In 2012 I set out to teach myself how to build custom WordPress themes in order to finally launch a much talked about, but never realized photoblog at The News Journal. Right off the bat, we knew we wanted to shy away from a Big Picture-style photoblog. It’s already been done, and done well. Also, we don’t have a dedicated photo editor who would have time to curate images from the various wire services.
Instead, our first thought was to build a blog that would highlight the work being done by our staff, and have it fed automatically through their smartphones and photo services such as Flickr, Instagram and TwitPic. I wrote about the blog theme last year, but unfortunately, it never took off.
Fast forward a year and I decided to try and tackle a photo blog again. This time, with a community-centered blog that encouraged outside contributions, highlighted photo communities and events in the state and no longer relied on what is an already overworked staff for content. The new photoblog, now titled First State Focus, launched last week and is easily one of the projects I am most proud of here at The News Journal.
One of the things that I love most about being a journalist is that I do things that I would never do under normal circumstances. Attending a NASCAR race is just such a thing, and yet, there I was at Dover International Speedway, running around from turn to turn trying to catch all of the action.
The level of noise definitely exceeded my expectations. The first time the door opened to the press room and I didn’t have my ear protection on, I was in shock. It is deafening. I had always assumed that NASCAR was like baseball in a way … that people went to hang out, eat some hot dogs and watch sporadic moments of action when they occur, but I learned that the sheer volume of the cars as they go around the track makes conversation pretty much impossible, and I imagine most make do with listening to radio chatter in their headsets as they watch the race.
We had three photographers at the race. One was stationed up high on turn one, looking down at the start/finish line, and two others (myself and a freelancer) who were free to roam the track. At around the three hundredth left turn I realized that NASCAR is much better on television, with multiple camera angles and that everyone at the event, myself included, was really just there to see a crash.
A few months ago I purchased a Canon 7D with the intention of using it for work. I know, I know, I shouldn’t use my personal equipment for work, but considering we have no budget for business cards, I wasn’t going to wait for work to purchase an HDSLR.
While there have been both pros and cons to switching from the Sony HVR-A1U to the 7D, I have been mostly satisfied. Shooting with the 7D allows for a much shallower depth of field and better image quality in general and especially in low light. Also, because the 7D is a still camera, I feel as though people are less threatened by it. They don’t immediately assume that I am filming, especially if I am holding it at hip level. In comparison, when I shoot with the HVR-A1U, it is more easily recognized as a video camera, and I will often be asked not to shoot. The Sony remains superior in regards to audio controls and is still my go-to camera when shooting sports such as football where I need a reliable autofocus and the ability to zoom far down field.
I also enjoy shooting with the 7D because it allows me to stay at least partially connected with photography. I may not be shooting for the paper, but I can still switch out of video mode and grab a few stills if I see something worth capturing.