Five-Shot Sequence

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After working with video in Digital News Production and Digital News Reporting, I thought I had it down.

But trying to use video to tell a story in a way that I won’t be manipulating with my own narration in editing is tough.

Yet tackling it will only help me in the future.

Like Mark Briggs writes in chapter eight of “Journalism Next:” “Those who go on to journalism school will graduate with a broader array of skills than most of the experienced journalists working today.”

When I graduate from Auburn, I will know how to shoot, edit and tell visual stories both for news and for more documentary-style stories. As someone hoping to go into magazines, which are going through their own digital evolution, this is going to make me a marketable job applicant.

Writing is wonderful and I love it, otherwise I wouldn’t be in the field that I’m in. But skills in writing aren’t enough anymore.

So though it stresses me out sometimes, being able to produce video work that my teachers are asking me to this semester will truly help me as I apply for jobs. I won’t be floundering in the digital world.

As I began to tackle this 5-shot sequence, I knew I wanted to do a food how-to. So I thought of something simple–if I have to focus on shots being in order I didn’t want to worry about capturing a billion steps.

It seemed tedious to me at first, but then I read chapter five of Kenneth Kobre’s “Videojournalism: Multimedia Storytelling.” In the section on shooting sequences he writes, “Just as goods in the pantry don’t make a meal until the proper ingredients are mixed in a recipe, all those shots seem unrelated only until it’s time for the final edit.”

Wow, how true that is.

As I shot, I started to think about flow and how things would work together in the final product. That’s when the sequence started coming together.

In the video below, my friend Sarah Crawford shows us how to make a popular party snack–Golden Grahams Candy.

Take a look:

Coming up with the sequence turned out to be easier than I thought. The difficulties came when I realized that I had taken seven-second shots and not all of them were sturdy.

Due to nowhere to fit the tripod, I practiced bracing as I filmed. I am apparently not quite as balanced as I once thought. I found a few places that shook during editing that I hadn’t noticed in the field.

So lesson one: take way longer footage of each shot so I can ensure stable video.

The other problem I encountered was that my friend spoke a little too quickly in her video. I had to separate sentences in editing.

Lesson two: ask the interviewing to speak slowly and clearly.

These were the two issues that jumped out at me. So now if I were to tackle a larger news video, I would know to cover my butt with tons more B-roll and exert a little more direction/control in the interview.

Overall, I like this piece. I think I could produce similar videos for how-to features at the magazine I’ll be interning at over the summer. Who knows? Maybe I’ll be one of the first interns to take the challenge to work in multimedia at Alabama Magazine!

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My First Chipotle Experience

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I know this is shocking to many, but until today I had never been to Chipotle.

Not once since it came to Auburn have I visited the popular fast-casual Mexican joint that everyone seems to love. And it’s a half-mile from my front door.

Why? I had the mindset that it’s just a more expensive version of Moe’s Southwest Grill. I’ve been known to use that exact phrase a few times.

So today, I was convinced to go for lunch.

After waiting in the winding queue, I ordered a salad. I had to wait for them to finish cooking vegetables. I figured the food must be good if they were running out.

They finally finished the veggies and loaded me up with a whopping seven strips of peppers and onions. Maybe eight. Fo’ real?

I sat down and took a bite, and…yum!

Chipotle beat out Moe’s for two reasons: the fresh veggies (though few) were great and the beef barbacoa was awesome. It was light and fresh and, unlike most fast-food salads, tasted like it was real food, not just microwaved frozen chicken.

Though I’ll avoid the lunch rush, I’ll be sure to go back (and ask for more veggies).

 

The Sights and Sounds of Wake Up Coffee Company

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My audio slideshow, entitled “Wake Up Coffee Company” (link below if the hyperlink fails), gives you the chance to hear from the very busy owner of the popular coffee shop, Wade Preston. He describes his inspiration, his coffee philosophy and a little bit about how his shop supports fair trade practices and artisan crafters. I hope you enjoy!

Full link:  https://googledrive.com/host/0B06vquViR27jWUhOU0tZTWhoUlE/index.html.

(Note: To get the full experience, click “captions” under the slideshow frame to enable picture captions)

March Restaurant Madness

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Whether it was spent partying at the beach or chilling at home, spring break is–sadly–over.

A moment of silence, please.

Now, let’s be honest. Be it from drinking too much, going a little overboard on fast food or just over-doing it on Mom’s cooking, most of us probably lost sight of that New Year’s resolution over break.

