Saturday, June 25, 2011

Internet Security: Are you reading this from a secure connection?

         I've always been a preacher when it comes to internet security. If your grandmother would disapprove of your online profiles, make them private. For many reasons: defamation of character, a possible employer looking at your keg pictures and the usual creepers. Most of us aren't public figures unless we put ourselves in the spotlight. We're not celebrities on Twitter, with millions of followers. But with one wrong click, one indiscretion we can be. Just ask  New York's U.S. Representative Anthony Weiner. First of all, is your profile public or private? It makes a world of a difference. If you're profile is public, the audience is millions through the world wide web. A private profile compensates for not allowing everyone in on your daily life. Even then Facebook and Twitter have ways around your privacy.

         James Poniewozik's Time Magazine's article covers Weiner's downfall. He posted infamous pictures of his erection or crotch to ALL his Twitter followers. Weiner was Twitter savy as a lot of celebrities SEEM to be. Twitter has a Direct Message function folks. If you're profile is public and you post a picture of your latest tattoo or apartment you have some considerations to make. Yeah, those are pretty cool things. But anyone can see them, including future employers and the next Craigslist killer. If you complain about family or relationship issues, there's always a possibility relatives or your significant other's friends can find your profile and read it. It sounds great to be witty and snarky and vent. But it's not worth the consequences.

        Facebook has a function that allows you to check-in to places. A lot of the time you get prizes for being the 100th person to check-in to an public event or restaurant. At the same time you are letting everyone know where you are at the exact time you are there. I'm not sure I'd want some of my 250 Facebook friends to know where I am by myself much less the entire internet. There's some crazy person out there who could be watching. It's not paranoia. Everything is up for grabs on the internet. If someone figures out your schedule they could rob your place when you're on vacation. (Providing they find your address on the online White Pages). Or stalk you. Especially if they know you to some extent already.

        Delete any public tweets that you want. There's the nifty cache function which can still show your boss or mother those tweets where you complain about your job or sex life. If a profile was ever public at one time it's on the internet's permanent records.

        Even if you make your Facebook profile private this does not stop friends from tagging pictures of you. Regardless if their profile is public or private. Those pictures can show up anywhere. Through networking the wrong person might see it. Those pictures of you barfing at your favorite club? It doesn't matter if your best friend's profile is private. She could be friends with people who work at that job you're applying to. And when they review your application they might remember your face before they get to the resume.

        I'm not condoning people hiding their lives or keeping it all secret. But I am advising everyone to keep their lives as private as they can. Facebook is maintained by advertisers who have hold of all your information unless you specifically comb through your privacy tab and uncheck some of those subtle boxes.

        Control your life offline unless you want your life to spin out of control online. Or don't do anything stupid period. I'm sure all of us would've been happier had Weiner not used a popular networking site to send pictures of his privates.

Monday, May 23, 2011

A Reoccuring theme: Ivory Coast

I have been on a hiatus and I apologize to my five followers. My academic life has been hectic to say the least. Today I saw a copy of the Sunday issue for the Seattle Times and casually picked it up.  I was flipped through and A5 caught my attention.
A president's inauguration occurs amidst political unrest and bloodshed. Well, that's nothing new in Africa. Blunt statement is pretty blunt. However don't think I'm being dismissive. Africa's history should be prominent and known in the media. Sadly until recently I always noticed a gap with news and Africa. Those two in a sentence only happened in circumstances such as Darfur and genocide. By then it was often too late, cue in Rwanda for a haunting example.
However more recently has the news become embedded with African international current events. Egypt and Liberia. Corrupt leaders, democracy and the United Nations have all been exposed and highlighted.
Cue in the Ivory Coast, which has slowly been descending into madness under Laurent Gbagbo's rule. Civil war was arising and mass graves were being discovered.
The new president is Alassane Ouattara. He was inaugurated in a barricaded hotel. Gbagbo had empoyed his army to block the hotel entirely.  Ouatarra was democratically elected but his supporters have been pitted against Gbagbo supporters, hence civil unrest. Ouatarra had made several diplomatic attempts to make Gbagbo step down. The one mistake Ouatarra may have made was to resort to an anti-Gbagbo rebel group for help.Gbagbo's residence in the capital was seized by the French and the U.N. on April 11. Only then were the rebels able to capture and arrest Gbagbo. In the meantime, Gbagbo and Ouatarra supporters killed themselves.
Even though a new president has arrived the Ivory Coast is unlike Egypt and other African countries vying for independence. Ouatarra is still holed up in his hotel. His rebel groups have killed many Gbagbo's supporters. Blood continues to spill on both sides and is unlikely to stop. This halted issue will affect other countries--it will be interesting to see if Burkina Faso and Ghana will become part of the ripple effect. Trade relations and international attention are a question mark for the Ivory Coast. While I remain happy Africa is getting more coverage--I am afraid it will only be for a short amount of time. And if anything, the world needs to keep watching this pattern for democracy in Africa.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Mark Zuckerberg: You're an amazing genius but I kind of hate you

