Although I work at a stable, my life is anything but. I like to think of it as amusing chaos, but it seems it is better summed up using Murphy’s Law- what can go wrong, will go wrong. After the week that I spent with my college roommate, I found the statement “My name is Murphy, and I shall be your law” astoundingly true.  Kirsten and I were roommates for three years in college, and that proved to be an interesting experience at times. She was an OCD clean-freak and a criminal justice major while I was slightly (okay, pretty) messy and disorganized agriculture major who smelled like the barn half the time. She was also short, skinny and blonde while I am six-foot tall, solidly built and brunette. We could not have been more different if we tried.  After graduation Kirst followed her boyfriend, who was in the Air Force, to Lompoc, California while he went through training to be an officer. Their relationship was on-again, off-again at best in college but finally soured during her stay there. I think it was all of three weeks that she was in California before she called me and told me it was over, this time forever. She said she had to get out of California, and that she would pay for a plane ticket for me to come and help her drive back to Colorado. She has never driven with a trailer and having horses made me a seasoned driver.  She has also never been the person who asks for help. I am pretty sure if she was lying there with broken legs, she would say “No, I can walk to class, Don’t worry.” Her request meant it was serious, and I would never turn my back on one of my best friends.  Don’t Wake Me Up Don’t get me wrong, I am a girl who loves a good love story, however, I do NOT love it at 2 a.m. The boyfriend began texting me at 2 a.m., begging me not to get on the plane to take her away. Two thoughts ran through my mind: 1) It is 2 o’clock in the frigging morning, what makes you think I will be awake?! and 2) Trying to stop me came too little too late,. I was not the person he needed to convince, it was her. Needless to say, my answers were less than diplomatic, and I told him that I did not care, I was coming anyway.  The trip began innocently. The plan was I would get there Sunday, we would leave early Monday and spend the night in Las Vegas, drive to her hometown of Craig the next day and then she would drop me off at Denver International Airport (DIA) Wednesday. A quick trip, but I would be back in Wyoming to continue my job hunt in a few days.  I parked my Jeep in long-term, tossed my keys into my suitcase and boarded my plane. It was time for an adventure, and I was ready for it. Thankfully, the plane arrived safely, but that was about it on the trip that went really. Apparently, in an effort to win her back and get her to stay, the boyfriend has driven back from a weekend in San Diego to show how much he cared about her. . . and had not left. This clean, cut-and-dry trip took a turn for the awkward.  Flashing Lights A lesson on the trip that I learned quickly was nothing is more awkward than trying to move someone out of their house while the person they were dating is begging them to stay. We all have walked in on awkward moments before, or have been the third wheel, multiply that by about a billion and you have what I experienced when we all went out for dinner.  I am the kind of person that cracks jokes when trying to make the situation lighter, that did not work with this, so I excused myself to go hide in the restroom for a while. 

In Heaven there is no beer

For this assignment, my partner and I chose to explore the relationship between alcohol consumption and finals week at the University of Wyoming. In order to gather the information, we went and spoke to bartenders, package liquor salespeople and students from around campus. A survey in six different classes was also used to get a better student perspective. We found that consumption increased with certain majors, such as agricultural majors, but decreased in the male gender. Women were equally split between increasing their consumption and decreasing their intake. And, although the unofficial school song is the Beer Song, students prefer mixed drinks and shots over beer when they are drinking.

Click HERE to see the final cut of the video.

This experience was. . .interesting. I learned new combinations of expletives during the edit process (none of which I will share for the sake of keeping this PG) and that there are programs that could irritate me more than Audacity. The gathering of information was easy and enjoyable as trends were tracked but the enjoyment ended there. I really enjoyed seeing my end product but the rest of it brought out the ugly side of me.

The editing process was not enjoyable. I picked up the program quickly, which helped in the end, but the program continued to crash during editing. It was one step forward and six steps back until I learned to save it in the temp folder. Even then, the program crashed continually when I was editing at IT because I had so many files on my account. I was forced to delete the entirety of my files just to make room for this one project. Thankfully, I did not need many of them because it was at the end of the semester but it was just another bump in the long road of editing.

The videos then didn’t want to transfer onto the computer, the program crashed every time I added a new video and the Beer Song audio would disappear every time the save button was clicked. I was on my last nerve and befuddled the lab assistant for about three hours. He said he never saw people break computers as often as I did that night. That is not something that a girl wants to hear.

With my final shreds of sanity, I was able to finish the video and was proud of what was created. This would have been so much easier if the program did not continually crash. I would have happily bought the program, it was fun to work with when it was running properly, but my computer is so old that it would have overwhelmed it. With a greater amount of storage space, this process would have gone much more smoothly.

