Breaking news action

So at 3AM this morning I get a call from fellow photog Nick Ruggiero telling me the house across the street from him had caught on fire.

I raced over grabbing the only body and lens I have at the moment (a D70 and a 20mm lens--the 50mm has died), and my SB-800 flash and cord, just in case. Just before leaving my room in a half-sleeping daze, I realized I should have some credentials, so I grabbed my still-valid ACP (Associated College Press) badge and bolted.

The scene was nuts, with close to a hundred people trying to see what was going on, and too many firetrucks, ambulances, and cop-cars to count.

I got there before any other news outlet that I could see, though about 15 minutes later the local TV stations showed up, though I never saw anyone from the Post-Standard paper.

I took a full gigabyte of photos in the hour after I arrived, and stayed until around 5AM to talk to any official I could to get information. Despite my valid press credentials I had a lot harder time getting an official to talk to me than the news vans, for obvious reasons--luckily a videographer from a local station pointed me in the direction of a fire fighter who was helpful. I also managed to find the owner of the house and speak to her, but I couldn't find any of the occupants, or first-hand witnesses.

When I got home I immediately posted some of my take to CollegeOTR, where I also blog, and released a breaking news bulletin from The Daily Orange website.

Then I decided to email Nick Lisi, the photo editor at the P-S and see if they needed photos, I lucked out again because they did and he bought one from me--read the P-S story and see the photo here. (Sorry that I can't embed the shot here, but I haven't fully discussed image rights with the P-S yet.)

Here's are some of the photos I posted to The DO and to OTR

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Here's a photo I sent to The DO to be printed tomorrow:

click to enlarge


Here's a "spot news multimedia" 360 that I did of the crowd watching the blaze:




Click and drag on the image to look in 360 degrees.

The 360 isn't perfect, unfortunately, but I think for getting woken up at 3AM, rushing to a fire and trying to do a QTVR without a tripod it turned out very usable.

And this is where I think that multimedia really comes into its own, sure, my still photos to a good job of recording the incident, particularly the one I sent the P-S, but I truly feel that the immersion a QTVR creates tells the story better.

In one 360 panoramic you get firefighters, the blaze and onlookers' reactions--instead of it being split up into separate photos.

On another note, this shoot made me think about the ethics surrounding the new mediums available to visual journalists. Ideally, I would the QTVR to be not only perfectly stitched, but to include the scene I captured in the photo I sent the P-S.

While stitching that image into the panorama would certainly make a more dynamic and compelling QTVR, the image was captured at a different time from the rest of the panorama, and I didn't feel it was ethical to combine things from two different time frames into a medium that is supposed to emulate a single frozen moment. Just my two cents.

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