Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Digital photography: Capturing the sense of a place

Photojournalism students at Flagler College in St. Augustine, Fla., took the pictures on this page.
The assignment was called Sense of Place, using a camera to capture the essense or identity of a place.
It's not an easy assignment. I mean, how do you make an image that evokes the sense or feeling of a place?
Students used a variety of approaches to try to accomplish that and they came up with some wonderful, intriguing photos. A sampling of those photos is on this page.
Credits for photographs on this page:

Nick Reiter
Heather Parks
Alaina Cordes
Meredith Marshall
Meridith Pack
Catherine Ivey Jones
Cy Solsona
Steve Strait
Nate Hill
J.D. Bray
Danae Stringfellow
Rachel Bruce

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Obama assassination poll was a sick gesture

Here's a screenshot of the poll, which Facebook yanked after users alerted the social networking site. Source : London Telegraph

The recent Facebook poll that asked whether Barack Obama should be assassinated was sick and appalling. My guess is that such a poll may not violate the law because it was not a threat to kill the president. Still, I'm glad the Secret Service is investigating and I hope agents get to the bottom of the matter.
CNN this morning said former President George W. Bush did not trigger as much talk about assassination as Obama. That could be. I haven't seen any hard numbers on that question. But if you change the question and ask how many people from foreign countries would like to see the American president killed, then I'll bet President Bush saw greater hostility.
I was reminded of that while in Bolivia a few weeks ago when I came across graffiti reading: "Kill Bush."

"Kill Bush" was spray-painted on a building in La Paz, Bolivia

To be sure, Bush has enemies in Latin America, and even more in such countries as Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran.
I don't endorse the killing of anyone, not Bush, not Obama or anyone else. Unfortunately, it's a violent world where people are willing to kill - or be killed - for their beliefs.

The "Kill Bush" graffiti was located in a neighborhood popular among foreign tourists and backpackers

I am sure some people hate Obama because he is black. It is sad that undercurrents of racism still run strong in the United States decades after the civil rights movement of the 1960s.
Kudos to Facebook for yanking the Obama assassination poll.

Should Polanski face justice for illegal intercourse with 13-year-old aspiring model?

Source of photo: The Blogger

A debate has erupted over whether film director Roman Polanski should be extradited to the United States to face justice for unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl in March 1977.
Wikipedia temporarily suspended editing on its Roman Polanski page because of clashes over whether the page should emphasis the director's movies or his crimes, the Entertainment Daily blog reports.
Some of Polanski's supporters in Hollywood say the 77-year-old director shouldn't be extradited because California authorities mishandled the prosecution. An HBO documentary, Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired, revealed flaws in the legal case. And in January, victim Samantha Geimer, asked authorities to drop the matter.

Samantha Geimer

The New York Post said Geimer, now 45 and living in Hawaii, publicly forgave Polanski in 1997. She said:
I have survived, indeed prevailed, against whatever harm Mr. Polanski may have caused me as a child. I got over it a long time ago.
Geimer's willingness to forgive doesn't mean that California authorities suddenly have no responsibility in the case. They should continue to pursue it.
Authorities should be held also accountable for mistakes they've made, if that's possible decades later. But authorities' mistakes shouldn't excuse Polanski's crime.
The director pleaded guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl, then an aspiring model. He was about to get a slap on the wrist - something like 90 days total time served - when the judge evidently tried to renege on the plea bargain. Then he fled to France.
He spent just 42 days in prison in California. That's not enough for what he did.
In 1977, he was a 43-year-old man who gave a teen-ager champagne and part of a Quaalude pill and then had sex with her against her will, prosecutors say.
Before you decide on Polanski's fate, read this 18-page memo that prosecutors filed in January 2009. Warning: It is sexually explicit.

