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Chris Dunn

Using Intersect and an iPhone to show Recession Road

Two years ago, Washington Post reporter Theresa Vargas and photographer Michael S. Williamson hit the road. In a summer-long series of “Half a Tank: Along Recession Road” blog posts, the two drove more than 20,000 miles and visited 30 states to see for themselves how Americans were faring in the recession.

Now, Williamson is doing it again — but as a one-man band. And this time, he’s armed with an iPhone and Intersect.

Williamson generously agreed to chat with me in the wee hours before we covered the Three Mile Island vigil in Middletown, Pa. Here are just a few of his thoughts — and audio snippets — from our 45-minute conversation.

The iPhone

“I’m filing rather live,” Williamson said. “‘Half a Tank’ two years ago — the earliest it ever ran was the next day. But usually it was two days later. … And the hours — it was the most brutal stretch of road travel I have ever done. We worked until midnight every night, and then we filed until six in the morning.

“It was very rewarding,” Williamson said. “But it killed us. And so when I proposed going back, I said, ‘I can’t do it like that.’”

Instead, Williamson proposed to cover the entire trip — which would be accomplished throughout the year rather than in one long stretch — with his iPhone.

How the project originated:

Using the iPhone has completely changed the way Williamson shoots and approaches this project. After he said the iPhone photos’ quality is good enough to run five columns in print, I asked if he was concerned that there’s almost an indiscernible difference in quality between a traditional DSLR camera and a camera phone.

Read more

Upcoming: Deadline for Pictures of the Year International

Like others in the industry, photojournalists love the opportunity to meet, compete, learn from each other and work together on projects. I will highlight these opportunities in brief posts as deadlines and dates for various photojournalism workshops and competitions approach.

Photographers, it’s time once again to review your work from the past year and make time to submit to yet another photojournalism competition: Pictures of the Year International.

Founded in 1944 and administered by the Missouri School of Journalism, POYi is an annual photojournalism competition for professionals. (Students may enter, as well.) Entrants can submit entries in more than 40 categories, which range from general stills to picture stories to multimedia to picture-editing.

Similar to the annual College Photographer of the Year competition, POYi entries will be judged live and open to the public on the Missouri journalism school’s campus. Because POYi has many more categories than CPOY does, POYi‘s judging will take place over a little more than two weeks: Feb. 7-22, 2011.

Note that there are special subcategories for stills and stories of certain prominent events, such as the Haiti earthquake, the Winter Olympics and the Gulf oil spill. Also note that there are separate subcategories in which photojournalists can enter based on whether they’re a staff photographer at a newspaper, a freelancer, an agency photographer, etc.

Entries, which must have been taken or published between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2010, are due next Friday, Jan. 14, at 11:59 p.m. CST. There is a baseline entry fee of $50 USD per entrant, with additional fees for entering certain other categories.

Be sure to read carefully the guide for entry and registration (PDF), and don’t wait until the last minute (out of respect to POYi‘s servers and tech guys). Entering this competition is something you definitely don’t want to mess up!

Good luck!

Thirteen year-end news photo galleries of 2010

The end of 2010 is upon us, and what do news photographers have to show for it?

Well, a lot.

This past month, newspapers and news agencies have been publishing their staffs’ best photos, as well as pictures that summarize the events of 2010. Here are a few of those galleries in case you missed them or need some inspiration. Happy New Year!

1. The San Jose Mercury News

The San Jose Mercury News produced a video presentation of its staff’s best work of the year.

2. The Boston Globe‘s “The Big Picture”

In three parts, The Boston Globe‘s “Big Picture” shares the year in pictures. Be sure to check out the second and third parts as well.

3. Reuters

Reuters’ “Full Focus” blog published 55 of their photographers’ best pictures, complete with photographers’ commentary.

4. The St. Petersburg Times

The St. Pete Times‘ staff photographers picked their favorite photos of the year for this gallery.

4. The New York Times

The New York Times shares a timeline of photos that represent 2010.

5. The Dallas Morning News

The Dallas Morning News photography staff published three different “Best of 2010″ galleries: news, features and sports.

6. The Orlando Sentinel

The Orlando Sentinel‘s “Year in Review” feature also includes a sampling of 75 photos by Sentinel photographers.

7. The San Antonio Express-News

Each San Antonio Express-News photographer picked his/her best images of the year for individual slideshows.

8. The Washington Post

The Washington Post published its seventh annual “Best of the Post” to showcase its staff’s photography, multimedia and video content.

9. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Also, be sure to check out “best of” galleries by each of the AJC staff photographers.

