Monday, December 19, 2005

The Perfect Picture

Or the Official Sapphoto Christmas Post

I gather moments. I've taped everything from Presidents, to protestors. Perps to the oppressed. I've seen everything from fish to the famous to infamous flash through my viewfinder and onto the tube.

I've captured these snippets for you the viewer from the side of frozen snowy roads to the roiling deck of a fishing boat in 6ft. roiling seas in the gulf of Mexico. I'm no stranger to hanging out of a car window or to manning the risers in an Air Force hangar waiting to hear Hail to the Chief.

In all these instances, I've rolled, snipped, and stitched together stories I've been proud to have hit the air.

Even with all this experience, there is still one subject that eludes me...

Christmas pictures of my children. For example:

Try #1
Try #2

Try #3
Try #4
Try #5
Try #6

Try #7

So what try did I go with?
An impropmtu shot...

And what did I learn??? Anticipating an unexpected moment makes for a better picture than any moment I can stage... And it's less stressful than trying to corral 3 kids!

Merry Christmas!!! May all your moments be perfect!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Video Links

I'm taking my chances here...

I want to add some different content here. My station started putting our stories onto their website several months ago. I've decided to show you the astute readers of this site what kind of work Sapphoto: Live submits to the viewers of the South Bend/Elkhart IN market on a daily basis.

Without further ado, here are the stories I've hammered(mostly my video) out over the past several weeks. These stories were all my morning show topics followed up with packages done for the late shows.(I'm not sure how long the links will remain valid so beware...I will try to update with new stories as they and the time to edit links become available.)

More SNOWWW!!!
More SNOOOWWWWWWW!!!!!!!!!!!

shivering fido
Dogs being left in bitter cold.

Make sure you decorate safely for the holidays!

Morning breaking news

Don't be too harsh. I know they may seem small town but these are examples of the daily news happening here in Michiana.

If you've got some video you'd like to share please leave a link in the comments either to the video or to your site for others to check out.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Morning Fuel

The hardest thing about working mornings? Dragging my rear-end out of the comfort of a nice warm bed into the chill that is a December morning.

What makes it better?

Pick Me Up

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Frozen Turkey


I need a digital camera. This kills me to try to write posts without pictures.

How else to I supplant the mental images lightly sketched out in these digital dispatches.

Take Thanksgiving Day for example... [reminescint music fades in as the picture fades to black]

[the gentle hum of a generator slowly rises and the picture fades in to reveal the inside of a ENG tuck]
snowy drivingToday I'm riding solo. The bigwigs put the reporters on the dayside shift leaving me to sit in my live truck trying warming my hands in front of the monitors blaring out the morning mayhem that is "First Thing in the Morning." My goal today is to find blowing frozen crystals of water (aka snow). We in the Michiana area are supposed to get slammed today with 6-12 inches of LAKE EFFECT SNOOOOWWWW!!!!

For all of our holiday travelers I will provide live pictures of the snowy scene. Actually, it's more like the lack thereof. Although the wind is pretty wicked this morning, kicking up to 40-50 mpg gusts. With so much wind I can't put my mast into the air for fear of knocking my truck off of the overpass, but the height of the overpass lets me get a good line of sight to the reciever anyways.

I arrive on scene and step out of the truck into the wind tunnel cutting through the 4-5 layers of clothing I've pile on this morning to maintain some warmth. I set up the camera on the tripod with legs spread to the limit to promote stability, plug in to the truck and punch it up for over the air broadcast. After several live references during weather and traffic I get a call from the producer's booth.

"Can you change the shot?"

"Sure," I grudgingly agree. Grudging only because it's damn cold, but the shot is stale so I stumble out and move the position from the back of the truck to the front trying to catch the faintly blowing snow across the road. After framing it just right, I jump in the truck trying to get the feeling back in my hands while I try to stay awake during the remainder of the news cast.

Thankfully the producer pulls the plug on the lack of snow shot, giving me reason to wake up. Hopefully I can get the gear torn down before reaching the temperature of the turkey chilling in my fridge at home waiting to be eaten.

[Picture fades as the hum of the generator sputters off and a ford E350 roars to life]

(Santa, please bring me a digital camera!!!! and some more long underwear!!!)

Friday, October 07, 2005


Not amplitude modulation.
Not angry and mad.
Not acerbic media.

