Video beetdown

November 2, 2012 

I had to chance to visit R. Munn Farms near Prosser and Paterson last week with Kristi Pihl. I've always enjoyed agriculture stories since former ag reporter Mary Hopkin instilled within me a deep appreciation of getting way out of the office for a day. The bonus of this assignment was that Kristi had arranged a ride for us from agrotour guide Cathleen Williams. This gave me a chance to catch up on some turns of Hero Academy.

By the way, my username for that is kaieeieei, the same as my Twitter and Instagram handles. Feel free to challenge or follow me on any of those. I know, I plug that every week, but sometimes I feel like I'm just talking to myself in this blog.

Hello? Are my readers still out there after my silly photo came off the main page of the website?

Anyway, this trip was for sugar beets and onions. Sugar beet harvest was in full swing and I knew next to nothing about them. Ryan Munn showed us a few of the turnip-like crops,

and while the harvest technique was interesting, the activity didn't look much different from plenty of other crops:

This detail of topped beets, left, next to the pristine leafy ones isn't very interesting,

and oddly, my favorite shot from the field was this simply symmetrical snap of a truckload of dirty beets:

The majority of my time at the field was spent scurrying around while shooting video clips. It's not the most fast-paced action to capture, but it still meant a fair amount of running through sloppy dirt with five-pound lumps every six inches or so.

Not easy.

The main photo from the story was at the beet dump, though, and images don't really do the pile justice:

Munn wouldn't let me climb to the top of the pile, unfortunately.

When I was putting it all together, I wanted to approach this video like a visual sidebar. I tried to keep the edit short and visually varied. I opted to skip the usual talking head and had Munn explain how the harvest works:

It's a svelte 47 seconds and I was pretty happy with how it turned out except for the slightly rushed cuts at the end. It's not going to win any awards or anything, but I thought readers might find it interesting.

Only about 150 people did, however, which is sadly average for our news videos. Barring breaking news videos on fires and car wrecks, a quick glance at video views from the last couple weeks shows several that failed to crack triple digits.

It's interesting and disheartening to be able to see how many (few?) people are actually looking at the videos we labor over. Even a simple video like this takes a fair amount of time to shoot and edit. More importantly, it takes time away from my still photo duties.

There is still something exciting about trying to improve a new skill set though, and there's no denying that these skills are necessary if I want to continue working in this industry. Here's hoping we use these numbers to utilize our ever-more-limited resources wisely.

Speaking of resources...

The damage from Hurricane Sandy could reach $50 billion, according to an estimate from Eqecat. There's no shortage of images showing the devastation, and as with most major news events, I like to see the photo edits over at The Big Picture and In Focus. While the same images seem to get shown over and over on various television and print media, these two go off the beaten path on the wire.

This time, I like The Big Picture's edit, which has a great variety without seeming repetitive. In Focus split it into three galleries, with one focusing on the brace for impact, another on the immediate impact and one on the damage. I felt there were quite a few redundancies at In Focus, but that it ultimately provided the more complete picture of life through and after Sandy. What do you think?

The Atlantic also put together a nice rundown of viral photos, tracking down which were real. Did you get duped on Facebook?

Forbes has an interesting article about Time Magazine's use of Instagram to cover the storm, and one of the shots will end up on the cover. Check out the photos over at Time's Lightbox.

Finally, memes are people too, as this first-person take on Petapixel shows. You gotta love the comments, too.

~~~~~

kyau@tricityherald.com
(509) 585-7205
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