Cheers to Finals!

University of Wyoming Alcohol Consumption During Finals Week

For my final blog I used the tools I have learned with audio editing, the interviewing process, and digital storytelling to create a complete video project.  When deciding what we wanted to report, my partner Kelsey Tramp and I initially chose to do a promotional video on the University of Wyoming 2013 Spring Game.  However, when we realized other students would be covering that same event we wanted to do something more creative and original.

Living in a college town there are a lot of bars in business, but we also know Finals Week can be a major stressor for students.  Therefore, we wanted to report a feature story of the alcohol consumption during finals week and how this time of year affects student’s tendencies to drink or not.

The thing I enjoyed most about this project was actually going out into the community and interviewing a variety of different students.  I felt like an actual reporter collecting our video clips and gathering all of the different perspectives for our project.  I also really enjoyed the accomplishment of this project.  To sit down at the end of it all and play our completed video made me feel really proud of all the work we had put into this project, and to know we would be able to share it with everyone.

Although, the one thing that was really frustrating was the editing process.  We had a really neat idea of how we were going to lay out our video in our heads, but we underestimated the time it would take to actually do it.  The Adobe Premier program crashed multiple times during our editing process and we lost a lot of the work we had done initially.  After going to a technician in the IT building, we were able to get a little more help processing our video.

I learned a lot from this project.  I learned first with the interviewing process how to be personable with people in order to make them comfortable doing a video interview.  This can be very nerve-racking for some individuals unless you talk them through it.  I also learned the patience required to work with certain technology that can pose a lot of threats to your project.  This is what really surprised me.  With a new and updated version of Adobe Premier you would think that a two and a half minute video would not be too large of a file to work with.  However, the size of our file gave the program a lot of trouble.  What happens when you have a thirty minute video you are trying to edit?  Either way, at the end of the timely video process we were able to create the project we had envisioned.

I am glad I got the experience I did with this video project because I can see myself using it a lot in my future.  With sports journalism and sports broadcasting, the research process may include gathering video interview clips with players or video clips of games that must be edited and reformatted to share.  Now I at least have my feet wet and won’t be a complete deer in the headlights next time I am required to make a video project!

Tweet Tweet! Air Dubai Takes The Stage

As we begin transitioning into social media sources for journalistic outlets I was a little nervous.  While I may be a very avid Facebook user, I don’t know too much when it comes to Twitter.  I did have my own personal account prior to this assignment but I am definitely not an active user.  Aside from the purposes of this project however, I do understand that Twitter has reconstructed journalism today and is a vital resource for reporting news and stories digitally.  Not only can Twitter link several platforms of media directly from a post, but it can embed media from other applications such as Instagram for photos, Vine for videos, SoundCloud for audio, and Facebook for text.

For my Twitter event I chose to step out of my comfort zone and try something new for once.  I don’t often join on-campus events or participate in school activities or clubs, simply because I find myself so busy with school and a full time job.   However, for this project I wanted to partake in an event that I normally wouldn’t have.  With that said, I attended one of the Student Activity Council’s music events that took place here on the University of Wyoming campus.  On Wednesday evening the SAC hosted the musical ensemble Air Dubai.  The free event took place in the Union Ballroom when the two music artists took the stage at 8:00 p.m.

Air Dubai

The members of Air Dubai traveled to Laramie, Wyoming performing their hip-hop duo, free for all students.
Photo Courtesy of Google Image

Jumpstarting their musical career in 2008, high school friends’ singer Jon Shockness and rapper Julian Thomas started their collaboration in Denver, Colorado as a hip-hop duo.  The Air Dubai band features a soulful mix of hip-hop, rock, pop, and electronic music.  As of right now, the band has two official music releases titled “Wonder Age” which was first released with its official video in 2010, an by 2011 they had directed and produced their second hit single  “Day Escape”.  Visit their Facebook to find out more!

Much to my surprise the event was something I thoroughly enjoyed.  I thought it would be an event that I would only attend because it was for a school project.  I was very wrong.  This was definitely something I would go to on my own.  The crowd was enthusiastic and the performance was one to remember.  Air Dubai has immense talent and brought their audience to life even if they were limited by the stage in the Ballroom.  As far as my live tweets that I posted I feel comfortable with the quality in reporting the live event.  Although it seems difficult with only 140 characters per tweet, it actually made reporting easier.  My tweets were very informative for some and very descriptive for others.  I also enjoyed hash tagging for this Twitter event because it led me to other users who support the band either locally or regionally.

