Full monty

IMG_2760

The sky was unusually clear today, so I thought of going out to take more pictures for this series of photographs I’m doing. Where to go to was a no-brainer, for a public park is just a stone’s throw away from my apartment here in Amsterdam. The challenge was how to capture nature showing rythm when everything seems to be in a torpid state this time of year.

Fortunately, seeing the tree above on my way to the park gave me an inkling of what to focus on for this photo shoot: trees going full monty as their way of syncing with the changing season. I did just that and was pleasantly surprised with these results:

Tree 2

Tree 3

Tree 4

Tree 6

Tree 5

Tree 7

I also took pictures of trees in Paris and I’m thinking of using them as examples of photos showing texture or pattern.

Still life

Umbrellas

This is my second series of photographs, this time for the theme still life with complementary colors.  These pictures were also taken in Paris: the first three, at the Carrousel du Louvre Shopping Center; and the last one, at a chicken fastfood. Please click images to enlarge.

watches

wallets

Sauces

Romancing the camera

Musée du Louvre

I was in France this week to spend Christmas with friends, and I took the opportunity to snap these pictures with my five-year-old digital camera (Canon IXUS 860 IS). I have yet to get the DVD containing our lessons, so to get me started I just read The ultimate beginner’s guide to digital photography, a magazine I bought recently and brought with me for this trip. I also visited a number of websites, and this collection of photography tutorials was particularly helpful.

I’m starting off this series with the following shots of architectural buildings that show vertical lines.

La Basilique du Sacré Coeur de Montmartre

Hôtel National des Invalides

Hôtel National des Invalides

Hôtel National des Invalides

Le Théâtre du Palais des Glaces

Arc de Triomphe

Pantheon

Panthéon

Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne

Château de Versailles

Featured structures are (from top): Musée du Louvre (photo 1), La Basilique du Sacré Coeur de Montmartre (photo 2), Hôtel National des Invalides (photos 3, 4 and 5), Le Théâtre du Palais des Glaces (photo 6), Arc de Triomphe (photo 7), Pantheon (photo 8 and 9), Université Paris (photo 10), and Château de Versailles (photo 11)

Please click the pictures to enlarge.

There’s no time to explain

I came across this curious video mashup while doing my second TMA. It conveys no profound message whatsoever — because it has no time to explain? — but it has left me still wondering how much work went into producing it. For one, just how did the creators manage to know that the 41 clips they mashed up contain that line? Here’s the list:

The Simpsons
Kaboom
101 Dalmatians
If Looks Could Kill
Hey Arnold: The Movie
Greg the Bunny
Kill Speed
Fool’s Gold
Les Miserables
Ricochet
Scary Movie 4
The Swan Princess 2
Capricorn 1
A Mighty Wind
Sleeping Beauty
The Thief Lord
The Emperor’s New Groove
Beauty and the Beast
Big Fish
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
National Lampoon Presents: Dorm Daze
Without A Paddle: Nature’s Calling
The Hidden II
Innerspace
Tin Man
Cellular
Life Size
The Rescuers Down Under
Narrow Margin
Killer Klowns from Outer Space
The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra
The Sword and in the Stone
Garfield’s Pet Force
Airplane II
Johnny Was
Boston Legal
Ice Spiders
Beyond Loch Ness
Hercules and the Amazon Woman
Capricorn 1
Sin City

Amazing, indeed,  how such a “simple” concept could morph into a somewhat entertaining piece of work.

Mashing up for press freedom

mashups

I just finished producing my first mashup, our second teacher-marked assignment for this course. And here’s how the whole process went.

At first, I thought of creating a music mashup of kundiman songs and mix it up with a modern beat. But I scrapped the whole concept when I finally realized that mastering Audacity would take me forever to finish the task at hand. After considering other genres, particularly mapping and video and photo mashups, I finally decided to do a news mashup instead, using RSS and Atom syndication technologies.

My topic is press freedom. The choice was made easier by my being editorial consultant and former webmaster of zumel.com, the official website of the Antonio Zumel Center for Press Freedom. The current staff was kind enough to allow me to access the site and create a section where I could build a temporary private “playground.”

The idea behind this mashup is to automatically generate all the news produced by groups involved in press freedom advocacy and publish them as an additional section of the zumel.com, which, incidentally, is powered by Joomla. To do this, I needed to install a Joomla component that could aggregate these feeds. I eventually settled for the free Feedgator.

The next step was to select a representative number of organizations listed on zumel.com’s weblinks, visit them, and subscribe to their feeds. Doing this was, in the main, also glitch-free, except for a few organizations that don’t have links to their feed’s URL. I then suddenly remembered Flock, a browser that could automatically detect a site’s syndication feature. But I was well aware that the browser had long been dead. Nevertheless, I still took my chance and decided to visit the site, and got to read this on their homepage:

“The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated. – Mark Twain. Stay tuned.”

Seeing a glimmer of hope, I went to my favorite download site, Filehippo, and found a downloadable Flock (this was a favorite browser of mine and I’m just glad it’s going to be resurrected). To cut the story short, I managed to complete collecting the feeds I needed, which, though not comprehensive, will give one an idea of what the mashup intends to do.

For the video section of the site, I downloaded Simple Youtube Module, also a free Joomla extension. Unfortunately, it could only accommodate one video at a time, as the other available modules are paid downloads.

For the section Media in the News and Reports, I just copied a native Joomla module already installed on the site’s backend to house all those news items that are linked to sites by newspapers and organizations.

Looking at the final product reminds me of several news aggregator apps like Zite, Flipboard, and Pulse, which I all use to read only the news I want. The increasing popularity of these apps is a clear indication that there’s a market for this sort of news mashups. (Google has recently joined the fray with its own app called Currents.)

I’d say I enjoyed doing the assignment. Aside from giving me the basics of what a mashup is, it has also served as one nice opportunity to review my knowledge of Joomla, the Content Management System I used in building several websites for a number of nongovernment organizations in the past.

Please get in touch with me for the username and password if you want to view the final product.

Pop Danthology 2012

The year is almost over, and for sure all sorts of lists containing the best of 2012 are forthcoming. Above is one good example: a list of this year’s top-selling singles presented in a quite dynamic way. Instead of just listing down the more than 50 songs that dominated this year’s pop charts, Daniel Kim decided to mash them up into a totally seamless eight-minute-long video, so well-crafted that all the featured artists would, I think, feel rather honored to have been included in it. Nice piece of work, indeed.

Social media and photography: a symbiosis

Lindsey Cook, a junior journalism and computer major at the University of Georgia and multimedia editor at the Red & Black newspaper, predicts that “the relationship between social media and photography will grow even stronger” in the coming year. The prediction is one of the ten trends she says online journalism will be embracing in 2013. Cook writes:

Using social media to bring traffic to your website — whether it’s a newspaper, blog or small business — isn’t new. In 2012, social media experts preached a photo-centric strategy on Facebook. The rise of Instagram, Tumblr and Pinterest in recent years further strengthened the relationship between social media and photography. Alexis Mainland, social media editor at The New York Times spoke with Photo Shelter Blog in April about the relationship, saying “The cliche that a picture is worth 1,000 words rings especially true on social media sites.”

(Incidentally, Walter J. Ong also used the saying a picture is worth a thousand words in his book Orality and Literacy, writing that it is just a saying: “Because a picture is worth a thousand words only under special conditions — which commonly include a context of words in which the picture is set. “)

Anyway, you can visit Cook’s blog, Digitize me, Captain, to read the rest of her predictions on the future of online journalism.