View from the Hoxton hotel rooftop

Conference time in Portland!

Dragon Boats in Portland, Oregon

SONY f/10, 1/160 sec, ISO-100

This past week I was able to spend some time in Portland, Oregon, for my CASE Social Media & Community Conference. The conference was a lot of fun, and it allowed me the opportunity to enjoy Portland and everything it has to offer.

I saw Dragon Boat racing, a Pixar exhibit and photographed places from rooftops.


SONY f/6.3, 1/100 sec, ISO-1000

The Pixar exhibit was part of the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. It was a separate exhibit brought in to show the science behind the Pixar movies. There were plenty of places to do photo-ops, and you were also able to experiment with the movie-creating method.

Toy Story sketches

SONY f/6.3, 1/125 sec, ISO-2000

The rest of the museum had a lot of activities for kids, and then you were able to see the back part of the museum outside, which included a submarine you could climb into. We didn’t have time for the submarine, but I snapped some pictures of the Dragon boats practicing and the bikers going around the museum trail.

Portland Bike Trail

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I also made time to visit Voodoo Doughnuts and a lot of food trucks. We went to Revolution Hall and caught a show titled “Terrible, Thanks For Asking” about a podcaster and some of her stories. It was funny and personal. I’ll need to start taking in Nora McInerny’s podcast now that I know of her.

Voodoo Doughnut Courtyard

SONY f/8, 1/125 sec, ISO-200

I didn’t just stay in the downtown city but also went for a morning hike at the Hoyt Aborterum. I’m not used to seeing such tall trees or being in a forest, so it was all a new experience. Was able to walk through a mini-bamboo forest too.

Hoyt Arboretum trees

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Other places I was able to experience was the Saturday Market, where I found a lot of great art pieces for my house. The arcade bar, known as Ground Kontrol, had $7 free play nights on Wednesday. I played pinball for over an hour. I also visited Powell’s book, a three-story bookstore that I could stay in forever.

Chinese Gate

SONY f/6.3, 1/160 sec, ISO-200

This city is known for rooftop views, and it wasn’t hard to find any. Staying at the Hoxton hotel gave me easy access to a rooftop. The guest service from the Hoxton was superb, and the views from the windows and roof gave me a great view of the city from any viewpoint. The famous Chinese Portland gate is also outside of this place for another great photo opportunity of an iconic landmark. Portland is not weird, but it is a lot of fun. Plus, it feels like the 90s never did leave it, and I’m glad that it hasn’t.

View from the Hoxton hotel rooftop

SONY f/7.1, 2 sec, ISO-100

Cereal Bar and Arcade

Video Game Mansion opening in the Falls!

Arcade and Cereal Bar

SONY f/3.5, 1/40 sec, ISO-400

Still working out the kinks in the new camera, so was given a chance to photograph the new TAG’s Maniac’s Mansion at 8th Street in downtown Wichita Falls.

The mansion is a combination of a cereal bar and arcade or as I like to call this slice of heaven, Nerdvana!

Cereal Bar and Arcade

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It has classic arcade games, as well as some newer video game consoles. There was even virtual reality for customers to try.

Cereal Bar and Arcade

SONY f/5, 1/25 sec, ISO-400

This type of place fills a much-needed niche in Wichita Falls. It’s not a bar or another store. This is an actual local business that supports nerd culture. Besides cereal and old-school arcade games, my favorite thing about this place is the memorabilia. You’ll find something for everyone. There is art that represents your favorite fandom. Cases are full of collectibles on display for the public to see.

Cereal Bar and Arcade

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DJ MF Maniac, or Marcus McGee, as people know him, is sharing his collection for the public to enjoy when they visit the mansion. He has so much stuff, it’s a paradise for nerds and geeks everywhere. If you’re in the Wichita Falls area. Make sure to stop by in downtown and grab a bowl of cereal while enjoying your favorite arcade game. I’ll be over there playing the classic Super Mario.

Cereal Bar and Arcade

SONY f/3.5, 1/40 sec, ISO-400

Cereal Bar and Arcade

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Cereal Bar and Arcade

SONY f/5.6, 1/25 sec, ISO-400

Waterfall in Wichita Falls

Visit to The Falls!