The only thing I didn’t like is the fact that this event was not broadcasted or advertised to the school or to the public very well.  Air Dubai has a long list of tour dates in locations all over the globe and UW was the only venue that offered it for free.  As a university I feel like it should have been advertised better for more support.  With that said, this made it a little hard for interviews and video for my Twitter updates.  With more people in the audience it would have made for better images and video.  However, I was still able to capture some good interviews with people that I tweeted whether they knew about Air Dubai before the event or not.

From this project I learned that Twitter can be an extremely resourceful tool when it comes to journalism.  You can update tweets to your followers within seconds of something happening and you can capture it in any media form whether it be video, audio, text, or image.  I underestimated the power of Twitter and its immediacy for news, but I learned that you still have to be a cautious reporter for what information you are updating and how accurate it is.  I also learned that you have to constantly remind yourself that you are reporting as a professional reporter not a personal Twitter user.  Therefore, leave your personal opinions and feelings out of it!

One thing that did surprise me was how easy it was to make ten tweets.  Before I attended the event I was nervous that I wouldn’t be able to come up with that many different posts for one experience.  But before I knew it I had well over ten tweets within the first five minutes of the concert.  I realized from this that you could take several different approaches to your tweets.  I made some of mine promotional, some informational, some descriptive, and some storytelling.  I would not have done anything differently with this project.

After completing this social media project I understand just how journalists use social networking cites to report to the public.  I can definitely see myself using this in my near future as I hope to work as a sports journalist after college.  Twitter is often used there as a tool to report sports statistics, breaking news, game scores, player profiling, etc.  This experience has definitely given me the courage to use Twitter more in the future!

Laramie Ink SoundSlides

Laramie Ink

tyme

Tyme Tattoo is located at 204 S. 3rd St. in Laramie, Wyoming and is famous for bringing ink art to the town of Laramie.
Photo courtesy of Facebook.

For this assignment we were instructed to work with a partner to create a slideshow that incorporated both photographs and audio.  We were given the freedom to choose whatever topic we wanted whether it be a hard news or feature news story.  The purpose was to demonstrate the skills we have learned with photography as well as our audio editing skills in audacity, and create a project that exemplified both.

In the beginning my partner, Kelsey Tramp, and I had a difficult time deciding on what to do our project on.  When Kelsey began talking about her hopes for her first tattoo, we thought it would be really interesting to research tattoos in Laramie, Wyoming.  We decided not only to limit it to people who have gotten tattoos done in Laramie, but people here in general that have tattoos.

Kelsey had a much better experience working with sound clips in the audacity program, so she decided to do the audio while I loved taking the pictures.  We scheduled four separate interviews: one with Dustin Burrowes tattoo artist at Tyme Tattoo, one with Keeley Smith, Claudia Carlson, and Tedder Easton.  Both Kelsey and I attended each interview where she led the questions and I photographed their ink.   The only time we had problems was during the interview process with Dustin.  It was very difficult for us to get answers out of him.  He was very vague and very short, but Kelsey continued to ask him questions so we had something to work with.

Once the audio was edited and complete, and the photographs were downloaded, all we thought we really had to do was upload them into the soundslides program.  However, it was a lot more complicated.  When we tried uploading the data it would not work on our school computers.  Rather, we had to download the demo version on our own computer and complete the project from there.

I then uploaded both pieces into soundslides and proceeded to edit the order of the photos to match the audio, as well as add captions to them.   I would have to say the most difficult and time-consuming part to this editing piece would have been determining the length of the photos and how long they would last to match the audio.

After we completed our soundslides project I would have to say there is nothing I would go back and change.  I was very pleased with how well our project turned out and I definitely think it reflects all the hard work we both put in to it.

For my individual soundslides project I would advise myself to take a lot of photos and audio.  It is better to have more to work with than not, especially when you are trying to mesh the two together.

Kelsey Tramp Audio Profile Edit

Kelsey Tramp Edited Audio Profile

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Kelsey Tramp’s account of her Bureau of Land Managment internship in Dish Pan Butte HMA.

Mustang Colt

Kelsey’s Mustang colt named Mako who represents her agricultural roots.