We may be past the spring break-bod chase, but summer is coming fast. Swimsuits aside, eating a little better can make a big difference in how you feel. 

Luckily, there are a few affordable places here in Auburn that can help you get back on track in the health department. Take a look at a few of my favorites:

1. Panera Bread

Fresh salads, soups and sandwiches make this place popular. My personal favorite is the Thai chopped chicken salad–the peanut sauce that comes with it is to die for! And for those of us looking to watch the calorie-intake, Panera provides nutritional information next to each item on the menu. (And also on it’s website).

This part is a little bit of a win-lose. You feel great about your salad, but then you know how many calories that bagel you had this morning really contains.

My rule is to save the bakery items for special occasions. Maybe it’s the southern girl in me, but I feel that a good grade, getting that job or finishing a tough week at school merits a quality treat.

2. Pita Pit

This downtown pita shop is basically a Subway with cooler options (sorry Subway, you’re still the sub king). You can choose a meat and sauce to be cooked on the flat top, add any or all of the fresh veggies you like and choose between a whole wheat or white pita.

There’s also the option of making your pita “fork-style,” which puts all of the sandwich fixin’s of your choice onto a bed of lettuce and cuts out the carbs. Voila! The best salad ever.

Go to the Pita Pit website to “Build a Pita” and see the nutrition information for your creation.

3. Taziki’s

This just-opened gem is located in the new strip between CVS and Barbecue House on South College Street. On of the Mediterranean Diet? Well, get your greek-food fix at this fast-casual eatery.

As a chain, the menu at Taziki’s is pretty standard at all locations. It features appetizers, soups, salads, wraps, entrees and more–all ready in a matter of minutes.

The hummus with baked, seasoned pita is an excellent starter to share with a few friends. It tastes incredibly fresh and puts packaged hummus to shame (sorry, Tribe Roasted Red Pepper).

My favorite meal is the mediterranean salad. It’s full of chickpeas, roasted red peppers, feta cheese and other goodies. On top of all that, it comes in at under 400 calories! (Did I mention that Taziki’s provides nutritional information, too?)

These are just three of my personal favorites. A few honorable mentions go to Smoothie King, Earth Fare, Moe’s Southwest Grill (with a few modifications) and good old Subway.

So let’s get back on that healthy-eating bandwagon and fight the post-spring break slump. Are there any good locations that I missed? Comment with your favorites.

A Fair Take on Coffee

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College students love coffee. Yeah, I just dropped some (obvious) knowledge on you.

What college students also love is when they can feel good about their purchases.

Our generation is often happy when we can not only buy our coffee, but know that the people who grew and picked it were treated well and paid fairly.

Enter Wake Up Coffee Company.

Take a look at the gallery below to see what this new South College Street shop brings to downtown Auburn.

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The Auburn branch is just one in the Wake Up Coffee Company tree. Each shop is dedicated to the same fair trade, sustainable and community-centered standards.

I don’t know about you, but I could go for a vanilla latte now.

Galleries I Like

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There’s no denying that humans are visual creatures.

With that said, photos are a powerful tool to any journalist or writer. Even for a future journalist like myself–who is interested in reading news–there’s a much greater chance that I will click a story if it’s accompanied by a great picture.

I can tell a story without using words if I have the right pictures.

Pictures pull a reader in. Whether to a place, into a culture or even into an emotional state, photos can transport you somewhere you’ve never been.

For a taste of what I’m talking about, take a look at the links below.

http://www.foodandwine.com/slideshows/fw-photo-tour-brooklyn#!slide=16

As a foodie myself, the “F&W Photo Tour: Brooklyn” by Daniel Krieger for Food & Wine is a great example of how I remember vacations. With his pictures, he takes you through Brooklyn. He uses images of dishes, restaurants, people, and a few non-food places to give the viewer a sense of the city.

When I travel, I associate the places I’ve been to the food I had there and the people I met. You can learn a lot about a city by going out to its restaurants, trying its food, and just taking everything in.

I admire his use of lighting and angle. He doesn’t just take a picture of a plate, he finds the best side and orients his camera to present the most visually appealing shot. He makes the viewer want to go try that food or see that town.

This gallery is actually an excellent example of community journalism in that it serves to interest outsiders in coming to see what Brooklyn is all about without advertising anything. Krieger simply shows what is in the town in a beautiful way.

I appreciate that he adds a link to each photo that takes the viewer to the site of the business that is featured in some way. He’s giving credit to who created the image, since he is only capturing it.

If someone were to photograph a tour of Auburn in this style, can you imagine what it would feature? An artistic shot of Toomer’s lemonade followed by a festive image of the rolling of Toomer’s Corner after a game, perhaps? Or maybe a shot of someone eating conquering the Cheeburger Cheeburger Challenge followed by a shot of downtown Auburn at night?

The possibilities are endless, really. Like a song, food can trigger the memory of a time or place.

http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/slideshow/2013/08/19/fast-food-upclose/#slide=1

“‘Fast Food’ Up Close” by Jon Feinstein for Fox News is not a beautiful gallery, but it is real. Unlike most other pictures of food in the media, these photos are not styled or lit to make them look appealing.

What Feinstein did in this gallery is show what people are really eating when they order fast food. He simply eliminates the top bun from sandwiches or piles the fries, nuggets or onion rings against a black background and snaps the image.

The result is a bit gross. Without the pomp and circumstance of food stylist-aided company photographers, dishes from fast food restaurants look as unappealing as they are unhealthy. Some of them swim with grease or appear to be still frozen.

This is excellent journalism because it is shedding light on something important. Feinstein is showing his viewers what they’re really eating. And with the rampant obesity in our country, it’s a good message to send.

Living in a college town, this is something I think should be more widely publicized. While young adults may be able to eat this kind of food and not blow up like a balloon now, it can seriously harm them down the road.

The simplicity of the pictures yet complexity of the message that I get from them truly inspires me with this gallery.

Do the images in Feinstein’s gallery make you think twice about hitting up a fast food burger joint for dinner?

http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2013/12/25/dining/20131225-REST.html#1

This third and final gallery is another one by Daniel Krieger, this time for The New York Times. Though “Top 10 Restaurants of 2013” is a light story, Krieger’s photography is excellent.

He has a variety of shots for each location. There are delectable close-ups of dishes mixed in with beautiful scene-setting shots and character shots of chefs and staff members in action. The gallery celebrates each restaurant.

As for the journalistic aspect, this is definitely a consumer story. No, there is no heart-wrenching tale. No, there is not a breaking news event or national problem that Krieger is depicting.

But for a city like New York that draws thousands of tourists, galleries and stories like this are important. Visitors want to know where to eat and businesses want to be seen as the best of the best.

Personally, I think photojournalism that celebrates an aspect of the community is some of the best kind. It gives members of the community the feeling that the news organization cares or can keep them in the know on social happenings.

That translates to increased readership.

I can see a “Best of the Plains” gallery now. What restaurant in Auburn and Opelika do you think should make the cut?

Ethnic in Auburn

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Seoul BBQAmerica is known as the melting pot, right?

One great thing about our country is that everyone came from somewhere else–sometimes way back on the family tree and sometimes directly. China, Korea, France…the list goes on and on.

This variety of culture has led to a variety of food. If you ask someone their favorite type of food, I seriously doubt they would say American. Nope. It’s Italian or Chinese or, more popular recently, Thai food.

And lately, Auburn has been embracing this culinary diversity. Along with a new Steak and Shake and the promise of Jim ‘N Nick’s opening in February, two new ethnic additions have also popped up recently: Sakura (Japanese) and Pho Lee (Vietnamese), both located on Glenn.

Both opened in the last few months and both represent the demand for more variety of available cuisine.

Personally, I’ve been trying to get a taste of Auburn’s lesser-known ethnic cuisines. A recent trip to Seoul BBQ on South College Street gave me a glimpse at something I hadn’t tried anywhere else–Korean food.

I tried something called Yukgaejang, which is a spicy beef soup with vegetables (pictured below).

Yukgaejang

 

On a cold January night, this steaming soup absolutely hit the spot. The waitress recommended I ask for it a little less spicy, or else it would burn my mouth. Thank goodness she did, because it still had quite the kick on the “less spicy” level. But I liked it.

In addition to the vegetables, there were a few strange, twig-like noodles (at least I think they were noodles) that gave a nice textural contrast from the simmered cabbage and shredded beef. It was definitely different from anything I’d ever had before.

And that’s the great thing about trying different cuisines: you get to do something different. You get to see how people from other parts of the world eat. Some dishes may seem odd (read: Korean fish cakes), but hey, you never know what you could like!