Video Killed the Mental List Star

June 1, 2012 

Keeping track of what you've shot when you're juggling between stills and video can be tough. It's especially easy to get the running mental checklist jumbled when you're using the same camera for both, as I found out last week at the Kennewick Senior Center's 19th annual High Tea Social.

After seeing some cute young kids' snappy outfits,

I felt pretty good about my shot for the paper and concentrated on shooting video. I wanted to try and get a few moments in the b-roll because there's nothing more boring than a droning voice-over with some static clips.

Since we jump-started Herald videos a few weeks ago, I've tried to avoid the standard approach to newspaper video. I think it works best as a sidebar, using the multimedia to show something that still photos and words cannot. I shot a simple introduction to mammoth excavation techniques and produced a one-take music video for a feature on Cale Moon.

Both leave a lot to be desired, but I think they're more interesting than a video rehashing the same story that's in the paper.

I couldn't come up with a clever angle to approach the tea party and since it was just a standalone photo without a story, I went with the usual. I've always had trouble getting good tight shots to work into the edit. When you're usually composing for that one shot chock full of context, you don't often work video tight. With this in mind, I tried to look for little moments in tight frames.

I'm not sure how successful I was, but what I do know is shifting in that mindset spilled over into my still shooting, not only reducing the number of decent frames I made, but making my gallery edit more detail-oriented than usual:

The video, which you can watch by clicking the link at the top of the story, drags on a bit once it gets to the family. I should have shot some video of them actually hanging out at the tea party, but the mental catalogue confusion apparently goes both ways.

Out of curiosity, I checked out last year's take from the same event. The gallery had more than double this year's, and while a lot of them were pretty lame, I had better moments from the same family I coincidentally featured this year,

more diverse scenes from the event,

and stronger details to boot:

With an appropriately lame 92 views on the video, it hardly seems worth the effort, but it was a good chance to work on my scant video skills and figure out where I need to improve. The first step is re-cataloguing my mindset.

For an even more daunting catalogue of images...

Check out this year's Best of Photojournalism winners. It'll take you a while, but it's well worth the wading. And if you want a little more, Lens has a feature on Ross Taylor, photojournalist of the year in large markets. It's well-deserved, especially if you remember his incredible work on A Chance in Hell.

For more on war, Greg Campbell has a nice piece about efforts to teach basic field medicine to conflict journalists. The devil-may-care attitude that's portrayed in the piece reminded me of this informative and entertaining article by Brian Blanco about hurricane coverage.

Here's a fun look back at 19th century baseball photography. They almost look like hipster comic book superheroes in some of them.

Mark Mulligan from the Herald in Everett set up a remote to capture an in-your-face image of a cougar release last week.

I finally ditched by 5-year-old flip phone for the sweet talk of Siri. I'm already hooked on Instagram and if you're one of the Apple faithful, check out Snapseed, which is the free app of the week. And if you want to see lots of fake artsy photos of my cat, follow me on Twitter. It's one of the links almost all of you ignore at the bottom of every post.

And for proof that in-camera skill trumps funky filters every time, check out Jack Long's mind-blowing liquid flowers. There most definitely is not an app for that.

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