Roman Polanski in 1979. Photo credit: Snap/Rex Features

Gawker posted a FAQ on Polanski

State Department snafu, just in time for Halloween

Photo that the State Department released against the wishes of the Spanish government

Facebook pages have sprung up in support of the two teen-age daughters of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, the president of Spain.
Some people began ridiculing the teen-agers, calling them fat and making fun of their goth clothing, after the State Department released a photo of them with their parents, and Barack and Michelle Obama.
The Spanish government had been shielding Laura, 15, and Alba, 13, from public view to protect them and had prohibited any photos of them from being released. But then the State Department published the family photo on its Flickr site, letting the cat, well, the daughters, out of the bag.
U.S. officials quickly removed the photo, but it already been copied and it now circulates freely on the Internet. Some people have altered the photo, adding their Addams Family touches.
Expect to see some people dressed up as Laura and Alba for Halloween.

One of the many altered versions of the photo now circulating on the Internet

I can see some humor in the whole episode, but I feel sorry for the daughters, who are now being exposed to needless ridicule.
I agree with WHYashamed, who left this comment on
this is the one and only picture ever taken of Zapatero president daughters, whose parents always have protected them from the cruel wildness of the Spanish yellow press
On the radio and tv, on newspapers, on the internet, you can hear adults calling them: “ugly” “fat” “monsters” “they should have been aborted” and many other worse things...
These girls are guilty of being honest, guilty of ignoring the slavery of official beauty standards/elegance protocols...
Their parents just like them the way they are and dont make them wear "fashionable" clothes they would feel uncomfortable in.
Why must we dress "for the occasion" if we don't want to be bullied?
And most importantly, should we allow the public media to mock, demean and insult our children?
A photo illustration found on a Facebook page

I haven't seen any statements from the girls' parents. According to one biography:
Zapatero's wife, Sonsoles Espinosa, maintains a low profile and rarely appears by his side. She is a voice teacher and shuns the political spotlight.
One of the daughters' supporters said they wanted their picture taken with Barack Obama because they admire him.
The Spanish president gets along with Obama, but was not a Bush supporter. Complaining about the Spanish government in 2004, he said:
This government doesn't serve Spaniards anymore, it only serves the interests of Bush.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Red hot Dominicans

Hot peppers at a market in Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Oops, missed it.

A break from studies at Flagler College in St. Augustine, Fla.
I shot these pictures with an Olympus STYLUS-550WP camera. It's waterproof to 10 feet. I moved in close when taking the pictures to make sure that I - and the camera - got splashed.
I wanted to capture water flying at the camera, but it didn't work. I'd like to blame it on shutter lag, but maybe I just have terrible reflexes....
Photographer Ken Rockwell would probably tell me I neglected to press the button halfway before trying to get my shot. Yep, I'm guilty of that. And that's the mistake most people make, he wrote in this article.
Shutter lag is the delay between the moment you press the shutter button and when the camera records the picture. It's one of the biggest sources of complaints about point-and-shoot cameras. But in a few years, people probably won't complain about it anymore because camera makers will figure out how to reduce it to nothing, the New York Times says.
Technically, shutter lag is really processor lag, the newspaper says. According to a May 2007 article:
When the photographer begins to push down the button to snap the picture, sensors in the camera begin to take a series of measurements. The processor calculates the distance to the object, determines the amount of light needed and even does some balancing for color and whiteness. The processor may also have special software to focus on faces, so those calculations are run. In effect, the processor is analyzing a series of images as the button descends.
Then the image is captured on the processor and sent into memory. That can take almost as long as one second.
And by then, I've missed my splash and gotten all wet for nothing.

Photo illutration credit: The New York Times
Photoshop made me do it...

Saturday, September 26, 2009

PETA: Fish are "sensitive and intelligent"

As I said Friday, protests over the treatment of fish are going on this week in Florida. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, organized the latest demonstration in West Palm Beach. The group's Ashley Byrne told the Palm Beach Post:
Fish are a lot more sensitive and intelligent than most people know.
Today is National Fish Empathy Day. Photo credit: Palm Beach Post

Palm Beach post video of protest

Get passport. Win lottery. Go.

