Monday, June 12, 2017

Stone Soup Sunday: One Kitchen's Effort toward Feeding the Hungry

    First Christian Church and St. Mary's Catholic Church alternate as meal hosts throughout the week for Stone Soup Corvallis.  On Sunday June 11, 2017, dinner does not start until 5:30 PM, and volunteers show up today at First Christian Church around 3:00 PM.  Dawn Byrne, volunteer for 3 years, immediately starts making bread pudding. 

 Stone Soup Corvallis operates throughout the week to feed anyone who comes through the doors, whom they refer to as their clients.  Many of their clients are house less or transient.  Stone Soup is a non-profit, volunteer program. On an average day, Stone Soup Corvallis can serve up to 100 people. (Above: Rob Smith prepares chicken, while Dawn Byrne makes pudding.) 

Today's meal consists of two baked chicken drums, mashed potatoes and gravy, toast, soup, salad and desert. Clients of Stone Soup Corvallis are also offered milk, coffee and water for beverages. Vegetarian options are available, as well.  Clients are allowed a second portion around 6:00 if there is enough and are also offered take out boxes, to help them until their next meal. 

Many of the volunteers get to know their clients and regularly work volunteering into their school or work routines. On May 19, 2017, Jose Francisco Semadeni, one of Stone Soup Corvallis' regular clients, was found dead outside of First Christian Church due to health issues.  Jose Francisco Semadeni was well known among the clients and volunteers.  Mark McClees, (not pictured), stated that the client population is always more anxious when something like this happens. Jose Francisco Semadeni will have a Memorial Service on June 17, 2017 for those who remember him.  (Above: Morgan Ramsden and Kayla Allen prepare a vegetarian casserole)

This evening, around 10 volunteers get together and feed the hungry.  Though they are working hard, they laugh and joke throughout making dinner and even have time to take a break for coffee before they open the gates.  (Above; Henry Maron and Morgan Ramsden)

Friday, June 9, 2017

Week 10 Topic 1: Reflection: Your Best Photojournalism

This photograph is my favorite. It invokes an emotion each time I look at it- in that I am laughing with this kid as she races for fun. Other than the overall motion and facial expressions during the action shots, this photograph stands out to me in the tight cropping and position of the subjects within the composition. Unlike my previous post where I selected one of my favorites in "Week 3: Forum Responses", I did not have much to edit in Photoshop: I cropped the frame a little and then converted the image into .JPG for the purposes of publishing on Blogger.

The immediate adjustment toward finding the right settings for the photograph, finding a perspective that conveys the overall mood and moment in an event through the participants in the event, really says a lot about what I have been working toward in JN134. Even though many times I can convey these ideas through more than one photograph, it does not always happen with just one photograph. (The Where, Who, When and Why)

For instance, when looking at other entries, such as Diversity Day, or even The Mother's Day Plant Sale, I really feel like it took much more guidance to answer these questions.

As far a progress is concerned, I really think this photograph also remarks on a specific moment in post-production. I was able to pick this photograph immediately when selecting images for the close up, mid-range, and wide-angle shots- then orient the rest of my decisions around it. After receiving criticism on my other photographs, I went back to the event after selecting this photograph. Overall, I felt an instance of clarity while pursuing better photographs for this project. Even though my other photographs would have technically worked for my submission, this photograph made me want to go out and get something better and more harmonious within the parameters of our Action assignment.

Topic 2: Your Goals Week 10 Forum Reflective Response

We are coming to our final days in photojournalism, (JN134).  In the midst of crunching out the last photo essay, and the rest of our finals- our class is also taking time to reflect on our initial goals as photographers.  In my initial forum response, I stated the following mission:

"As a student in #JN134 (Photo Journalism), I am hoping to find a balance in the composition that allows the audience to see the raw tendency of life in society.  

I think that we, as a society, often find ourselves humming from place to place, or filtering ideas and thoughts into our own world without much contemplation toward what can be found outside of comfort zones.  I have fallen into this cycle before and am hoping to find that Photo Journalism allows me to understand objective, quick decisions based on life as it happens in pursuit of mechanical and visual truth.

