Last week I had the pleasure of attending Bob Sacha‘s class, “New Media, New World,” at the Maine Media Workshops. The goal of the class was to produce a one minute multimedia piece. In today’s world, it’s important to understand how to distill a lot of information into a small amount of time and space. Working with my Canon 5D Mark IV, a shotgun microphone and a Zoom audio recorder, I had one day and two meetings with my subject to capture enough audio and video to create an interesting piece. It was fast paced and crazy. My subject was a recovering alcoholic who runs a dog-sledding business in the winter on the central coast of Maine, and here it was, the middle of August. It took 4 days, but I was able to complete my mini-documentary! It’s slightly over one minute, but Bob granted us all a few seconds grace period if it would finish the piece nicely. Below is the result. I’m working on two other projects, and look forward to getting those finished and uploaded. However, I’ll likely be a bit behind schedule as this weekend I am headed to Wales and England for National Geographic Expeditions to teach photography on their ships. Follow me on Instagram for images from the Expedition, or better yet, jump on a plane and join us! Thanks for visiting.
A while back, I had the pleasure of photographing Paul Theroux, the famed travel writer, at his home on the island of Oahu for a story for Smithsonian Magazine. I also collected sound and video for a short piece for the online magazine.
I uploaded it to my Vimeo channel so that you can see this short piece about the art of hula in Hawaii.
Aloha and a hui ho!<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/178621129″>The Meaning Behind Hula</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/susanseubert”>Susan Seubert</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>
A while back, I photographed a story about Haleakala, the volcano located on the island of Maui. This is a very popular tourist destination where people go to watch the sun rise or go for a hike in the gorgeous volcanic crater. It is also a sacred place for the native Hawaiian people. I had the good fortune of not only landing the story on the cover of Smithsonian, I also gathered video and audio for a multimedia piece that was subsequently edited by the team at Smithsonian Magazine and published on their web site. There is now an HD version of the final piece to my web site as well as my Vimeo channel. I’m very proud of this piece as it was extremely difficult to produce. I gathered all of the sound in the field. I shot the video footage at the same time I was shooting stills. It was not an easy task, but I was thrilled to have the opportunity to do so for such an amazing publication.
Aloha and mahalo nui loa for visiting my blog!
Yet another long overdue post…
This year I was one of 24 artists/teams selected for the citywide Oregon Biennial, Portland2012 which was held earlier this year. Portland2012, the Biennial of Contemporary Art, is a major survey of work by visual artists who are defining and advancing the contemporary arts landscape in the state. The show was presented by Disjecta and curated by Prudence F. Roberts.
My installation at Disjecta is titled, “The Digital Divide,” and consists of a series of QR codes installed in the gallery which, when scanned with a smart phone or other hand-held device, takes the viewer to videos and/or text. The artist statement follows below. You can view the installation on my fine art web site here. The videos can be watched by scanning the QR codes from your computer screen, or by visiting the multimedia portion of my web site. I would like to thank the fabulous people at Disjecta, Ms. Roberts, Marc Greenfield and all the volunteers that helped make this piece possible. Tri-Met was a wonderful sponsor and included some stills from the videos on the sides of buses and on bus stop shelters throughout the city of Portland.
The following is the artist statement for the piece:
To explore ideas of toxic waste, environmental impact due to rapid changes in technology, specifically communications technology, I have chosen to create a series of videos, which are accessible via QR codes using smart-phone technology. New methods of communication, (cell phones, smart phones, computers), have created forms of consumption which have had a direct correlation to the environmental impact of that consumption. Although not obvious, many natural resources are used to manufacture technological goods that we now rely on for communication. These materials are often harvested from third world nations, the most famous example being the Democratic Republic of the Congo where the thirst for Colton has fueled violent conflict. Some heavy metals are used in the manufacturing of communication technology such as cadmium, lead and arsenic. The rapid change in such things as processor speed and memory capacity has led to an enormous turnover in electronic hardware waste. (One statistic cites that the performance values of Information and Communication Technology double every 18 months.)
