I’m a second-year master’s student at the School of Information. I am interested in user-centered product design, in particular for digital publishing and education technology. For my final project, my team (including Mike) is designing a platform for distance learning instructors to create what we are calling “narratives”–trails of online media content that are easy and interesting for students to consume. We need to both create interesting sample narratives (and templates for others to do the same) and tell a compelling story about our process of researching users and designing our tool.

I take a lot of snapshots but have little experience with real photography. I have a basic understanding of manual settings on my camera and some basic photo/video editing skills and have always intended to learn more.

My email is alisonm [at] ischool [dot] berkeley [dot] edu

Jenni’s intro

Hi all: Aaminah told me about this class just this morning, and I knew I had to take it—even if it meant showing up to the party a bit late! I’m a first-year PhD student in the Graduate School of Education’s Language, Literacy, and Culture program. One of my main research interests is the bridging of print-based and digital literacies in the high school English classroom; I conducted a qualitative study last semester that examined students’ uses of Adobe Flash to visually represent their interpretations of 14th century Anglo Saxon poetry.  I also just started working as a GSR for Glynda Hull’s Kidnet project (, and taking this course sounds like a terrific way to explore the role of visual documentation in my current and future ethnographic work.

This class also appeals to the enthusiastic amateur photographer in me. I am an avid traveler and enjoy sharing my adventures with family and friends through my blog and Facebook albums. Documenting the ordinary and extraordinary on camera (using SLR, DSLR, smartphone, computer, etc.) is just plain fun to me, and I look forward to becoming better at it. I’ve taken some darkroom and digital photography classes, but I have much to learn and am looking forward to becoming more skilled at capturing moments/narratives through photography and video. I have some experience with Adobe Lightroom and iMovie, but, again, I have a lot of room for improvement and am eager to learn more about presentation software and techniques.

I check my email often:

Curse of the Black Gold Photography

Here’s a link to the Ed Kashi photographs we looked at in class on Wednesday: Curse of the Black Gold: 50 Years of Oil in the Niger Delta

Also, for any outdoor enthusiasts out there, check out Jimmy Chin’s photography.  He’s a professional skier for the North Face and a really talented photographer.  When looking at some of these cliff-side shots, I couldn’t help thinking of the discussion we had in class about photographers recreating photo-worthy moments!


Sorry for the late introduction–there were some technical problems in getting my account set up.  I’m Araba,  a first year PhD student in anthropology.  I am interested in media, advertising, and the cultural politics of representation in Nigeria.  I’m interested in interpreting visual media as well as exploring some of the theoretical concepts in visual anthropology.  That said, I’m looking forward to trying to create my own visual narratives and learning more about photography.  I’m also interested in how photography and video can be incorporated in ethnography.

I have always had a camera with me when I’ve traveled abroad, but I have done little experimentation with my camera.  My experience with video editing consists of a film course I took in high school where we had to make our own movies.

Recap from Jan 26 – camera basics

Keeping settings on auto is fine for now.

Zoom: use optical but not digital. The digital zoom just makes the pixels bigger, considerably reducing image quality.

ISO: 200 is a good all-purpose setting (but may be too dark for indoors). 400 is fine. Going above that depends on your camera; the less expensive the camera, the sooner you’ll get noise in the image as you raise the ISO.

Image settings (size and resolution): maximize these. The only reason to go to a lesser-size/resolution is to save memory, but you lose image quality.

The only special scene mode worth using is the one for fast-moving subjects, usually labeled sports with an icon something like this:

Canon special scene modes

Canon ISO control

Nikon ISO control

iPhone Hipstamatic images from Afghanistan on front page of NY Times

Discussion and images.

But it happens that Mr. Winter quickly realized — after trying a few shots — that his iPhone would be an effective way to capture the day-to-day trials of the First Battalion, 87th Infantry of the 10th Mountain Division in northern Afghanistan.

“Composing with the iPhone is more casual and less deliberate,” Mr. Winter said. “And the soldiers often take photos of each other with their phones, so they were more comfortable than if I had my regular camera.”

Mr. Winter even found himself taking a few iPhone pictures during firefights while he was shooting video with his single-lens reflex (a Canon EOS 5D Mark II, as long as we’re on the subject). The Hipstamatic app forced him to wait about 10 seconds between photos, so each one had to count.

A Lowbrow Example …

Forgive me for producing an example that’s the lowest of the low-brow, but today’s discussion about reality and constructed scenes made me think of the ending of the MTV show The Hills. For those of you lucky enough to have missed this particular phenomenon, the show was a spinoff of a previous MTV reality show (Laguna Beach) and followed one of that show’s “characters” and her friends as they moved to Hollywood. Like a lot of reality TV, it was criticized for being set-up and possibly scripted — criticisms that only grew as the show’s stars became tabloid fixtures without that part of their lives ever being shown on screen.

Anyway, the show attempted to maintain some level of mystery about just how much it was setting up the story, until the final episode, which ended with the following scene — in which two characters say a mournful goodbye, only to have it revealed that (SPOILER ALERT!) they’ve been filming on a soundstage.