Video Project: Coal Creek Open Mic Night

For this assignment, we were instructed to create a short video story. It comes as no surprise that Rachel Vliem and I paired up and we chose to base our project on Coal Creek Coffee Company’s Open Mic Night. This local coffee shop hosts the event the first Wednesday of every month. Local performers enjoy showing off their talents to other members of the community.

I really enjoyed working with Rachel again. We always have a great time with these projects from planning to editing and it’s refreshing to be in a team or partnership where both participants are putting in an equal amount of work. We collected over 30 minutes of video from the evening so we had to really narrow it down when we began editing, we decided to just focus on one musician and tell a story about him instead of focusing on the entire night in general. Our video uploaded to YouTube at 4:16, but when we finished in iMovie it was only at 4:13. For some reason, YouTube added a few seconds to our overall time.

The day after the event, we loaded our videos on the computer and realized that some of our content was blurry. Luckily we were able to return to Coal Creek the next evening and re-interview both of our subjects. Another problem was the audio. It was hard to control what was heard and what wasn’t heard. Not to mention, in a coffee shop there are all kinds of distractions in the background.

I thoroughly enjoyed this project! It was the first large video project that I had ever done from start to finish. We used my Cannon DSLR and Rachel’s MacBook Pro for iMovie. This program was surprisingly very user friendly and our editing process (once we cut our content down) was very simple. I would suggest this program to anybody using video and I would love to use video and all of the other multimedia that we learned this semester in my future career.

Here is the video that we created at Coal Creek Open Mic Night, enjoy!

Live Tweeting

For this assignment, we were required to choose and event and live tweet it.  Being a large sports fan, I wanted to practice this skill on a sporting event. My family has season tickets to the Colorado Eagles hockey games. Since I was home for Thanksgiving break, I decided to take the opportunity to use a hockey game as the basis for this assignment.
This assignment was very fun for me. I enjoyed providing updates on the game but it was difficult to limit myself to only ten tweets (which was one of the requirements). During a sporting event, it seems logical to tweet whenever there is a change in the score; however, I was unable to tweet all the goals scored because I had to stay within the tweet limit. I learned that games are very unpredictable. If there had been no goals scored, I would have had a much harder time with what content to post but because there was some goals scored, I was able to tweet about them.
If I could go back, I would change my picture. Throughout the game, I was taking pictures but I wasn’t sure if later in the game there would be a better opportunity for one. I wish I would have gotten a goal celebration from the Eagles but instead I was able to catch a post-goal celebration from the opposing team (Aces).
I would love to use social media in a future career. Being an “on-the-go” journalist is very exciting for me and with today’s technology, it’s very easy to share news updates with people instantly. I was able to post within seconds that a goal was scored which would provide any fans that were unable to be at the game, the opportunity to know exactly what was happening. However, this comes with a large amount of responsibility and pressure. In order to become a reliable source for accurate information delivered at a reasonable speed, it’s important to deliver an acceptable amount of tweets (not too many and not too little) and make sure that everything is spelled correctly and facts are true.  With all this being said, I think one of my dream jobs would be to be responsible for a professional sports team social media sites.
Here is the link to my twitter feed in which I tweeted the Colorado Eagles game on November 27, 2013 against the Alaska Aces:

SafeTreat Soundslides Project

For this assignment, we were instructed to cover an event using our photojournalism skills and audio reporting. We combined these two aspects into a single project with the use of a program called Soundslides. The purpose of this project was to apply material that we have learned over the course of the semester into one project.

Once again, I worked with Rachel Vliem and we decided to cover SafeTreat. This event is hosted by the University of Wyoming every Halloween. There are many different events that take place during the night but because of audio challenges, we chose to go to the sororities to collect most of our material. This greatly improved our interviews because we could step off to the side or to another room to collect our audio without background noise.

As always, projects like these take longer than expected. We collected our interviews and photos and had a week to edit everything together and make our Soundslide. We knew that we had to edit the audio first and so I offered to edit all of the audio. This was very difficult because some interviews had ambient noise, some were quiet, some flowed very nicely and some I couldn’t use any of it. Luckily, we interviewed a good number of people at the event because I knew that I was going to need a lot to work with.