Kandovan, Iran

A 2005 survey showed that only 34 percent of U.S. residents 18 and over had valid passports. If that number is right, two-thirds of Americans aren't looking to travel outside the U.S. anytime soon.
That's pretty astounding. We humans only live so long and there's so much to see in the world, so many different countries.
If I ever win the Florida Lottery, I'd like to travel more, see some of those places and write about and photograph some of the lesser known destinations.
Such thoughts cross my mind anytime I see pictures like these. Residents of Kandovan in northwestern Iran live in caves like their ancestors did hundreds of years ago. What an amazing place. And there are so many more fascinating spots in the world. Just pick up a copy of National Geographic's Adventure magazine and you'll see. Or Google the words adventure travel.

Of course, investigate your destination before traveling. Now isn't a good time to travel to Iran, for instance. U.S. officials and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are in the midst of a confrontation over revelations of a secret nuclear site in Iran and the fight could escalate.

Even before the latest trouble, the State Department warned in July:
Some elements in Iran remain hostile to the United States. As a result, American citizens may be subject to harassment or arrest while travelling or residing in Iran. In 2009, Iranian authorities prevented a number of Iranian-American citizens, including journalists, who travelled to Iran for personal or professional reasons from leaving, in some cases for several months.

I don't know who took these pictures, so I can't supply photo credits.

More pictures of village on Flickr

Friday, September 25, 2009

Oktoberfest: Don't spill your beer

Riders on the Top-Spin go upside-down on Sept. 19 in Munich, Germany. Photo credit: Getty Images / Miguel Villagran
Reporters almost always grumble about having to cover festivals on the weekends. But this would be a great event to cover - the 176th Oktoberfest beer festival. More photos are here.
Photo credit: AFP / Getty Images / Oliver Lang
Photo credit: Getty Images / Miguel Villagran
Photo credit: AFP / Getty Images / Sascha Schuermann

Naked fish protest. Hide your children. There's chaos in the streets.

Photos: Logan Fazio

Put on your riot gear, protests are spreading across Florida. PETA has been staging topless demonstrations leading up to Saturday's big event - National Fish Empathy Day.

The group, which is protesting the killing of fish for food or sport, staged a protest in Miami on Thursday. The next topless protest takes place in West Palm Beach at noon today. Said a canned PETA press release:
Wearing little more than fish tails and shimmery body paint, five topless PETA members will lie "dead" on the ground in the heart of West Palm Beach's shopping and dining district on Friday to protest against the cruelty of killing fish for food or sport. Other PETA members will hold signs that read, "Fishing Hurts" and "Gutted Alive," to let residents know that fish are intelligent, sensitive animals who experience stress and pain when they are cruelly hooked or hauled up from the deep in commercial nets.
Well, I know some of this PETA stuff seems a little nutty. But I have a confession: I once went into a Chinese/Vietnamese restaurant to order fish. Dozens of tilapia were swimming around in a big tank. So I picked out a beautiful fish.
The waiter asked, "Do you want that grilled or pan fried?"
"I'd like it in a plastic bag. Alive. I'm taking it home," I told him.
He looked at me like I was crazy and then - knowing that a sale is a sale - plopped the fish into a bag of water. I took the fish home, put it in a big tank and called her Miss Saigon.
Of course, it could have been a him, not a her. Who knows? But I like to watch fish in an aquarium. It's more relaxing than staring at another dumb program on TV.

Naked fish. PETA has staged protests in several cities, including Seattle. Source of photos: The Peta Files

I'm not a card-carrying member of PETA, but I do love animals. And PETA activists are convinced that fish feel pain. Said the group's press release:
Scientific studies confirm that fish are sensitive individuals who feel pain, just as dogs and cats do. A recent issue of Fish and Fisheries cited more than 500 research papers on fish intelligence proving that fish are smart, can use tools, and have impressive long-term memories and sophisticated social structures.
Could that be true? PETA honchos insist it is. Said PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman:
Although not as familiar to us as dogs and cats, fish are just as deserving of kindness as are the animals with whom we share our homes. Causing these gentle animals of the sea to suffocate to death or die slowly from infections caused by hooks is animal abuse, plain and simple.
Miami Times slideshow of PETA's "naked fish"