Monthly Archives: December 2005

Ang Lee Interview

My cousin Jeff Yang profiles and interviews Taiwanese director Ang Lee for SFGate.

Taitung Mountains (photo)

Mountains in Taitung, Taiwan


The Audio Photographer

Photojournalist Martin Shakeshaft has gathered a number of interesting links on why photographers should also be capturing audio as a form of captions on steroids.

MSNBC: Gathering Audio to Go with Your Pictures:

Sound brings pictures to life in a way that captions alone cannot. Pictures allow you to see what you’d otherwise just be listening to in an audio-only piece. The marriage of pictures and sound offers the viewer a truly enveloping experience. It adds realism, texture and depth to your stories and it lets the people in your pictures speak for themselves. Audio also increases your chances of being published, as your story will be ready-made for a variety of mediums. For example, the audio portion may be used for a radio show, the stills can be moved to a Newspaper or a picture agency, and the two combined can be published on the Web or on television. Audio you gather in an interview with your subject can lead you to make pictures you never would have made because you wouldn’t have had the information.  In short, gathering sound makes you a better journalist.

The Digital Journalist: Made for the Medium: Photojournalism at

Mediastorm: Gathering Audio. notes that a number of National Public Radio correspondents use mini-disc devices for their reportage.

America in Color

Photojournalist Sion Touhig gives a heads up about a Farm Security Administration photo exhibit that opens in January.

For many photojournalists the photographers who worked for the Farm Security Administration (FSA) in Depression Era America form part of that collective [black & white] memory, which is why the forthcoming exhibition " Bound For Glory : America In Colour 1939-1943"
at the U.S. Library of Congress promises to be fascinating, being the
first major exhibit of the seldom seen colour images taken by
photographers at the FSA.

Anyone who isn’t going to find themselves in Washington D.C. in January 2006 (when the exhibition begins) can check out their online exhibition,
and experience the strange sensation of seeing images that confound our
ideas of what we thought this ‘monochrome’ era actually looked like.


MediaGear Flash HD

I bought a MediaGear Flash HD 20G to Go from Adorama the other day, only to find that MediaGear is fireselling the devices on its own web site. It seems like the prices on these kinds of devices keep dropping since sizes like 20G do not really qualify as large anymore.
I wanted to be able to backup photos from my CF cards while I travel without having to lug a laptop computer everywhere. Here are some observations from my short time with the device so far.

* Bare Bones LCD – The B&W LCD / indicators are very bare bones; it
basically allows you to select what kind of card you are uploading, CF,
SD, etc., then a "copy" button starts the process. The LCD screen tells
you how far % it has completed, but once it hits 99%+, and the %
indicator goes off, there’s nothing that indicates that it has
finished. (BTW, in case you were wondering, there is no image review,
or even a way to check and see what files and folders are on the

* Skimpy Documentation – The instructions that come with the device are
abysmal: unfortunately, that’s becoming par for the course for a lot of
devices I’m buying. I had to go to the web site to figure out why I was
getting a data error on first try (somehow I had managed to insert the
CF upside down, believe it or not, but nothing in the documentation
described why I was getting that error). I admit to not being the
sharpest tool in the shed, but others must be putting the card in
upside down too, or it wouldn’t be on the web site, right?

* Battery Power – This is a "use it in your hotel room at the end of
your shooting day" device. It only went through about three 1G CF cards
for me before the battery power starting going low for me. Problem is
that I had it running through a card/the % indicator was counting up
while I continued shooting the other day, and I walked back to a device
that had shut itself off. I had no idea how much of the card it had
completed downloading until I could check it when I got home.

* Speed/Utlility – I haven’t timed how long it takes to download a
card, but it seems to take roughly the same amount of time it would for
me to copy a CF to my desktop computer HD.. Works fine for what I want
it to do, meaning it gives a decent alternative to having to carry a
laptop for a short-term shoot, but’s it’s nothing fancy. The device did
download both my JPG and NEF(RAW) files without any problems. It comes
with a USB cord that allows you to easily use it as an external HD for
your computer.

* Durablity – Not sure. Made of some kind of plastic. Comes with a
pleather case ("synthetic leather"). I wouldn’t bang it up and down on
anything, but it doesn’t seem especially flimsy either.

* Bottom Line – Best when you’re close to an electrical socket and can
give it TLC.  Price is certainly cheaper per gigabyte than the CF cards

The Email Mystery

My interview of Michael Betcherman, one of the co-authors of the "email mystery" the Daughters of Freya, is online at Arriviste Press.

Brighton Ballet (photo)

Members of the Brighton Ballet Theater hold a rehearsal for the Nutcracker.

Red Storm Rising (photo)

St. John’s college basketball players psych themselves up before a game against Charleston Southern.

Football as Literary Pastime

This weekend’s New York Times Magazine notes that: "For sports-minded writers with literary aspirations, baseball, not football, has been the game." Compare the number of books written about the sports.

This holds true not only for novelists and poets but for nonfiction authors as well: there is, on football’s very short shelf, George Plimpton’s "Paper Lion," about the author’s remarkable participatory-journalist’s stint with the Detroi Lions; and Roy Blount Jr.’s "About Three Bricks Shy of a Load," a wildly funny chronicle of a season with the 1970’s Steelers; and–well, no Roger Angell."

The NYT Magazine assures us that we do, however, have Michael Lewis, who "has been spending a lot of time with guys in pads and helmets." (Another top notch football writer is Gregg Easterbrook, who pens a funny weekly column called TMQ during the NFL season.) Now, I am a fan of Michael Lewis, whose book "Liar’s Poker" is enshrined as a classic that perfectly encapsulated the 1980s Wall Street ethos with great hilarity. (To date, it is still  by far one of Lewis’ best books.) Yet, as good a writer as Lewis is, he’s no Karl Taro Greenfield. Compare this introduction in Lewis’ profile of Texas Tech’s Mike Leach

It was still ordinary time. The seconds ticked off the digital clock on
the locker-room wall. A smell: the acrid odor of vomit. They were still
ordinary college football players, and a few of them had lost their
pregame meals to a war of nerves. Side by side at their lockers the
players sat, silently, almost penitently, stomachs churning, waiting
for their coach to show up and to make the place a lot less ordinary.

…to the introduction of Greenfield’s profile of Steve Spurrier, the head football coach of my alma mater:

Nothing prepared him for nothing. For months and weeks of nothing. For days and days of nothing. And, hardest of all, for hours and minutes and seconds of nothing. For waking up in the morning, pouring a cup of coffee, grabbing the paper and sitting out on the deck behind the four-bedroom, two-story house in Hamilton, Va., and having nothing to do but stare at the distant hills before wandering into the kitchen and asking his wife what’s for lunch, and her answering–because she had errands to run and volunteer work to do at Scotty’s high school–"Nothing."

Okay, so not all of us can be an editor-at-large at Sports Illustrated like Greenfield. I’m just as envious of Lewis’ writing ability, and I like the chord he strikes on football. "Football is the most complex sport and also the most intense. Yet it’s not very well understood. So as a literary subject, it’s virgin territory." A thought that has crossed the minds of many a Southerner, I’m sure, who thinks of the game of football as a birthright.

Lounging at the Author’s Lounge

My travel piece, Bangkok: Lounging at the Author’s Lounge, is on e-Marginalia.