This Friday and Saturday, following a presentation of the “Roadmap to Blended Learning” for school administrators in Briarcliff Manor, New York, I enjoyed visiting New York City proper for the first time. I took the train into the city to Grand Central Station Friday afternoon/evening and enjoyed Battery Park / Liberty Island / Ellis Island on Saturday before flying home to Oklahoma. In this post I’ll share some of my favorite images and videos from my storychasing adventures in the Big Apple, along with a few reflections.

Of all the photos I snapped during the two day adventure, this one of the Statue of Liberty facing the rising sun is my favorite. I took this with Pro HDR, an awesome app Dean Shareski shared on a Seedlings webcast back in January 2011.

Lady Liberty faces east to France

Of the 10 iPhoneography capture apps listed in my July 2011 Appolicious list, Pro HDR and Pano are the only ones I actually used this weekend in NYC besides the default iOS camera app. Both Pro HDR and Pano are also available for Android, btw.

For at least the past year or so, I’ve traveled with only my iPhone as a camera. I own a fancier and higher resolution camera with a better lens, along with a more capable digital camcorder, but I simply don’t want or need the bulk of those devices anymore. I’m a mobile storychaser. From time to time I’ve taken some video with my iPad, but generally it’s far less convenient to use on the go (since it doesn’t fit into my pocket) than my iPhone4. There was one person on our ferry ride to Liberty Island on Saturday shooting some iPad video. This is the first time I’ve seen someone else doing this in a public venue.

iPad Videography of the Statue of Liberty

iPad Videography of Ellis Island

On Saturday I shot five different short videos on my iPhone visiting the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, and edited them together into a single 9 minute, 50 second video I posted to YouTube. I used iMovie for iPhone to edit these together “quick-edit” style. I didn’t bring my iRig mic with me on this trip (accidentally leaving it at home) so these were all recorded with the built-in iPhone mic. I was very pleased the audio quality turned out pretty good. A little wind noise in a few cases, but not bad.

One of the biggest highlights of my visit to Liberty Island was a seventeen minute conversation I had with Glenn Stoops, a character-actor who convincingly plays Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi on Liberty Island. I posted this last night as a podcast on “Moving at the Speed of Creativity Podcasts.”

Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi (Glenn Stoops) and Wesley Fryer

Auguste was the original designer of the Statue of Liberty. This podcast is good enough (thanks to Glenn’s terrific interview responses) that American history teachers could consider using this with students as free, digital curriculum. (I’m going to submit this to Curriki soon.)

Meet Auguste Bartholdi

It was very meaningful and memorable to see the new “One World Trade Center” under construction on the site of the former World Trade Center buildings. As I reflected at one point in the video, it’s been a thought-provoking fall (to say the least) visiting Shanghai, Doha, Qatar and now New York City. Lots to consider regarding politics, economics, and faith in these three amazing places.

The new "One World Trade Center" under construction on Manhattan Island

I enjoyed recording some ambient audio in New York and posted several files along with photos to my sounds blog. These included Approaching Grand Central Station, Disembarking at Grand Central, 5th Avenue Walk, Beggin’ Change on the Street, and Enroute to Liberty Island.

I found both my visit to Liberty Island and Ellis Island extremely thought provoking and meaningful. The audio tours on both were a huge part of my experience, and the fact that I was alone (which I didn’t prefer… I would have LOVED to bring my family with me, but it wasn’t in the cards this time) allowed me to listen to a LOT of tour audio. One of the best parts of the Ellis Island museum was the “Peak Immigration” exhibit which isn’t part of the ‘standard’ audio tour. The room in the panoramic photo below was pretty amazing as an example of visual storytelling. Check out the full version (8691 x 859) and pan across to get the full effect. This made me wish for a classroom wallpapered with “Electric paper.”

Peak Immigration Years - Ellis Island Museum (pano)

Images of the pograms against Jews in eastern Europe, Russia and central Asia in this exhibit were tragic and heart wrenching. SO much to think about and juxtapose in this area with current events.

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My visit Friday to Times Square was a very different but also memorable experience. Digital screen and billboard overload, as expected.

Times Square, NYC

Times Square, NYC

The only similar experiences I could compare to Times Square were sitting at a restaurant on The Bund in Shanghai, overlooking the Huangpu River and Pudong, watching the skyscraper-sized billboards and advertisements come to life after sundown in September.

Shanghai Skyline from The Bund

My thoughts spending about an hour Friday evening people-watching at Times Square definitely colored the thoughts I’d planned to share with my sixth grade Sunday school class today. The messages of how “the world” wants us to think and act are pretty overpowering in NYC. It’s always challenging to “think different,” but perhaps more-so in such a media-drenched environment. Times Square isn’t as unique in that respect as it once was, I suppose. Screens and media messages are everywhere.

In Times Square, New York City

If you’d like to learn more (including specific skills and tools) to be a “mobile storychaser” I encourage you to buy a copy of my eBook, “Playing with Media: simple ideas for powerful sharing.”

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