I learned a few things from this experience with the first being UW does not give us enough storage space to work with some programs. Communications majors should have a greater storage space for their accounts because we work with so many massive programs.

Second, videos are a lot harder to edit than audio. With audio, I can move the words around with little consequence but, with video, the editing is much more obvious and you have to make sure it all blends together. This surprised me a little bit but mostly because I did not think the process all the way through.

I would not do much differently because many elements, such as an old computer, we just out of my control. I would have liked cleaner interviews so the entire video would have flowed a little more smoothly but that is in the past.

Although I hate to admit it, I can see myself using video in the future. It is interesting and I think people are more apt to watch a video than sit and write an article. I just want to make sure that the programs are functioning properly and I have better equipment to work with than just my smart phone and too little space on the server.

Killing Two Birds with One Twitter Account

The event that I reported on for my live tweets was the Earth Day BBQ. This was put on by the Gentlemen of Alpha Gamma Rho (AGR) Agricultural Fraternity and the Wyoming Colligate Cattlemen’s Association (WCCA). In honor of Earth Day, the two collaborated to distribute warm, delicious burgers to those on campus and help promote Earth Day. Patrons were asked to donate a food item that would be donated to the Food Bank to help Laramie combat the hunger that residents face every day.

The only part about this project that I really liked was helping with the BBQ and promoting it to others on campus. I have always liked community service and it was nice to know that I was doing something good. I didn’t like that the weather was so bipolar but that is just a hazard of living in Wyoming.

I am not sure if it was technology or Twitter itself but I did not enjoy tweeting at all. Every time I tried to tweet from my phone (this was after the event due to the weather) my phone would flash a rainbow of colors and then die. It took multiple attempts to just tweet the photos that I took at the event. I am not sure if I downloaded a virus when I downloaded the app but now my phone is functioning worse than normal. This has left a sour taste in my mouth when it comes to Twitter.

I learned that it is hard to limit myself as far as word count goes. I am a very talkative person and this is clear in my writing style. It drove me nuts to be limited to 140 characters when I had so much more to say. I am also slowly learning hash tags. I feel like an eighty year old woman trying to add hash tags to my posts. #suckatthis #feelingolderthanIam #whothoughtthisnewfangledstuffup

I was surprised; once again, about how fast the word count went as well. It takes true skill in order to form a tweet and add the billion hash tags that I am used to seeing while still using proper English. They need a course just on tweeting.

What I wish I could have done differently was not kill my phone with this assignment. I also wish I would have put more careful planning into my tweets. I feel like they were not bad but I could have done a lot better with them. I felt so lost with the concept and I think it showed in the tweets.

I see myself using social media at the Wyoming Livestock Roundup but not Twitter. Facebook has been a good way to reach readers and there is discussion of an app specifically for the Roundup but I do not like the idea of using Twitter. Unless they want to provide me with a company phone, there will be no more tweets coming from me.

I also do not think it gives you enough to go on as far as posting a story from my job. I may use it to help bring a story together or follow a thread for a different perspective but that is about it. I plan on killing two bird with one stone in my own way- posting snippets on Facebook for readers and then throwing the rock at the blue Twitter bird.

Body Art SoundSlides

This assignment was to combine two skills that we have already learned, audio and images, into a SoundSlides presentation on a topic of our choice. My partner, Hannah, and I chose to do it on tattoos. During the presentation, there will be a background on the artist, interviews with tattooed individuals, and images of some of the work done to the body. Follow this link to the presentation.

Working with my partner was both easy and hard. It was easy because Hannah and I work very well together and collaborate well but difficult due to the fact that it was hard to find a time where both our busy schedules matched up. It took some doing but we were able to pull it off in the end when we split the work down the middle, did that on our own time, and then collaborated when we saw each other in class.

My experience with SoundSlides was positive but the overall experience was painful at best. Since I had experience when I was Audacity and the audio, that part was easy but getting the audio off my recording device became my own personal hell. Much of the audio recorded did not want to get transferred off of my phone so it took about three hours of trouble shooting to even get the audio on my computer. It was all downhill after that and things flowed together after several hours of editing.

My problems with this project was not with the software but just the time crunch with schedules and the technical problems that frustrated me beyond all belief.

There is not much that I would change about the project. I wish we had more images of tattoos actually being placed on the body and colored in but that was just not in the cards. For what we were able to work it, without creepily hanging around the shop waiting for the next tattoo, it turned out very well. My advice, however, is plan everything out to the letter before moving forward. The interview with the tattoo artist was like pulling teeth so we were running blind for a while. More structure earlier in the planning process would have helped immensely down the line.