I took this class to step outside of my own comfort zone and work on scale, composition and rendering as life presents itself, while also adapting technique to visually communicate the events and people I come across in a clear, objective manner, rather than a predicament of subjective statement or sentiment. "

I feel as though my comfort zone was breached, stretched out and dismantled for the better.  As far as communicative skills are concerned, I often found myself reaching out to people that I would otherwise never consider during my creative process.  In that, I am mostly an introvert while working on projects. I immediately had to adapt to meeting new people, asking for their permission and explaining my intentions as a photographer. These parameters are something I had to tackle along with technical goals. 

My decision making skills as a photographer often overshadow the reality I am trying to convey, in that I can hesitate for so long that I do not ever take a photograph, or I take so many photographs of the same thing from every possible angle, that I miss the larger picture.  Throughout the duration of these assignments I have found the flexibility in quick decisions that are necessary for getting more than one aspect of a story.  In my first photographs, my hesitance can be seen in a photograph for the blood drive, when compared to the photograph of David Kidd.  Thankfully, this is something I quickly noted and began to adapt toward changing. Also, I found the lack of personal and subjective sentiment while on assignment refreshing.  I was able to solely focus on composition, what is happeningand only utilize an aspect of honesty that I have never had a chance to explore with the lens.

However, the process of quick-decision making skills has been a slower process when considering my own post-production process.  When we presented our photographs, we were mostly expected to demonstrate scale by selecting a close-up, mid-range, and wide-angle shots.  It would usually take me an hour or two to select the proper scale when presenting these photographs.  Applying quick decision making skills toward selection and "rendering as life presents itself" has been the most difficult goal to accomplish. 

Thankfully, I have had many to guide me along the way and I have been persistent on taking into consideration the overall goals for assignments, for the blog and also as a contributing photographer to The Commuter.  When it comes to visual communication, arts or creative pursuits: My selection and editing process has always been a sort of weak spot in my abilities.  I expected the struggle to accomplish this goalWhen signing up for this class, I also knew that this skill might take longer than the process of actually taking the photograph.  This theory has proven to be true, however when I contrast the initial disposition against the last few weeks, I know that there has been a vast improvement.  The improvement is more so, along the adaptation towards the critical thinking skills necessary as I reach a deeper level of learning.  If it weren't for the collaboration beyond my comfort zone, I would perhaps, not have a larger scope for improving the selection process.    

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Lynsey Addario, "It's What I Do": Reflective Response to All of the Book

NORTH KIVU.  Kahindo, 20, sits in her home with her two children born out of rape in North Kivu, in Eastern Congo, April 12, 2008. Kahindo was kidnapped and held for almost three years in the bush by six interhamwe, who she claims were Rwandan soldiers.  They each raped her repeatedly, and she had one child in the forest, and was pregnant with the second by the time she escaped.  An average of 400 women per month were estimated to be sexually assaulted in the autumn of 2007 in eastern Congo, while in the first months of 2008, the figure dropped to an average of 100 women per month. This said, many women never make it to treatment centers, and are not accounted for in these statistics.


As our photojournalism class comes to a close, we are reflecting on the reading material, “It’s What I Do”, by Lynsey Addario. It is difficult to summarize with only a few words, the level of sincerity Lynsey conveys to the reader in order to explain the importance of her field work. In my previous entry, I mentioned her literary approach that captivates the reader in anecdotes, while detailing her underlying mechanisms of instinct and logic. The tonality prevails to the end.

Last night, I was considering traveling to document several concurring protests that has proven to erupt with inevitable physical conflict in Portland, Oregon. When I told my roommate, a 61 year old veteran named Michael, he said, “I just hope you aren’t going to end up like those crazy ones, who die just to get their names on the front page of the paper. That’s a whole new class of crazy.” In that moment, I wanted to argue with him until the cows came home- but I knew it would be useless, since I am familiar with his demeanor and we are equally stubborn. After reading Lynsey Addario’s book, “It’s what I Do”, I felt like he could have used the literature some 30 years ago. Though it’s arguable as to whether or not she “has a screw loose”, her motivations are unquestionably derived from a need to exploit consequences of political actions and the cultures that thrive or dissolve within the realms of conflict. As any artist, creative, or passionate individual would tell you, their pursuits are like drinking water: It is the first thing you think about when you wake up, and the last thing you think about while falling asleep. In a total physical example, when Lynsey Addario details her experience after a car wreck and she phases in and out of consciousness, first she wants to know where her driver and colleagues are, secondly, she gets an ambulance to pull over, bribes a cop to get her camera, sends a message to her fiance (also informing him to contact her editor), then is rendered unconscious once more. First comes motivation, then technicality, and always there is professionalism and family. Throughout her account, Lynsey Addario writes the mechanisms that interweave as a function to her body of work.