This post was inspired by the Social Network,to avoid movie spoilers scroll past the picture. The gist remains: Mark Zuckerberg created one of the most efficient social tools for the public and media. However his creation completely changed how people socialize with one another, for better or worse.
Case in point:
Zuckerberg's business partner, Eduardo Severin, is fighting with his girlfriend:
"Why are you still single on Facebook?
I-I was single when I created it!
I think a lot of people's reactions would be:

A lot of this sounds trivial and immature right?
Well..hold on a beat....
 The Social Network may have convinced people that Zuckerberg is a jerk. But the movie also portrays how genius he is. Once upon a time Zuckerberg and Severin created a social networking site for Harvard students to use to their advantage for dating opportunities. Now Facebook has over 600 million registered users. As mentioned in the movie, Bosnia is part of the Facebook generation, regardless if they have working roads or not.
On the down side Facebook has replaced communication in so many ways. So far I have noticed it's a bigger deal on Facebook as opposed to offline:
  • When people get into a relationship, going from single to in a relationship
  • When people break up, going from in a relationship to single
  • When someone gets a new job/internship offer
  • When someone is fired from a job and etc.
  • When people get into a fight or have an ongoing issue
  • When deleting people is a fate worse than death; losing them in real life is forgotten as long as you stay Facebook friends
The sad part is everyone goes on Facebook to update their newest success or tragedy. Venting, celebrating and talking to people offline seems to come in second place. A lot of voice is lost and replaced by assumptions and fake appearances. I doubt I'm the only one who has witnessed a seemingly casual Facebok status turn into a fight between other people through comments.When a Facebook fight breaks out, you pull up a chair and read. Sometimes with popcorn.
Facebook is now a cop out, if you can't face someone offline you can with your computer screen. Not to mention it has become a part of everyone's daily life, sometimes replacing actual interactions.
Two or more people having a conversation through wall posts...while sitting next to each other in the same room. Someone Facebook messages their roommate with a serious concern..while both are home. Watching your ex/crush like someone else...through Facebook updates. Keeping up with people's lives by Facebook stalking as opposed to talking face-to-face. When someone asks another person what is wrong, their reply could very well be "It's a long story. Go on Facebook for all the details."
You know, I'm pretty sure if you took Facebook out of the equation all these situations would be just as likely to happen offline. With the painful awkwardness intact. I remember those days. I even miss those days. Raise your hand if you agree? (Or even better, leave a comment)
 In the end, I would like to recognize that I believe Zuckerberg is one of the most innovative 26-year-olds out there. But I also kind of hate him. Facebook is in, communication is out. So much for the old days.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Happy Fifth Birthday, Twitter!

