Dan Barkin

First Look photos get online fast

Staff WriterAugust 30, 2008 

In the online world, photos are popular content. And in our corner of the online world, sports photos get the most eyeballs. Thursday night, we did something that we haven't done before to get more images from a game online faster.

During the N.C. State-South Carolina football game, we put up a gallery of photos called First Look. The gallery featured a large number of pictures posted online in an "unedited" format.

Typically, a photo editor looks at all the pictures he's got and then decides to put a few of them in the paper and online. A bunch will be put online in a photo gallery, but only after the captions are written and a logical order is set. This takes time.

On Thursday night, we put the photos on our Web site uncaptioned.

This was the still photography version of what you'll sometimes see on TV when big news breaks, when they talk about "raw footage," i.e., unedited video that has just come in.

Around halftime, our photographers at the game in Columbia, Ethan Hyman and Chuck Liddy, looked through dozens of images from the first two quarters. They transmitted them to photo editor Kevin Keister in Raleigh.

With the help of Rachel Carter, our sports Web producer, he put a lot of pictures up on newsobserver.com.

Just before 10:30 p.m., I got an e-mail message at home from Kevin saying that at 10:18 p.m., with three minutes to go in the third quarter, "we have our inaugural First Look gallery up with 92 images from the first half!"

The exclamation point was appropriate, because when you post 92 pictures in a photo gallery for the first time, you hope smoke doesn't come out of the server.

Ethan and Chuck kept shooting, and by the end of the night, there were more than 200 photos in the First Look gallery. While you were looking at the First Look, Kevin started editing and winnowing the visual game report, making sure photos had captions explaining the action and deciding how to place them in a second, more traditional photo gallery that he added online.

You can see both at newsobserver.com/sports/college/ncsu.

StorySPARK

This year's SPARKcon is coming up about three weeks from now (Sept. 19-21), and it is a gathering dedicated to the proposition that Raleigh is a creative place and could be more creative.

SPARKcon is a collection of "SPARKS," events centered on dance, music, film, art, yoga, ideas, etc. You can read all about it at sparkcon.com. (Full disclosure: The N&O is a sponsor.) This year, one of the new events is StorySPARK, which has been organized by a couple of public relations pros -- Billy Warden and Greg Behr.

Warden and Behr are the founders of The Raleigh Quarterly, an online literary magazine (raleighquarterly.com). One of the storytellers will be N&O reporter Jay Price, who has covered the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Economist Richard Florida has a theory that the more "creatives" who live in a region, the better for its economy. Longtime capitalist that I am, I'm all about trying to boost the local economy, and so I want to put in a plug for the SPARKs.

dan.barkin@newsobserver.com or (919) 829-4562

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