Had a day off a week ago to visit The Falls of Wichita Falls inside Lucy Park. This man-made attraction is one of the best parts of Wichita Falls and provides the best selfie and photographable locations in this city.

Waterfall in Wichita Falls

SONY f/8, 1/200 sec, ISO-100

If you’re ever in Wichita Falls. Remember to visit the waterfall in Lucy Park. There is public parking at the Wichita Falls Health Center where you can find a place to park. It’s a short walk under the interstate using the sidewalk trails. You can thank me later!

Waterfall of Wichita Falls

SONY f/8, 1/125 sec, ISO-100

Using my vacation, I worked on some stock photography for the area to use later on in the year. Initially, I was going to fly the drone and do some aerial photography, but the incoming storms gave me second thoughts.

While exploring the whole waterfall, I walked to the top and found some metal locks. There were three of them. I don’t know if this is a new trend happening here where you put the lock on the bridge and then throw the key down the waterfall. If it is, this will be an excellent place to do it. I hope it continues and no one cuts them down any time soon.

Lock at the top of the Waterfall

SONY f/8, 1/200 sec, ISO-100

Tasha at the Carnival

Some carnival practice…

Tasha at the Carnival

SONY f/1.8, 1/8 sec, ISO-100

When you’re learning a new camera, you have to put it through its paces. Find out what makes it tick and push it to the limits. I wanted to see how far I could push the camera at night, and I was not disappointed with these long exposures. For a while, these shots were only possible with my Alienbee system, but now with the new Sony camera, I have so much more freedom.

Tasha at the Carnival

SONY f/1.8, 1/10 sec, ISO-100

I recruited my friend Tasha. She’s a gamer and likes to cosplay. This would be our first photo shoot without a cosplay. We decided to go with a theme though. She dressed like a gamer girl who was taking a break from the games and having some fun at the carnival.

Tasha at the Carnival

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I had fun with her hoodie and experimented with the different lighting patterns from the carnival. I still used a tripod, but I didn’t have to lower my shutter any less than 1/8 of a second.

Tasha at the Carnival

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Tasha at the Carnival

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Fun set! Too bad the carnival is only here in Wichita Falls for only two weeks. Can’t wait to try some new stuff next time.

Tasha at the Carnival

SONY f/3.5, 1/30 sec, ISO-100

Snap Map

To Ghost or not to Ghost!

Snapchat Map

Brand new features hit Snapchat this week. The term “Ghosted” has a new meaning and if you ever wanted a friend to know where you are right now, then Snapchat has a new tool for you.

Welcome to the Ghost mode. It’s part of the new Snapchat Map unrolled in the latest Snapchat update. To access the map, go to the main start up screen where you take pictures and videos and pinch two fingers together on the screen to open up the new map feature.

It will prompt you right away if you would like to allow GPS to track your location. This is the only way to use the map. Once you’ve succumbed to the peer pressures of Snapchat and agreed to this new TOS, then you will see a map similar to the one in the image above.

This is where the real fun begins. If you’re friends are using the new Snap Map and have not turned on ghost mode, then you will see where they last updated their Snapchat. It will appear as their bitmoji or as a silhouette. As far as I’ve seen, you do have to be friends with the person. Sorry to all of those who are looking to stalk celebrities.

It will also show you where major event stories are happening. Right now I’m seeing stories about parades and baseball games on my map.

You can also click high density areas to watch local Snapchat stories. This is part of the Our Story feature, which allows you to post to not only your My Story, but the Our Story for everyone to see. 

If you do not want to become a part of this map, but want to remain a ghost, and still see your friends who are using the map. Check out these easy steps.

First, you need to click the settings icon on the top right corner that looks like a gear wheel. From there, you will see Ghost Mode, where you can click the check-mark box to green. It should look like the first image below.

Snapchat Ghost Mode

If you want people to see you on the Snap Map, then you can unclick the Ghost Mode and the image below will pop up. From here you can select certain friends who can still see you even when you have the Ghost Mode turned off. If you wish for everyone to see you, click All Friends. You will then appear in the Snap Map for all of your friends to see.

Snap Ghost Settings

Remember that Snap Map only updates from the last time you used GPS with Snapchat. There you go. An easy guide to Snapchat’s new Snap Map and Ghost Mode.