Her writing is anecdotal yet her photographs are unique on their own, in that the atmospheric value becomes alive in their depiction of experiences outside of herself. The colors within her photographs are almost always deeply saturated and the sensitivity toward the subjects she presents hold an esteem toward the people as subjects rather than objects. She uses the colors and lighting to accent the people within the photographs as persons that are seeing, rather than persons who are there to only be seen.

Some of her photographs are blurred from action, others crisp and concise, and these varying decisions always seem intentional. In her narrative she describes several times where this decision is due to her parameters as a photographer. One of the first times the viewer catches wind of these visual decisions (and her success within these instances), can be noted in between pages 90-91, in an image of Anti-American demonstration in Peshawar, October 2001. Another example can be found between pages 213 & 214- there is a photograph of American soldiers reacting as they receive incoming mortar rounds, near an outpost. Since the military information was confidential, she had to blur the photographs to make sure that information would not be obtained. Though the parameters are different in each, she has to hide her camera in Peshawar, and information in Korengal, the images contain a level of intimacy and description that hooks the viewer through its mood. The photograph above, which she takes while photographing women that have been raped in the Congo Republic, contains poetic hues from a singular light source: Intimacy completely influenced by an honest environment true to moments in time, sensitive to mood, texture and color. To me, each photograph becomes allegorical to those who exist on the fringes of conflicting society: rich in culture defined by the human tendency to cling to ethnicity and identity, however suffering from natural and humanitarian devastation. It is among one of the first images I think of when I think, ‘‘What is the work of Lynsey Addario?’’. Of course, her writing also follows this trend.

Between pages 334-35 there is a photograph of Lynsey with her son, Lukas without any captions, however on page 335 she states, “As a war correspondent and a mother, I’ve learned to live in two different realities. [...] I choose to live in peace and witness war---to experience the worst in people but to remember the beauty.” She comes full circle from her prelude and then extends the dialogue to conclude.

As far as the protests are concerned, I chose not to go. I was unprepared for the kind of mentality it takes to stay organized in case of an emergency. Mostly, I know that I would not have been able to do it alone in an unfamiliar place under such short notice. In a lot of ways, this book becomes a reminder toward technical necessity and professional tendency- without Michael's remark and this book, I might not have stopped to think about it.

Photojournalism is not something I consider as a career choice, but it is definitely important and anyone can be involved, whether it entails going out and taking photographs once in awhile, arguing in letters to an editor, or even the way that one decides interpret and research the world around them- “It’s What I Do,” applies to a vast and large audience and I would recommend it to many people beyond the scope of my roommate.

Friday, June 2, 2017

The Intermingled Corvallis/Albany

The Corvallis Bridge connects Corvallis to Albany along Highway 34.  The two sister towns have much in common in their commerce, civilians, and culture.  The Bridge is pedestrian friendly so anyone can walk above and see the Willamette River.  Both, Highway 34 and Highway 20 extends between and deposits into both Albany and Corvallis.

Midway Farms is located off Highway 20 in Albany, Oregon.  Despite their Albany location Midway Farms participates in The Corvallis Farmer Market, hosts workshops and open houses to each town.  ( From left to right: Rachel Hoffman and owner Cynthia Kapple)  Though Cynthia is the proud owner, she considers Rachel Hoffman a close business partner.  Rachel can be found feeding the livestock, selling her crafts and generally helping everyone out.

Interzone, a Corvallis coffee shop hosts a Free Noise Show every month.  Performances invite musicians and friends from all over the Willamette Valley, and many in the audience are from Albany, Tangent and Corvallis.  Interzone hosts performances, open-mic poetry nights that many Linn Benton Community College students attend, and an array of other events.  They are located across the street from Oregon State University and often students, members of the community, and others can be found working, studying and commiserating. 