One thing I didn’t realize until I was editing was that children a extremely hard to interview. I got over 5 interviews with kids and was unable to use any of it because it just didn’t go together well. Adults are much better at giving good answers and restating the question when the answer. In the future, I will ask kids different questions and experiment with that a bit to try to get some better answers out of them. Some of what they said was very cute but I couldn’t put that in without any other audio from them. Unfortunately, it just didn’t work out and luckily I realized this early enough and we got some good audio from sorority members and parents.

After I edited the audio, I immediately sent it over to Rachel so that she could go through her pictures to see what photos would go well with the audio I put together. She edited the photos and then we put them both together. It was a challenge lining up the audio with the photos and making sure that the transitions were happening together. Just when we thought it was perfect, something else was off.

When all was said and done, we ended up with what I think is a good project for our first time putting both of these together. Rachel and I both have a history in photography and I have a little bit in audio as well. This was very beneficial for us because if we had missed something or not gotten enough audio or photos then we wouldn’t have been able to do anything about it. This event is only held once a year and if we missed a shot, we just missed it.

I really enjoyed working with Rachel. She is a great partner and we were able to capture some great moments all while enjoying the event ourselves.

Here is the link to our Soundslide final project:


Rachel V. Audio Interview Final Edit

I was lucky enough to have a great partner for this assignment. Rachel made my editing job all too easy. I had a good chunk of audio that I didn’t even have to touch. With the little bit of audio experience I have, I was expecting to spend hours editing for this project; however, it only took me about an hour, all thanks to Rachel.

By starting out with a good, solid first question, I was able to get a lot of good material from Rachel. If I was working with somebody who wasn’t as open to talking as she was, it would have been more difficult but I believe that the first question or two are what makes a huge difference in the interview. By the end of the interview, I was sure that I had already gotten enough audio to make some good edits. I had a good minute and a half that was mostly untouched. Other than taking out a couple “um’s”, Rachel spoke very well’.

Throughout this whole project, I learned the importance of pausing after questions, not saying “yeah” and avoiding background noise. Although my editing wasn’t too stressful, it would have been much harder to work with the audio if I had not avoided these things during the interview.

Most of my struggles and lessons were during the actual interview process which I wrote about in my previous post. I enjoy audio and this was a fun project for me. I have done some more intense editing, so this was a nice ease back into it (as it has been awhile since I’ve done much audio editing). I discovered that I enjoy audio more than I thought I did because I enjoyed this project more than I have enjoyed some of our other ones. It’s interesting to me to see what aspects I like and dislike about multimedia.

Here is my edited interview with Rachel:



Interviewing with Rachel — Raw Audio File

For this assignment, I thought it was very interesting to be both the interviewer and the interviewee. Although I have recorded my interviews in the past, it was never for audio reasons, it was for credibility reasons to ensure that I was correctly quoting my sources. During this interviewing process with my classmate, Rachel Vliem, I learned a few things:

  1. I struggle with encouraging my interviewees to continue speaking without the use of “uh-huh” and “yeah” and laughing when they say something funny. It felt awkward for me to not feel like I was having a conversation with Rachel and to encourage her to keep speaking only using non-verbal’s. I had to be completely focused on not making a single noise during the interview. But, I felt the most awkward when she was interviewing me and she wasn’t saying anything. She was very encouraging to me with her non-verbal’s but it was awkward to me to not have her engage verbally.
  2. Along these same lines, I realized that I fidget quite a bit. I tap my pen and I sniffle and I make all sorts of weird noises. I had to do my best to sit still for 5 minutes.
  3. I like to talk, a lot. While Rachel was interviewing me, we had to re-record because I kept talking and talking and we went way over time. The second time we did the interview I felt like I held back a little bit and didn’t say the same things that I had said the first time we recorded. I would hate to be interviewing somebody and for them to feel like they have to hold back or awkward for anything that I could do differently. I understand that we had a time limit for this assignment to help us but I still felt like I couldn’t express my feelings as freely as I wanted to.
  4. Similar to my previous point, I enjoyed being able to talk about whatever we were interested in. This made the activity much more comfortable and not stressful.
  5. I forgot to ask Rachel the most important final question, “Do you have anything else that you would like to add?” How could I forget this, it is one of the most basic rules of interviewing! I did not want to go back and re-record because of this mistake, but, had this been an interview with a serious interviewee, I would have turned my recorder back on for a few seconds and asked her.