QR (Quick Response) codes are a type of matrix barcode, which consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on a white background. They were designed by the Japanese in the early 1990’s to track vehicles during the manufacturing process. The use of the QR code is growing as a point-of-purchase symbol, where the consumer can scan the code and be taken to a video about whatever product to which the code is connected. The codes can be used for urls, text or numeric information. The problem is that the consumer must have a smart phone, access to the Internet and the application that allows the camera to read the code. Using QR codes as a method of communication, in order to see the actual visual information it conveys, most of which could normally be seen using our eyes through traditional media, one must use a camera. Eyes will simply no longer suffice to handle the task of reading, (i.e de-coding), the image.
Semaphore signal videos installed on the Internet, transmitted to the viewer via QR codes, emphasizes the digital divide that is currently prevailing in our global culture.
Working on the assumption that most viewers of this piece will not be able to read the semaphore signals as letters, (which form a sentence relevant to each location where the video was made), and that there will also be a number of viewers who will not have the relevant technology to read the QR codes, the piece will have effectively alienated the viewer from at least one critical portion of the piece, therefore encompassing both ends of the digital divide. I chose to use the Semaphore code because it is being phased out as a means of communication. Although it is still used in certain military situations, (such as refueling ships or moving munitions at sea), it will soon be gone as a method of communication. The Semaphore Flags system is used for conveying information at a distance by means of visual signals with hand-held flags.
The current, (May 2012), issue of Smithsonian Magazine features an online multimedia piece about the meaning behind hula and I had a great time shooting the video and audio that comprise the bulk of the piece. I had been assigned to illustrate a story written by Oahu resident and well known author Paul Theroux entitled, “Paul Theroux’s Quest to Define Hawaii.” It was a pleasure to spend an afternoon with Paul, an extremely interesting and generous man. He’s always got a tale to tell and is engaging in conversation. I feel quite lucky to have now worked on two of his stories. His story can be read here, the photo gallery can be seen here, and you can hear his thoughts, along with Kumu Hula Hinaleimoana Wong Kalu in the multimedia piece here.
All of the still images and video were made with Canon 5D Mark II bodies, Canon L series lenses and the audio was captured with a wireless Sennheiser mic system and the Zoom H4n hand-held audio recorder. The stills were processed in Adobe Lightroom and Smithsonian’s in-house video editors compiled the raw material into the finished piece. Go team Smithsonian!
Last fall, I shot a feature story and multimedia piece for Smithsonian Magazine. I landed the cover. (Yippee!!!) Smithsonian’s editing team took the raw footage and audio, and produced a very nice video to accompany the article as it appears online and on their iPad application. Since I’m a Wonderfulmachine photographer, they decided to write a nice blog post about the job here. I’m grateful to have Maria Luci on my team of supporters to help spread the word that I am capable of working in the field under challenging circumstances and produce great results. This feels like shameless horn-tooting, but I feel that the only way to showcase my abilities is to get the word out through modern channels. 🙂 Thanks for your time!
Saturday night, or possibly Sunday morning, my 737 delivered me safely home to Portland after I spent 16 days in Bahia de Magdalena and the Gulf of California, otherwise known as the Sea of Cortez. It was a thrilling adventure aboard the National Geographic Sea Bird where I was the National Geographic Photography Expert on board the ship. I met many, many lovely people who had come from all corners of the earth to enjoy the extraordinary drama of this place. In Bahia de Magdalena, one of three nurseries for Gray Whales along the Pacific Coast of the Baja Peninsula, we encountered these behemoths. It is difficult to put into words the feeling when a month old baby whale sticks its head out of the water, looks directly at you, and invites a scratch on the chin. The whales chose us as their companions and judging from the size of these cetaceans, we knew we had to follow their lead. The expedition took us to many islands in the Gulf of California where amazing rock formations and incredible diversity of plant and animal life welcomed us. The water changed color constantly depending on where we were in the Gulf. The shallow coves were inviting for kayaking, snorkeling and bbq’s under the star littered sky. Our brief stop in San Jose del Cabo was a nice visit to terra firma and an opportunity to bird watch in the estuary. Otherwise, shopping and sightseeing were an added treat to a trip dominated by the wild blue yonder. We encountered not only Humpback whales and their calves frolicking in the ocean, but also numerous dolphins, and magnificent Blue Whales, the largest animals ever known to have existed. Here is a very brief multimedia piece that I hope offers a tiny sliver of this incredible expedition with National Geographic and Lindblad. Enjoy!