Braille Monitor                                                 April 2012

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Some Thoughts About Photographs

by Gary Wunder

Gary WunderIt seems as if we are always asking people to take time out of their busy convention schedules to drop by the photographer and reminding them to capture the special events that happen in their local areas, but no matter how often we ask, we always seem to be desperately short of good photographs to use in the Braille Monitor. Some argue that photographs are of little value to us given that the majority of our circulation is in Braille, audio, and Internet text and Word files, but to think this way ignores the value of the print publication and what we can communicate to sighted people or to those who have enough sight to make reading the print enjoyable.

Digital photography is a godsend for us, but we often encounter problems when people try to use their cellular phone cameras to send us photographs. Unless the cell phone is a rather advanced model, its camera is usually more for convenience than for taking quality photographs. Picture quality is measured digitally in pixels or, in our case, megapixels, and we find that pictures must be at least 5 megapixels or better for us to use them. A more accurate way of measuring photograph resolution is by dots per inch (DPI). For publication, photographs should be at least 300 DPI. A related problem is that pictures taken with high-resolution cameras are sometimes electronically reduced when sent through e-mail or uploaded to the Internet. Usually you find an option that asks whether you would like to make the transfer faster. Your answer should always be no.

Not only do we lack quality photographs for many who are making Federation news, but we need action shots which do more than show you sitting in a delegation at convention. If your chapter or affiliate does a challenge event such as rock-climbing or snow skiing, take along a digital camera and take some photographs. If you are doing a demonstration of Braille or a fundraiser at the local mall, again let us have a picture. If you are going to meet with legislators in some kind of event, give us a shot of a legislative hearing room packed with Federationists. When dignitaries come to your chapter meetings or affiliate conventions, get a shot with them at the podium and send it along. If your photographer pays attention to the composition of the shot (lighting, background, avoiding extraneous people and objects), we might not use what you send right away, but the time will come when we will be grateful for your photographs and will use them.

When your camera takes a picture, it often names it with a sequential number (000375.jpg). This is fine for the camera, but it is not very helpful to those of us who will handle the photo. It would be quite useful if the name of the photo had something to do with the content. Good are “Jim Barber and Brian Buhrow at the 2012 WashingtonSeminar.jpg” or “Mike Freeman, Marc Maurer, and Jim Gashel with Congressman Fred Smith.jpg.” Since our practice in the Monitor is to name people from left to right, your naming the photos in this way will also help us confirm who each person is. It should also go without saying that leaving on the feature that date-stamps photos across the face makes them unusable for publication.

Some people tell me that they are not photogenic or the fact that they are blind makes it difficult to get a good picture. I understand this problem; it is one of the best reasons to take and send many photographs so that we have a choice when trying to make you look your best. We are proud of our organization, proud of the people who make her what she is, and we want readers to hear and see you at your best. You can help us immensely. In fact, without your help we will fail in our effort to create a collection of good photos from which to draw.


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