This project taught me a lot about myself. This was very eye opening to be able to experience interviewing from both sides while with a classmate. It was not a stressful situation and I did not feel pressure. As a Journalism major, I think this activity was very important to my future. As cliché as that sounds, I will remember these things every time I interview somebody. I know what it feels like to be the interviewee and I have a better understanding of how to make somebody feel more comfortable.

Here is my raw edited interview with Rachel, please stay tuned for the edited version:


Photojournalist for a week

I enjoy photography, I enjoy capturing special moments and I enjoy seeing my edited shots. As much as I enjoy all of these things, I am not the type of person to approach strangers. So, this assignment was very difficult for me. I wish I could go back to last week, swallow my pride and take this assignment as a starting point to break the ice and jump out of my comfort zone. I learned a lot about myself this week and given the opportunity, I would approach it much differently.

Anyway, here are my 5 photos:

Dancing with passion

dance 3-001

Mudra Dance Studio performs at the 11th annual Diwali Night at UW.

I had the pleasure of attending the 11th annual Diwali Night at the University of Wyoming. This dance performance, by Mudra Dance Studio, was exceptional. The passion that the dancers had for their style of dance was phenomenal. To me, dance is a sport. As a dancer of many years, I consider this form of expression just as physically demanding as other sports. This was a tough shot because of the fast movement and stage lighting. I thought it was interesting to include a small portion of the audiences’ heads. It creates an illusion for the viewer as being in the audience.

Indian music

diwali performers-001

Indian classical musicians, Rajeev Taranath and Abhiman Kaushal, relax the audience with their traditional Indian music.

Viewers of this performance by Indian classical musicians, Rajeev Taranath and Abhiman Kaushal, got to experience traditional Indian music. As I looked around the room during this performance, I noticed that viewers looked very relaxed. This calming music gave the audience a little taste of traditional Indian music. Once again, this was a difficult shot because of the stage lighting. This type of harsh light is AWFUL to photograph but I feel like I did my best in capturing both of these moments.

Henna tattoo

Veronika Taube, a German foreign exchange student, takes her turn at having a henna tattoo drawn on by local LHS sophomore, Leah.

Veronkia Taube watches with excitement as LHS sophomore Leah gives her a henna tattoo.

Two local Laramie High School sophomores were sharing their talent with guests of Diwali Night. After speaking with Leah, I discovered that she lived in India with her parents but her and her friend liked to do henna on each other. As I walked back to my table after waiting in line for traditional Indian food, I spotted these two girls at a table and watched as they intently drew designs on anybody interested. I wish I was able to capture more emotion in Leah because anybody walking by could see the pure passion and love of henna.

Bollywood party time


Guests of Diwali Night at UW finished off their evening with a dance party.

The entire night was an experience that is difficult to explain but after the performances and a delicious dinner, the hosts told guests that it was time to “party all night.” I was a little unsure what this entitled but what broke out shortly after that was exactly as they had said, a crazy dance party. It was so much fun and guests of all ages were out on the dance floor enjoying their night. And again, I have a problem with lighting. As a photographer, this is a problem that we face in most situations. The lighting will never be perfect, but we must learn to do our best with what is given. I came to like the lighting in this photo because it portrays the atmosphere that we were in. The tables were empty and everybody was out on the dance floor. This type of lighting explains that situation exactly. If the room had great lighting, it wouldn’t have been a dance party.

