Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Varying Emotions of a Standalone

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Standalone. It’s a word that sparks a range of emotions in photographers from fear, to desperation to elation. Quite often, you experience all three is succession.


There are different words for this term. You can go hunting for pictures. Go shoot a drive-by. Or even cruise for features.


Someone has even written a book about the art of looking for standalone photos. It’s called the “Great Picture Hunt” by photojournalist and professor Dave LaBelle. The book is now in its second printing and was one of the “textbooks” for photojournalism students when I was in college.


For those outside our newsroom, a standalone is a photo that doesn’t come with a story. It may have an extended caption and can be more than one photo on the same subject. It can happen any day of the week and can be centered around an event. Or it can be something totally random.


At the Chronicle, we have been known to have Standalone Tuesdays, Standalone Wednesdays and Standalone Weeks it seems.


Usually, you’ll find these pictures on 2A in the Chronicle. Somedays, you’ll find them on our Metro front and even on 1A. They can even appear in our Sports section.


The reasons why we take standalone photos? Sometimes, it’s because we don’t have any photos to run with the stories in our newspaper. Sometimes, it’s because we don’t have enough stories. And then there are the occasions when we just find an interesting photo subject.


Shooting a standalone can be time intensive. As soon as you’re assigned a standalone, this is when you feel the fear. The hunt has begun. 


The first thing you do is check the events calendar to see if something falls within your schedule. This is the easiest way to find a picture subject. 


Next, you go through your list of popular places to find photos: the Riverwalk, Riverview Park, the canal, (during summer) the splash parks and Brick Pond Park. You’re looking for anyplace where you can find people.


After you’ve exhausted your popular spots, the desperation starts to sink in. You’re now officially cruising for features. This is also the time when our mileage reports start creep up.


But eventually, you reach that point of elation. You’ve found a standalone. Your stress level returns to normal and everyone in the newsroom rejoices. We have a picture for tomorrow’s paper.


I went through the range of standalone emotions this past Saturday. I had three assignments and had to find a standalone for the Metro front. And I had to find it between 2pm and 5pm.


Since I knew about this ahead of time, I checked the events calendar the night before. There were a few promising options but they were all out doors and in the morning. As soon as I saw the weather forecast, I knew they wouldn’t be well attended. Scratch those.


Next came the usual suspects. Since I was on the Hill, I drove around the GRU campus. No luck. Next came downtown - nothing happening because of the cold. Brickpond Park - Nada. Lake Olmstead - nothing there either. North Augusta Greeneway - possible but would be better if the leaves had changed more (Save this one for another day). I had exhausted the majority of my go-to places when I thought of a picture I had been saving for a day just like this.


I drove down Riverwatch Parkway and stopped my car just as the road crosses over the canal. It was late in the day and I knew the sun would be casting long shadows. I waited. Sure enough, some bikers and joggers made their way down the dirt road next to the canal, the sun creating dark outlines of their bodies on the dirt. I had my picture.


Cue the elation.

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Sunday, November 2, 2014

Journey to the Center of Kyiv

Obolon Station

The weather helped me decide to take a new photographic approach on my recent trip to Ukraine. It was cold and a little rainy at times and most of the trees had lost their leaves.

Not the best conditions for taking photos.

So, I decided to head underground.

I had become enamored with the Metro stations in Kyiv on my previous visits, each one seemed to be unique and beautiful in its own right. Even the Soviet-era themes had a simplistic beauty to them, from the mosaics of the Princes of Kyiv at Zoloti Vorota to the sculpted busts of famous Ukrainian scientists and writers at Universytet.

As my friend Olena worked, I grabbed a handful of metro tokens and my iPhone and set off.

Kyiv's Metro is a bargain compared to US subways. For 10 Hryvnia, you get 5 plastic blue tokens. Entrance to the Metro costs one token. When you consider the current exchange rate is 13 Hryvnia to $1, my three day journey to the center of Kyiv cost less than a Magic Snail Latte. (Magic Snail is my Ukrainian Starbucks where a large latte costs less than $2.)

The Metro consists of over 50 stations on three lines: the Red, the Green and the Blue. Constructed started after World War II and was the third rapid transit system built in the Soviet Union. It currently has the record for the deepest station in the world which is the Arsenalna station.

I didn’t make it to all of the stations. Some I bypassed due to the time of day, like the Dnipro station which overlooks the Dnieper River and has a beautiful view at sunrise. (Somehow I couldn’t get myself to get up that early.) Others, like the newer outdoor stations, start to look very similar in construction.

By any means, this project is far from complete and, luckily, I don’t consider this my last visit to Kyiv. Besides, work has started on a fourth line which should be completed in the next few years. And that means more stations to explore.

Lybidska Station

 Zoloti Vorota Station

 Pecherska Station

 Klovska Station

 Vokzalna Station

 Zoloti Vorota Station

Ploscha Lva Tolstoho Station 

 Lukianivska Station

 Lukianivska Station

 Arsenalna Station

 Vydubychi Station

 Druzhby Narodiv Station

 Palats Ukrayina Station

 Universytet Station

 Universytet Station

Universytet Station

Shuliavska Station

 Politekhnichnyi Instytut Station

 Zoloti Vorota Station

 Poshtova Ploscha Station

 Pecherska Station

 Minska Station

 Maidan Nezalezhnosti Station

 Livoberezhna Station

 Arsenalna Station

Minska Station