Hannah Cox- The Edited Version

Not that Hannah wasn’t great the first time around but I had to edit the audio profile for the second part of the assignment. To sum up my experience, that was . . interesting. This is all new territory for me so there was a bit of confusion and a few bumps on the last part of this road. To hear the edited version, click here.

The editing experience was difficult for me because it was a new program and all I could see were sound waves, not words. This made it hard to figure out just the right place to cut out or stop the audio. Moving the cursor by even a millimeter changed the audio drastically.

It was also time consuming because you had to listen to the audio constantly to find just what you were looking for. In an article, I could look for a paragraph to move around and then do a quick copy/paste to fix my mistake. With audio, you need to make sure it flows and that the change in vocal pitch or volume didn’t give the editing away. There is much more blending to do and you can not just stick in a transition sentence to make it smoother because you only have that person’s voice from that interview to use.

I learned to go into more depth with my interviews and, when the time or assignment allows, make them longer so I have more material to use in my audio. You can never have too much audio but you can have too little. I interviewed Hannah for five minutes and struggled to make a two minute audio profile that was cohesive and interesting. I also learned that sound is a lot harder to form than words and requires a lot more focus than writing an article. You only have one shot to get the audio in an interview so it needs to be perfect.

I enjoyed learning a new form of journalism this week but I did not enjoy the editing portion. I wish I could see the words so I knew what I was cutting without having to guess, highlight the clip, play it twenty times, move the margins in slightly to get what I want, and repeat process for each part of the edit. I am a perfectionist but I do not have the most patience in the world. This assignment played to my weaknesses.

The difficulty of this was the only thing that surprised me about this assignment. It was one challenge after another from finding quiet place to interview, asking the right questions, figuring out how to load it to Audacity and the other programs and the editing itself. I thought it would be easy because it was just a sound assignment but I was sadly mistaken. On a positive note, I learned a lot from those struggles and now feel fairly adept in running these programs.

I wish I could do this assignment all over. As I was editing, I had wished that I had asked different questions so I could have more depth in the audio. This would have made it so much better in the end and may have gone more smoothly in editing. I mostly just wish editing had gone more smoothly.

This assignment was difficult but that is a disguised blessing. You do not learn anything if you do not struggle a little. I struggled a lot with this assignment so I must be brilliant now!

Hannah Cox- The Unedited Interview

HC

Image courtesy of Hannah Cox

This week, I had the privilege to interview Hannah Cox for my blog. Hannah is from Littleton, Colorado and is working towards a degree that will get her hired with ESPN after she graduated from the University of Wyoming. Below is the unedited interview with Miss Cox.

Hannah Cox- The Unedited Interview

The interviewing experience was interesting, to say the least. Once Hannah and I found a time where our schedules matched up, we tried to get a study room in the library so we would not have ambient noise in the background. However, all of the study rooms were booked.

Next, we tried to find a quiet area in the library so we could interview each other there . . . and there was not a single silent spot anywhere in Coe. Next on the hunt was the Union, which also did not pan out, before we gave up on interviewing in a building and went to Hannah’s car where we finally found silence.

It was not a new experience for me to interview people with a recorder. I do that all of the time for the Branding Iron so I can accurately quote my sources. The only difference for this interview was there had to be crisp audio. When it is for my own personal use, I don’t care what is going on in the background as long as I can hear that person.

Being the interviewee, however, was a new and odd experience for me. I get along well with Hannah but seeing the recorder, even though she was comfortable with it and did not shove it in my face, raised my anxiety levels. It is definitely a different feeling when you know someone can hear you potentially say something stupid over and over again with a push of a button and it took me a little while to relax and act normally.

I learned that silence is hard to find, especially on campus. When I am setting up audio interviews for others to hear, I am going to have to scout out a location rather than just doing it on the fly. I also learned that you get a lot of weird looks when you interview someone in their car.

One other thing that I need to learn is how to lessen anxiety of the recorder. I use this tool all of the time and, when I am behind it, I cannot understand why people are apprehensive but now I know where they are coming from now. I learned that when I do not look at the recording device and when the interviewer does not either, it lessens my apprehension greatly.

I really enjoyed interviewing Hannah because she is a very interesting person and it was fun to get to know her better. One thing I didn’t enjoy was the time limit on the interview. When I am conducting interviews, there is no set time limit because I like to find that one interesting gem that many would overlook. In my interview with Hannah, I was lucky to find it earlier in the interview when she talked about the paper she has hanging on her fridge.