Conant Creek

Three Conant Creek Mustangs were selected for roundup during Kelsey’s internship with the Bureau of Land Managment.

The editing process of Kelsey Tramp’s audio profile was a difficult experience to say the least. When I began, I ran into several immediate problems. After converting the file from an mp4 to a WAV file, the Audacity program still refused to open the audio.   It said I did not have enough storage, even though my hard drive was clear, so instead I had to open a separate Audacity window and work with two different pages.

This was only the first step. Once in Audacity I was excited to begin editing the file and clean it up a bit. I planned on removing my voice that asked the interview questions, long pauses, and anticipated mess-ups such as slurs or “um’s”. While I wanted Kelsey to sound real and natural, I also wanted it to be a professional and clean edit.

However, it became a lot more complex than just adding necessary pauses and deleting unwanted audio. When I deleted the interview questions that I had asked, it was still a lot longer than two minutes. This meant I had to pick and choose what I wanted to include and what could be left out of the profile. With that said, the audio didn’t make sense without hearing the interview questions. I had to completely restructure the audio which was a very time consuming and difficult process.

One of the biggest things I learned from this experience was to be patient. It is very easy to get frustrated with a program like Audacity where you are constantly re-doing and un-doing edits to your piece. Even though it might seem like a disaster during the editing process, the biggest thing I learned is to take it one step at a time. Most importantly, work in order from the beginning of the audio to the end.

I also learned from my experience that the most efficient way to approach this type of project is to give yourself a lot of time. I know for myself I thought editing the sound file was simply deleting undesired audio, but it is actually a lot more difficult. It is important to plan for a good amount of time for editing.

From this project I most certainly enjoyed being in control of the final outcome of my audio file. I was able to make it sound exactly how I had envisioned it even if the unedited audio was very chaotic.

I also enjoyed being able to copy and paste sections of my audio from the original track to a new one. This makes it easier than simply deleting audio from the original file. This makes it visually more organized.

Time was the biggest factor that surprised me during this project. I most definitely underestimated the time it would take to edit the audio simply because I only thought it involved deleting pieces you did not need or want. Rather, you had to fade each piece in to the others so that the audio didn’t sound choppy, alter the pitch to a certain level so the sound did not ever get too loud or too quiet, and delete the right amount of audio so you still had natural pauses but none that were too long.

I was also surprised to see how different the audio file could sound just based on a few alterations. It was almost as if I did not recognize Kelsey’s profile from the raw unedited version.

The only thing I wish I could have done differently was adding ambient noise to the background. I originally was hoping to add the sound of running horses for ambient noise to add emphasis to her profile but the sound did not fit the entirety of the audio. This sound was also too loud and overpowering to Kelsey’s voice which is the main focus of the profile.

I would like to work more with ambient noise to understand which sounds would be appropriate to different pieces, and how those can be used without becoming a distraction.

After completing this project I can definitely say I wish working with audio files was a lot smoother. With all the different audio file types and the different converters, it makes audio edits extremely difficult.

Kelsey Tramp Raw Profile

Kelsey Tramp Raw Uncut

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The interviewing experience with Kelsey was a very interesting one.  The first problem we encountered was finding a secluded place that was quiet enough for good sound quality, but also a comfortable setting for interviewing.  When none of the study rooms in the library were available we settled with recording in my car.

Originally we had planned to send each other a list of the questions we would ask one another, but with the lack of time we had, we didn’t.  I actually think it was good we weren’t able to because it would have sounded too rehearsed and not as natural.

Instead we asked each other which aspect of our lives we should focus on to talk about, and hit the record button.

I went ahead and recorded Kelsey first as she was more comfortable in front of the microphone.  It was extremely awkward to interview her using an audio recorder.  It was hard for me to feel engaged in the interview since I couldn’t say “uh-huh’s” or “yeah”, rather I had to use my non-verbals to show her I was interested.

At certain points I wanted to laugh because what she was saying was funny, but again, I had to keep all background noise to a minimum.  I used head nods and eye contact as a way to show her I was engaged.

The interviewing process was also easy for me because Kelsey was able to give very detailed and descriptive answers to the questions I asked.  Therefore, I only had to ask her questions relative to the topic of her career goals and life after college.

One thing that also made it uncomfortable was sitting still and not being able to move around.  The audio was quick to pick up any background noise and it felt staged to not move the entire time.