10. Luceo Images

Each member of Luceo, a highly-regarded photo collective, picked his/her five images that represented a year of work.

11. Sports Illustrated

Here’s a collection of — you guessed it — Sports Illustrated‘s pick of the year’s best sports photos.

12. The Seattle Times

The Seattle Times published a gallery of its photo staff’s picks for the year.

13. The Austin American Statesman

The Austin American-Statesman photographers created a video production of their best work of 2010.

What year-end photo collections did we miss? What was your favorite photographic coverage this year? Share in the comments!

And, of course — Happy New Year, everyone!

2010 Election Roundup: Video updates from the newsroom, NYT's mobile results, fast results on Twitter, and WSJ flash-less map.

Politico, NYT provide regular video updates

Cable and broadcast anchors weren’t the only ones giving on-camera commentary on the 2010 midterm elections on Tuesday night. You can add Politico and The New York Times to the list of traditionally non-broadcast news outlets providing live commentary and updates.

Politico had hourly video updates starting at 8 p.m., as well as pre-election feeds and clips of various concession and victory speeches.

The New York Times, on the other hand, had a new video up every 30 minutes, starting at 5:45 p.m. EST until 12:15 a.m. For each video, a pair of Times staffers offered commentary and analysis while overlooking the newsroom.

Filming, editing and producing regular videos throughout the night — that’s no easy task, especially considering the inherent stress of Election Day. Plus, commentary was already rolling on all cable and broadcast channels.

What do you think? Is adding more talking heads to Election Day coverage something news outlets like Politico and The New York Times should continue?

– Chris Dunn

Mobile: NYT brings video, graphics to election dashboard

If you weren’t near a computer on Tuesday night, The New York Times’ election results dashboard was the place to go for results. The site presented mobile-friendly versions of its maps. Individual races were easy to find.

The graphics were very well done, and were easy to read on a mobile device. Clicking the Senate, House or governor tabs showed the user a list of each race in that category, with vote tabulations (and varying shades of red and blue) for each race on different rows.

But what set the Times’ effort apart was the availability of those video updates (that Chris wrote about above) on mobile devices. Not only were taped updates available on mobile, but so was the election night live stream. Unfortunately, these video updates were only available in Adobe Flash. While I was able to enjoy the updates on my Droid, which runs Android 2.2 and has Flash installed, users of the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad were not able to watch the videos, since they were unavailable in HTML5. But instead of serving the Apple device users with an error message, the Times smartly removed the video tab for users on these devices.

Ethan Klapper

WaPo’s #votemonitor crowdsources Election Day, TBD tries Foursquare

The Washington Post actively turned to Twitter this Election Day, in search of tweets from voters. By using the #votemonitor hashtag, The Post curated tweets and brought them into a running liveblog, powered by Storify. (Read more about Storify here.) The liveblog had a national focus, and excerpted news coverage from local news outlets nationwide. The Post also did a live Twitter videocast on Tuesday afternoon.

Meanwhile, TBD.com encouraged its readers to check in to Foursquare and share tips. Over 100 people participated in their experiment. Foursquare was tracking Election Day check-ins on a special map, and was awarding voters the iVOTED badge. The methodology for the badge did confuse some, including my colleague Kevin Loker:
.bbpBox29531754449 {background:url(http://a1.twimg.com/profile_background_images/25438588/2009-07-25_13-04-15_205.241.135.200.jpg) #131516;padding:20px;} p.bbpTweet{background:#fff;padding:10px 12px 10px 12px;margin:0;min-height:48px;color:#000;font-size:18px !important;line-height:22px;-moz-border-radius:5px;-webkit-border-radius:5px} p.bbpTweet span.metadata{display:block;width:100%;clear:both;margin-top:8px;padding-top:12px;height:40px;border-top:1px solid #fff;border-top:1px solid #e6e6e6} p.bbpTweet span.metadata span.author{line-height:19px} p.bbpTweet span.metadata span.author img{float:left;margin:0 7px 0 0px;width:38px;height:38px} p.bbpTweet a:hover{text-decoration:underline}p.bbpTweet span.timestamp{font-size:12px;display:block}

Just got the #ivoted badge on @Foursquare after checking into the metro station? Hmm.Nov. 2 via Seesmic for Android

CNN.com also used Twitter, and set up a neat map in an effort to track voter attitudes.