Something that I wish I could have done differently was to have more time so I could find more little gems like that. You can always edit down an interview but you cannot recreate the moment once it is gone. I also wish that I could have had a more convenient quiet spot to interview instead of running all over campus and winding up in a car.  I also wish I didn’t stumble over a few questions but that all comes out in editing.

Nothing is going to go perfectly, especially when you are striving for that. There is always going to be an accident or a mistake when you try, it is how you deal with those mistakes that makes or breaks the goal.

Did You Hear That?

This assignment was to capture ambient sounds and  cut them into 10 second snippets  This assignment was difficult because it is hard to get crisp audio sometimes and I experienced a pretty drastic learning curve with Audacity. However, I was able to rally and break through the barriers to produce these sounds.

Ambient

Sound waves from the ambient noises as seen on SoundCloud

The first round of sounds were ambient sounds that can be found here.

Popping out Ice Cubes

The first ambient sound I gathered was popping out ice cubes from their tray. This was a random sound clips that I recorded in my kitchen. I use ice in my drinks and in my protein shakes so it is a common sound in my house. It is also a noise that is really loud in the morning when you just wake up.

This sound could be used in audio that talks about the summertime. It could be used when talking about cooling down with a drink or when advertising for an event. For example, this could be used for a fundraiser in the middle of summer that is serving cold drinks.

Mixing Ingredients

I was messing around in my kitchen for the next clip and was mixing up a protein shake for my breakfast. The listener can hear canisters unscrewing and the contents being measured out and tapped into a blender. If the listener didn’t know specifically what I was measuring, it would just be classified as kitchen sounds or mixing ingredients.

I know that many people in Wyoming like to bake or cook so this would be a good clip to lead into a cooking segment or to talk about food. This could be used for a clip talking about how to prepare a meal or a potential health risk consumers face because of an outbreak. This is so generic that it could be used for pretty much anything kitchen related.

Engine Rev

When I was driving to Wal-Mart, I heard the engine of my Jeep revving and thought that that would be an interesting ambient noise to record. Although it may not be safe, many people talk on their cell phone and drive and I can always hear this as background noise. It would be interesting to see what it sounded like without voices covering up the noise.

This sound clip could be used for an audio journalism track about travel, such as a vacation or a road trip, or one about talking/texting while driving. It could be used in pretty much any story that involved a vehicle.

Tired Shopper at Safeway

The next track was one that I captured in Safeway. I was just walking around with my recorder hanging out of my pocket when this man started talking. Everyone hears other shoppers when they go to the store and I thought it was an interesting ambient noise because it is not the same person or conversation every time.

This one could be used when talking about shopping and more so, holiday shopping. It was not a holiday season when I recorded this but during the busy times, you always hear people like this when you are standing in line.

Wal-Mart Check-Out

This clip was one I recorded during a quick trip to Wal-Mart and captured the beeps of the checkout registers. I used to work as a checker so I was able to tune out the beeping noise but now, the noise drives me nuts because of the negative connotation I have associated with it. However, this is one of those sounds that people learn to tune out so I thought it would be interesting to record.

This is a very flexible sound clip. It can be used any time of the year because stores to not change the tone of the beeps by season. It can also be used when talking about shopping, be it back-to-school, holiday or everyday shopping, or even talk about the price hikes that consumers will face during the drought. It could even go so far to be used generically when talking about a specific grocery store or the jobs that store provides.

Turn Signal

I was sitting at a long light with the radio off and all I could hear was my blinker. It seemed abnormally loud so I pulled out my phone and recorded it. This is usually a hated noise, especially in Laramie, because it means you are struck trying to turn. On many streets, turning against traffic is pretty much impossible and every resident has experienced this.

This sound clips could be used to talk about construction in an area or traffic that a commuter may face. It could even be used generically when talking about a car or travel in general.

Counting to Ten and Back Again 

Counting to ten may seem simple but when you are counting out of order and editing it, it suddenly gets quite a bit harder. For this assignment, I counted to ten out of order and then used the Audacity program to re-order my numbers so they went one through ten. This helped me get better acquainted with the program with only a mild headache and now I feel more confident with editing audio.

To hear my counting to ten project, click here.

This was my first time ever editing audio. I had used a recorder before but only for interviews for my articles. I never really cared about the sound quality on those since it was just for my personal use. Now, I had to think about the clarity of the sound, the echos, background noise and enunciating. It was a little bit overwhelming.

I do not have a high quality recorder because I am a college kid on a very tight budget so I just used a free app that I download on my Droid. There I encountered my first problem, how do I get the audio off of my phone and on to a computer? After about twenty minutes of fiddling with my phone, I managed to email the clip to myself and downloaded it on Audacity.