On the flipside it was more comfortable being interviewed.  I was a little nervous at first because I have a tendency to talk fast and can’t think on my feet, but it ended up working out.  I had to remind myself that listeners wouldn’t be able to see my facial expressions or have visuals, so I had to give these through my voice.

I used emotion in my voice and was very descriptive so listeners could create a mental image of my life through my profile.

From my experience with audio recording I learned that it doesn’t have to be perfect the first time.  It is important to get the raw story first hand, knowing I could edit any awkward pauses or background noise later.

I also learned it is best for the interview to not be planned out word for word.  People want to hear real stories, not something that has been practiced or rehearsed.

Another thing I learned is how important it is to find a quiet area to interview.  The recorder can pick up little noises that can be detrimental to the entirety of the interview.

More importantly, I learned to keep the recorder in the same spot during the entire interview.  I suggest setting the recorder on a ledge or a counter top, that way you can avoid distracting sounds and muffles.

Aside from the difficulties of this assignment, I really enjoyed learning more about Kelsey.  On a personal level I was able to connect with her as she told me about her life.  It was also fun to be in control of the conversation, I was able to direct the interview and ask the questions I thought would be interesting for other listeners.

I didn’t like however, that we had a time limit of five minutes.  I wanted to ask more questions to get a full profile of Kelsey’s career goals, time didn’t allow for it.

After completing the raw part of this audio interview assignment, there is nothing I would go back and change.  I am happy with the recording I collected and the quality of the sound.  I am very excited to begin editing it and hope to add some ambient noise in the background for the finished product!

Listen Carefully

“Typing”

It was early in the morning and I was pulling another “all nighter” to complete the over load of homework I had yet to finish.  There were very few people left in the library considering it was 3:30 a.m. and it was nearly silent.  There was one noise that continued to ring throughout the room, and that was the noise of the fingertips pounding on the keyboard as sleepless students struggled to stay awake.

The typing ambient noise could be used in an audio journalism story about the emergence of social networking and social media in American youth culture.

“Shower”

The sound of running water is a familiar noise for everyone.  Whether it’s the kitchen sink, the flush of a toilet, an outdoor hose, or the sound of water from a showerhead, which is featured in this audio from my apartment bathroom, people can relate to this sound.

This ambient noise is very recognizable and can be used in several different audio journalism stories.  For example, the running water in this audio clip could be used in a story about conserving water during nation wide droughts.

“Sizzling”

I not only love to eat but I also love to cook.  I am always in the kitchen and after focusing on ambient noises that surround me; I quickly realized that there are a lot of different sounds created when you’re cooking in the kitchen.  The noise made in this audio is the sound of potatoes hitting a hot frying pan and sizzling as I season them for my breakfast.

This ambient noise is frequently heard in the kitchen and could be used in an audio journalism story about obesity issues as a result of deep fried foods.

“Read All About It”

A man at Coal Creek Coffee Co. flips through the pages of his newspaper, lacking any interest in the daily news stories.  His mood is reflected in the pace at which he is turning the pages of the paper:  dissatisfied.

The ambient noise featured here could be used in an audio journalism story about dying print media in our technologically advancing culture.

“Snow”

After an unexpected winter storm hit Laramie early Monday morning, students trekked to school bundled up in snow gear head to toe.  By the late afternoon the snow had hardened creating this crunching sound as students walked through campus.  I was able to record this audio as a student walked into the student union just before the early morning rush of students heading to class.

This ambient noise could be featured in an audio journalism story covering harsh weather conditions in northern states.

“Sweeping”

Sitting at work folding napkins, I was able to take in several different sounds around me.  One of the noises I recorded was the noise of a broom sweeping across the newly polished hardwood floors.  With light chatter in the background, the Cavalryman employee sweeping the floors made for a unique ambient noise.

This noise of a broom sweeping across a restaurant floor could be used in an audio journalism story about competing restaurants that keep clean to attract customers and increase their business profits.

COUNTING TO TEN

Laramie Behind the Lens

Tears of Joy

“Tears of Joy”
Amanda Joy, newly engaged, embraces her fiancé at a Valentine’s Day dinner inside the Cavalryman shortly after he proposed.

After working a very stressful Valentine’s Day dinner at a local steakhouse this moment brightened not only the night for this couple, but for several of the servers I work with. While it may seem like a very simple photograph to capture it was extremely difficult for how intimate this moment was. At first, I felt like I was intruding by photographing this event; however, I soon realized that while this was a very personal time, this was still a time of happiness.