If you consider Twitter to be a main source of news (as I do), the speed at which election returns were coming in did not disappoint. Twitter was a fast way to monitor election returns and calls. And, tweeple noticed the speed, too:
.bbpBox29523038807 {background:url(http://s.twimg.com/a/1286916367/images/themes/theme8/bg.gif) #8B542B;padding:20px;} p.bbpTweet{background:#fff;padding:10px 12px 10px 12px;margin:0;min-height:48px;color:#000;font-size:18px !important;line-height:22px;-moz-border-radius:5px;-webkit-border-radius:5px} p.bbpTweet span.metadata{display:block;width:100%;clear:both;margin-top:8px;padding-top:12px;height:40px;border-top:1px solid #fff;border-top:1px solid #e6e6e6} p.bbpTweet span.metadata span.author{line-height:19px} p.bbpTweet span.metadata span.author img{float:left;margin:0 7px 0 0px;width:38px;height:38px} p.bbpTweet a:hover{text-decoration:underline}p.bbpTweet span.timestamp{font-size:12px;display:block}

Counted about a 5 minute time delay between Twitter results and CNN announcing results.Nov. 2 via web

And finally, some interesting news on the Facebook front. Over 12 million people clicked the “I Voted” button that was presented to Facebook users over 18-years-old on Election Day. Facebook staff found that in 74 percent of House races, the candidate with the most fans won that that race. In 19 Senate races, that number was 81 percent, reports PCMag.com.

– E.K.

WSJ.com uses a flash-less results map

Maps are always big during election season, but the Wall Street Journal’s Results by State map caught my eye because it didn’t use Flash. What does this mean? It’s compatible across all browsers and devices. In fact, mobile compatibility was one of the big initial goals for the project.

“Mobile support was something we knew we wanted right out the gate,” said Albert Sun, one of the creators of the map, via an IM interview. “From the very beginning wanted it to be a single map that would work across as many platforms as possible.”

In addition to Sun, Jon Keegan, Susan McGregor, Mike Sullivan, Alex Lowe, Kate Ortega, Jovi Juan of the WSJ.com News Graphics team spent many long nights together to pull it off. They began planning two months prior to the election and implementation one month prior.

The map lets you filter down to Senate, House or Governor races and zoom into states and districts for detailed results. You can highlight called races and identify changes of control. The map also features visualizations for seat net changes and vote percentages.

“Stylistically we wanted to be able to use the same Albers Equal Area projection that print side uses for their US maps and we thought it was really important that when zooming into the map people be able to recognize identifiable features other than the shapes of counties and districts,” Sun said. (What he’s talking about is the use of Google Maps in the background for users to more easily identify their distrcits).

On the technical side — The map uses the Raphaël JavaScript Library for vector drawing and it does the Google Map projection using a library called arcgislink.

– Lauren M. Rabaino

Upcoming: College Photographer of the Year judging

by Chris Dunn

Like others in the industry, photojournalists love the opportunity to meet, compete, learn from each other and work together on projects. I will highlight these opportunities in brief posts as deadlines and dates for various photojournalism workshops and competitions approach.

Student photojournalists have many reasons to review their recent work, edit what they deem to be the best photos and stories and assemble everything — all at the very last minute. Internship applications, job applications and portfolio updates are among the student’s most common motivations to scour the last few months’ or year’s archives and edit, and re-edit, and revamp.

So are competitions.

Coming up next week: the College Photographer of the Year competition judging.

Founded in 1945 and administered by the Missouri School of Journalism, CPOY is an annual photojournalism competition for students and recent graduates. Students can submit entries in any of eight single-picture categories, four multiple-picture categories, the portfolio category and three multimedia categories.

Entries, which must have been created in the past year, are typically due near the beginning of October every year. (Yes, folks, the deadline is past for 2010.) Awards for the various winners — those whose images rose above the thousands of others submitted — range from Nikon camera gear to opportunities to intern at National Geographic or collaborate with MediaStorm.

Starting next Monday, Nov. 8, the week-long judging begins. Held on the Missouri journalism school’s campus, the judging is open to the public and takes place every day through Saturday, Nov. 13. One category is judged at a time, from the elimination round to the final round.

The judges, who are selected annually and are industry professionals, are always mic’ed up during the final round so everyone can hear their deliberations. Also during the final round, the judging is available online through vodcasting, so those who can’t attend the judging on-campus can still see which entries almost made the cut and hear the judges talk out their thought processes.

I will be in Columbia, Mo., next week and plan to watch most of the judging. I’ll post any insights I have from the judges’ comments and/or from my observations, especially regarding the photo-editing process and the multimedia categories.

But remember — if you can’t be there, consider tuning in to the vodcasts!

Disclosure: As a recent photojournalism graduate of the Missouri journalism school, I have entries in this year’s CPOY competition.

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