Jan 30, 2008

The "unofficial" redesign is done

SO I guess with my last post that my pseudo-secret was up. Yes, my name is Damian Mulinix and I am (also) a page designer. I've been designing the section fronts in the B section of the paper for over three years and in fact was behind the original redesign of the sports section and the name plate change of the B1 features page from Fun to Life. I would also occasionally get the opportunity to layout a package on the front page from time to time, but not the whole thing. This is really one of the cooler things about working at a smaller paper, having continued control and input on how your work looks in print.

So above you'll find the new front page style that appears for the first time in this week's paper. Next to it you'll find an example of the older style. I've been doing a kind of unofficial redesign of the section fronts for the past couple months. Trying new things here and there, starting with the sports page and moving forward through the paper. The major changes to the front page include, starting at the top:
• Skyboxes, which is something that I'm not sure if we've ever done before. We would usually use cutouts tucked behind the masthead (which by the way looks funny on these pix because I didn't have our font, Friz Quadrata, installed on my laptop). I won't say that we won't use cutouts again, but perhaps in a different fashion. This also gives more opportunity to advertise other stories throughout the paper.We could also advertise online pieces up there too potentially.
• Fewer story starts, giving it a cleaner look, more air for the components to breath.
• Using lines of various thickness and color to break up stories and elements rather than border boxes and color boxes.
• Though small, perhaps one of the most important element changes is to the "whats inside" box at the bottom of the page. Prior to this issue it was a constant one column box on the left hand side, made it difficult to switch up the layout on the bottom of the page. Now, it is spread out over the bottom of the page, leaving all the space above an open canvas for building within.
I think perhaps the one thing that I have not been able to do yet is find a place to put our Web site URL in the masthead. There just isn't a place for it yet, but I gotta find one, as that is an important part of what we do.

The Life page is one that hasn't changed a whole lot, but I think the changes that were made are good.
• Adding a skybox with the nameplate to give some pub to sports or whatever else is featured inside the B section that week. I also increased the size of the nameplate and colored it red, which it will stay for most weeks.
• A clean, open design of one topic stories is a must. That was always when this page has been at its best. There are few papers left in America that will give a wide open page to a single topic. SO far on the weeks where we haven't had a dominant lead package for Life we have moved up sports to that lead page instead of trying to shoehorn something in.
• And then at the bottom there is now a gray bar and a line of contact info, including my email and a reminder to check out our stuff on the Web site.

The sports page is where this all started and I think echoes the other fronts in its elements, which I think is important. I think it looks strange when each section front has a completely different style and look from the others in the paper. I think by having some of these basic elements in place it will also lead to more consistency in the product.
• Once again, up top, the nameplate is slightly different, with a red S. It will also feature a skybox when it is on B1, When on its normal position on B2 it will not.
• Once again, intersecting lines to break up stories rather than boxes.
• Fewer story starts. Just last year I was trying to start every team on the front and jump them all. This led to a mess of at times six stories, and maybe three pix. With its normal position on B2 and B3, page 3 can also work as a nice display spot, though it is B&W instead of color.
• By far my favorite move, getting rid of the calendar and bonus box that ran all the way down the left side. That definitely began to hamper what I could display wise. It now neatly rests at the bottom of the page. Much cleaner looking in my opinion.
• Also at the bottom, just like on Life, is contact and Web site info — which is already paying off in feedback as in the last few weeks I've received a number of sports related emails, which I never got before. Very helpful.

So, that's about it. I can't say I'm any kind of professional page designer, as there are many, many way better and more original than I, but it is something I do enjoy doing. I've often thought that if I ever got to a point in my career where I didn't want to be out shooting as my job, I wouldn't mind photo editing and page design.
Now to give some props. First up is my boss Matt Winters, who has given me the freedom to do these experiments on his baby. I'm pretty sure he knows my intentions are only the best — as are his — which I think he appreciates. Also, in an around about way, Geoff Pinnock, the editor for visuals at the Spokesman-Review in Spokane, one of the best and one of my favorite, papers in the US. He headed up a redesign of the paper a few years ago and I've scoured over what they did to borrow what I like and what I can. I love the way their paper looks and hopefully ours can have a similarly professional and clean look to it.


Jan 29, 2008

Derby Day, Pinewood pix

Instead of uploading all these pix, I figured instead I'd show you the page. The design is a little different for me, but I thought it worked well for this presentation. Like all the pix on my blog you can click on it to give it a closer look (BTW, for some reason the page title font up top looks weird...)

SEAVIEW — The sound of squeeling tires, fast passing cars and crashes met the hungry ears of the young racers. While the sounds were fake, the excitement was real for the 20-some boys who were ready to race.
Few days have quite the cache for Cub Scouts as Pinewood Derby Day. Sure there are campouts and hikes to be had. But derby day is something special.
Arriving early in order to weigh in their cars, the boys grouped around a long table, adding some weight here, taking some off there, all to be sure that their car would move as efficiently as possible. Fingers touched the little racers, placed out for all to see, then touched their temples in a salute of the flag.
As the racing began, Scouts coolly placed their pinewood cars at the starting line, eye-balling to make sure wheels line-up just right. The flip of a switch, a whoosh of speed and the cars hit the finish line pillow with a puff.
Holy Cow, a new track record.
One after another the cars hit the end, are carried back to the beginning and sent off once more. The fastest surviving to continue to the next race, the big race. The fastest of the pack race.
One racer from each den lines up and gives it their best. One more race, one more chance, one more win.
“You win,” “I’m second,” “he’s third.” Just wait till next year!