Action Photos

Samaritan Christian Grade School hosted a track and field day at Linn Benton Community College, Albany Campus on Friday, May 26, 2017.    Samaritan Christian Grade School hosts the event annually so that students can have a field day and interact with other students from schools that would not be able to host their own field day. (Above: 3rd grade Pole Vault)

Students were assorted into groups, based on their age and grade. Private schools from all over the Willamette Valley participated in events that included Long Jump, Pole Vaulting, 50 to 400 meter dashes, and shot-putt.   (Above: 1st grade 50 meter dash)

They competed against one another and most groups did not practice or train for the event.  The grades varied form First through Sixth grade. (Above: 6th grade 100 meter dash)

Friday, May 12, 2017

'Feature Event': Diversity Day at LBCC

Linn Benton Community College on Albany Campus celebrated Diversity Day on Wednesday, May 10, 2017.  Festivities were held in the courtyard and included world music, free ice cream, and rally races.  The event was hosted by the Diversity Achievement Center and celebrated unity in our different cultures.  Above, Kate Jaffer, plays with other members of Monmouth Taiko, a Japanese drum ensemble based out of Monmouth, Oregon.
Asael Espinosa and Eric Jose get ready to take off in a race to win a Linn Benton Community College T-Shirt.  Though Eric Jose won, they both shared plenty of laughs as they zipped around the courtyard.
Fe Fanyi West African Drum and Dance' takes over the stage later in the afternoon.  The group is based out of Bend, Oregon and they play West African cadences while dancers move to the live rhythm. Above, their guest performer and teacher, Kerfala Fang Bangoura, plays alongside core members.

"Free Shoot" Photographs from Week 6

The Mother's Day Plant Sale was hosted by the horticulture department in the greenhouse at Linn Benton Community College on Albany Campus on Wednesday, May 10, 2017.  

Caitlin Maudlin assists with patrons and tends to the garden while Rachel Glaeser selects a plant.  Students helped educate patrons regarding care for their new seedlings, flowers, herbs, vegetables and fruit. Information booths and signs were also placed throughout the greenhouse.

Kiera Selby browses through each plant, carefully selecting a favorite for her mother.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Media Forum Response: NPPA Code of Ethics

     The 8th clause of the  NPPA Code of Ethics, for visual journalists and those who manage visual news productions states that " One should not accept gifts, favors or compensation from those who might seek to influence coverage."  This clause strikes a chord with me as the growing concern for those who run media organizations have access to edit and misconstrue the image a visual journalist may submit for publication. 
  It is one thing to have a blatant happenstance of someone trying to bribe you to make them "look" a certain way for the content of a story, however there is another question that lingers in my mind.  How do visual journalists deal with this clause when the company they are working for becomes less objective and leans toward visual bias?  The photographer, then, would be accepting compensation from their employer who has now influenced context. Maybe the image that is published isn't edited, but the content or tagline gives the photograph an entirely different meaning than the factual context.
  This may happen due to an extensive amount of reasons regarding the operation of a media organization, but inevitably the decision to maintain stability within the company in response to the demand, leads to the influence of coverage.  However, when one considers the fiscal reality of leaving a stable position with a company, entry-level or management, the risk can become personally overwhelming.
  This aspect of reality seems like it may be one of the most difficult clauses to uphold in larger media rings.  Thankfully, the National Press Photographers Association has created an entire circuit and network for advocacy and resources, if there are continuous issues within media organizations, especially if there are issues regarding copyright material, constitutional rights, and other "issues affecting the industry."  The preservation of a media organization that does not support the corruption of content is one of the most sincere and vital motives for keeping the public aware of truth in their communities and those who lead them.  The acceptance of bribery, in hand with misconstrued information, strips the public of a resource in order to formulate independent reasoning from factual events.

    The Code of Ethics ventures further into the concrete Ideals of the Visual Journalist which continues to emphasize the integrity of the profession.  The 4th ideal states that the visual journalist should, "Avoid political, civic and business involvements or other employment that compromise or give the appearance of compromising one's own journalistic independence." 

    This conduct is in lieu with the role of accepting compensation from those who might seek to influence coverage.  For instance, if one were to accept an employment opportunity which demanded complete rights to the images procured, I can imagine that it would become very hard to defend the images under copyright laws. Whereas, if journalists do not work together to support the larger production of independent truths, then the public looses its voice and insight into events that affect the structures within their communities. 