Tweet hear those sounds?
Twitter celebrates its fifth birthday today. I've taken a break from my photoblog but I'm back. Right now I'm on spring break and have no SLR camera in my grasp. I'm done with photojournalism class but plan to continue posting photos. However, for today, I would like to open Twitter to discussion.
I must admit, when I first heard of Twitter I was hesitant. 140 characters? A profile consisting of statuses only? I didn't think 140 characters would limit statuses I often saw on Facebook..such as "I'm going to eat a burrito now" or "I am sooooo drunklgiy3w6r83". I was confident I'd see less ranting statuses however.
Atleast on Twitter other people's awkward drama would show up in repeat statuses right? And hopefully get lost among your other followers and their tweets?
I've had my Twitter for about two years and I'm impressed. It's more than a social network. Twitter is news..which can sometimes be real or fake.
I've seen multiple death hoaxes since joining. Or otherwise fake rumors. Who has the most followers: Lady Gaga or CNN/Fox News combined? Don't get me started on Charlie Sheen.
On a more positive note Twitter is its own news outlet. I found about the U.S. bombing Libya on Twitter. When a US Airwars airplane crashed into the Hudson pictures were uploaded to Twitter from nearby ferry passengers. Egyptians fighting for their freedom used Twitter as their platform under dire circumstances. I'd have to say Twitter has come a long way since hatching five years ago.
Twitter and Facebook have become media outlets. Who is next? Tumblr, Plurk wanna step up and follow in this powerful stead?
I will toast to Twitter tonight: enjoy 5 more years of followers, breaking news and tweets. However after the clock strikes midnight I am back to Facebook stalking.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Picture Story: Woods Coffee

Our last assignment: the picture story. I wanted to do mine at a location. I was torn between Boulevard Park's boardwalk or the Arboretum lookout tower. However the boardwalk has been overdone and I was too lazy to hike to the lookout a few times a week. Then I thought of my latest addiction. My brain connected it to one of Bellingham's most popular coffee shops: Woods Coffee. The franchise is slowly extended with 10 locations and steady popularity. My story angle was going to be their sculpture design contest but that fell through. If this were to be a story it'd be based on Woods Viking Blend, a roast coffee specifically made for the Western and local community.
Things I learned from this:
5Ds are still better than 20Ds.
I need to tweak shutter speed, aperture and ISO to my definition of perfect.
Taking pictures of something coffee related was fun.
Taking outside shots in windy rain is a challenge and recipe for bad hair.
I managed to avoid spilling coffee on school equipment. Is my Nobel Peace Prize coming in the mail?
Brianna Clemen, 20, studies at Woods underneath a display of subdued excitement. Her friends Will Luce and George Watrous, 20 and 21, join her.
Woods Coffee added their 10th location, the Flatiron Prospect, in Jan. 2011.
Miette Dahlgren, 21, enjoys visiting Woods once a week to study.
Woods has a Viking Blend, which is a darker toast with all proceeds going to Western., says Woods music coordinator  Seth Overby.
Jessica Mecknee and Andy Stromberg, 31 and 29, like to meet at Woods with friends. Stromberg lives down the street from the Flatiron location.


Thursday, March 3, 2011

Oh my...Coffee and Man Pies!

Cutline: Lindsey Bear, 21, works at Man Pies Wednesday afternoon. “Man Pies sales started out busy then slowed down, now we sell a steady amount,” Bear said

Stephanie Allen, 21, poses to illustrate how much money college students spend on caffeine.

I mixed up my assignment and shot both a cutline and photo illutstration. Most newspapers use a cutline as an interesting photo (such as Western Front's second page). The photo doesn't need action but an underlying theme or story should be present. I chose the Man Pies food stand on vendors row because of their decision to open a branch on Western's campus.
I decided to do a photo illustration of how much $ college students spend on coffee. Being recently addicted myself I witnessed irony get the best of me. I only had about $11 in cash and couldn't find any fake/toy money. Also my flames were not as cool as what I could've done in Photoshop or with a real lighter. A photo illustration can be posed and I was able to use a friend. 
I know from experience that buying coffee a couple times a week is pricey. Do I care? Not really. I still buy my mochas. Addiction or not, caffeine is something millions of people are willing to spend money on. Hence why I filled three grande Starbucks cups with cash and put little caps in front to demonstrate the flames as my friend, Stephanie, pretends to sip coffee in the background
The things I learned from this assignment? 
1. I CAN slack off a bit. Instead of using crayons to draw flames on cup tops I could've used Photoshop. Oh technology how I avoid you sometimes. Nostalgia got the best of me when I decided to be a kid again and use Crayola.
2. Finding a good window seat at Viking Commons is about as possible as finding a green pebble in grass. Try it sometime. Lighting also plays an important factor. A rainy day was better than sunny because I didn't have glaring light interfering with the photo.
3. Good lighting in the Humanities building on campus is unspoken of.
4. 5D cameras are better than 20Ds.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Western trombone players Hayden Lemaster and Casey Schwenk, both 18, enjoyed showing their school spirit to a Central fan at the televised Western vs. Central basketball game Feb. 16. “We yelled at them and we were louder too!” said Schwenk laughing.

