital SLR. Check.
3. Legs everywhere. Check.

Matt "The Word" Moll in action.

More Roller Derby Action

— Are you trying to sneak by on the inside? Not on my watch!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Gotham Girls get fierce

The Gotham Girls Roller Derby women have formed an extremely tight-knit community, mainly because they spend so much time together: practice is 4 nights a week and everyone must serve on one of the leagues committees.

Several women say most of their friends are other skaters. But don't let that kumbaya stuff fool you. It doesn't stop them from throwing a hip check at another skater that sends the girl crashing to the floor or flying into the padded walls.

Check out Yian's pics for a taste of the action--and this was just practice.

Not for Wimps

Action shots do not really fit Elsa's theme of the image of women who do roller derby, but I couldn't not blog this.

What happened just before this?
What happened just after?
To see those pictures, stay turned for Elsa's story.

What to do?
Four derby girls heading in my direction at high speed.


Friday, April 18, 2008

Taking back the night

A good article today in the Columbia Spectator about last night's Take Back the Night march in Morningside Heights. Apparently it was the first time men were allowed to take part in it.

According to Wikipedia, TBTN marches "are often deliberately women-only in order to symbolize women's individual walk through darkness and to demonstrate that women united can resist fear and violence. The women-only policies have caused controversy on some campuses for the way they exclude participation by men."

The Spectator article reads:
"Many say that since its controversial inception in 1988, the tone of the march has transformed from hostile to inclusive. [...] The march’s path through frat row was at one time confrontational, since, according to political theory Professor Dennis Dalton, a TBTN participant, the fraternities distributed sexist propaganda and made catcalls. Recent years have seen an attitude turnaround, as fraternities have taken to hanging signs and rallying by their windows in support of TBTN."
Here's a photo I snapped this afternoon of banners hanging on 114th, i.e. Greek Street.

Considering the story I'm working on for the Image issue of NYC24 is about how the domestic violence movement is trying to get more and more men involved in the cause, this would have been super cool to film. Unfortunately I was stuck in class critiquing the last issue of NYC24 while 500 or so people were yelling outside our windows. So please, if you have any photos, audio or video of the event, get in touch! Or better yet, post below how I can get in touch so we can get a little comments going on this blog.

This weekend I'll hopefully get around to blogging about the Bronx Clothesline Project that I went to on Tuesday, so stay tuned.

Some more on Foto Fridays

NYC24's intrepid reporters honed their photography skills under the tutelage of our photo editor, Yian Huang. I got a little carried away. Here are some samples:

That's Dave Burdick, multimedia editor extraordinaire.

Yian, doing his thing.

And Lisa Biagiotti, our exec editor.

Le Ballon Rouge (The Red Balloon)

Spring swept Columbia's campus with the usual flurry of activity on the Low Library steps a few days ago. But on this sunny April day, red balloons were everywhere. A few Israel-focused undergrad groups put up enough balloons to represent the 7,000 rockets that have been fired into Israel from Gaza since 2000.

There are two sides to the conflict, and too many numbers to put here, but it was interesting to see this visual representation of the conflict and one that wasn't blood-ridden, except for the color of the balloons.

The good, the bad and the skittish

Back from a good afternoon of lugging gear and reporting. Lizzie Stark and I went out to Brooklyn for a video interview. The interviewee was one of those interviews you always hope for -- easy to talk to, not camera shy and full of answers.

Then, when we wanted to grab some b-roll of just regular office goings-on, some of the staff were skittish, not because there was anything to hide in the office, but because they felt the office was too cluttered. Looked like a regular office to me. In fact, I pray every day for my workspace to look like theirs. Go figure! In any case, before we left, they kindly succumbed to just a little b-roll and photo taking, and we went on our merry way.

Foto Friday — Tips #3 and #4

by MC Soft Focuz

#3. To focus much faster by preventing the camera from hunting for focus, set up the camera to use "back-button focus."

You want to dissociate the focus function from the shutter release.

On Canon cameras:
  • Hit Menu
  • Select Custom Functions
  • Goto custom function #4 ("Shutter/AE lock button")
  • Set it to option #3 ("AE/AF, no AE lock")
Now your camera is set to focus ONLY when you hit the * button with your right thumb. This is the best way to control the focusing action of the camera. You pick a subject at a particular distance, then hit the (new) focus button, ie. the * button, until the green light in the viewfinder indicates a focus lock (green solid circle), then can take as many photos as you want without the camera re-focusing each time.

#4. Never use on-camera flash.
  • It is super-fugly.
  • When you learn to depend on creating light, you will never learn to "see" light.
  • It is intrusive, and you can't get as close or take as many pictures without annoying people.
  • You lose the background (thanks to Kenan for this tip.)

Sort of true

Since we're talking images, I thought I'd weigh in on an image I've been thinking about lately.

I love the disconnect between image and text here. It says "everybody loves a baby," yet there are two babies in the picture. And, in my opinion, they don't even look all that lovable in stark black and white and depression era garb.

They look like the two most unloved babies ever.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Greenest Thumb

Harri Ramlakhan was written up in the NYT as "The Greenest Thumb." He has a garden on Staten Island where he grows three-foot long squash.

He has not shaved his beard in 12 years. He said it has caught on fire twice.