I wanted to capture the extremity of Amanda’s emotions with her tears, but also the joy in the smile spread across her face. I figured since this is a very personal moment it would be best captured up close to draw attention to her emotions. I also used focus to draw direct attention to her face with no background distractions.

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“Snow Day”
Michael Brass clears the walkway out front of his business, Mountain Pacific Mortgage as the snow continues to fall on a quiet and gloomy Tuesday afternoon in Laramie.

An unexpected snowfall hit the city of Laramie on the early morning of February 26th. As homeowners spent most of their day shoveling driveways and their front sidewalks, business owners didn’t hesitate to do the same thing.  I didn’t think to capture this photograph until the man hollered at me to “stay warm!”. Then I realized the effect the snow had on him and his business. He was doing his civic duty to keep customers and townspeople safe from sliding out front his business.

It was very easy to get this shot because of his friendliness and because I photgraphed a lot of this scene. When photographing this subject I felt like I was capturing an everyday moment in Laramie where snow is a normal occurance. Some of the creative devices I used were leading lines, with the shop windows and canopy’s that lead out of the photograph just above the subject, and the rule of thirds so that the man falls right along the points of intersection, capturing the eye of the viewer.

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“Pita Crew”
Employee’s Laura Angell and Marlena Saxe, use team work to take on a busy lunch shift at Pita Pit in the Wyoming Student Union.

Every day the Wyoming Union fills with students eager to keep warm or grab a bite to eat. On a lunch break I was able to capture several of the employees hard at work as the snow drew students inside. When I began photographing it was somewhat awkward. I wanted to get behind the glass so that my photograph would capture their hands at work.

Here I used leading lines from the linear food station that draw the focus of the image straight towards the employee’s hands.

black boy

“Family Guy”
Third grader Marcus Grave uses the computer at the Albany County Public Library for a little Family Guy entertainment after school.

After school hours at the Albany County Public Library invite several young students to come study, read books, research online, or find entertainment sources.  This picture was difficult to take becuase I didn’t want him to know I was taking his picture; when some kids realize they are being photographed they like to pose for the camera.  Instead I quietly spoke to his mother who gave me permission to take the photo and then waited for a shot.  After browsing on the computers, Marcus began watching ‘Family Guy’ which I found very humorous for a childs library entertainment.

I used the direction of his eyes on the screen to draw the viewer to the computer screen. I also like the color used for the bright green chair on his dark colored clothing.  Focus was also used as the books are blurred in the background.  I also used rule of thirds for the boy.

Laramie BBall

“High School Hops”
Laramie Plainsmen endure a tough practice after coming out of a losing game to Cheyenne East. Head coach Chuck Kern put his boys to work during a team scrimmage.

After attending both the Plainsmen and Lady Plainsmen basketball practices at the local high school I was able to score this action shot. The boys’ team was coming off of a game loss to Cheyenne East and was paying for it in this practice. Everyone was exhausted and even I was struggling to get a good photograph.  After moving around on the court and standing high up in the bleachers I was able to capture this layup from the floor. It was difficult to get a good close up picture with a basic camera, but when I got this shot I knew I was leaving with just what I was looking for.

In this photo I used focus; all of the boys direct their eyes towards the ball at the top of the basketball hoop which immediately draws their attention to the subject.

From this assignment I learned that photography can do more than just capture a moment; it can tell a story. While I was surprised of how difficult it was to capture a clear action photograph on a basic camera, it did make me wish I had a more complex one. I also feel like I took a variety of pictures but wish I could have taken more sports photograph’s considering I want to become a sports journalist.

Picture This!

Although I am aspiring to be a sports journalist who uses words to captivate my audience, I understand a picture can tell the same story.  From family and friends, to teammates in and out of the pool, I have experience capturing memories with a camera.  With that said, I could not wait to begin experimenting with the creative devices of photography.  After a visit to Colorado, I was able to capture photos not only from Laramie but from home.  The hard part was choosing only five to share.

 

"Never Tame a Wild Heart"                         Just south of town a family friends private ranch is home to not only this horse, but several others.  Intrigued, Ellie peers through the fence of her home to welcome visitors.

