Category Archives: Journalator

Holga 135: What I’ve Learned So Far

I got my first roll of film shot in my new Holga back from Photo Market today.

Things I’ve learned so far:

  • The vignetting on the 135 is much, much less obvious than on the 120, which I kind of like. But take note: This is true of the regular ol’ 135, but NOT the 135BC. That thing has crazy vignetting, from what I’ve seen, and I’m pretty sure I read somewhere it was because of a filter. With the regular 135, the vignetting is natural.
  • Double exposing is awesome. Believe it or not, this is the first camera I’ve owned that’s capable of double exposure. (Shutter button independent of film advance FTW). But I need to find a place that does a better job at cutting prints than Photo Market. I know nothing about what the development process there is like, but it seems like they automated the thing; a lot of photos cut in half. It’s really upsetting.
  • Light leaks in the 135 are a lot less severe than on the 120. This is good or bad, depending on what you want, obviously.

TIPS. In case you are interested in buying at 135:

  • Shoot only in the best lighting possible. Even with high-speed film, only the bright, sunny, outdoor photos really turned out. That is unless you shoot in …
  • Bulb mode. Use it. The only good indoor photos I took were shot in bulb mode.
  • Aim high. Since this is not an SLR, the viewfinder doesn’t really give you an accurate picture of what you’re shooting. This should have been obvious, but my only other non-SLR camera is my Lomo Fisheye. If you’ve ever shot with one of those, you know you don’t use the viewfinder anyway because half your field of vision is taken up by the lens anyway.

UPDATE — Here are the photos:



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My first shot with Storify

I took advantage of an interesting Twitter conversation between Maine media folks to make my first story on Storify, the sweet new social media aggregator that’s been used so well to document The Last Hours of @MayorEmanuel, as well as may other awesome stories.

Anyway, the story’s not that interesting unless you’re a journalist. And even then, it’s nothing special. I’m no expert in the realm of online journalism, and I don’t think I got my ideas out very well. Mostly I’m just working my way around Storify. Hope you have a few thoughts on the matters, though. If you do, leave them in the comments.

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How Journalists Incite Violence, Courtesy of Sarah Palin

Yesterday, Politico ran a story about how Republican 2012 hopefuls are responding to the shooting Saturday of Democratic Ariz. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (among many others) in Tuscon. She wrote,

“Palin, for her part, has practically gone underground since posting a message of sympathy for the victims on her Facebook page and removing the target map from her website.”

Map from SarahPAC, depicting target districts for the 2010 election, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords'.

That was the story yesterday regarding Sarah Palin. Despite being at the eye of Hurricane Rhetoric, Palin all but ducked. (The target map mentioned can be seen above. SarahPAC depicted target swing districts with a rifle’s crosshairs, including Rep. Giffords’ district).

But that was yesterday. Today, Palin released  her video response, “America’s Enduring Strength” (catchy title, huh?). In it, the Mama Grizzly rejected the idea that violent or heated political rhetoric could contribute to actual violence, saying:

“Acts of monstrous criminality stand on their own. They begin and end with the criminals who commit them, not collectively with all the citizens of a state. Not with those who listen to talk radio. Not with maps of swing districts used by both sides of the aisle. Not by law-abiding citizens who respectfully exercise their first amendment rights at campaign rallies.”

Later in the video, Palin says:

“Within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence that they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible.”

So there you have it: Rhetoric from Sarah Palin cannot possibly contribute to violence in society. That unique power is the sole propriety of journalists.

</logic fail> </insanity>

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New Feature: The Street

Tomorrow Journalator will launch a new weekly feature: The Street

One of the most obvious aesthetic differences between Portland and other Maine towns I’ve called home over the years is the abundance of eye-catching, well-designed (or not) poster art, promos and signage. We all look at them — some of us with more purpose than others. They are omnipresent. And often awesome.

Every Friday at noon, The Street will feature one head-turning Portland-area visual seen at street level. The idea is to create an ongoing impression of the signposts, bulletin boards and blank walls throughout this city. I’ll be focusing on promotional material because I’ve got a soft spot for poster art and concert fliers, but this is really anything goes. Any intentional street-level art could make the cut.

The best part is that if you want to, you can help. Snap a photo of any noteworthy street-level flier, poster, want-ad or even storefront signage in the greater Portland area that catches your eye and send it to Just include when and where the photo was taken, name and e-mail address. I’ll do the rest.

Check back tomorrow at noon for the first installment.

NOTE: I couldn’t start this post without giving a shout-out to Aubin Thomas at Freeze Tagging, whose work I hope not to replicate but expand upon. IF you don’t already check Freeze Tagging regularly, you should.


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No Comment? Not for long

PORTLAND — If anyone tried to sum up the last few days in Maine media-watching, they’d have a hard time doing it better than Kara Matuszewski, who said this morning on Twitter:

“Well if nothing else @PressHerald publisher Richard [Connor] knows how to get attention.”

