Sunday, May 02, 2010

Ty's Corner

"Ty," wrote Woody, "are you never going to do another Ty's Corner?" It has been two months. I had actually planned to do one twice before but both times the weekly editions featured several articles with individual bylines. Which made me fear it would play like Abby Road -- my least favorite Beatles album and one that really never sounds like a group effort to me.


But this week, with Ava and C.I. doing a TV commentary and working on a piece with Ann that will require extensive work, it seemed I could help move the edition along by doing a corner and the focus is on our illustrations.

What Sunplus camera do we use?

We've had about seven or eight e-mails on that since January and I was confused by the question. Sunplus? I was looking over roundtables to see if maybe Stan or someone not with Third had endorsed Sunplus cameras or even described them? Nope. So where was Sunplus coming from? And what is it?

The first question I can answer: Flickr.

Our photos on Flickr, photographs we take, are credited as being taken by a Sunplus camera. Flickr does that, not us.

Flickr's wrong. We use Digital Video. And the one we use allows both photos and video (with sound on video). We use those because we were in DC many years ago (2006 protest?) and some of us were using disposable cameras and some were using non-disposable, and some were using film and some were using digital -- and on the latter, some used digital that you had to take to a store and some used digital you could upload. It was a pain in the ass. And one of C.I.'s friends noticed.

Shortly afterwards, she gifted us with these cameras. We usally use a 256 MB card in them and they run on 3 triple A batteries (we use rechargable batteries). That was in 2006 and, so that we're all using the same techonology, when new sites have been started, C.I.'s supplied them with the same camera. (We also all use the same type of laptop, a Dell. I have no idea other than it's a Dell. We also use Dell PCs.)

Who takes pictures? If it's one of us, we don't generally credit. If it's shaky, it's usually Jim. Why? Jess torments him. Jim will get ready for the photo and Jess, thinking of a Giants game Jim took photos of for his own personal use and how a large number were blurry, will holler out, "Don't panic! Don't let your hands shake!" And Jim will freeze up or jerk his hand just as he's taking the picture. (You'll notice that in any book or mag piece since Jim's usually the one the photo taking for those gets farmed out too.)

This edition, we're using a photo Mike took and we'll credit him for it. But if it's Dona, Jim, Ava, Jess, C.I. or me, we don't usually credit.

Sometimes we publish an edition without the photos and then add them later that night. That tends to bother at least five readers. But a lot more readers complain when we don't publish until night time. Those are the choices. If we can't get photos to upload on Flickr, then we can publish without photos (or illustrations) or we can hold the entire edition until that night.

Some wish that we used Third Estate Sunday Review's Flickr page exclusively for our photos. Some are confused that there are Common Ills, Mikey Likes It, etc. Flickr pages.

That has to do with DIY. C.I., back in 2005, was sick of Blogger/Blogspot (which has outages all the time back then) and wrote at The Common Ills that she was going to look for a pay service to use. Oh no.

The e-mails poured in. Part of the greatness of TCI was that anyone could do it. It wasn't trying to be professional or look like this or that. It was using the elements available to all to create something memorable. C.I. took heard that input and left it alone.

Back then, Hello! was the program we used for photos and illustrations. Then, without advance warning to its users, Hello! changed its policies. We ended up going with Flickr. We have numerous accounts.


When we reach the maximum on a free account, we move over to another account to keep the DIY spirit. Which is why our illustrations (and Isaiah's comics) are spread over several Flickr accounts.

If you like what we do, you should realize that there's nothing stopping you from doing the same. Blogger/Blogspot is free. Flickr is free. You can start your own website tomorrow. (And you should.)

"I don't get it," e-mailed Michael in regards to the illustration for "Editorial: Goodbye, Quill" last week. "Is Quill [Lawrence] supposed to be the big enchilada or something?"

Actually, those were fajita tacos in the foil, not enchiladas. The illustration was mainly used because Jim was going through the photos Ava and C.I. took on the road and found that and (loving Mexican food) asked them what they had eaten. He was surprised because Ava and C.I. do not generally eat Mexican food on the road because they have it all the time already. What happened was, they wanted margaritas and went into some Mexican food place to get some and decided to split an order of fajita tacos. Jim loves Mexican food. So a few hours later when we were attempting to figure out what to use as an illustration for the editorial and no one had any good ideas or strong feelings, Jim said, "Use the taco photo."

Sometimes there may be a point to an illustration, sometimes there may not be.

Michele started reading this site in 2008 "when you guys were my only friends because everyone I knew was drinking the Kool Aid." She says she started going through the archives this year and was surprised to discover that in 2005 we rarely had illustrations.

Dona's the one who pushed for illustrations. She thinks about things like layout. She thinks about that for individual articles and for the appearance of the scroll down. She's the one who recommends short features to break up the spaces and she recommends illustrations to do the same and to enhance an article.

When Isaiah began doing his comics, we began using illustrations more (and often his work). There are some illustrations we really love. Most of the time, we don't have the luxury of deciding whether we like it or not, we just have to finish the edition and get it posted already.

Michele noticed especially how Ava and C.I.'s TV articles had different illustrations. I asked Jess about that. As he remembers it, there was an illustration we all did as a group originally when we decided to do illustrations. Ava and C.I. write a TV article every week so we knew we should do an illustration for them. But Jess hated the illustration. He wasn't the only one who hated it. So Jess began working on an illustration. He believes he came up with three finally. That were used. And then one day, he and Kat were playing with photo shop on various public domain photos when they arrived at the photo that is now used. That's a White House photo from the Bush years. Condi Rice and two others are facing a monitor that Nouri al-Maliki's face was on, they were doing a video conference (as Jess remembers it). He and Kat were playing with the photo planning to use it (in it's original form) in an article on Iraq. But when they played with the image the montior really stood out and Jess said it would be the perfect illustration for Ava and C.I.'s TV articles. It's been used for at least two or three years. Ava and C.I. check the White House website at least once a month for a new photo they could substitute. But they've yet to find one.
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