“Never Tame a Wild Heart” Just south of town a family friends private ranch is home to not only this horse, but several others. Intrigued, Ellie peers through the fence of her home to welcome visitors.

“Never Tame a Wild Heart”–  To capture this powerful photograph of Ellie I used the the rule of thirds.  By placing the main subject on the lines of intersection, my photo has become balanced and more natural for the viewer to interact with.

This forces the attention of the viewer to the horse’s face where the real emotion of the photograph lies.  Here the horse’s fierceness and bold gaze keeps the viewer engaged.

Had Ellie been in the center of the frame with a straight on look it would have made for an awkward shot.  The rule of thirds rather gives context to Ellie’s home with her enclosed fencing and mountains in the distance.

This picture also includes elements of contrast with the white snow beneath the dark brown hooves.  The white patch above her eyes also focuses the viewer on the intensity of the horse’s face.

"Mile High Steam"Former teammate, Connor Hartman completes an early morning outdoor swim just as the sun begins to rise.

“Mile High Steam”
Former teammate, Connor Hartman, completes an early morning outdoor swim just as the sun begins to rise.

“Mile High Steam”–  During my visit I was able to capture a mid February morning workout on my phone.  It illuminates both the winter weather and cloudy sunrise that engulf the swimmer. The use of leading lines directs the flow of the image.

Both the directional lines of the ladder and the flags direct the viewer to the subject: the swimmer.  From there, the lane lines not only serve as leading lines towards the direction of the swimmer, but also frame the athlete.

This image also presents elements of contrast with the bright sunrise to the darkness of the pavement.

snow fence

“Wired”                                                                                    As the sun glares off of the snow covered ground, it brings light to a barbed wire fence that was once used to enclose private property.

“Wired”–  As snow still covers most of the ground in Colorado, I shot this picture to demonstrate contrast.  Without having to use a black and white color feature, the blanket of snow naturally contrasts the black barbed wire of an old and rustic fence.

Although the glare of the sun makes the snow appear much lighter, it helps to focus the viewer on the fence.

The photo also shows a contrast not only in color but texture.  While the light color of the flat snow makes it appear smooth, it makes the barbed-wire look extremely jagged and sharp.  This makes the image far more realistic for the viewer

Furthermore, cropping helps to eliminate background distractions.

fort logan

“Lonely Grieving”                                                                      A man grieves over the grave of a loved one at Fort Logan Cemetery; the resting place for thousands of veterans.

“Lonely Grieving”–  After visiting Fort Logan Cemetery in Denver, Colorado I was lucky enough to capture a photo of a grieving man in untouched snow.  The creative device captured in this photo is symmetry and patterns.

All of the headstones are strategically placed in rows, creating a sense of order for the image.  The evenly spaced graves create a symmetrical pattern across the cemetery.

The organization created from the symmetry and patterns draw the viewer to the subject, focusing on his grieving emotions.  The lack of footprints in the snow also creates a smooth texture which eliminates distractions from the subject.

On a ranch just south of town, locals support the Laramie newspaper

“Supporting the Boomerang”                                                    A Laramie home just outside of town supports their local newspaper with a box for their weekly delivery.

“Supporting the Boomerang–  The device captured in this image is establishing size, where the angle of the photo makes the box appear much larger than it is in reality.  The house in the background gives viewers a perspective of the actual size of the Boomerang box.

Although the viewer understands that a house is larger than a mailbox, establishing size helps to strengthen the focus of the subject.  The overpowering size of the box helps to isolate it from any background distractions.

The viewer also understands that the mailbox is not tall enough to reach the sky, however, this perspective of size makes it far more interesting than if it was captured in its actual size.  The mailbox also incorporates color with the lack of background color involved.

After completing this assignment and analyzing my own photographs, I learned that there is much more to a photograph than just shooting the camera.  By experimenting with these creative devices, I have learned that it sometimes takes multiple elements to turn an ordinary image into something powerful.

What surprised me about this assignment was how difficult it actually was to capture an image in a creative way.  Even though I took a little over a hundred photos, the one thing I would have changed would have been to take more.  While I had several photos of different subjects, I would have had more variety if the same subject were shot in different lights, angles, and environments.  The more you have to chose from the better.

