Tag Archives: New York Times

The Umbrella Man – Op-Docs (Week 10 Blog Post)

In 2011, on the anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination (November 22), The New York Times’ Errol Morris explored the story behind the one man seen standing under an open black umbrella at the scene of the incident. Josiah “Tink” Thompson, author of 6 Seconds In Dallas, provides a detailed summary of the story behind “The Umbrella Man” while also sharing his own insight on the matter.

Despite speculation that “The Umbrella Man” was the man who assassinated JFK, he later testified that he was protesting the appeasement policies of Joseph P. Kennedy, JFK’s father, when he was the ambassador to the court of St. James in 1938-1939. The umbrella was a reference to Neville Chamberlain’s umbrella.

Errol Morris’ short film primarily consists of interview footage of Josiah “Tink” Thompson supplemented with b-roll from events surrounding the assassination of JFK. Thompson is the main voice heard throughout the film and serves as the storyteller. A variety of shots are used to display Thompson during his interview: rule of thirds, close, medium, etc.

Morris did a great job of setting the mood for the film by including light and soothing background music that complements the calming tone of Thompson’s voice. Each part of the film flows together seamlessly, from beginning to end. The b-roll was very well placed and helped emphasize Thompson’s words. Morris’ film tells the story of “The Umbrella Man” in a unique and engaging fashion.

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An Unfair Game: English Football’s Rising Ticket Prices – Op-Docs (Week 9 Blog Post)

This short film was directed, illustrated, and co-written by The New York Times’ Kris Hofmann (published on October 16, 2013). Hofmann depicts a prominent issue in English Football, where ticket prices have become so high that many of the fans can no longer attend the games. The film’s narrator, Liam Williams, indicates that the rise of TV coverage and the greediness the players’ agents are key to the unnecessary rise of ticket prices.

Hofmann’s video utilizes simple yet engaging visual aspects and quality narration to convey its message that the fans of English Football deserve lower ticket prices. The actor, Henri White, manipulates decks of cards that feature a variety of people related to English Football, such as players, fans and businessmen. As the narrator (Williams) makes his points and refers to certain subjects, White displays the corresponding card(s). This theme continues throughout the entire video.

I really enjoyed watching this video and gained a great deal of knowledge as well. As a visual learner, I believe the actor’s display of the cards being in sync with the narrator was very helpful in conveying the main points of the story. Each card served a unique purpose throughout the video and seemed to “come to life” when displayed by the actor because of the lighting and simple background. The editing and camera work was also very well done. Overall, this is a high-quality production.

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Pictures of the Day: Italy and Elsewhere by The New York Times (Week 6 Blog Post)

This particular collection from The New York Times includes 11 photos from nine different locations. The photographers used a variety of techniques to showcase their specific theme.

The first two photos were taken in Assisi, Italy at the scene of Pope Francis’ visit to emphasize the need to help the less fortunate. The first photo utilizes natural light coming from a window in a dark room to blend the nuns with the shadows while still showing the expressions on their faces clearly. The second photo is a classic POV (point of view) shot, capturing the natural perspective of the member of a crowd.

The third photo was taken in Sitra, Bahrain, where a man was greeted by his family after being freed from prison. This photo also uses a POV approach, capturing the perspective of a family member at this joyful reunion as celebration ensues.

The fourth and fifth photos were taken in Mombasa, Kenya, where riot ensued after the killing of an Islamic cleric. The fourth photo shows an armed police officer standing guard in front of a Salvation Army Church that was set on fire. This photo immediately makes me visualize violence because the police officer’s gun is in the forefront of the photo. It also makes me feel sorrow as smoke rises from a church in the background. The positioning of the photographer when he took this photo really made this shot effective. The fifth photo displays Kenyan residents attempting to distinguish a burning tire by throwing a bucket of water on it. There is a great deal of intensity in this shot as the photographer captures the action of the water being jettisoned toward the bright red-orange ball of fire. The photographer likely chose a medium shot rather than a close-up to capture the entirety of the situation.

The sixth photo was taken in Calais, France, where several Syrian refugees stand atop a building while protesting at a ferry terminal in hopes to win asylum in Britain. One of the men is holding back another from allegedly attempting to jump off the building as the other men make negative gestures and facial expressions toward a team of British border police who are not pictured. The photo is simple. Not much is going on in the photo, so the focus is immediately placed on the men and their expressions. The white background and white building are contrasted by the dark garments of the Syrian refugees.

The seventh photo was taken at a news conference about the government shutdown, fours days into the standoff. Four U.S. representatives stand an equal distance apart, with two American flags hanging in the background. The bottom of the photo shows only the upper chest and heads of the four men, putting a great deal of focus on their facial expressions. The concerned expressions of the men establish a clear tone for the photo. 

The eight and ninth photos were taken in Washington, D.C., where President Obama and VP Joe Biden went to a sandwich shop offering a 10 percent discount for furloughed government workers. In the eighth photo, Obama and Biden are being escorted by Secret Service agents to the sandwich shop. Obama and the Secret Service agents are the clear focus of the photo. My eyes were first drawn to the two agents on the left because they are the closest subjects in the photo. Naturally, my eyes led me from left to right until they fixed on Obama in the center. Biden’s head is visible but the rest of his body is not. The photographer’s angle and positioning made this shot effective. In the ninth photo, Obama and Biden are surrounded by the press as they order from the sandwich shop. My eyes are first drawn to the large microphones that are positioned closest to the photographer. The microphones establish the theme of the photo, which is that a regular occasion such as ordering from a sandwich shop is a highly anticipated event when the President is involved. 

The tenth photo was taken at the China Open tennis tournament in Beijing, where fans marveled at Rafael Nadal of Spain as he changed his shirt after defeating Fabio Fognini of Italy during the men’s quarterfinal match. Although Nadal may be the main subject of the photo, the fans are the clear focus of the shot, literally. Nadal’s bare back draped by a towel is out of focus and to the very right of the photo while the fans are in focus and take up the majority of the photo. The fans are all smiling and taking pictures with various devices, hoping to capture the moment of witnessing an international superstar. 

The eleventh and final photo was taken at a tattoo convention in Hong Kong, where a woman with an “especially spectacular” tattoo covering her entire back is on display for tattoo artists from around the world. The calm and soothing turquoise background sets the tone for the photo and allows the tattoo to be the clear focus of the photo. My eyes were immediately drawn to the tattoo on the woman, who is slightly off-center to the right. The passive color of the background allows the colors in the tattoo to pop. The quality of the tattoo is exceptional, almost resembling a painting.