Lemaster and Schwenk gear up before the game

Trent Spanger, 18, dances while he listens to music at the Valentine Day Flash Mob in Red Square.

My assignment for last week: taking a picture of action and stopping it.
It was my best assignment yet. I feel like I took somewhat decent pictures and gained confidence as a journalist.
My first idea was the “What is Love” Valentines Day Flashmob on campus. Between the passing period of 10:50 to 11, students simultaneously gathered and danced to the 1993 dance track by Haddaway. This felt like the perfect opportunity. Even though it was a cloudy day with some rain I showed up early, hiked up my camera ISO and got close to the crowd.
As entertaining as the event was, I had to try again. I only got one good motion picture. Trent Spanger, 18, had been excited to attend since he heard about the event. However I knew I could take better pictures. I knew I was capable of taking better quality pictures.
So off to the Western vs. Central game I went. As a former band geek I had major nostalgia. I was initially afraid of shooting games because my sports knowledge is almost nonexistant. I checked out a 5D camera and instantly fell in love. Better lenses, frames and zooming. I could have a higher ISO. My first challenge was finding a good seat. I luckily got the second row by the basket. By sheer dumb luck a female student informed me their friend was not coming. I didn't leave my seat once. I know I should've ran around the court but I had a great view. My only issue was people's heads sometimes. Aside from that there were several students lurking behind me like vultures waiting for a good seat.
Two Western band members and two Central fans started yelling at each other a few rows below me. Hayden Lemaster and Casey Schwenk, both 18, enjoyed showing their school spirit against their opponents. “We yelled at them and we were louder too!” said Schwenk laughing. By the end I was more comfortable with shooting games. Even though I don't keep up with sports I like following the excitement and action. 
The biggest mistake I took involved  the Western band members and Central fan. I took two pictures of them Only one has the Central fan. The problem? One picture also has a photographer right in the fan's face taking pictures. Needless to say it doesn't add to my picture at all. I decided to choose the picture of the Western band members only. It's not as good but there's still motion (and no additional photographers).

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Human Emotion/Relationship

Jeffery Slack, 49, trains his four month old Presa-Canario in downtown Bellingham Tuesday afternoon. He runs into Brent Kuecker, 31, on the way to his car. The two friends talk about Jeffery’s dog as Kuecker pets her. “You’ll like me when you’re older,” Kuecker says.

Human Emotion/Relationship
This assignment was to shoot a picture showing human emotion and/or some kind of relationship, such as people reacting to a sports game or a couple kissing. It can't be a posted picture.
This was my hardest assignment yet. I hated it.
I am too used to posed pictures.
I couldn't grow a pair, get close and take pictures of people.
I tried. Monday I went to downtown Bellingham and the waterfront for a few hours with no luck. A guy and girl were talking while sitting on a rock. They were having a close moment together, I tried to find a good shooting spot and awkwardly got stuck and almost fell. That sort of announced my presence and made me look like a stalker.
On Tuesday I was in downtown Bellingham again, armed with my camera and another mocha. I noticed Jeffery Slack, 49, walking his Presa-Canario. People came up to pet his puppy and Slack started conversation. He was training his dog outside the police substation when a police officer opened the door and warned him to not leave his dog by the station. He explained the training and the police officer laughed. I knew this was a photo opportunity. I put my mocha down and got my camera ready. By the time I looked up Slack had already crossed the street and was about to cross another. I began to panic and went for it. It took me a few minutes but I was tailing Slack. I am eternally grateful to Bellingham residents for not thinking I am a stalker after these last few days. I caught up to Slack and he was up for pictures. He told me he knew a lot of locals and they'd compliment his puppy a lot so I had a good chance of getting some unplanned poses. Slack was right. As I followed him and his puppy he ran into a friend, Brent Kuecker. They talked about dog training and I went crazy with pictures.
The sun became my enemy. As the picture shows the background is washed out and backlit. My subjects are barely seen. I will reiterate my lessons: sun is not always my friend and I need to grow a pair and think beyond posed pictures.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Environmental/Personality Portait