Rushing into fall


Students rush from class to class at UW but should take the time to enjoy the beautiful fall colors.

With the always questionable change of seasons, the University of Wyoming campus shows it’s beautiful fall colors just a couple days after a snowstorm hit the town. As students rush to their next class, they should take in the beautiful colors of fall; for it won’t last long. This photo was an easy shot but I think it’s a great one. Anyone familiar with the University of Wyoming can recognize this building and can understand the rush that people posses going in and out.

As I said before, I wish I would have swallowed my pride and had the courage to take some different shots, especially at Diwali Night. However, I am happy with the shots that I did take and it was a great learning experience for me. Once again, I found my handy smartphone camera to be invaluable. This is an item that I never leave home without and it’s convenient because I never know where I will find myself and what awesome photo opportunities any given situation will give me.


The Smartphone Photo Challenge

As I enjoyed the beautiful weather in Colorado Springs this past weekend,  I had the opportunity to capture some fairly interesting photos with just the camera on my Android smartphone. Although, it is a good phone camera, I would have been able to get better shots with my Canon DSLR; however, I wanted to challenge myself with this assignment.

Life is always happening and we never know when we’ll be the ones in the right places at the right times to capture a moment. With the technology available to us today, virtually everybody has a camera with them at all times (on their smartphone). I wanted to test my ability as an on-the-go journalist to see what I could do. So, here is what I came up with (please keep in mind that these are RAW pictures and have not been edited):

Bright purple flowers stand out against the clear blue sky on a late September afternoon.


Fall… or Spring?

This photo is a great example of color. The bright colors of the flowers and the sky makes for an interesting image. This photo also follows the rule of thirds.





Colorado Springs residents are still receiving visits from Hummingbirds as Fall begins to arrive.

Feeding Time

This photo exemplifies a great viewpoint because (once again) I had to get lower and not shoot directly at the hummingbird as it was feeding. In order to make the feeder and the hummingbird more clearly visible, I had to squat down to put them above the mountain and on the blue sky. Through multiple attempts, I was able to capture this shot.



cedar point

The Cedar Point subdivision sits just below the infamous mountain: Pikes Peak.


Cedar Point’s Stunning Views

This photo is an example of depth. Not only can the viewer appreciate the size of the mountains, but also the houses. This is a private community where many wealthy people chose to call home.




nose piercing

Courtney Mckenzie shows no pain while getting her nose pierced.


No Pain

This photo is a great example of compositional cropping. I did not think the it was necessary to have more than the piercers hands in the photo. As the photographer, it was more important for me to capture the expression of Courtney.









The Rocky Mountain High School Dance Team cheers on their football team during a game Thursday night.


The Other “Friday Night Lights” Team

This photo exemplifies balancing. I chose to only focus on one dancer; however, I believe that by having the other two dancers in the photo, the audience gets a better understanding of the situation. It is a team of dancers cheering for their high school football team. This photo also follows the rule of thirds because the main subject is on the 1/3 line.




I understand that these are not the best photos and they are not going to win awards, but I have to admit, I enjoyed the challenge of using my phone. As tempted as I was to whip out my SLR, it was a great lesson for myself that it is important to be knowledgeable with a camera phone also because you never know what you’re going to run into.


The “Welcome Home” Shock

When her plane landed at Denver International Airport, Megan Preston felt more overwhelmed with the loss of security than actually being home. After studying in Maynooth, Ireland for 5 months, she had gained a sense of security that is very rare in the United States. She never worried about walking home at night and she saw children running around the streets with no parents around. She lived in a town where it felt as if everybody knew everybody. Crime was not an issue and she added that in the US, “nobody knows who you are, you’re not safe.”

Reverse culture shock defined

Photo courtesy of "The Abroad Guide"

Photo courtesy of “The Abroad Guide” defines reverse culture shock as “the shock suffered by expatriates returning home after lengthy overseas assignments. It is caused by the fact that the cultural norms of the ex-pat’s overseas assignment become natural to them, over their home country’s own traditions and customs.”