Little 'ma of the soup kitchen

Gladys Roman of Staten Island recalled the time she was stabbed nine times in the back, five times in the head and four times in each leg. Her attacker slashed her face and severed her thumb. Roman, 41, has suffered five miscarriages, had her nine-month-old daughter kidnapped for three months and has been homeless in the past.

Today, she and her husband, Hector, live with their five children in a two-bedroom apartment near the train. They, like the rising numbers of Staten Islanders, navigate the web of food pantries and soup kitchens on the island.

According to
Hunger Safety Net 2007, a report produced by the Food Bank for New York City, almost 62,000 Staten Islanders eat at emergency food programs. Nine soup kitchens serve 4.8 million meals a year, lines for the 30 food pantries wind down church steps, and still, 70 percent of food pantries and soup kitchens run out of food.

Roman also opens her apartment up to a homeless man during the day when her kids leave for school. "I can't see nobody on the street," said Roman, who is pregnant with twins. In soup kitchens and food pantries she smiles and sweetly salutes just about anyone as "ma" and "papi."

Caution: Editor-at-Work

Multi-tasking, multi-media editor Lisa Biagiotti hard at work editing nut grafs while on Staten Island reporting a story.

Photo Coaching

Elsa demonstrates two of the most important principles in photography:

1. Get close.
2. Take lots of pictures.

Those in attendance at Henry Kissinger's talk will notice how "The Butler" subtly and respectfully crept closer and closer to get this great reverse view showing how full the room was; and how she spent almost all of the lecture to get it.

Photo credit: Elsa Butler

N.B. This photo is not part of Elsa's story. The purpose of photo coaching is to impart skills that transfer to individual stories for NYC24.

Full Service Barber

Don Juan's on 4th Street, between Avenues C and D, is a full service barber.

Thanks Anthony for a great shoot.

But seriously, we did make some nice portraits with the two big softboxes. I'll save them for Anthony's final story. Stay tuned.

Anger with a V

Anthony "Anger-with-a-V" Vanger in action at Don Juan's.

Vanger is such a pro at this, why would he even need a photo editor with him? Notice the look of utter concentration on his face as he works the subject, the tucked-in elbows, and even the stable, wide stance.

I ended up feeling like the photo assistant lugging around the two big lights. (Just kidding.)

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Obama Video Shot in Union Square

A passerby might wonder at the unusually large number of people strolling about Union Square at 7:45 a.m. on Sunday morning. Fifty to sixty people milled about, chatting and people watching. A girl leaned on a kiosk post reading a book. A group of girls held up a map of New York City, appearing to be lost. Most in the diverse crowd looked to be in their twenties or thirties, though a few older couples and a mother and her two young sons joined in as well. Many sported telltale Obama buttons.

A man with a white loudspeaker gave instructions to the crowd on the south side of Union Square, while several cameras were perched on the roof of Filene’s Basement across 14th Street and two police cars and an ambulance stood by. On command, the bystanders made their way briskly into formation: at the base of the steps leading to the square’s park, they formed the letters O-B-A-M-A. After a second, they raise their arms, shouted, “Obama!” and broke into cheers. The video shoot was independent of the Obama campaign.

On subsequent takes, the crowd got excited, repeating the Obama campaign chant, “Yes we can!” When a passing truck driver honked his horn repeatedly, the crowd erupted in cheers. By 8:15 a.m., Union Square’s vendors were setting up shop, oblivious to the commotion only feet away. After the final take, the crowd dispersed almost immediately, blending into the city’s morning bustle.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Foto Friday #2 — Get Closer

by MC Soft Focuz

What are primes and why must I shoot them?

"If your pictures aren't good enough, you're not close enough."
— Robert Capa, the most famous war photographer of all time.

A prime or fixed lens, as opposed to a zoom, is a lens that does not zoom.

There are four reasons you shoot primes, the most important of which is to get closer. This is the single most important tip of the ten. Somewhat counter-intuitively, this is the first step to becoming invisible. (More on this in the coming weeks.)

To compose well, you need to fill the frame. You do this either by zooming in or walking closer. It is always easier to zoom in than walk up to a stranger, so if you have a zoom lens, you will do that. This is why I don't own any zoom lenses.

I suggest a moderately wide focal length of 35 mm and if you are slightly braver, a 28 mm. (I'm referring to 35-mm equivalent focal lengths here.) On the zoom lenses from the equipment room, I would tape the zooms at 24 mm, which is equivalent to 36 mm.

The other three reasons for using a fixed focal length are increased maximum aperture (more light, and more importantly, less depth of field, ie. ability to blur background); smaller size (the second step to becoming invisible) and weight; and cheaper cost.

Foto Friday #1 — Control Your Exposure

by MC Soft Focuz

Why must I expose manually?

Using the camera's average meter makes you an average photographer.


If you use any of the camera's automatic modes (P, Av or Tv) and take individual photos of a black, a white and a gray object, they will all turn out gray.

Try it and see.

This works for most subjects because most average scenes have some black, white and gray in them. But what happens when there is white smoke, or a white bride in a white dress, or the proverbial black cat at night sitting a pile of coal? You don't want either to look gray.

Correct method:

Shoot manual (M). Expose for a gray card, or a mid-tone subject, eg. the back of your hand. ie. Adjust the three components of exposure—ISO, aperture and shutter speed—until the meter reads zero.

Now, without any additional adjustment, take individual photos of a black, a white and a gray object. They will turn out black, white and gray.

You are on your way to mastering exposure.