 Photojournalism might actually be easier than I thought. Or not? I thought that until I printed out my pictures at Wilson Library today. I was already stressed and the black and white photos were darker and somewhat blurrier. I had not expected that. Good thing I already had caffeine in my system before I fiddled around on Photoshop and tried to edit my pictures as much as I could. There's only so much brightness/contrast and layers can do however.

The assignment was to shoot someone in their element. The subject had to be shown in their environment. I chose Matt Johnson, 25, a Western student who is also a U.S. soldier. He returned from Iraq in fall of 2009 and re-enrolled in Western. He now studies chemistry and also continues following military duties such as physical training.. I struggled with finding Johnson's environment. A military base/compound? His room? A work out room at his apartment? After talking to my professor I decided the best place would be on campus. I wanted Johnson to choose a place that he felt comfortable in, somewhere that portrayed him as a Western student and soldier. He chose a study room in Western's biology building. Facing a playing field and Rideway dormitories, trees and lush green show off a great view, which is why Johnson enjoys the study rooms so much. Now looking back I wish I had focused on the sunlight and dirty window spots more. They come out in a unflattering way in the pictures. However Johnson was a great subject and I personally love how you can see the WWU logo behind Johnson's Army cap. I feel like I captured his environment and personality well.

Matt Johnson, 25, poses in a study room on Western's campus. Johnson returned in fall 2009 after serving in the U.S. Army in Iraq. Johnson is a combat medic re-enrolled at Western to pursue a pre-med concentration/ The Biology Building holds study rooms Johnson frequents to study and relax. “The view is why I love this place the most,” Johnson says as he gestures to the sunlit windows facing a Western playing field and Ridgeway dormitories.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

"Describe a recent moment of happiness"

                      My first photojournalism assignment gave me a reality check.  As much as I am getting attached to my SLR 20D camera, using a disposable one gave me a sneak peek on my photo skills and experience. And that sneak peek wasn’t looking so exhilarating. I learned my lesson.  Our second assignment was called the Icebreaker. My class was told to photograph six people as a headshot and ask them an ice breaker question: describe your most recent moment of happiness.
                     With a mocha in my system, I decided to tackle Fairhaven district and started with Boulevard Park and the waterfront’s boardwalk. I planned to ask people about their dogs first, then go from there. I even struck up conversation with one man but lost my nerve.
                I started at one end of Boulevard park and went to the other. The first person I asked was a young man, Kyle Lane, and I awkwardly introduced my photo project after taking pictures of the bay. After speaking to Kyle I felt more confident since my pictures of him had turned out well. I braved the Woods crowd and saw two little boys trying to pet a dog. I was nervous but found their parents at the order window and asked if I could photograph them and they accepted.
                  I eventually felt more at ease and started feeling more natural about asking people a icebreaker question then taking their headshot. I felt more comfortable as I saw others with their own cameras taking nature shots which is what I was also doing on the side. I had fun feeding some sea gulls with Steve Pinello.
                    A few hours later I was tired and extremely cold. After Steve I had talked to one Western student and a bicyclist. I got to experiment using different angles when photographing people and stepped out of my comfort zone with close headshots. I wandered around Fairhaven to no avail. I almost gone one man, a film producer tossing a football with his son behind Village Books, to participate but he was weary after asking about my blog and any release forms. I still needed one more person.
                    Thankfully I found two at the Hohls Feed/Pet Store on Railroad. I was originally looking for Laina, the woman behind Whatcom Voice for Animals for a headshot but started chatting with two women instead. One of them was adopting a cat next week and I took their picture outside. The gorgeous sun worked to my favor. I had many issues figuring out how to make the camera work but after much frustration I found the right ISO, aperture and shutter speed.
             There might be some hope for me afterall.
How my day started: Bellingham Waterfront boardwalk

Christine Campbell, 37, waited for her order at Woods Coffee Jan. 22 as her husband, Dwayne, watched their two sons Owen and Ian, ages 4 and 2. Dwayne switched spots with her as she calmed Owen down after he spilled hot chocolate. "Our family’s first visit to the Railroad Museum last weekend."

