For the past couple of days, I’ve been working on a short video of the winners of this year’s Best of Photojournalism contest for the National Press Photographer’s Association‘s conference, Convergence 10.  As I’ve watched the winning pieces, I’ve felt so inspired by these photographers, videographers, and producers.  But, there is one story that immediately made an impression on me: “Leveling Appalachia: The Legacy of Mountaintop Removal Mining”.  This amazing video was a collaborative project by Yale e360, milesfrommaybe productions, and MediaStorm.

©2009 Yale University

“Leveling Appalachia” is about the practice of mountaintop removal mining which is destroying mountains and covering thousands of streams in southern West Virginia.  As the video shows, it has also affected the quality of the drinking water in the surrounding areas and has caused floods, though the WV Coal Association denies it.

Occasionally when I drive home to Ohio, I take a much more scenic, though slightly longer, route through West Virginia.  I drive right through the area focused on in this video and I am always stunned by the beautiful, mountainous scenery.  It breaks my heart to think that this area is slowly being destroyed.

On another note, I was incredibly impressed by this story.  The photography is amazing, the audio is impeccable, the story, compelling.  This and the other stories in this year’s Best of Photojournalism provide me with so much inspiration for my own projects.

I hope you take the time to watch this story and let me know what you think of it.

Click here for the story.

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A photo from Frozen Land, Forgotten People (photo by Barbara Davidson, Copyright © 2010, The Los Angeles Times)

A couple of weeks ago I attended the Southern Short Course in News Photography.  It’s a conference that’s held in Charlotte, NC and it’s basically a weekend filled with guest speakers and workshops all related to News Photography.  I meet so many amazing photographers and learned more than my brain can hold.  I wanted to share the work of one of those photographers, Barbara Davidson of the LA Times.  Click here to view her multimedia piece, Frozen Land, Forgotten People.  This audio slideshow won in NPPA’s 2010 Best Of Photojournalism contest, taking first place in the News Audio Slideshow category for Web sites that are affiliated with a major media organization.  It’s a story about an area of Navajo land in northeaster Arizona that was affected by the so-called Bennett Freeze which halted all development on the land for 40 years.  While this ban has been lifted, this area is still severely poor and undeveloped.  It’s an incredible story told with beautiful photography and I was shocked that this exists in America.  I found this piece especially inspiring because I am currently working on a couple of audio slideshows myself.  At the Short Course, Barbara spoke about this project and talked about the shock she felt when traveling from LA to this area.  Please watch this story and let me know what you think.

[http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-bennett-freeze-ss,0,760471.htmlstory ]

Yesterday, I went to see the Ansel Adams Masterworks exhibit at the Columbia Museum of Art.  The Masterworks collection is one that Adams chose himself to represent his best work.  I was blown away by his photography.  The detail and striking contrast in his images is stunning.  Accompanying many of his images were quotations from Adams about taking and developing each image.  Reading his descriptions made me miss working in the darkroom.  Adams wrote about the hours he spent developing and redeveloping each photograph until it was perfect.  Today’s digital photography provides instant gratification.  In journalism, this is a huge advantage, but it also takes away the feeling of surprise and gratification you get when working in the darkroom.  I remember how exciting it was to watch your image appear on the paper. Adams’ photography reminded me of that.

One of the photos that stood out to me was Oak Tree, Snowstorm (above).  I thought this photograph was so different than Adams’ other work.  The large amount of white in this photo makes it very unique.  The snow in this photo must have made it an extremely difficult photo to take.   Another photo of Adams’ that surprised me was Trailer Camp Children (below).  I was unaware that Adams had many images of people.  The exhibit also described Adams’ work photographing the Japanese internment camps during WWII.  It was a side of Ansel Adams that I was surprise to discover.

I was so pleased with the exhibit and was thrilled that I managed to see it before it left Columbia.  If this exhibit ever comes to a town near you, I would highly recommend it.