Know Your Audience
It is important to know your audience when preparing a travelog journal.
When addressing one group, try to make the material interesting to other
groups as well by reading the material from their perspective. Offer explanations
where applicable. Here is what I thought our audience would be.
Elementary schools students 6th and 7th grade
Vehicle based expedition enthusiasts
E-mails weıve received since completing the
expedition indicate other groups were following us too. College students
writing researching reports found our material beneficial and so did people
who formerly lived in the countries we visited. Although this group now
lives in the US now they tuned in to see and hear about their homeland.
Many people are interested in understanding a travelers perspective about
their country of origin.
Pictures breathe life and color
in to a travelogue. Travelogues without pictures just don't register on
the same scale. I started out the trip with a Sony DCR-PC7 video
camera and a Snappy to capture pictures. It was horribly cumbersome and
extremely inefficient. I quickly gave that method up really fast. Next,
I bought a slide scanner and tried using my camera to take pictures, process
the slides, and scan them into the computer. That failed as well. It was
a lot to carry, but the weight wasn't the problem. The problem was that
the images piled up. I couldn't complete pieces for weeks until the film
was processed, then I had hundreds of images to view, sort, scan and edit.
No way. It violates the time-boundary rule. (Actually, it was that experience
that caused me to create the time-boundary rule...)
What does work is a digital camera. I bought a Sony DSC-F55 digital
camera from Fryıs. It was the turning point. For the first time I
discovered I could put events in a time-box. I could take pictures, write,
edit and publish in a short time frame.
That worked. I carry my Sony DSC-F55 with me wherever I go. I carry it
in my fanny pack. I removed the hand grip and used the grip mount to attach
a regular camera neck strap. Geeky, but it works. You never know when
something is going to happen or a picture opportunity will present itself.
I also learned to anticipate. Events unfold rapidly, you have to have
a sixth sense for when "news" will unfold. I have trained myself to be
merciless when capturing images. The Kodak has four picture quality settings
(good, better, best and uncompressed) that correspond to the image compression
factor. I usually use the "better" setting, it is good enough for small
images on the page (for more info, see my page on using the DCS-120
digital camera for web publishing, that allows me 65 images before
I fill up my 10 MB Picture Card (flash memory). If I see an image I suspect
I will want to display at a larger resolution, I will use the"uncompressed"
picture quality setting.
Even with the ability to capture 66 pictures on the Picture Card, I do
often come close to filling the camera up. I take pictures of everything.
When I have a lull in the action (taking a rest, a bus ride, etc.) I use
the LCD and on-camera editing functions to view the images and delete
images that don't make the grade. That significantly reduces editing time
once I download images to the laptop.
Once the day is done, I pop the flash memory card out of the camera, pop
it into a PCMCIA adapter and into my laptop. The memory card appears as
a drive on my desktop, I drag the files to a folder. The camera is ready
for more pictures.
Note: The biggest problem I have had with the Kodak DCS-120 is battery
life. A set of four premium batteries (Duracell or Energizer for example),
lasts only for 20-30 images. Not only is it costly, but the batteries
inevitably die at the worst possible moment. I recently bought a battery
charger and some NiCad rechargeable batteries. That was one more thing
to carry, but the NiCads last much longer and the costs dropped tremendously!
Once a picture is taken it is still a long way off from the web site.
First they must be processed to a web-friendly format. The Sony DSC-F55
images are 1600X1200 in Sonyıs native .jpg format. For most online images
for AroundTheWorld1999, I use 320x240 or 240x180 JPEGs.
I use a program called Thumbs Plus to do
the image processing; it's a pretty nifty program and one of the few that
will open the files that the Sony generates directly (PhotoShop has to
use the Kodak twain module to acquire the images, it's very slow). Thumbs
Plus generates a series of thumbnails of the images in a directory. I
choose the likely candidates and use Thumbs Plus to batch process them
to 320x240 or 240x180 JPEGs at 75% quality for general online images.
It seems to be a good tradeoff between quality and file size.
(Again, see my page on using the DCS-120
digital camera for web publishing for some comparisons between compression
levels, image quality and file size). ThumbsPlus will also do batch processing
of rotations as well if necessary. Occasionally, an images need a little
color correction. Thumbs Plus does an excellent job of that. If the image
needs retouching or more serious work, I use PhotoShop .
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