     The Code of Ethics does not just apply to national or international level visual journalists.  On a microcosm perspective, if I were to go into an event where a dean of Linn Benton Community College wanted me to document posed footage for the Linn Benton Commuter and he/she told me the entirety of my expenses were paid for the rest of my scholastic career, I would refuse.  Even though no one would know that the footage was posed or planned, the information would become misconstrued.  Perhaps, this became an issue and somehow my academic career was threatened.  Perhaps it would involve the dean taking my transcripts and loading them into a potato gun.  I would know that, outside of resources within Linn Benton Community College, I could also look toward the NPPA for legal resources and have somewhere to start defensive strategies.


Monday, April 24, 2017

Week 3: Forum Responses

Coming up this week in JN134: 

I will take a portrait of someone.  The subject matter is still awash to me, so I may end up straying from my initial thoughts, however I think it would be interesting to ask Jim Whittemore to allow me to take his portrait. We met through Corvallis Experiments in Noise, a collective of musicians who take an abstract approach to music through compositions of funky timbres and theories that intersect hacking circuits, making instruments from objects commonly known as other functioning items, etc. 

Jim Whittemore is more than just a member of a collective, he has had many years of experience in building chip software and wave forms for synthesizer companies.  He has also toured the United States as a sound engineer.  He has a garage, full of equipment and hosts Corvallis Synth DIY at his home. His props naturally correspond to the music and builds within his environment.  I know I could easily ask him on Facebook, since he is a professional acquaintance.

It is clear that I need to think about this more, since I only have one idea.  There are many titles and careers to consider, as well as things that make someone an individual. That being said, I think that as I contact people on Facebook, in the hallways, or walking around, someone might be willing to send me in the right direction, or surprise me with their own story.


Self- Critique  Best/Worst

From blog post "March For Science: Corvallis, Oregon"

When it comes to self- evaluating I really ask myself some key things: What is happening?  Do you see context and does it hold your attention? Does it reflect the true moment within these constructs?  Technically speaking, is it in focus, balanced, unified as a composition?  And no matter my own response:  Was there anything unrealized or different I could have done to make it better?

I would say that the photograph above falls into the best photograph that I have taken so far, given the previous context. 

One can understand what is happening immediately while looking at the picture, and the expression on the woman's face is very stern.  We know that she is serious and given the giant sign she bares, it is a protest or community activity that is coming together to make a point.  If the sign were in another language it would still register as such an event.  It reflects the truth in the moment, and it is in focus, balanced and unified.  However, I do think that if I had been able to follow her and see if her expression changed, or had been able to find her and ask her name, that the context would have been supportive as captions, etc.  I also cropped the photograph.  It is not the first way that I looked at the photograph while taking it.  If I had been standing differently, or crouching, would this photograph even be something that I would have posted or would I have seen something else, entirely?

This level of being able to capture an image, would make the photograph's quality more key and possibly resonate differently/deeper for the viewer.

My worst photograph that has been posted on this blog would be from my first blog post, from the American Red Cross blood drive.  It does hold context.  There is a laughing expression and a shared moment with the patient.  Also her chair borders the frame well, however, it does not resonate with me at all.  It seems rushed, the axis of the plane is tilted at an odd angle, and there is room next to the patients feet, but the back of her seat is cropped out of frame. (No editing this time, just the RAW file)  The ceiling above and negative space makes the moment seem bleak and stale in contrast to the overall tonality of The American Red Cross Blood Drive. 

Criticism is something that continues to happen.  Hopefully, I can learn to build some of these learning experiences into something that happens naturally during the action of taking the photograph, rather than during the editing labs.

March for Science: Corvallis, Oregon

Around 2,000 individuals congregated on Saturday, April 22, 2017 to protest during The March for Science in Corvallis, Oregon.

Corvallis, Oregon joined many cities and towns as they came together in alliance with The March for Science on Washington D.C. on April 22, 2017

Homemade signs and chanting such as, "Science Not Silence!" livened the non-partisan event, in order to raise awareness for the scientific community on April 22, 2017.

An Introductory Note: