September 17, 2008

Drool in the Pool

Most of what I do now involves multimedia, including presentations of daily stories like this:
Montpelier Restoration Celebration
I enjoy doing the presentation of multimedia and slideshows. Just like we wouldn't throw stories and photos onto a newspaper's front page without putting some sort of thought into it, we can do the same with web, and try different things. Some have been more successful than others, but it's a chance to experiment and provide something extra for web users. Hopefully, eventually, this will increase the unique users coming to the site.

Every now and again, though, I do get to shoot some photos. For me, it's like taking a deep and much needed breath. I hope that eventually shooting video feels the same, but for now, shooting stills keeps me swimming.

September 14, 2008


For the last week in South America, we headed to Peru. In the matter of a few days we had the extra journey planned and headed our way out of Chile.

It was very different heading to Cusco, the starting point to get to Machu Picchu once in Peru. The city is about 20% tourists, and locals do not appreciate having their photograph taken, except for those who pose as part of their profession to earn tips. This I can totally understand in the sense that the people don't want a camera shoved in their face every two seconds, among other reasons. This was an interesting experience as a photographer. Some were friendly anyway, and regardless of whether or not I have pictures of it, the trip was outstanding. The people were welcoming to us, and the culture rich.

Machu Picchu is definitely the gem of the country, and one of the largest tourist destinations. The ruins around Cusco are also worth seeing, but once you are Macchu Picchu you begin to think of the You make your way to Cusco, and from there either pick up a hiking group (you can only hike with a guided group now) along the Inca Trail or the Peru Rail train. There is the backpacker's train, which is the way we traveled, but they also have a deluxe train with dining cars and a dome top. If you decide to trek, porters carry the supplies for the four-day journey. You can also get dropped off of the train at a couple of different points to do shorter versions of the hike, again with a group.

Machu Picchu is currently under major threat. With over 300,000 tourists visiting it each year, and over 60,000 who take the Inca Trail, the amount of use could contribute to the ruins tumbling down the mountain and the trail is littered with waste. The requirement of guides did not help this issue much. There are talks of putting a cable car up the side of the mountain to decrease bus traffic, but a project such as this could bring tourism up to 400,000 visitors a year, which would be unmanageable. It is hard when you do go as a foreigner to not feel like you are just another tourist visiting, but we did our best to hold ourselves to a standard, thinking of conservation and respect and picking up waste when we saw it.

Once in Aguas Calientes (named for the hot springs in the town and the destination for Machu Picchu), the streets are lined with restaurants and artisan's stores, through there is also a large church and a farmer's market near the town square.

The first day we were there, by the time we got off of the 3 hour train ride, we didn't have enough time to get to Macchu Picchu, but our Hospedaje manager suggested another hike across the valley. We were greeted with a mountainside of ladders to climb up, and then up the top of another mountain from there. Once at the top, we had our first glimpse of the ancient city. It must have been something to come across that place when it was in its full glory.

After having our dinner and trying Inca Kola (which tastes oddly like strawberry bubblegum), we got our tickets for the park the next day. If you ever go, get your tickets and bus tickets the night before. We opted for the bus to do the sunrise (which is totally worth the early hours), and when we got to the stop a half hour early there were already over 100 people in line! Bus after bus after bus loaded up and snaked their way down the river and up the mountain.

We found our spot and relaxed as the sun rose. It is like magic watching the city appear from beneath the clouds. A guide from a trekking group that arrived from the Inca Trail started playing a flute just as the sun cracked through the clouds to reveal the city. We spent all day in the city, making our way through the ruins, doing the hike up Wayanpicchu (which is way harder than it looks!) and seeing the city from high above, hiking our way to the Sun Gate (the last portion of the Inca Trail), and hiking our way back to Aguas Calientes. There are a ton of tourists visiting the city, but for whatever reason you kind of forget that anyone else is around you unless you take a moment to bond about what an experience it has been.

After hiking back to the city, we had a dinner of alpaca and a dip in the thermal baths (as Phil found out, do NOT get any water in your mouth by accident or there is hell to pay the next day!). We used the second half of our bus trip to go to the top again the next day and hike back down, then caught the train back to Cusco. The Japanese tourists sitting around us definitely made the ride home worthwhile.

September 7, 2008

Recent Work

So here is some recent work! Eventually, I'll fill in the holes from the rest of the Chile/Peru adventure and actually finish the editing on the project. But let's be honest... it will probably take me awhile!
After finishing up some high school football swfs to add to the paper's site, and continuing with a LOT of planning and the regular old editing duties, I've been doing a lot of video lately. I have to admit, I still love still photography. I really enjoy the times when I get to shoot probably because I don't have the chance to do it as much. There's something unique about the work, and as one friend put it long ago, it's nice to "walk quietly through the universe." I'm hoping to to get started on more projects this fall that employ a variety of medias.
But I do what the job calls me to do, and have been enjoying video for the most part. Editing it on deadline, however, is by far a different story! There could always be something better, just as a lot of us feel about our daily still photography.
I've found that my system is to capture what I need, then cut down the interviews, then put together those in a storyline, adding the other footage as I go. I generally work in "chapters" throughout a video piece, and as I finish each section I go in and put the final touches on it. This helps me to know what the style will be from the beginning. Once done, I then decide whether or not still photos will add to the video, and how to fit them in.

Anyways, here are some recent projects:

Washington & Lee vs. Nandua I will be doing one of these each Friday night for the entire High School Football season, as will the Web video staff.

Not a bad way to spend a day. Plus I shot two days worth of photos for the print newspaper.

The Library of Congress opened this neat place near Fredericksburg.