New Year, New Look For Laramie Restaurants

A Call for Change
“Cheers to a New Year and another chance for us to get it right” says Oprah Winfrey, as the ball dropped for the start of 2013. And that’s just what Laramie, Wyoming did.
With only 31,000 people which includes the population of the University of Wyoming, the small close-knit community of Laramie prides itself on locally owned restaurants. Although, being disadvantaged by it’s population size, Laramie’s restaurants must continually change in order to stay competitive and successful in such a small town.

Luciano’s Coming Soon
Well known for their fine Italian cuisine and classy dining, Luciano’s has made a bold step in the direction for change. In fact, if you were to drive by today, Luciano’s no longer exists.
Luciano’s is currently in the process of relocating to the previous establishment of what was most famously known as Wingers.

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This advertisement for Born in a Barn is now being displayed in the Luciano’s window.
Photo by Hannah Cox

“We knew we had to take the risk of losing business for a few weeks in order to be successful in the long run,” said Luciano server, Sam Holmes.  “We are a great restaurant and have plenty of potential, our location was simply what hurt our business.”
The new location of Luciano’s will make it the first restaurant people see as they drive into Laramie from the I-80 exit. Owner Eileen Obsuth said the new location on Grand would allow Luciano’s to expand their seating from about 60 at their current location on Ivinson, to about 140, as well as double the current number of employees from 22 to 44.
This, in turn, will generate far better profit for the restaurant and bring awareness to a new establishment.  The previous location of Luciano’s will be the new home of Born in a Barn, a burger, wings and beer joint.

Do You Still “Tell Your Mom You’re at The Library”?
As the Library Sports Grille and Brewery said there final goodbye’s on January 26th, also their 5-year anniversary, there has been plenty of chatter of what’s in store for their restaurant.

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Photo courtesy of Laramie Live

Famous for their prime location, just walking distance from both campus and War Memorial Stadium, The Library was extremely successful. As the owners of the restaurant and owners of the building parted ways after disagreeing on lease negotiations, The Library is saddened to leave their home but will bring their valued customers wherever they go.
“It is unofficial as to where the new location will be,” said bartender Riley Booth, “owners won’t announce it until the deal is closed.  Although we are certain it will be downtown.”

Riley also mentioned “O’Dwyers Grub and Pub will replace The Library with a similar bar and menu.”
While this may be a rough time for the community and employers of The Library, this is also a time neighboring restaurants will take advantage of such a loss. Just down the street is Bailey’s Restaurant and Patio, which is hopeful for more business on game day now that The Library has moved.
Head waitress, Vivian Sannes said, “We are planning on involving parking lot tailgate parties to draw in the old Library crowd on game day. We have just as close a location to the stadium, we just couldn’t compete with the attention the community had already given to The Library.”
Sannes also said they are expecting to see a drastic increase in customers not only on basketball and football games, but professional game days as well.

-Video courtesy of Youtube.

the cav

New additions to the Cavalryman Steakhouse invite customers in.
Photo by Hannah Cox

New Management
While the Cavalryman steakhouse has always been a specialty restaurant to the Laramie community, owner John Pope is hoping that their new management might bring back popularity. After multiple changes in management from 2005 to 2012, the Cavalryman has struggled to keep a steady crowd. However, a new chief and new management has been the solution for their most recent success.
The menu has been updated to accommodate more Wyoming traditional dinners and seafood entrees. They are also in the process of reducing the prices in the menu and reaching out to the average, college student population.
“It doesn’t help that we are secluded from the other restaurants in town, so we have to do whatever it takes to stay ahead,” said new manager Dennis Wades . “I’m hoping that by bringing in televisions and local music I can draw in a larger crowd not only for the restaurant but the bar and lounge.”
Owners are excited to see how recent changes will affect their sales costs and bring back the excitement for one of Laramie’s most historical restaurants.
From Tommy to Roxie

Roxies has a fresh new look to their updated menuPhoto courtesy of Kayla Eva

Roxies has a fresh new look to their updated menu
Photo courtesy of Kayla Eva

With all the adjustments in Laramie’s restaurants, Roxie’s on Grand serves as a superior example for the success that comes with change. For years the corner of 3rd and Grand was well known for Tommy Jacks and their famous Cajun cuisine.
As Tommy Jacks began to struggle with retaining steady business, the location needed an update.

“New owners, new restaurant, new menu, new look. That’s all we needed,” said Kayla Eva, who has bartended under both ownerships.  “People have had a lot more good things to say about it now that we have changed, and it gets busy every single night.”