In case you don’t follow Maine media goings-on, MaineToday Media — owner of the Maine newspapers Portland Press Herald, Kennebec Journal, Morning Sentinel and their websites — shut down online comments sometime Tuesday evening. (Connor is MaineToday Media’s top dog.) The explanation for which, now removed, explained the rationale behind this decisions:

“While it may be an unpopular decision with some, we made it because what once served as a platform for civil civic discourse and reader interaction has increasingly become a forum for vile,crude,insensitive, and vicious postings. No story subject seems safe from hurtful and vulgar comments.”

MaineToday also said they would “consider reopening our commenting section in the future by making contributors accountable in some way for what they say.”

This point seemed to have been largely overlooked by the swift response from a slew of readers who pounced on the Press Herald (which served as a proxy target for praise and criticism alike) for everything from “closing community” to giving in to choosing to kill dialogue rather than finding a solution. MPBN and the Portland Daily Sun both ran stories about the comment shutdown.

The swift response made sense at the time (as I argued yesterday, a newspaper acting this way is news and deserves comment), but seems a little premature today, as the newspaper chain launches a new comments system powered by Intense Debate.  Damien Kiesow pointed out at Poynter sums up the change:

“Intense Debate appears to meet many of the criteria for increased accountability Connor laid out in his original memo. For readers, the system allows a variety of different log-in options, including Facebook and Twitter. For news staffers, the system includes advanced moderation tools, such as filtering, blocking or deleting of comments by keyword, e-mail address or IP address.

“It is not clear if the paper plans to enforce a ‘real name’ policy, as nicknames are still currently being allowed. However, Intense Debate can be configured to allow users with Facebook accounts, but not Twitter, for example, to log-in and comment. That would significantly increase the percentage of users commenting on the site using verified identities.

Intense Debate is also used by the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader, the flagship newspaper in a chain of publications Connor owns in Pennsylvania”

The move to this sort of comment moderation is not without precedent in Maine. This summer, the Bangor Daily News opted to use Disquss, which operates similarly to Intense Debate. Both services offer a feature that moves comments that receive good feedback to the fore, though it’s not clear whether MaineToday has chosen to enable this feature.

I’m sure Tony Ronzio, editor at the Kennebec Journal, wasn’t alone in saying he’d “thought about newspapers, the web and reader involvement more during the past 5 days than in months.” Twirps were a-tweeting during the last few days about the role of reader comments on newspapers’ websites and how best to encourage dialogue without sinking into the muck. Hopefully MaineToday’s new system accomplishes this. I’m sure all the publicity didn’t hurt, either.

(Disclosure: I spend my working life these days editing copy, laying out pages and waxing philosophical with Tony Ronzio at the Kennebec Journal in Augusta. By extension, I also work for the KJ’s sister paper, The Morning Sentinel in Waterville.)

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Im currently en route from Portland to Boston on the Amtrak Downeaster. Maybe for you city folk, this isn’t noteworthy, but it’s my first time (ever) riding a train. Impressions so far:

– It’s a lot more comfortable, fun and spacious than a bus.
– Food car? Where I can buy not only admittedly bad coffee but also a Charlie Card with two pre-paid fares? Awesome.

The 2.5 hour ride is also giving me an excuse to finally try posting from WordPress’s iPhone app. Handy in a pinch, but my troglodyte fingers aren’t quite as nimble on this touchscreen as I might like.

In keeping with all the writing I’ve been doing since I moved, both digital and analog, I should mention Portland. Here it’s easy: The city gets big points for being the first place I’ve lived with truly convenient connections to the outside world. $45 gets me to Boston and back? Sold.

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A city of bricks and spectacle

PORTLAND — The first thing that always strikes me about downtown Portland is the bricks. It probably shouldn’t even register, especially because New England is the brick-and-mortar capital of the U.S. But I’m still always struck by how rusty-red everything is. From the sidewalks to street-facing facades to the ceiling in the public market house; Everything is brick.

Grafitti, Congress Street, Portland, Maine.

The second thing that struck me about downtown Portland since I moved here a week ago is the abundance of a really public kind of craziness and the way it helps people meet each other. It seems that if you want to not only see new faces but talk to new people, the best thing to do is sit outside and wait for a happening. (I should mention here that normally I wouldn’t even bother to comment on how there are crazies in this or any city. But I have on good information from a native Manhattanite living in Portland that the ratio of Crazy:Not Crazy is much higher here than in The City. He assured me it deserves comment. I trust him.)

Every time a very well-dressed but very self-righteous zealot starts waving around a bible, or an indignant shop owner leaves his post to tell the dirty kids to stop wrestling because it’s scaring away business, or the police peel onto the sidewalks to delicately lead away a man who too quickly turned from a talking-to-himself harmless guy to a screaming-and-cursing-at-passersby scary guy, strangers pop out of the woodwork to watch.

Doors swing open as patrons, workers, hipsters and transients leave their laptops, cash registers, books and conversations to stand outside, smoke cigarettes and watch the happening unfold. I count six new acquaintances from observing the angry preacher mentioned above.

I’m sure there’s some sort of critical, probably Marxist, social theory dedicated to screaming down this kind of voyeurism. But that probably legitimate criticism doesn’t take away from the apparently very real ability spectacle has to bring new people together.

So if you, like me, are new to town and hoping to meet new people, just sit back and wait. Inevitably, someone will appear with a loud, maybe even scary mission to give you and a total stranger something to talk about.

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