Archive for video

Guide to Shooting Video or Taking Photos at the Polls

I’ve taken my camera with me to vote for the last several elections resulting in both good and bad experiences. When San Diego used touch-screen machines for the first time, I was able to get a shot using my digital SLR. On another election day, I was stopped and aggressively questioned by a poll worker for trying to take a cellphone photo.

Here’s the problem. The legality of cameras inside polling places isn’t black and white; the laws vary state by state. Plus, some poll workers have only received basic training and will apply their own judgement. The Citizen Media Law Project suggests four things to avoid getting yourself into trouble: follow the rules, be discreet, don’t interfere with voters or the process, respect the buffer zone.

In California, election codes aren’t particularly clear. They prohibit recording within 100 feet of anyone entering or exiting the polling place with the intent to dissuade others from voting. This is where the above guidelines come in; stay low-key and they’ll likely leave you alone. I spoke with the San Diego County Registrar of Voters and they said photography and video will be allowed up to 25 feet away.

While inside the polling area, California Elections Code says you must be in the process of voting (i.e. not using a camera), are limited to 10 minutes, and can’t show your vote to others (i.e. not documenting your vote). While it doesn’t specifically state “no cameras allowed,” legal precedent hasn’t cleared up the specifics. Government officials err on the side of caution. The California Secretary of State’s office says it has “historically taken the position that use of cameras or video equipment at polling places is prohibited, though there may be circumstances where election officials could permit such use.” When I spoke to the San Diego County Registrar of Voters, they said they won’t allow cameras inside the polling place except for credentialed journalists.

From a certain angle, this all seems very oppressive. This is a free country and I should have the right to video my vote, right? Yes, but other voters should also have the right not to be surveilled while voting. Poll workers are commissioned to protect the vote and can kick you out, even calling the police if you cause enough of a disturbance. This can all be avoided by sticking to the suggestions mentioned above. Pay attention and be careful not to record other people unwillingly.

Publish Your Photos and Videos on Election Day

  • YouTube and PBS have partnered with Video Your Vote to gather first-hand accounts on election day. They’ve arranged the videos on a map to note voter intimidation and other problems at the polls.
  • The New York Times’ Polling Place Photo Project collects images to create “an archive of photographs that captures the richness and complexity of voting in America.”
  • Video The Vote is a watchdog group organizing people to document voter suppression and other problems.

How to Make Tequila: Tour of Casa Herradura

On our last trip to Guanajuato (November 2006), we took a detour from Rosario’s home state and headed to Amatitán, Jalisco for a tour of Casa Herradura, makers of Herradura and Jimador tequila. Rosario shot the tour with her new video camera while I took photos.


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Flash Lamp Photography: Behind the Scenes of an NPR Interview

I met Race Gentry standing with his antique camera and vintage flash lamp outside his mother’s home in La Jolla. I was there to record audio for an All Things Considered story and shoot video to accompany the interview on NPR’s website. Race is one of the few people around who uses the 100-year-old technique.

Screenshot of NPR media player

In typical tape sync fashion, Robert Siegel spoke to Race by phone. I stood next to Race, holding the mic six inches from his mouth — my recording of his voice would later be combined with the host’s voice by NPR editors, giving the conversation a higher quality, natural sound. Unfortunately, we had to stop the interview every few minutes because of the military flights going in and out of MCAS Miramar. We were also interrupted for trash collection. And again for recycling.

Race explained the process of pouring the powder in the tray, setting the percussion cap in place, pulling the trigger to ignite the cap, and the explosive flash that follows. The first flash lamp he demonstrated with wouldn’t fire. He was using toy paper caps, but the humidity or bad luck kept it from firing. He switched to another flash lamp that uses rare, original percussion caps. That definitely did the trick. The massive smoke cloud was pretty impressive.

Take a look at the final video, listen to the interview and hear the flash lamp sound. Race Gentry also has his own flash lamp videos on YouTube.

Tijuana Video Competition: 119th Birthday Card

Video Contest for Tijuana's 119th Birthday

The Tijuana Convention & Visitors Bureau offers $500 to the best video birthday card for Tijuana’s 119th birthday. The deadline is July 9th by midnight. Submit your video to the Tijuana Birthday group on YouTube. Judges will announce the winner on Tijuana’s official birthday, July 11th.

Rules:

  • Videos should be between 60 to 90 seconds in length
  • Video must reference Tijuana’s 119 years and its birthday
  • Video must include images, icons, or visual references to Tijuana
  • Videos can be in Spanish or English or both
  • Video must include text promoting “TijuanaOnline.org” at end
  • Video must not be vulgar, offensive, negative, or in bad taste
  • Submit your 60-90 seconds video no later than July 9th

Death to Elmo (Piñata)

Whatever lingering cultural history may have once enshrined piñatas, I don’t think these kids are learning about its pre-Columbian heritage:

Principal Svadean: Look, Pedro, I don’t know how they do things down in Juarez, but here in Idaho we have a little something called pride. Understand? Smashing in the face of a piñata that resembles Summer Wheatley is a disgrace to you, me, and the entire Gem State. (Napoleon Dynamite, 2004)

You can’t help chuckle at the iron of a child bashing their favorite cartoon character with a stick only to be rewarded with candy. While I agree with Cindylu that piñatas are problematic, I can’t help smiling when everyone dive-bombs the ground, scrapping over Blowpops and Smartees.

Piñata Song

Dale, dale, dale
No pierdes el tino
Porque si lo pierdes
Pierdes el camino
Ya le diste una
Ya le diste dos
Ya le diste tres
Y tu tiempo se acabó!
Hit it, hit it, hit it
Don’t miss
Because if you miss
You lose your way
You hit it once
You hit it twice
You hit it three times
And your turn is over!

Tijuana / San Diego Driving Time-lapse

Heading north through Tijuana on the Via Rápida, getting gas for $3/gallon, crossing the border, driving on the I-805 in San Diego.