The community has become excited to go out to eat again and their servers can’t complain about a busy night full of tips.
If this town continues to do what it has always done, it will see no results.
This change gives a sense of hope to other restaurant owners and entrepreneurs that, while Laramie may be a small town, they can succeed if they keep a steady rate of change.

Not in love with “Coal: A Love Story”

Student Coal A Love StoryAfter being assigned the story “Coal: A Love Story” and analyzing the interactive website, I was very disappointed to say the least. After exploring and clicking on stories and coal calculators for about fifteen minutes, it didn’t take long for me to become frustrated, yet still uninformed.
At first I was very intrigued by the site’s creative pictures, fonts, and headings. I thought it was a very inviting look. I scrolled down the page to follow the design of the “plug in”, to find out that there were several videos and a coal calculator (which never worked for me due to the internet browser I was using) to interact with. Initially I looked at the title and then scrolled all the way to the bottom to see what I was most interested in. I did this because I saw that the scroll bar was very long and obviously there was a lot of information. To explore the entirety of the site would have taken a lot longer than 15 minutes, so I decided to focus on the most interesting aspects.

As a girl, I did what most would do and click on the story with the most interesting picture: a girl in a Coal Pageant.born into coal  “Born in to Coal” is the story where I became the most frustrated. It took forever for the video to load, and even then, would skip throughout the entire production. This was disengaging and I decided to go back and look at something else. However, when you click the back button it leaves the site altogether. It wants you instead to click the next button and watch the videos chronologically. Who really has time for that?

With that said, this website violates the first navigation tip: keeping it simple. There were several different stories to choose from as the list went down the page for what seemed like hours. It also went against tip five which explains how the return option should be easy. Like I mentioned before, the back button was not accessable here.  Rather, you had to click on the outside of the text or video box.

news 21Going back to contact the producers and creators of the website was even more difficult. I initially scrolled to the bottom of the pager where they usually have a “Contact Us” tab. But no. Then I tried scrolling to the top again and found nothing. I eventually clicked on the NEWS 21 link and found that this was produced by a team of journalists from top universities all over the U.S.
Then I thought maybe I just had a bad experience with the website.  So I conducted a “usability test” on one of my friends, Randi. She is very user-friendly and interactive with technology so I thought she would be a great candidate. All I did was sit her down and give her 15 minutes to simply check out the website. Unlike me, she immediately clicked on the first story. While the story was engaging for her, it was too long so she clicked the “next” button. Right off the bat she was doing just what the site had intended their audience to do. She continued to hit the “next” button until she got through all of the videos. That seemed like the end. However, by using the interactive timeline, Randi was also able to experience the graphics, something I missed altogether.  She was not very captured by the graphics or the content, which made her uninterested in the story as a whole. ALthough Randi did say she was initially impressed with the layout, but thought that a more horizontal scroll effect would be more effective for this many videos. She also said it would be more engaging had the authors and producers included more interactive media, such as slideshows of pictures, more text, or even just audio clips. It was overwhelming to have all videos. When I asked her to find a “Contact Us” button she struggled. First, she looked at the top of the page for drop down options or at least tabs for the site. When she found nothing, she scrolled to the bottom of the page to look for credits or an author name. Nothing again. She never did find anyone to contact so I showed her the link to NEWS 21.

If I could critique the website and change three things I would first change the layout. I agree in thinking a horizontal scroll option would be more effective for videos. I would also limit the number of videos and add more content to other multimedia platforms. It was very difficult to see the graphic options that were hidden by the much larger links to video, maybe balance it out?  Finally, I would change the top of the website and give it tabs for reaching certain parts of the website such as “About Us”, “Videos”, “Slideshows”, “Coal Calculator”, etc. This way it would simplify the site and its length.
At the same time I would also keep some of the things the same. I would not change the fonts or designs. They were good at making a bold statement to the audience and reflected the content of the story, especially the creativity with the plug. I would also leave the clear labels and descriptions of all the links and stories the same because that was helpful to direct the viewer. The last thing I would not change about the website is its repetitive position of links.  This allowed the viewer to ALWAYS know where to click to access a link. check

Altogether, I think that News21 did a decent job at producing an interactive website.  I believe that any site that entails a high level of creativity can be difficult to the viewer, but also very impressive once they find out just how to use it.