Once I had my clip on Audacity, I did a lot of cut, copy and paste to get my numbers back in order. After my introduction with the ambient noise, this was a lot easier of a task. However, compatibility with Sound Cloud was the next issue. I did not realize the file type would not upload so I stared at my computer for about 30 minutes waiting for the incompatible file to upload.  Thanks to the help of the professor, I was able to figure out what I was doing wrong and got the file loaded.

I was a little bit concerned . . . okay, I was worried about this assignment because it was the big scary unknown. I usually pick up on new concepts pretty quickly but this was something I had never, ever had done before. I was worried I was going to botch it entirely. I am a perfectionist and hated the idea that I may fail at this new task. I did not want that to happen.

Once I figured out the program, it was a breeze to do sound editing. Words cannot describe how relieved I was about that. I think that my biggest problem in the future is lack of quality equipment but I will face that bridge when I actually get a paycheck.

Feature Photos

This assignment was actually harder than I thought it would be because catching just the right moment requires skill, patience and a little bit of luck. Overall, I think luck was on my side and these images turned out very well.

Calf Sled

“Follow the Leader”
Tavy Martinez, a Pre-Vet senior, loads up new calf Frankie into the calf sled for a trip to the Beef Unit barn. Martinez performed these tasks Wednesday for her Advanced Beef Management course’s lab.

This image was one that I caught by accident. For my Advanced Beef  Management course, we each had to work a shift at the Beef Unit calving and Frankie was born an hour before our shift started. Since it was so frigid, we loaded the calf up in the sled, being mindful of a very worried mama, to bring him into the barn. I volunteered to push the cow from behind to make sure she followed when this image came to life. I did not have my big camera on me but I quickly whipped out my cell phone and snapped a picture of it.

This image was not difficult to get because I stumbled upon it and it only took me a few steps to get a vector and leading lines added into the photo. I really like how everything leads to the gate, the direction the train of animals was heading, and shows movement in that direction. I also chose black and white coloring in the editing process to mimic the old black-and-white wild west photos and to show how agriculture has changed today.

I felt a strange sense of pride when I took this photograph because agriculture is such a large part of my life and we were caring for this new calf, which depended on us as much as his mother to survive.

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Kayla and Cows

“Feed Me!”
Hungry heifers mob the truck on which Kayla Foster, a senior majoring in Meat Science, is throwing hay. Foster preformed this task for her Advanced Beef Management lab on Wednesday at the Beef Unit.

This image was also captured during my calving shift at the Beef Unit. I was lucky to have signed up with two people I didn’t know so I could use the images that presented themselves. This one was taken right as our  shift started and we fed all of the still pregnant animals their hay. One of the girls on my shift, Kayla, got on the back of the truck to break off flakes of alfalfa hay as the truck drove around the lot.

This image started out as a joke since I wanted my camera rolling if the cows knocked her off the truck in their hunger frenzy but turned out to capture an interesting image. In agriculture, we are experiencing a “greying” where the average age of a producer is 56 years old so having an image of a younger person performing these tasks is heartwarming.

This shot was easy to get because, once again, I was not looking for it. However, as I was taking multiple frames, I felt that same sense of pride in being a part of something bigger than myself.

Leading lines were used to capture this because all of the cows are leading straight to the truck and height, in a way, was used as well because the truck can barely been seen over the sea of cows. Color was an interesting accident in the photo because the red Angus heifer, one of the few non-black Angus in the herd, was right below the hay bale. The red heifer draws the eye which then moves up to Kayla, the main focus of the image, peeling off the flakes of hay.

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Lab

“Just Another Day in the Lab”
Animal Science graduate student, Emily Melson, removes her vials from the GC machine on Thursday. Melson is aiding in a study that is analyzing the effects of fish oil being fed to cattle and is often  found in the Animal Science Metabolism Lab running these sample.

I captured this image while I was at work and it was another easy accident. I was analyzing some brain tissue samples when Emily Melson, a graduate student that I occasionally see around the lab, came and started working with the GC machine.

I saw this image lined up as I walked back through the door and took the picture. She was a little bit creeped out when I did that but agreed to let me use the photo once I told her what it was for. I got pretty excited when I took this because it was just lined out so perfectly with the equipment in the background and this image was not an accident like the other two were.

This image used the rule of thirds to make the eye drawn to the image as well as cropping. Because this image is cropped so closely, the “noise” of all the lab equipment is muffled and the eye just focuses on Melson and the GC machine.

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“. . .and boom”
Ron Paracini of Lander lines up his shot at a Wind River Muzzle Loader shoot in February. He won this round of competition.

