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Tuesday, February 22, 2005


’Allo, stranger! Fancy a snap?

Visual Journalism I, assignment 2: Picturing the other.


This was, without question, the toughest photography assignment I’d ever been given. Not only did I have to do a portrait, which I’ve never liked to do, but the subject had to be a stranger. Not only that, it had to be a stranger that didn’t resemble me.

“Hi, you don’t know me, but I’d like to take your picture because you look different from me.”


Luckily, the first person I approached — a girl named Leatha in my urban planning class — graciously agreed to meet me on campus before our next class meeting. She proved to be a very patient and cooperative model, and darn photogenic to boot.

It was rainy and cold that day, so we headed for the library and sat down in facing chairs. I put the camera on a low tripod in front of me, attached a cable release for the shutter, and got the scene into focus. Holding the cable release, I was able to take the pictures I needed and still carry on some kind of a conversation without a big camera on my squinting face. Changing the framing was easy, because I could just look down into the viewfinder while we talked. This benefit of using a TLR never really occurred to me before, but it really helped the process.


Because I still don’t trust myself with a handheld light meter, I took some backup pictures with the Nikon. One of them came out so well, I had to include it in this series.

All in all, I’m thrilled with the way the assignment turned out. Over three rolls (48 exposures), I got three solid shots. More important than that, I’ll feel a lot more comfortable the next time I have to take a stranger’s picture.

At the root of my dislike of doing portraits is the way I feel about being photographed: I hate it. I feel quite uncomfortable on the business end of the lens, for the simple reason that I look goofy. Nice guy that I am, I hesitate to put anyone else in that position. In a transparent effort to make this assignment as painful to me as possible, my professor also demanded a self portrait.

So in the interest of fairness and completeness, here’s my dumb ass posing with my father’s Nikon and my mom’s Kodak Retina.

Daniel Esch
Friday, February 18, 2005


Some settling is normal

sea glass in a frame

Sea glass is a fun thing to collect, but it’s not easy to display. Fill a glass jar with the stuff, and the cool translucence gets lost. But how can you lay out just one layer of broken glass?

After rolling the idea around in my head until it was smooth and polished, I came up with a plan: Make an 8" × 10" glass sandwich with four layers of thick matboard in between. Cut a 4" × 6" window through all of them, and put the sea glass in that hole. When everything’s assembled in the frame, glue strips of wood inside the back of the frame to keep it all in place.

sea glass in a frame close up

Even though the space between the panes of glass is only about 3/8", there’s still enough depth to make stacking irregular pieces of glass on edge a little challenging. As a result, I couldn’t seem to prevent a gap from forming on the top no matter how I arranged things. Oh well.

Friday, February 11, 2005


Meanwhile, inside the library

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Joint Library Reading Bridge

If this exposure had been about a half-second later, it would be a good deal cooler. Still, despite the poor lighting, I find it partly satisfying, like an unfamilar regional brand of junk food.


On the trail of the decisive moment

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Joint Library

I was up on top of a parking garage getting pictures of the busy crosswalks below when a giant FedEx jet — one of the extra large, extra noisy ones they fly in every afternoon — went by, and its reflection glided gracefully across the windows of the library across the street. It was a perfect scene.

This is not that scene.

Ten planes later, my film was gone, and I hadn’t seen any more huge cargo planes. The silhouettes of lesser planes just weren’t as striking. This shot is the best out of the bunch.

Wednesday, February 9, 2005


In decisive mode

Visual Journalism I, assignment 1: The decisive moment.

A university police officer helps a handcuffed suspect into a patrol car outside the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Joint Library Wednesday afternoon.

I came across this scene, which involved at least three suspects, when this guy was still sitting on the curb. I sat down on the library steps, set up my exposure with a wide aperture to throw the background out of focus, and waited for this moment. Once things started happening, I went to shoot and discovered that the battery in my F3 had died right after metering the scene. With uncharacteristically speedy thought, I closed up the aperture enough that I could shoot at 1/60, the speed of the mechanical backup shutter, and managed to get off a couple of clumsy shots. Given those circumstances, I’m thrilled that this one worked out at all. And as a bonus, with the tighter aperture, the man on the right came into focus.

Monday, February 7, 2005


I’ll explain later

Saturday, February 5, 2005

Site news

Zero padding, begone!

Finally! I’m happy to point out that the above date is not February 05. With all the coding skill of a modern three-year-old, I altered the script that runs this blog, and now all the ugly zeros are gone. (Just the leading zeros, I mean, not this decade. I can’t do anything about that.)

This message was brought to you by $da =~ s/^0+//;.

Thursday, February 3, 2005


At least they were paperbacks — it could have gotten expensive

Five classes this semester.
Eleven books.
Total with tax: $542.74.

Four classes last semester.
Seven books.
Total value at buyback: $58.00

Wednesday, February 2, 2005

Neither here nor there

You! Learn something new every day!

Today’s entry is brought to you by Mass Comm 101: Media Law and Ethics, and comes from Don Pember and Clay Calvert’s Mass Media Law.

The concept of the “first freedom” has been discussed often. Historical myth tells us that because the amendment occurs first in the Bill of Rights it was considered the most important right. In fact, in the Bill of Rights presented to the states for ratification, the amendment was listed third. Amendments 1 and 2 were defeated and did not become part of the Constitution. The original First Amendment called for a fixed schedule that apportioned seats in the House of Representatives on a ratio many persons thought unfair. The Second Amendment prohibited senators and representatives from altering their salaries until after a subsequent election of representatives. In 1992, the economy-minded legislatures in three-fourths of the United States finally approved the original Second Amendment, and it became the 27th amendment to the Constitution. (©2005 McGraw-Hill.)

So, the First Amendment came third, the Second Amendment is really fourth, and the 27th Amendment was supposed to be number two. Got it?

Tuesday, February 1, 2005

Earth needs editors

Even newspapers need editors. Good ones.

dead wringer
Subject: Spa visit is a trip through a "ringer"?
I'm sure you weren't the one who wrote this headline, which makes this even more upsetting. If this were my story and someone slapped such an idiotic head on it, I'd be livid.
Of course, it should be wringer, not ringer. I'd go into greater depth, but I assume they've got dictionaries over there. Grab one and use it to hit the person who wrote the head for your piece.

Subject: RE: Spa visit is a trip through a "ringer"?
you're right. i didn't write the headline.
it's a really dumb mistake and pretty embarrassing.
thanks for the heads-up--
cheers, eunnie