— Damian Mulinix
Observer staff photojournalist

Jan 21, 2008

Talk about getting forked!

This past Saturday did not go as I had hoped, in oh so many ways. We were returning home from California after a short trip down to see the folks. We had to leave a little earlier than I'd have liked that morning because I had to be in Ridgefield, a town a little north of Portland, in the afternoon to shoot the winter gathering of the Chinook Indian tribe at the traditional plankhouse they built on a wildlife refuge a few years ago. For those who follow the Observer, I've always liked shooting activities of the tribe, and I think my interest and enthusiasm has led to me being invited to many events that media usually aren't.

Anyway, we were supposed to leave town about 8:30, but instead it was almost 10 before we were actually on the highway. I thought as long as I was there by like 4 o'clock I'd be fine, as I was told that the event would likely last until 6 or maybe 7. Despite making more stops than I'd have liked we were hitting Portland around 3:30, which put me in good shape for getting there by 4. But this is where it all went to hell.

There was a misunderstanding in plans between and my wife, who was driving at the time. She had to stop off at her mom's in east Portland. I thought O'd be dropping them off and taking the car, returning when I was done. Instead she had the exact opposite idea and drove me to Ridgefield and dropped me off. Upon arriving I hunted down Ray Gardner, the tribal leader of the Chinooks. He soon informed me that the event would likely be ending at 5, as that was when the electronic metal gate at the entrance of the refuge closed for the night.

Wow, this left me with only about a half hour to shoot. By this time, the events of the day were winding down. I caught the last two drum songs that the tribe performed and then the packing up. This lead to me getting nowhere near what I wanted from the shoot. I feel bad because I feel like I've let my paper down, the tribe down, and myself. I also had to call Vinessa and tell her to drive back 20 minutes after she dropped me off.

Here's essentially the only pix I got. They're not great, but they're what I got.

We finally got home at about 11:30 that night and went straight to bed. The next morning as I was opening the curtains in the living room I saw an unusual sight. Our front yard was covered with plastic forks stuck all over the lawn. Someone had also drawn various things on my wife's car windows. Ness thought it was funny and went out and picked them all up. I was a bit more suspicious, but one of our friends suggested that since there was no damage done that it was likely one of our friends pulling a prank.

This turned out to be the case as our friend Lieghanna and a girl that she is mentoring from the high school were cruising around that night and decided to pull some pranks. I give her points for creativity for sure. So much for the case of the mysterious plastic utensils.


Jan 12, 2008

Hail, hail the gangs all here

As those of you who live around here know, over the last couple weeks we've had an almost amazing amount of hail. It'll be a nice day, blue skies, sun out, and then, boom, a downpour of hail. The other night it hailed so hard that it coated the streets and houses white all night. So much so that it looked like it had snowed the next morning. Here's a pic from when I was driving back from Grays River the other night.
I don't usually take photos while I'm actually driving, but I guess I felt that since I was only going about 25 because I couldn't see, I thought, what the heck. Earlier that same day while walking back from shooting erosion in Ilwaco I got hit with another hail downpour about a 1/4 mile from my car. Heres the pic I made as soon as I got in and turned on the heater.

As I mentioned on a previous post, for the last few weeks I've been taking a different approach to shooting hoops, using wide lenses to get a different look and feel. Here are a couple more along those lines. The first is from last night's blowout win over Kalama by Ilwaco, the other ran in the paper two weeks ago, from another Lady Fishermen game. I like that one because it accomplishes what I'm really lookinjg for by shooting wide, giving a feel of the play coming right at you.


Jan 2, 2008

The Worthington's — Long lives of love together

This past Sunday and Monday I got the opportunity to spend some time with a great couple. The occasion that spurred this meeting was Vernon Worthington's 100th birthday party and he and wife Ella's home in Long Beach. Now in most cases this would be of interest, but in this case it was extra special as his wife had turned 100 six months ago. The two have been married for almost 75 years. The story and photo package are the lead piece in the paper that comes out today. Here's some pix.

“We didn’t have wedding pictures. We didn’t have much of anything, did we dad?” Ella Worthington asked Vernon, her husband of nearly 75 years. The two were married during the onset of the Great Depression and worked the acreage of their Long Beach farm for many years. “He has to do the cooking now that I can’t see. I set the table and help put things away,” said Ella of how the two work together these days. “If anything happened to one of us, the other one would have to go to a care center because you couldn’t manage alone. I depend on him a lot and he depends on me a lot. It’s been a partnership.”
On Sunday afternoon, Vernon Worthington, enjoyed visiting with a number of relatives and friends who stopped by to wish him well on the occasion of his 100th birthday.
These days Vernon relies on his cane and at times various pieces of furniture to help him make his way throughout the house. Years ago the Worthingtons were a spry couple, holding impromptu square and circle dances on their living room floor with their friends.
“We get quite a lot of help from the neighbors,” said Vernon. Having no children of their own, the Worthingtons rely on various friends who check in on the couple. Rose Armstrong and her husband regularly runs errands and takes the couple to the store now that they don’t drive anymore. “They’re really our life savers,” said Ella.

Whats perhaps the coolest thing, other than the fact that they are fantastic people, is that if you didn't know how old they were you'd swear they were maybe 20 years younger. They still know what alls going on and keep up with current events. Vernon even follows the Blazers on a daily basis. They also have a good sized garden that they tend to in the warmer months.

I'm really looking forward to spending more time with them in the months to come, if not for the paper, than for myself, a personal project of sorts. I hear that they work together gathering the fire wood too, he splits the wood and she caries it in — I can't wait to see that. I'll be sure to post more as it comes along.