Without a doubt, the sports category was the hardest image for me to get. My dad does black powder shoots and I had fortunate timing last time I went home to be able to go to one. He usually takes me along to take some photos for their newsletter and so I have been going to these for about a year.

There is a very laid back atmosphere with these events because everyone knows everyone else that shoots. There is not a cheering squad because you don’t want to distract the shooter so there is usually a respectful silence and a few jabs once a shooter finishes. It is a very amicable environment for shooters and spectators.

This shooter, Ron Paracini, is one of the few shooters that shoot a flintlock muzzle loader. When the flint strikes, a flash is created and the spark lights the black powder and sends the muzzle loader ball (not a bullet) towards the target. I had captured an image a few years ago with a bright flash and was just trying to see if I could capture that again. Although not as dramatic as the first one I captured, a small flame can be seen.

This was a hard image to capture because I did not want to get right up in the shooter’s face and distract them from hitting the target. I tried to maintain a respectful distance but still get the shot. This was hard because Ron shoots differently than other competitors and his arm often obscured his face.

When I saw the shot, I was so excited because I captured this unique shooting sport. Color and leading lines were the devices used. Color was used because of the small flame that draws your attention towards the barrel of the gun. Ron was dressed in black and that helped to not make him such a dominate feature that draws all the attention in the image. Leading lines draw the eye to the barrel of the muzzle loader and towards the target to give this piece direction.

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Herbalife

“Get Up and Move”
Wellness coach, Callie Carroll, encourages her audience to get up and move with her during the February STS in Denver.

This was one of the harder images to capture because of all of the movement. I recently started taking Herbalife products to get better nutrition and my friends and I went to this training to see how to use them properly. One of the wellness coaches presenting, Callie Carroll, is a personal trainer in Colorado.

Through out her presentation, she made the audience get up and move with her to keep them active and engaged. I was intrigued by that and took my images. It took roughly 35 images to get one without motion blurs but it was worth it.

This image was harder to take than some of the others because it was during a presentation. I tried to sneak up and take the image without anyone finding me disruptive. There were many others trying to do the same so then there was the challenge of  trying to shoot through the bodies blocking my shot. The lighting was also horrible in the conference room so I had to do a fair bit of touching up in Photoshop as well.

There was sense of relief and “Finally!” when I finally got one clear shot that I liked. However, I am glad I attended the event because it was so positive and everyone there was so happy. They also didn’t comment on the girl grumbling while trying to take photos, which was nice.

This photo used the rule of thirds to accent Callie as well as created a vector that allowed you to see part of her presentation in the background. The lines on her workout pants also helped create a visual that brings attention to her.

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I learned a few important lessons from this assignment with the most prevalent being- taking features photos is not an easy task. I used to think photography was easy but I had trouble getting an interesting shot with a lot of these events.

That was the second thing that I learned- make your photos interesting. No one wants to look at an image with no depth and many of my images got scrapped just because of that.

Finally, I learned that I have a love affair with Photoshop because it fixes all of my mistakes. I enjoyed being able to adjust the color with this assignment and not having to leave the photos raw. The cropping feature also helped to liven up some of the images I took from a distance.

The biggest thing that surprised me about this assignment was how hard it was to get the shots and get good ones. I always thought that I was a fairly good photographer but this assignment made me realize otherwise.

I would have done a few things differently with these images and the first would be to shoot them with a better camera. My Olympus is currently in the shop so many of these were shot off of a point and click camera or my cell phone. Second, I need to move around more to get better images and angles and then perfect it. It was hard to get a clear shot so I need to make better use of my body and my space to get better images.

Snapshot of My Life

The purpose of this post was to learn how to capture more interesting images while following some basic guidelines. Since I am not overwhelmingly creative, I decided to go home and capture bits of my everyday life and apply the guidelines there. Most of the time, I was wandering around my house and Sinks Canyon but the results were beautiful. The following five images use a myriad of the creative devices to create more visually appealing photographs.

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“Long Road Home”
This landscape is the last thing that someone would see as they drive away from my home in Lander. The image is a gorgeous thing bid you farewell with but it is also bittersweet because you know what you are leaving behind.

To capture this part of my life, I used the leading lines creative device. The road and the fence draw the eye to the mountains and drifts to the rosy peak on top. The rustic tractor tires by the gate allow for more depth and interest while complying with the rule of thirds. However, the main focus is the mountains bathed in morning light.

This image captures the viewer’s attention because of the peaceful nature and beauty. It also shows another side of Wyoming that is not a barren wasteland. This picture is simplistic and there is no background noise to detract from the visually pleasing aesthetic. It is also an image people don’t see all of the time because it was capture when many people are sleeping- at dawn.

