Facing a New Kind of Feature

This assignment taught me that feature stories are everywhere. It taught me the importance of being prepared as a photojournalist and if you aren’t it will most likely cost you the shot. In our age of constant contact and media photojournalists have several ways to stay informed. First by monitoring scanners and police reports photojournalists have the ability to hear about breaking news as it is happening and get to the story. A second form of news is the straightforward radio and television broadcasts, while radio and tv may seem old school in our hyper-digital age they can offer contact live coverage updates, letting a photojournalist know where to go. Taking advantage of social media twitter and Facebook are also valuable ways to stay alert of what is happening in the news locally and aboard. Lastly, good photojournalists know the benefit of obtaining and maintaining contacts in the field. Having contacts allows a photojournalist to get onsite information and stay ahead of the news.

This feature assignment allowed me to explore my community and taught me to look for stories in places I wouldn’t expect, such as stopping for vendors on the side of the road or staying more aware of local political events. I found that feature assignments are something I truly crave to create. I enjoy going below the surface of a story to where the substance lives. I also find myself gravitating toward feature stories when I am browsing news feeds or educating myself on current events. Feature stories allow for the reader to be entertained while subtly being made aware of an issue and I feel that is a powerful tool.

The night of Tuesday, November 6th, off of 8 Mile rd. in Ferndale, 11 p.m. after the polls closed, a billboard illuminates the sky, reminding citizens to vote.

The night of Tuesday, November 6th, off of 8 Mile rd. in Ferndale, 11 p.m. after the polls closed, a billboard illuminates the sky, reminding citizens to vote.

This all being said I found this assignment more challenging in ways I was not expecting. First, it was difficult for me to find events that I thought would be deemed newsworthy. I feel I sometimes fall into a mindset, “if it’s not catastrophic then it’s not news.” This thought process is a product of the news that I consume and that fact that most news we ingest is sensationalized. First I covered the November midterm elections. These elections were being highlighted across the country, on every news channel and I feel people are taking a more active role in politics. For my second feature, I was able to find a local event held in downtown Rochester celebrating the holiday season. I was apprehensive to photograph this event because it seemed to “happy” to me. After attending the event and walking among the hundreds of people in downtown Rochester, that night I realized there is great value in creating news of the joyous moments. Without documentation of family friendly, community events people may have a more tragic view of the world than they already do. I found this assignment challenging for a second reason, being it was difficult to speak to people at a crowded event and many people were shy or apprehensive to speak with me. While the challenges offered some obstacles it’s important to test your limits.

Along with forcing me out of my comfort zone this assignment taught me the benefit of waiting to get a shot. As a photojournalism student I have learned patience but especially with feature photography if you want to depict a well-rounded perspective of the event you have to have patience and capture moments that connect with your audience.

The Benefits of Shooting: DSLR Edition

Amateur photographers are everywhere. They are seen all over social media and some are now gracing the glossy pages of well known magazines. But how did these people learn to use that cumbersome clunky camera.  With a camera you learn by doing (and Youtubing). In today’s media culture where everything is photographed and recorded having the proper skills means knowing how to use your equipment well. Over the course of this week we have navigated the various settings and components of the camera. Some aspects I found straightforward and obvious, others were a bit blurry.

Let’s start with the basics. What is the difference between a DSLR and a mirrorless camera. A DSLR or digital single lens reflex camera uses a single lens that light travels through to a mirror that alternates and sends the image to the viewfinder or the image sensor, according to The Digital SLR Guide.

In contrast a mirrorless camera completely lacks a mirror mechanism, “which means that the light passing through the lens always ends up on the imaging sensor. Since light is no longer reflected on an optical viewfinder mirrorless cameras typically rely on electronic viewfinders and LCDs that basically project what the imaging sensor sees. Because of [the] lack of a mirror mechanism and an optical viewfinder, mirrorless cameras can be made simpler, lighter and less bulky when compared to DSLR cameras,” according to PhotographyLife.

Now that you know how to distinguish between the two, how do you use them? Both DSLR and Mirrorless cameras are equipped with multiple focus features such as manual, portrait, landscape, close-up, sports, etc. which allow the camera, with your help, to focus on the subject and take beautiful photographs, however knowing a bit more about the features will truly set you apart.

First, ISO or International Organization Standardization according to Photojournalism: The Professional’s Approach by Kenneth Kobrè, is an acronym for the light sensitivity of your camera sensor. The most common ISO camera speed settings are: 100, 200, 400 and 800. Depending on your digital camera you may have settings in the range of 64, 100, 160, 200, 400, 640, 800, 1600 and higher. The lower the ISO number, the slower the speed. The higher the ISO number, (for example 1600) the faster the speed.

Use an ISO of 100 or 200 when taking photographs outside in brightly lit conditions. In contrast if the sky is overcast or in a lower light situation use an ISO within the range of 400 to 800. At night or in cases of extreme low light you may need to set your camera ISO to 1600.

Another important function of the camera is Shutter speed, or digital reaction time. This is the delay between the time you press the shutter button and when the shutter opens to capture the image.

Lastly, a third function of the camera is the F-Stop or camera aperture which controls light and your depth of field. This is simply how close or far something appears. Aperture is measured on your camera in fractions so the smaller the number say F2.8 the larger the opening to let in light, and in opposition the larger the number like F32 the smaller the opening for your camera to let light in.

Once you have the basic concepts you can hone your abilities to shoot Bobby’s soccer game or the riot that breaks out in Venezuela. Through the course of this lesson I learned for photojournalists this knowledge is paramount. Those in the profession have to think on their feet and adjust their cameras and sometimes lenses on the whim of lighting that can change in a matter of moments. I also learned that in today’s climate photojournalists need an inquisitive nature and be constantly learning about new technologies. Many photojournalists now capture images on their smartphones and some are using drone technology. Like print and broadcast, photojournalism is experiencing a transformation thanks to technology.