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    "Every October I walk the thin line between suicide and homicide."

    - Chris Radcliffe, Eastern Kentucky University

    When I read this on the listserve I immediately thought two things: First of all, Chris gets my vote for quote of the year. Secondly, I know exactly how he feels. Homecoming is a shared frustration that every University Photographer must deal with. There is no vacation during homecoming, no colds; it is all hands on deck and shoot till you drop. The University packs in a months worth of events into a few days and it always seems like there are so many great things to shoot during homecoming week, but I'm always stuck shooting a banquet while they are happening. I thought it would be interesting to see what other UPAA members did during their homecoming, so here is a quick roundup. Just click on the photo for the jump, and enjoy our ode to those who walk the line:

    Baylor Homecoming 2010 - by Robbie Rogers, Matthew Minnard, Sara Bennett, Shanna Taylor and Felicia Wong

    University of Idaho Homecoming - by Joe Pallen, Kelly Weaver and Scott Riener/University of Idaho

    Homecoming Parade - by Jeff Miller/University of Wisconsin-Madison

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    Homecoming Parade - Photo by Jeff Miller/University of Wisconsin-Madison

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    Each year the UPAA Board of Directors meets to discuss and plan for the upcoming year. This year we met in Cookeville, TN at Tennessee Tech, home of Dean Carothers. The Board communicates throughout the year via email and phone but we have found it necessary to hold a daylong meeting where we can meet face-to-face. These meetings have proved to be enormously beneficial.

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    After a long meeting the board left TTU for dinner.

    While October is undoubtedly one of busiest months, all of the board members found time to get away to work on several key issues facing the organization, chief among these are, Web site redesign, 50th Symposium, and election of new officers. Chair of the 50th anniversary committee, Jim Dusen, presented ideas on the festivities and a potential new award for excellence in university photography. Mark Philbrick, 50th Symposium host, walked us through the schedule and debuted a new Nikon/Canon spot for the Blog. Continue to check in for new postings.

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    L to R - Jim Dusen, Mark Carriveau, Michael Aikens (web designer), Nick Romanenko, Martin Vloet, and Jay Ferchaud. Photo by Bill Bitzinger

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    Mike Ekern at the University of St. Thomas recently shot a multimedia piece on one of their graduates who just happens to be a professional strongman. He shot stills and video for the print and online editions of their alumni magazine. Something that stood out to me was the quality of the ambient audio while the subject was working out. It went a long way in creating an atmosphere for the piece. While I thought he did a great job of balancing the two mediums, it sure doesn't hurt to get a shout out from Umagazinology. Check out the video below, or better yet, jump on over to St. Thomas Magazine and read Feats of Strength.

    There were a lot of questions I wanted to ask Mike about this project, so I thought a little Q and A might be in order:

    Q: How did this project come about?

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    Last year I was blown away by Baylor Photography's time lapse of their 2009 Homecoming. UPAA Members Robbie Rogers and Matthew Minard wanted to do something special to commemorate Baylor's 100th Anniversary of Homecoming, so they spent three days shooting the events traditionally and with a time lapse setup and then cut together this amazing piece:

    Homecoming 2009 from Baylor Photography on Vimeo.

    The boys at Baylor are at it again. This time they wanted to find a new and different way to cover the annual Move-In Day, which is an annual event where hundreds of volunteers help move several thousand new students into their dorms. The theme they came up with was "Thinking Inside The Box" which meant that they would do a time lapse from the perspective of a moving box:

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    Bachelor of Photography Graduate and QCA alumni Johannes Laumer with one of his experimental works made up of water, light and sound. Photo by Chris Stacey/Griffith University

    The UPAA Monthly Image Competition is off and running for the 2010-2011 year. It looks like we are going to have another incredible year of top notch competition. Check out the winners from the summer competition here.

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    Jim Dusen of Batavia unloads some of the photographs he has been cleaning out from his former office at Brockport State College. The college's long-time photographer retired this month after 31 years.  Photo by Rocco Laurienzo/Daily News

    After 31 years of shooting for Brockport State in New York, and 10 years serving as the President of the UPAA, Jim Dusen is finally retiring. The Daily News published a great article profiling Jim and his career at SUNY Brockport. Check out the article here.

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    We just wrapped up a great Symposium at Ferris State in Michigan. Bill Bitzinger set the bar really high with a balanced week full of education and inspiration. I thought I would do something different this time and shoot video of the whole Symposium so I could create a video recap of the week.

    Video was shot with the Canon 5D Mark II, 16-40, 24-70, 50 1.8 and 70-200 at 24p 1080. I think the video shows off what the camera can do, especially in very low light situations.

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    $2.99 Dolly in Action - Photo by Nick Romanenko

    I used a home made mini dolly that was a furniture dolly in it's former life at Harbor Freight Tools. With the addition of a bolt and a nut, I was able to use it to create some basic movement shots, including this off the wall one. With a camera mounted on the top of it, balance becomes a big problem. I'm going to have to mounts some bars on the bottom to add some weight and make it easier to control, but what can you expect from a $2.99 dolly.

    Thankfully Bill saw me struggling to keep it moving in a smooth straight line and he let me borrow their dolly track. It is called the Cobra Crane 5038, which mainly consists of a T-shaped piece of metal that your tripod can rest in. The wheels roll on sections of 2" PVC pipe, which can be broken down for transport. I was really pleased with how smooth of a movement I was able to get, which is why I used it so much in the video.

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    As still photographers move more into the video world, we're once again in need of some continuous light sources that can work for both our still and our video work. Here is a quick demo I did with the Litepanels Micro Pro and the 1X1. These lights are quickly taking over the broadcast world, and anybody who have ever burned themselves on a hot light can understand why. We have a 4 light kit that has two 1x1 spots and two 1x1 floods. We use these LED lights for both still and video shoots, and they are quickly becoming my favorite lights. They are daylight balanced, fully dimmable, cool to the touch and they travel like a champ. My only complaints are that they are very pricey and they need to be brighter. I'm sure that the next generation will improve on both counts, but for now when we are shooting video we always try to completely black out a room and light it only with Litepanels. Here are some examples of work that we have done with them:

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    You can learn more about them at

  • The 2009 Symposium was hosted by Deborah Lanni and Bruce Fox at Jamestown Community College in New York. Every year we take a day trip and have a shootout, and this year we were lucky enough to spend the day at Lake Chautauqua. I decided that this trip would be a great chance to shoot some more video with my Canon 5D Mark ii, even though I really wasn't prepared for it. This was one of the first videos that I shot, and looking back at it now makes be cringe a bit.

    The audio was captured with a Roland R-09 and a Sony Condenser Mic mounted in the hot shoe of the camera. The music came from Braden and Teresa McCue, siblings who were staying a hotel on the lake. They were jamming on the front porch of the hotel while I was shooting Martin Vloet chimping his images. They were gracious enough to let me record them and use is as the main audio for the piece.

    I ended up having a lot of fun shooting the shooters, plus it showed me the powerful capabilities of HDDSLR video.

    And yes, next time I brought a tripod.