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Leading Lines

“What Lies Beneath”
This is the portion of the Wind River flowing through Sinks Canyon is shown in sharp contrast with the brewing storm and the dark scenery.

This photo exhibits contrast as the main creative devices. The dark sky and surrounding natural features draw the viewer’s eye to the bright, pure snow that forms a thin shell over the river. Where the ice and snow have fallen into the river, texture is added and shows a glimpse of the river below. This adds visual interest because you never know what you are going to find in the holes.

Once again, natural beauty is a big player in drawing the attention of the viewer and the contrast created with the snow provides a visual interest. The contrast creates a pleasing photo because  the contrast is balanced and contains texture in the darker areas where the snow fell in the river. This is not an overwhelming bright picture with the snow, nor is it too dark from the surroundings.

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Perspective

“Looking Forward by Looking Back”
In Sinks Canyon, there are caves that outdoor enthusiasts can enter when the water level is down or frozen. This is the view that you can see looking out from one of those caves.

This time, viewpoint was the creative device that was used and adds an interesting element because it seems that no one ever looks back. Everyone wants to see where they are going, not where they came from. Many people also do not take time to look what is around them.

Framing was another device used to bring the focus out of the cave by using the roof and the sides as dark space. These same elements also appear crisply and add texture to the image. The details of the rocks show their abrasive surface cleanly.

Although there is more happening in this photo, the noise in the background works to draw the eye while still creating a visually appealing image because the framing leads the eye to that area.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

“Count the Triangles”
Just past First Street, this bridge connects to West Laramie on a walk. The shadows and raw architecture above the trains provides a sharp contrast to the historic downtown district located adjacent.

Needless to say, symmetry and patterns is the main element in this photo. I really like how there are patterns within the patterns so you always see something new each time you look at it. The framing element that the bridge creates also conjures up a sense of depth which borders on optical illusion as the viewer looks at the other end of the bridge.

This image appeals to viewers because of the optical illusion quality and the fact that there is so much to look at. It is not a photo that you can just glance at and fully take it.

The optical illusion quality may not be pleasing to look at for long periods of time for some people but I think that that adds to the intrigue of the image.

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Flower

“The 14th”
In a thoughtful gesture, my roommate and her boyfriend brought me these flowers for Valentine’s Day.

There are three devices that are fighting for attention in this image.

First, the contrast between the red on the edge of the chrysanthemum and the white middle brings the eye to center of the flower with the framing effect it creates. Texture also fights the title of main device because each petal can see seen and evokes the feeling of wanting to reach out and smell the flower.  Finally, color is a dominant element because of the two vivid colors that the flowers are displaying.

Crop was indirectly used in this image. Since we could not edit the images, I zoomed in with my camera to create a crop effect without breaking the rules.

This turns into a visually appealing piece because of the rule of thirds. The center of the bottom flower is down and to the side so the eye is not drawn to the center of the image. The viewer is also drawn to the top flower so it creates more visual interest with depth.

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I learned a lot from this assignment but the most obvious was my addiction to Photoshop and other editing tools. I am an OCD perfectionist and wanted every picture to be pristine. It killed a little part of me to leave these photos unedited. However, it taught me to be more careful with my original photos and rely so heavily on digital enhancements.

I was surprised with how well the photos turned out without any editing and how a quick position change could really open up a photo. An old teacher had the “M.Y.B.” principle (“Move Your Bum”) and I never used to apply it. Now that I have, my photos are a step above than they were before.

I would not do anything different when shooting the photos because I liked the composition they had. However, I would have loved to change the color slightly in Photoshop or done more creative cropping but I left them raw.

My big take home lessons from this were- M.Y.B. for a better shot and do not rely heavily on Photoshop but rely more on natural talent.

Answering the Call of the Wild

Coyote in Yellowstone National Park. Photo courtesy of wyophotos.blogspot.com

Coyote in Yellowstone National Park. Photo courtesy of wyophotos.blogspot.com

Just as the sun peaks over the hills and legal hunting hours commence, a lone coyote answers your call with a howl of his own. The Wyoming plains slowly come to life as the predator comes into view. As he wanders within range, you prepare to claim the first coyote of the competition.