Steve Pinello, 68, was on Bellingham’s waterfront boardwalk Jan 22. “I enjoy feeding seagulls pieces of bread and watching them go for it up from up high.”

Ian Coeman, a 20-year-old Western student, likes to come to the covered bench areas along the waterfront’s boardwalk on weekends. He likes to admire the plaques on each of the benches. “They made me see life in a holistic sense, like a gateway to my own life.”

Dan Stapish, 38, was enjoying the sailboats on the bay's horizon with his daughter. “Bike riding together and going through the trails.”

Kyle Lane, 25, waited for his sister to meet him by the Woods Coffee at Boulevard Park Jan. 22. He "Snowshoeing near Mt. Baker for the first time on Jan. 21. I got to take my coworker’s dog and we had fun.”

Katie Dunn, 33 and Ellie Wylie, 17, were visiting Whatcom Voice for Animals at Hohl’s Feed in downtown Bellingham Jan 22. Katie has recently moved from Colorado and had to put her dog down. “Knowing in a week I’ll be able to get one of the cats; I’ve missed talking to a pet.”
Cristina Roock, 21, Western student. "When I get a chance to explore and take pictures like this."

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

                Disposable Image
                                Ironically enough I have yet to own any kind of camera, whether it be a digital camera or not. My friends always made fun of me because whenever we hung out I used disposable cameras to take pictures. I used my cell phone as well but for important occasions a disposable camera was my preferred choice.
                                Imagine my shock when the first assignment I receive in my photojournalism class involves a disposable camera. I was okay with it, until I was told we could not use a flash. And then when I found out exactly how important lighting is when it comes to taking pictures. Lastly I had to take a picture of a stranger, preferably with some kind of story or context behind it.
                                By this point, excitement was replaced with fear. My photo knowledge and experience is pretty limited so far. I had obviously misused the flash function too much in my past. I went to Rite Aid and purchased two disposable cameras, one with a 800 ISO and one with a 400 ISO. In my several years of disposable camera usage I had never noticed or cared for those numbers. Now those numbers controlled how well my pictures would turn out in regards to film speed and lighting.
                                During the holiday weekend I decided to visit downtown Bellingham. I knew I would have many photo opportunities. I could take a picture or anything but I wanted to make sure it atleast somewhat interesting. I got my chance at O’Donnell’s Bellingham Flea Market, next to the Public Market. I was surrounded by great picture opportunities. A man was playing his guitar for customers. All kinds of old and unusual items were being looked at my locals. Many customers came in with their dogs.  I thought my best shot was of Orion Misciagria, 28, sketching while he sat at his  portrait stand.  $10 Portraits $5 for kids, Takes 10-15, Minutes “Not a signature” caught my attention. It reminded me of going to the fair but it seemed more quaint and fitting with a flea market. I thought I had good light. I was clearly wrong. My first picture assignment came out grainy, dark and overall crappy.  I wish I had taken a picture of the musicians. Not only were they by the entrance but also by the windows which equals better lighting.
                I’ve learned from my mistake. If anything I know how a disposable camera works now, even better than I did before. I’m glad I got the guts to talk to the man and get his contact information. I’m sure I scared him atleast a tiny bit but he contributed to making my learning experience even better.  I even went back a second time to get more information.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Will post pretty picture tomorrow when I get on a school computer that one saved, haha.

I shall be using this more for journalism purposes than personal. If you are up for reading about my photo assignments, weird journalism ramblings and so forth by all means go ahead. And if not, I won't hold it against you but you will be missing out on some laughs and maybe a musing or two.