University of Wyoming International Programs Coordinator Sara Robinson defines reverse culture shock much simpler: having to “readjust to what we had previously considered as normal.” She says that it’s the feeling a person gets from a sudden change and what comes of that is a “crash” or otherwise titled reverse culture shock.Robinson explained that during a person’s time abroad, they are living at a higher level of excitement. When they return home, they are not documenting and taking pictures all the time and it’s a different situation. “Even if it’s not about the actual differences in culture, there is a little crash that feeds into it.”

Preston, a University of Wyoming graduate student, just like many that go abroad, did not fully understand the term reverse culture shock. It’s something that many people don’t pay much attention to because it’s one of those things that many people think will never happen to them.

Alison Pindell, a local elementary school social worker, taught in Romania for a year when she was only 24. She taught the equivalent of first grade at a private school in Bucharest, Romania. She expressed that she did anticipate having to adjust when she arrived in Romania but she did not anticipate having to adapt when she got home.

Everybody experiences reverse culture shock differently

Similar to many things in life, reverse culture shock does not affect everybody the same. Some circumstances are much more extreme than others.

Robinson explained three factors that affect the impact of reverse culture shock.

The first factor is age. She said that younger people are more judgmental when they return; whereas older people can be more realistic, more grateful and can process the situation better.

The second factor is the living conditions. There is a huge difference between living in a very poor, third world country and a country in Europe where the culture is very similar to the US.

The final factor that Robinson described is the length of time abroad. For a person that has been abroad for a month, there will be a little bit of a shock but not nearly as significant as a person who has been abroad for a year.

Photo courtesy of "The Murninghan Post"

Photo courtesy of “The Murninghan Post”

Adapting to change

Preston expressed that she had to learn to adapt to these new changes. “I couldn’t change the population [of Denver].” It was something that she had to get used to, there was no other choice.

Robinson described the most important factor to overcoming reverse culture shock as time. It’s also important to learn how to take the experiences learned abroad and approach things differently.

Pindell said that the most important factor for her was leaning on her support system and spending a lot of time with her family and her closest friends. She took her experiences in Romania and compared that to her life at home in order to adapt and change her way of thinking.

Preston explained that after about a week of being back from Ireland, she was taking a walk to relieve some stress. She said that she only walked for about three blocks before she had to turn around and go back home. Preston was so stressed with the loss of the sense of security that she could not continue her walk. With time, she was able to adapt to the situation and now she says that she can’t remember what that feeling of security felt like.

Robinson also mentioned that sometimes people have a hard time with returning to what they previously knew as their life. “The word culture in culture shock is kind of a misnomer because it’s not about the culture of the United States, it’s about the fact that things continue to move on.”


Usability Tests

After completing the usability test on 100 Gallons presented by Powering a Nation, I felt like my emotions had just stepped off of a ride at Disney Land. I experienced frustration, interest, confusion and inspiration.

When I first opened the website, I was intrigued by the layout and I thought that the video was    very appealing to the eye. The design made me want to learn more. So, I clicked on the video and, while watching it, I thought about the content in the short video. It told me nothing about the organization, all I took from it was that water is used in many different situations and is in basically all aspects of our life. The term “100 gallons” meant nothing to me.

When the video was over, I was directed to a page that was not functioning. Very frustrated, I decided to try another browser, so I switched from Internet Explorer to Firefox.

I re-watched the video but still had the same feelings about the content that this organization decided to use as their main page. When the video finished, I was redirected to a page with a collage of different pictures from scenes of the video. At this point, I started to have a better understanding of the point that they were trying to get across but I was still questioning the organization itself.

As you scroll the mouse over the different pictures, it gives a short description of each one and when you click on it, it will open up a new page. I scrolled over each one and then clicked on “About Powering a Nation.”

A new screen popped up over the collage of pictures that had a short description of the organization with a link to follow to learn more about the staff. I read a bit about the staff and it helped me to better understand the organization and it was not until this point that I was intrigued.