Ante meridiem...

There's some changes happening here at the offices of Sapphoto. First, I've left the cozy family of those who create the prepackaged tidbits for the 23 minutes of news between primetime and late night.

I've moved to a disticntly different daypart. Instead of trying to keep our intrepid viewers here in Michiana awake, I'll be pointing my shoulder mounted TeeVee maker at our exhuberant morning reporter. That leads us to change number 2. Since I've abandoned the meeting and folo-up dustpan that is Nightside, I'm changing the name of the site. Lastly, I've learned a little about Macromedia Fireworks(how else could I be shooting while driving the SNG truck), enabling me to create a new masthead.

How could I do this? Well I've got 3 good reasons.

Now that I'm waking up well before anyone gets out of r.e.m. sleep, I'll be able to get home and enjoy the three rugrats running around the house messing it up.

That and I won't have to miss going to soccer practices like I have the past month.

Don't be upset. We'll still have time to laugh, joke, and cry about the dramatic, crazy, and erratic events that make up the Must-See Reality TeeVee that is television news. (I know, I say we. I like to dream that my miniscule tappings at the keyboard bring in droves that rival the big bloggers out there.)

I'm no stranger to the morning shift. I spent a 2 1/2 year stint giving the people of Tampa/St. Petersburg a warm side of News to go with their coffee, eggs, and toast.

I'm already working on some new material. If I could just get those Austrians to email me the pictures!!! How do you say email in German?

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

The Ultimate Sentence

I've been sneaking peeks behind my little black and white screened reality show for more than 7 years. In that time I've covered numerous murders, mysterious deaths, car accidents, and other varied life altering/ending events. Tonight will be the same.

Well...except for one detail.

Tonight the life ending is planned.

Alan Matheney is scheduled to die by leathal injection tonight at Indiana State Prison. Matheney was convicted of brutally beating his former wife Lisa Bianco outside of their home in northern Indiana.

Thankfully I will not be witnessing the execution. I will be close though. I will be safely tucked away in a conference room waiting to hear from the prison spokesperson. A little after midnight, I will be in place behind my reality TeeVee, framing up my shot waiting to hear that the state has carried out the sentence. I'll also be one of the first to find out what if any were the last utterances from the condemned.

I don't know what I'll walk away with from this tonight. I'm undecided on the issue. It's hard to argue that Matheney deserves to take up space above ground after what he did to Lisa Bianco. On the other hand I don't feel that putting someone to death actually accomplishes anything. However, I'm not paid to have an opinion.

But, when I wake up in the morning, maybe I'll have a better understanding of the State's ultimate punishment.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Third verse...same as the first(and the second)

Or...Meetings: The great reward of Nightside.

County City building- Many a TeeVee photographer knows the joy of politicians, concernedNO Tondu!!! residents, and developers gathered inside the darkened council chambers.

I've been stuck in my own personal Groundhog Day, except that I'm not in Pennsylvania, not as funny as Chris Elliot, and not stuck getting snowed in every day(not yet at least).

One of the jobs of news people is to listen to the clarion call of the numerous NIMBY groups. Ours is not the place to opine on the said complaints of concerns of those who do not want the new shopping center, new road, or new developement. Neither do we weigh in for those who push such developments.

We simply try to gather video and soundbites from all the parties involved and encapsulate the arguments for the viewers tuning in for 20 minutes of news after the rousing evening of must-see prime-time TeeVee.
NO Tondu!!!
However, there comes a time after visiting the sites of the impending or impeding change, that the TeeVee makers must trudge into the darkened chambers that make up the home of the decision makers. When I say trudge I mean no disrespect. It's just that, I can think of nothing more boring to the viewer's eye than council chambers with people sitting around and talking.

What's harder is when you have to attend multiple meetings until the council(or whatever form of government you would like) makes a decision. You must then hear the same arguments several times, often the same arguments, forcing you to tell your viewers nothing new several nights in a row.

Just a little vent. I guess it's a small price to pay to get the chunk of change in your bank account every other week.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Scribblings from a note pad


Blink, blink, the clock stares back unmoving.

"Whew, it was just a dream."

"Bill 110-05: An ordinance to vacate..." the clerk's voice drones on down the list.