Although these hunts are not as glorified as some, many hunters in Wyoming choose to partake in coyote calling competitions during the winter months. Due to the predator status given to coyotes by the Wyoming Game and Fish, these animals are able to be harvested year round and do not require a designated license. However, hunters must still follow basic hunting regulations outlined by the Game and Fish

Rules of the Competition

During coyote calling competitions, teams of two hunters are given two days to harvest as many coyotes as they can during legal hunting hours. Once the competitor chooses a spot, they begin their “stand” where they attempt to call in coyotes. These stands last from 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the response the hunter gets from the animals. Once a stand is completed, the team relocates and repeats the process.

Coyote hunting outside of Wheatland, WY. Photo courtesy of longrangehunting.com

Coyote hunting outside of Wheatland, WY. Photo courtesy of longrangehunting.com

“The best stands are spots with high vantage points,” said Krista Willis, an avid hunter from Lander, WY. Willis and her father often team up for the competitions. “The higher spots allow you to see into the draws and see the coyotes coming in. It also helps if you hunker down in the sagebrush, so they can’t see you.”

Daniel Burget, a recent graduate from the University of Wyoming, says he always tries to get in at least 15 stands in a full day of hunting.

The winner of the competition is the team with the greatest number of coyotes retrieved. If two teams present equal numbers of coyotes, the winner is decided by the total weight of the animals.

Many contests offer prizes for the top hunters. These range from cash, new calls, guns, camouflage items and, sometimes, trips for exotic hunts.

“Usually the host of the event will pay out 75 percent of the entry fee to the winners. Sometimes, this is up to eight places.” Burget said, “The hosts will give the other 25 percent to the Game and Fish, local charities that educate youth on hunting safety and conservation efforts.”

Families in the Field

Aside from the enticement of the prizes, hunters also experience other benefits from participating in the hunts. These hunts provide a full-body workout outside of the gym and it keeps the competitors in practice for the next hunting season.

Family coyote hunt through Rockin' 7 Ranch. Photo courtesy of http://www.rockin7ranch.com/

Family coyote hunt through Rockin’ 7 Ranch. Photo courtesy of http://www.rockin7ranch.com

“Coyote hunting is a fun sport that promotes great exercise, practiced marksmanship and skills with a coyote call. Coyotes have better eyesight and sense of smell than most other animals that are hunted, so it requires a much higher skill level in my opinion,” said Burget, “Coyote hunting is, in my eyes, practice for hunting larger game, but I will still show a coyote the same respect as I would an elk or a moose. If I cannot take the shot with confidence and ethically, I will not take the shot.”

These morals and ethics are also taught to younger generations in the field. It is not an uncommon sight to see fathers and mothers bringing their children, who have successfully completed a hunter’s safety course, into the competitions. They are also typically successful in their endeavors. Husband and wife teams are also common. When Willis’s husband is in town, they pair up for competitions.

“This is a really good way for couples to bond,” Willis said, “you have to work together on the hunts and it makes you stronger in the end.”

Giving Back to Landowners

“I also like being able to help out local ranchers” Burget added, “They view the coyotes, as well as other predators, as a threat to their livestock and livelihood.”

Although coyotes are small in stature, these animals have been dubbed ‘the most adaptable predator ever’ by Jan Loven, USDA Animal Damage control specialist.

Ranchers and landowners benefit from the harvest of coyotes by the decreased predator pressure on their herds. Coyotes prefer prey upon smaller animals such as calves, sheep and goats and that directly impacts the profits of the livestock operation.

A hunter turns in coyote ears to collect is $20 bounty in Casper, WY. Photo courtesy of missoulian.com

A hunter turns in coyote ears to collect is $20 bounty in Casper, WY. Photo courtesy of missoulian.com

According to the National Agricultural Statistic Service, an estimated 17,500 sheep were killed in Wyoming by predators in 2011. Of those sheep deaths, 10,900 were due to coyotes.

These high predation numbershave prompted Wyoming to launch a coyote bounty program which pays hunters $20 per coyote brought in. This reward can be collected outside of designated hunts until the delegated money for the project runs out.

Coyotes are also harbingers of disease and carry mange, parvo virus and rabies. These animals are smart, reproduce quickly and look after their own, which ensures strong population numbers. These traits have created problems in other states besides Wyoming with predation and transmission of diseases.

Hunt Year Round or Sign Up

In Wyoming, competitions take place during the winter months- December to February- but frequency and location can vary depending on the organization sponsoring the hunt.

Hunts are sponsored by different states and organizations so hunters always have a good selection. More information on events in the area can be found at the forums at Predator Masters, Coyote Hunting Today and National Predator Hunting Association.

Regardless of the time of year, as long as the hunter is in possession of a hunter’s safety license, these animals can be harvested.

Hunters do not have to wait for competitions to get out into the field.

“It’s nice to just get out into nature. It is always fun to get there and call them in,” said Willis.