I then proceeded to click on the different pictures and enjoyed all of the interactivity that the site provided. I was able to look at graphs, watch videos, read articles, and play with interactive images. It was easy to jump from one picture to another and each one was intriguing in it’s own way. There were a lot of pictures and, at first, it was a little bit intimidating. I wasn’t sure where to start but I thought that was a fun part of the experience: choosing my own path to learn about the information that they provided.

Once I got around the browser problem and had a better understanding of the organization, I loved the site and layout of the content. I did not like where they placed the link to their contact information. If I had not found it in the beginning of my test, it would have taken me some time to do so.

When I conducted this usability test on my roommate, the first thing she said upon seeing the site was, “I don’t really know what’s going on except we’re powering a nation.” I told her to explore the site and she pushed play on the video.

While watching, she said, “Is this just all about water?” It was clear from analyzing my test and observing her that the site needed to be clearer on the goal of the organization.

She explored for a while but then got frustrated. She did not like the site at all because she had “no idea what 100 gallons” was. She said that it was an awful design and she had trouble navigating. She had a hard time finding the contact information and I struggled to get her to explore the site for 10 minutes because she was so frustrated so early.

The usability tests between my roommate and I had similar beginnings but very different endings. I had the patience to keep exploring the site to find out more but she did not. We were both very frustrated at the beginning because the video did not give us any information about Powering a Nation.

I would keep these three things on the website:

  1.  The content: it was all very interesting and informative. It all grabbed my attention and was all worthy of being on the page.
  2.  The interactivity: as a reader, it was very fun to click on and play with the different ways that the content was delivered.
  3.  The colors: they fit very well with the content and the organization. It was appealing to the eye and was not distracting.

I would change these three things on the website:

  1. The opening video: It was not informative. Yes, it was intriguing and it made me want to know more but at the same time, I feel like the organization could have opened with a better video and used that one in a different context.
  2. The information about the organization: I would make this information easily accessible. I think it is very important for readers to have access to the organization because that creates a good relationship from consumer to producer.
  3. The usability across browsers: I think this is the most important change because it is vital for readers to be able to access the information. Many people may not think to change browsers; they may just think that it is a bad site.


My News Diet

With current technology, it is extremely easy for one to know what is going on in the world. Simply download a news application on your smart phone and choose the option to receive notifications. It will send you a notification for any breaking news. I personally receive them from 9news (a local Denver news station), USA Today, and ABC News. Honestly, that’s probably not the best line up, but I’m getting a pretty good idea of what’s happening on a local, national and a little bit of a world level.


I pick up a print newspaper just about as much as my 75-year-old grandmother gets on the computer. The gap between generations is huge. Every morning, she has her cup of coffee and reads the newspaper. My mornings are usually a little more hectic and I’m pouring my coffee into a mug and reading my news app while running out the door.

However, I can’t pretend that I don’t love to read trashy entertainment magazines. And, I do enjoy keeping up with what the stars are doing. While checking out at the grocery store, I read the tabloids and then will go home and look up the headlines. I also like to check out E! Online to see what they are talking about. As far as the reliability of entertainment news, I believe that this is one of the better sources because I think they have established a trust with the celebrities and the public and I believe that they don’t broadcast or post information prematurely before finding out more to the story.


In case you were wondering… Charlie Hunnam and Dakota Johnson have been cast to play the roles in the movie “Fifty Shades of Grey”.

I think that one of the best conversation starters is, “Did you hear about ___?” It either gives you a story to tell or allows for opinions about the situation to be heard. From the crisis in Syria to the casting of Fifty Shades of Grey. I also believe that it is a great way to learn about other news stories that I may not have heard about yet. People are always looking to share the good news story that they heard about recently.

It’s much easier for me to find interest in the entertainment news than world or sometimes even national news. I am trying to push myself to pay more attention and be more well-rounded in my news diet. In comparison to my regular diet, I would much rather eat chocolate ice cream than carrots but it’s important for me to have some veggies too.

Now, on this lazy Labor Day, I am going to enjoy the BBQ my family is cooking up and hopefully share and learn some interesting news!