Monday, June 30, 2014

Sounds Overheard: Saskatoon Saskatchewan

Just a couple of weeks after winter's ice melted on Dore Lake North of Saskatoon, summer's sun warms the waters off Eagle Island. All photos shot with Canon S100 point 'n shoot.

Field-recorded sounds of song birds, yakking raven, buzzing fly, water birds and far off loons are captured on this 1:15 recording. iPhone and iPad version. 

All the Canadians I met earlier this month were awfully nice and friendly, and I know they often vacation down here in Florida when the winters get to be 40 degrees below up north of the border. But do they chuckle at the sound of our Florida names, Miami, Okeechobee, Apalachicola or Boca Raton?  Translated to “Rat’s Mouth”, that last one even makes me smile.

While fishing a couple of weeks ago at Dore Lake, located north of Saskatoon ... giggle ... I just loved the sound of Saskatoon, and spoken with the province Saskatchewan, I enjoyed the geographical mouth full every time I said them out loud. 

For years my brother in law Jo had been telling me about his annual fishing trip, a group of 18 mostly men from the Colorado Springs area that have been making the 1250 mile trek for 29 years. Jo finally talked me into joining them this year, even though I hadn’t been fishing since I was a Boy Scout in Idaho. I flew to Colorado, and at 4 AM the next day we loaded up his Toyota Tundra CrewMax and headed out for Canada.

I guess I never really looked at a map before we left. We drove north through Colorado, across eastern Wyoming, to spend the night in Miles City, Montana. I had forgotten how wide and open the western United States is, mile upon mile of rolling grasslands, oil wells and on occasional town. As it was late Spring, everything was a pretty green. The next day we drove and drove, over Lewis and Clark’s Missouri River, crossing into  Saskatchewan where the border was a thin wire fence marching across wheat fields. In Saskatoon ... giggle ... we spent night two. Not there yet, as we couldn’t check into camp until Noon. So on day three, after a leisurely breakfast, we entered the boreal forest. Boreal forest? Are we in the neighborhood of the Arctic Circle? Are we there yet? Startling a bear rooting for tender greens, we finally reached the dead end of a 65 mile dirt road and emerged at Dore Lake Lodge.

I suddenly realized that this trip was the equivalent of asking some of my buddies to go fishing, we just need to drive from Miami to New York city over three days!

I soon found out why this crazy group of fishing buddies drive this far. The fishing was terrific! Within minutes of casting onto the lake I was reeling in Northern Pike as long as my arm. Throw ‘em back, I was told, that’s to small. Sure enough, bigger fish were out there, including some delicious walleye. Even though I didn’t win the $80 pot for the largest fish of the week, I caught fish every time, trolling the deeper holes or casting into the weeds, rain or shine. One of our group brought in, and then released, a 31 pound pike. Lots of 8 to 12 pound walleye. As we could only keep six fish each for the week, other than the ones we ate, it was catch and release all day long.

Jo was chief cook and his cabin was the mess hall where we gathered every evening for liquid refreshment and tall stories of monster fish which got away. Some of the crew were younger than me, including two teens, a very competitive brother and sister and their taxidermist dad. But most of the fishing buddies were long retired, a former Catholic priest, an ophthalmologist, weather scientist, accountant, long distance truck driver, a jet fighter pilot. A fun group with lots of stories. Did I mention the lying about big fish?

As I was the new guy, I steered away from the potential controversy of politics or religion, yet on the last night mentioned to a dinner companion my lifelong membership in one of the two major political parties. The genial white haired gentleman, who had spent hours in my boat teaching me the finer points of fishing, growled “If we had known that sooner, we would of cut you up for bait!”

Between spirited fish strikes, beaver and bald eagle sightings, I shot a few photos and recorded a little sound and soaked in Dore Lake’s wide open skies. Will I go back fishing next year? Definitely, but I just might fly to Saskatoon ... giggle ... and skip most of the drive.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

History Detectives: Students' Civil Rights Legacy

I believe few Americans still hold out hope that we are living in a post racial society, now that we are well into the second term of President Barack Obama and we are finding our civic discourse just as fractured and angry as ever. For a while after we as a nation elected our first African American president in 2008, I read in magazine essays and overhead in coffee shops that "maybe race doesn't matter anymore?" 

Hopefully this 5 minute multimedia story about high school students discovering how the civil rights era of the 1960s shaped their lives is just as insightful as when completed in 2011. Please read my original blog post .

In spite of opinion polls indicating most people (mostly whites?) see no racism in their lives, I feel race still matters in almost everything we as a nation and as individuals do every day. There are under currents that race matters popping up all the time. Some could observe:

- The President is being disrespected by his political opponents because of his race. 

- A billionaire basket ball team owner is a total monster because of his comments on race.

- Miami-Dade police shoot and kill in the streets an inordinate number of young black men.

-  OJ is still suspected/ still guilty/ still acquitted because of his race.

These thoughts were going through my mind this week as I was re-editing my History Detectives multimedia piece I was commissioned to create three years ago. Archbishop Curley Notre Dame Prep in Miami's Little Haiti neighborhood asked me to explain the importance of their being the first high school in the then segregated state of Florida to integrate 50 years before.

Taylor Altidor,  then a 16-year-old Junior, told me "...we just couldn't believe that Florida used to be racially segregated, that blacks and whites didn't eat in the same restaurants...". I followed her advanced placement history class as they researched segregation and interviewed students from the early 1960s and prepared for a Black History assembly. Former students and now adults well into their 60s, Paul Wyche told me he was called the N-word at a high school basket ball game, and Constance Moor Thornton recalled "colored" water fountains.

The researching students understood such overt racism that thrived in the Jim Crow era was thankfully no longer and was not part of their teen lives. But was racism completely gone? The student detectives questioned, discussed and completed class projects that brought the topic into the open.

Addressing the assembled student body in a clear and optimistic voice, one civil rights era student said "We come from different circumstances, but color doesn't matter, it is what is in your heart." 

I hope so, and I hope some day we will be living in a truly post racial society.

Technical Notes:

This month I was in the process of updating my Miami multimedia photography portfolio and had begun transferring the original History Detectives from a Flash based player made in Sound Slides to a more universally accepted and iOS friendly H 265 video format, when ACND called looking a new high resolution file. Good timing.

I reprocessed all 123 original still photographs in the newest Adobe Light Room 5, squeezing additional color quality and dynamic range from the newest RAW processor. I always export as Tiffs with medium sharpening, believing compressed Jpegs, and over sharpening, could potentially cause video jitter. I cropped the original 4:3 aspect ratio to the video standard 16:9. This cut a little close to some image content, as I was not thinking 16:9 originally and had composed my images differently.

I added the stills to a Adobe Premier Pro CS6 timeline, imported my original sound track made with Apple Logic, and switched in a couple of new images but pretty much left the timing alone. I no longer liked the Ken Burns movement on some photos in the original, and removed it. I added a new title and credit page with a typewriter effect in Adobe After Effects CS6 ... a lot easier than this amateur video editor thought. On your P Pro time line >  right click the title > open as a After Effects composition > in AE Effects & Presets search "typewriter" > drop that puppy onto the composition and bingo, you have the type type type effect all done for you.

I digress. And I used the American Typewriter font in PP to make new lower thirds. I couldn't figure out how to animate them too, so decided would be less busy without. I exported through Adobe Media Encoder with the Vimeo 720 p presets, and uploaded to Vimeo. Easy peasy.