COM 2280 Digital Photojournalism

Digital Photojournalism   09-09-2021

Taking off the lens cap with photojournalism 

Grace Reyes 

WSU Student 

  • History: In 1877, the first U.S illustrated newspaper was The Daily Graphic. It was a historical moment for photojournalism because it showed exactly the meaning of journalism. Sometimes you have to drop everything and run to a scene to capture the exact moment through a lens. On pg. 466 it describes the extent it takes for just a single photo. For us today, it takes seconds to take a photo. I think I personally, take for granted how lucky I am for digital photography. The dot pattern is quite fascinating because “the darkest areas of the original photo translated into a series of large dots,” (Kobre, pg. 468) this created more of a grayscale instead of just black and white thick details. This is just one example of how the evolution of photography was long and intricate to get to where we are today.  
  • National Geographic: Until now, I didn’t realize that National Geographic did not start off as a picture magazine. Understanding photojournalism is understanding how many things we see as normal weren’t how they started off as. The layout we know today by them which is a photo layout unbroken by text didn’t start until 1905 and the magazine was first published in 1888 containing no photos (pg. 475). The first color photos in National Geographic were in 1910 but they were hand-painted by William C. Chapin until 1916 where real colored pictures were produced (pg. 475). These photos were called Autochromes which were plates dyed with starch grains created by the Lumiere brothers. 
  • News in the 20th Century: as time progressed people gravitated towards the appeal of television. Once televisions became accessible to the public it was incomparable to the newspapers. Television has all the aspects of newspapers and radio with real video. In seconds we can find out what happened that very instance instead of waiting a day or a week for the newspaper. The assassination of JFK was really the first big breaking story to air on Television for the mass public to see ( The Story of Journalism, pg. 13).  As television wowed its’ viewers with sound and visual production, the news writing became more fact focussed and less “yellow journalism”. 
  • What is news?: News is timely and informative information that the general audience would find interesting or not previously known. News varies from the audience, the population of demographics, and location. When national news is produced they look at the news the general public of the United States but a smaller news outlet in Flint, Mich. will be focussing more on local issues. There are the five W’s and H that must be answered in every news story: who, what, where, why, when, and how. There are also a few variables that make readers interested. Impact: How does the story affect its’ readers? The bigger the impact the bigger the story is. Are they emotionally, physically, or financially affected by this? Immediacy: When did the story happen? The closer the time the closer readers will be interested and the competition with other news outlets. Proximity: How close is the story? Was it in their neighborhood? Closer events have a bigger effect on readers than ones across the country. Prominence: Public figures, big corporations, and celebrities bring readers into curiosity. Novelty: the unexpected or out-of-the-ordinary stories always have their own appeal. Conflict: dramatic storytelling entices readers whether it’s sports or a power dynamic in the office. Emotions: pulling at the heartstrings or bringing readers glee is a powerful way to entice a reader to a story.

This is an issue of The Detroit News where I marked up the newspaper to identify quotes, pull quotes, bylines, headlines, deck, jump lines, etc.

Photos listed above are taken by Grace Reyes for an assignment in Digital Photojournalism.

Understanding Camera Controls

Photojournalism isn’t just photography it is an art of conveying a story through visual language. As technology has improved over time, many photojournalists use the convenience of their phones to capture these storytelling moments. Over the course of this assignment, I have learned how to use controls on the app, Yamera, to achieve photos of the same quality as a digital camera. 

ISO is the camera’s sensitivity to light. The higher the ISO the brighter the camera will appear. It is good to use in a darker setting. It controls the exposure just like f/stop and shutter speed do. The typical ISO settings are auto, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, and 6400. The default is usually 400 ISO. 400 ISO and higher have better opportunities to capture photos during overcast or low light situations. “Noise” begins around 1600 ISO where the photos will begin to appear grainy like there is a sandpaper filter over the photo. Using 6400 ISO is best for very low light or indoor situations. 

Another important camera control is aperture. Aperture is the opening of the lens where light passes through. The lens can open at different diaphragms which is measure by f-stops. The larger the aperture the more light that is coming into the camera and vice versa. F/2.8 will have a very shallow depth of field whereas F/16 will have the largest depth of field. 

Shallow depth of field means keeping the closest object in focus on the camera and everything else blurred. This is used in my assignment with the portrait feature on the iPhone. I had a dessert in hand which was the object closest to me and the background is blurred. A wide depth of field is when the overall image is sharp and you can see everything clearly. The overall meaning of depth of field is the distance between different parts of the photo that appear in focus thus, shallow and wide depths of field. There are two ways to control the depth of field; the lens choice (aperture) or the proximity between you and the subject. By positioning yourself as a photographer you can achieve a variety of beautiful, intriguing photos by experimenting with where you stand. 

The last camera control is shutter speed. Shutter speed is the length of time it takes the camera to close its lens. Shutter spread through the camera controls the motion being captured. The lower the shutter speed the longer it will take for the camera to close its’ lens. So, ¼ shutter speed equates to ¼ of a second for the camera to close its lens, and for photography that is a really long time. The average shutter speed is 1/60 that can capture basic movement and pretty much anything slower. A fast shutter speed is 1/500 and would be good to capture someone running a marathon or people dancing at a wedding. Shutter speed on a camera generally has the options of ¼, ⅛, 1/15, 1/30, 1/60, 1/125, 1/250, and 1/500. 

To capture someone running a marathon let’s say that it is a pretty sunny day (perfect for photography) and you want to focus on them because your story is on how this runner is running for cancer. For my ISO I will probably use ISO 100-400. I want a sort of shallow depth of field because I want to focus on the runner so I will choose f/1.4 to maybe a f/2 depending on how shallow I want to achieve. Lastly and probably the most important for capturing this moment because it is based on motion is shutter speed. To capture someone running I would want a shutter speed of 1/500. Now for people dancing at a wedding, it is usually a darker indoor setting. To avoid noise in my photo I would use an ISO of 800. You want to obtain a wide depth of field to show everyone who is there so I would use f/16. And, again I would use a high shutter speed to capture the motion so it would be around 1/500. 

Understanding these camera controls are just one of many aspects of understanding photojournalism. Through this assignment, we also take a look at elements such as extreme lighting, rule of thirds, and panoramic. Using elements with camera controls can only elevate the aspect of storytelling even more.