Electronic Photojournalism Workshops

By Salgado, Robert J. | Editor & Publisher, March 5, 1994 | Go to article overview

Electronic Photojournalism Workshops


Salgado, Robert J., Editor & Publisher


ALL-ELECTRONIC IMAGE handling may be some years away for many or most newspapers, but the annual electronic photojournalism workshops organized by the National Press Photographers Association gradually are reducing the number of skeptics.

"I work with chemicals, and I want to know what's going to replace me," said 28-year New York Times employee Bob Glass, who makes photographic prints in the darkroom.

Glass said he lost his skepticism when he went to Electronic Photo Workshop Four in Williamsburg, Va., in 1992, then gained more enthusiasm last year at EPW5 in Fort Collins, Colo., when computer crashes were less frequent.

Still, it may be some time before he has to move out of the dark at the Times. "I can make a print in two to five minutes," he said. "That's 120 prints a day, and we have five other printers."

Whether he stops making prints, Glass already spends part of his workday scanning negatives for the part of the newspaper that processes images electronically.

At EPW5, he selected photos for a page on a Macintosh, on which he then cropped, dodged and burned them in Adobe Photoshop and made color separations with the help of a scanning coach.

This year, if the paper doesn't send him to EPW6, he said, "I'm thinking of going on my own."

Newsday photographer John Cornell is chairman of the NPPA's weeklong EPW6, which will set up in Chapel Hill, N.C., Sept. 24. Cost is $400 a person for photographers and photo editors ($700 for a two-person team) and $250 for observers plus food and housing.

Not all who attended EPW5 shared Glass' uncritical enthusiasm. There were some grumbles about the role of the coaches, who were there to help the participants with writing, design and use of the computers.

Often, coaches took over the computers rather than standing by and explaining to or showing participants how to solve a problem or produce a page that had been sidelined earlier by computer problems, some participants said.

Most attributed this to the pressure to produce the 32-page full-color Electronic Times, the product of participants' photography and photo editing.

Cornell said he was aware of these complaints, but NPPA believed that it was important to produce the Electronic Times so participants had something to show their employers for the time spent at the workshop.

Some at EPW5 paid their own way. One who did was Ron Bath, who took an unpaid leave from his former job as a photographer at the Argus-Courier, Petalurea, Calif., to attend. He called the workshop a "great experience" but an expensive one -- $2,000 in his case -- at a time when he was making only $8 an hour.

Bath said he thought EPW5 was especially effective for photo editors, but he wished there had been more training time for participants. "Getting the paper out overrode the training," he said.

Bath edited a full-color page in the Electronic Times that was produced with images from a digital camera.

He was disappointed with the images from the Kodak DCS 100 camera, citing a color shift in the shadows. He said backup photos shot on film at the same time "looked phenomenal."

St. Petersburg Times layout editor Roger Fischer also had trouble with digital camera images, although there were no color shifts on the page he produced from Kodak DCS 200 and Sony MVC 7000 (still-video) images.

His complaint was that the images he saw on the computer screen were too small.

"I couldn't adjust image size to judge resolution," he explained. And though "a PC proponent for a long time," he was disappointed in the performance of the PC platforms.

He too criticized what he said seemed to be the coaches' tendency to take over the computer from participants, not letting them work out a problem to its conclusion or a final product.

He would prefer that they stand back and coach with words. …

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