"Brian, stop your scribbling. Our agenda item is coming up."

Suddenly the crowded room slams into focus like a lens being handled by a rookie who doesn't know how to finely finess the macro. I look up from my doodling to see the other photogs sauntering up to the podium to turn thier mics on.

That's when it hits me.

This is Nightside.

Four hours of public comment and I wish I was dreaming!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Back to school

I was going to title this "Hot for Teacher" thinking the salacious title might titillate. However, that title might actually work against me. See, my wife is that teacher and she might swing by my ramblings here and I'd have to answer for the things I've done(believe me, I already have enough to answer for).

My wife has been a teacher for 7 years now. Teaching 4th through 8th grades. I've talked to her students several time through the years. Actually they've talked mostly to the reporters I've convinced to come along. I think I like it that way. I like the safety and security of being the unseen force behind the viewfinder. I do like the kids. So, when the lovely Mrs. Sapphoto asked if I'd come in and tell her 7th & 8th graders the magic and process of TV news, I easily obliged. Oh yeah, the free lunch helped entice me too. I also convinced my reporter friend Dustin Grove and my night side producer Jason Brocklesby to come along and help me tell the students how the rough draft of history is churned out.

After I finished munching on my sandwich it was my turn to talk.

I started a brief overview of my broadcast career. That's easy since it's been a relatively brief career. 2 years junior college, 2 years Southern Illinois University, 2 years schlepping away in southern Illinois, 5 years in Tampa driving around a Ford E350 van with a big pole impaling it's middle with a camera stashed behind my passenger seat. And now 2 years of rolling tape and rolling out cables on the events and happenings of Michiana.

Slight Aside here: I just realized that I've spent 9 years filling the insatiable appetite of the news beast this month. Wow. I'm getting older. (Not old.)

Dustin and Jason finished out the introductions talking about their backgrounds and why they decided to pursue the Siren of News that sings out her alluring song, trapping us much like flies to flypaper.

Then we answered questions from the students. Where do hurricanes come from?(They had been talking about Katrina for several days at school.) Sorry, we didn't bring the meterologist this time.

Do you travel? Some.

What's your favorite thing about your job? Being able to get outside and see something different everyday.

Can you be late? ...pause...ummm...pause...nervous looks...

From our initial response, you think they would have asked us the square root of pi.

Next came the nervous chuckles, and the reply, "Ummm, no you can't be late."

Living inside the little box of television news the only constants are: change, liveshots, stand-ups, and the unmovable, unrelenting deadline.

I don't remember exactly what we said, but we made sure the kids understood that the news was on at 5 and we had to have the story ready NO MATTER WHAT!

I'm not sure how we did talking to the students but my wife says there were plenty of "teachable moments."

Yeah school!!!

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Loss in the family

From the South Bound Tribune: Crash claims WSBT veteran

STEVENSVILLE -- He was the unseen face behind a steady, graceful television camera for two decades.

The man who caught on tape the glory years of the Fighting Irish under Lou Holtz.

The man who would tell WSBT-TV news anchor Mike Collins to "stand by."

And Collins would listen.

"He'd point his finger at us, and that was our cue. We were on," said Collins.

On Friday morning, Tommy Csiszar, the reliable journalist who earlier in his career used to chase breaking news stories with a 20-pound camera strapped to his shoulder, became the story.

The 48-year-old TV newsman was killed in a two-car, head-on collision on Michigan 139 in Royalton Township shortly after midnight Thursday.

He was heading to his St. Joseph home from the South Bend TV station.

I knew Tommy Csiszar. I didn't know him very well. I tend to have a problem of keeping my head down and plugging through my day. Over the past few months I'd started lifting my head up and sharing some hellos with Tom while cruising through the halls of our news empire. I never saw anything but a happy look on his face. He even had some great quips to bring you a quick smile.

Tom spent 20 years at WSBT. I hope after 20 years I can have the same ease and smooth demeanor. Even though I didn't know him very well, I do know that he was extremly likable and extremly liked.

Rest well Tom, you will be missed.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Is the train really leaving the station?

Where is video/photojournalism headed and how will it get there?

This is the impetus for today's musings: KnoxNews Random This (via: Instapundit)

Check it out...well, at least wait until I've explained my thoughts. Is this where video story telling is headed? Yes and well, no.

I'm torn. Everyone seems to have a digital camera nowadays(everyone that is except me). Most of these cameras have the ability to grab video. If you have a computer you can download free editing software. With these two tools and a site to host your video, you too can become an independent video journalist.

Plenty of people have already discussed video on the web. I visit a TV photojournalist website message board at Purists believe that herky-jerky video will fail to keep viewers like traditional TV stories shot with $20,000+ cameras. Pundits (like Terry Heaton)and those on the front end of the internet explosion believe the dinosaurs will be left behind scratching their heads while their purses get thinnner and thinner.

If it were up to me...

I want to watch video on the web. I just don't want it the size of a gameboy screen. I don't want it to be a shaky, string of long boring shots made up of low techinical quality video. I do want it be important to me, my neighbors, and community. I want to get close to the people who make up the world around us.

Bloggers will meet these needs. But will those without training and experience be able to achieve success? The good ones will. They will rise to the top and provide an alternative to coverage akin to the rise of bloggers spreading information filling over the gaps of traditional media.

I can't wait for bandwith to catch up with the video that can be available. I would love to see video that gives me a glimpse into the life of someone in my community(with the internet that could stretch from across town to across the seas) that even I may not see or think of covering. These video bloggers will be similar to all the extra channels you have on cable today. Niche programs filling niche needs.

But will they take over? No. Have newspapers ceased to exist? No. Have movies stopped drawing crowds? No. So too will TV stations continue their dominance of their respective industry.

Have those industries suffered a decline in viewership/readership? Yes. The internet is one of the reasons the media titans have taken their hits. However, it's also let these titans make their impact in other ways. People want a certain level of quality from the media they ingest. They also want to get it as easily as possible. That plays into the hands of the big media who have the funds and ability to gather and create slick content and then disseminate it quickly and easily.

Most of you reading this are discerning consumers of media. You are the exception. You are willing to make the effort to round out the platter of news you seek. You will be willing to take a hit in video quality to find those nuggets of human life that delve deeper into specific interests you have.

My take? When I'm ready for some alternatives to the mainstream, I'll surf around until I can find sites like RandomThis or Vodcasts. After all we can't subsist on an Atkins-like diet of "Live, Local, and Late Breaking!" We all have to have our veggies sometime.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Sick Call

Dial tone.



"W***, Can I help you?"

"Hey John, it's Brian. I'm calling in sick today. My wife and kids have strep throat. I have to stay home to take care of them."

"O.K. "

My guilt kicks in. "John, I'm sorry. I called as soon as I knew I wouldn't be able to make it."

"It's O.K. you can't help it."

"Thanks John, hopefully I'll see you tomorrow."


Yippee...I've got the day off. Too bad I don't get to laze around. I get to take care of the bambinos and my beautiful wife.

Monday, August 15, 2005

What is Sapphoto: Nightside?

I bet you were trollling around the internet just clicking links when you happened onto this little site called Sapphoto: Nightside.

"What's Sapphoto: Nightside?" rolls around your head as you get ready to hit the back button. Who could be so lame to pass you onto this site where the author is obviously hung up on the cool gimmick of a name he fashioned.

Sapphoto: Nightside is the chronicle of my modest attempts to be a photojournalist, cameraman, cameramonkey(althought I think this demeans the simians), live truck operator, satellite truck operator, editor, tour guide, and ferryman covering Michiana with a 30 pound Panasonic camera, microphone, and microwave live truck.

I've been lugging around a camera for 7 years now. I've worked in Illinois, Florida, and now Indiana(where I hope to stay for a while). I've been working to make news as a professional for 9 years.

I do all the above while I work the nightside shift? The Army had a saying that they did more before 9a.m. than most people do all day. I do more after 1:30 than a producer does in a shift(just kidding my keyboard ticklin' friends). We try to find the news to fill up that half-hour news slot after prime time. You know the one. Right before Letterman or Leno. We do most of this without any direct supervision of management. They go home and try to forget the day they've just suffered.

Sooo...what happens once the policy makers leave?

Well, we don't come in until most people are looking to get home to their families and private lives. Therefore, it is becomes a daily trick to find interesting events to make into one minute thirty pieces waiting to be dropped into the produer's puzzle.

Hang on and watch. I hope you can find something useful from my insight into the nightside.