2016 Graduation Snapchat Geofilter - Social Media Campaign

2016 Graduation Snapchat Geofilter – Social Media Campaign

Snapchat is growing rapidly and is seeing a lot of growth especially in the college-age market. Since this is our target-demo, Snapchat is a natural fit with us. For those still not on Snapchat, hopefully these stats from our graduation Geofilter will show you the light.

The graduation geofilter below is the one we had created in-house by our graphic artist. We were sent this image from one of our students to our main “midwesternstate” account.

2016 Graduation Snapchat Geofilter - Social Media Campaign

Since Snapchat now rejects geofilters with hashtags, we had to spell out “Mustang Grad” instead of using a hashtag. We also included a date and because it was a paid geofilter, we could also include our official logo. We then added a transparent maroon gradient at the bottom, while putting a streamers graphic at the top.

Students enjoyed it. We received a lot of comments about the streamers and we talked to enjoyed the idea.

2016 Graduation Snapchat Geofilter - Social Media Campaign

You may need to click the graphic to see all the small text in it. This is the set up we sent Snapchat for submission. It took us two days before they gave us the approval email. We spent $20.95 for four hours from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Graduation started at 10 a.m. and ended around 12 p.m. The extra hours were put to give students extra time to use the filter before and after graduation. We also mapped out the Multi-Purpose Event Center and Kay Yeager Coliseum in places we knew students would go, so we didn’t pay extra for space we knew students or family wouldn’t be. This is why the funny shape, but when it comes to saving money, this is the best way to do this. Always eliminate all square footage you know you will not use.

For four hours the filter was used 561 times. This equaled 42,946 views or impressions.

2016 Graduation Snapchat Geofilter - Social Media Campaign

We used our Twitter account and our Snapchat account to advertise that we had a graduation filter. This is the third time we have had a graduation geofilter, and a lot of the students do expect a filter. This is the first time we have been able to track all usages of the geofilter.

Some things we did learn from using a geofilter. We need to find another avenue to advertise our geofilter besides Social Media. If users do not follow our social medias, they will not know about the geofilter. Since then, we have started using the special geofilter zone placards found below.

2016 Graduation Snapchat Geofilter - Social Media Campaign

They have helped tremendously! On days when we use geofilters, we see our follower count increase by 20. While the graduation filter was fun, our follower increase was steady at nine.

If you are contemplating on jumping on Snapchat, give it a try! It’s a lot of fun and it can really show your creative side. If you have further questions about how geofilters work or Snapchat in general, you can always email me.

A J Lopez III

Humans vs Zombies – Social Media Campaign

Humans vs Zombies is an annual tradition at Midwestern State University. Students begin as humans and are slowly turned into zombies by either being tagged by another zombie, or failing to do a mission. This event is a week-long activity and includes a host of students from all across campus.

We created the campaign to boost the game’s traditional value for MSU. By the end of the week, everyone on campus was talking about it. Faculty and Staff even wanted to be apart of the festivities. Only one student, could come out on top, and after nine days, the game was over and everyone had a great time. This is how we promoted the game and created a zombie culture on campus for a week.

Three weeks before the beginning of HvZ, we sent this instagram image out along with putting it on our one TV display in the student dining area.

msu hvz insta

We actually received a few questions about the picture through Instagram Direct and Twitter Direct Messages about what it meant. Most knew what it was, but freshmen were unaware of the tradition. On the TV displays, we ran a video with the same image, but with cricket sounds and a small tagline that said “…are you ready?”

After the initial images, we began to throw out 15-second spots on Instagram and Twitter. We would have made them longer, but Instagram limited us to 15 seconds at the time. The clips ended with “The Infection begins March 1, 2016! #MSUHvZ.” We also continued to use the same hashtag from last year, #MSUHvZ. It was an easy way for us to track everyone, plus it was unique to our campus.

We worked with the University Programming Council to set up interviews with past players, which included the person who would eventually be the original zombie. Friends shared the videos and everyone was talking about them on campus. On Instagram we received comments, tagging their friends about the game. On Twitter, as the game grew closer, we saw more retweets and favorites from newer videos.

In total, we did six videos. Players told us strategies and ideas of how to approach the game. The campus was ready for the game. Over 120 students signed up, and the last push was two days before the game began.

We put a lot of media out on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. On Snapchat we had been putting information about how to sign up and where to sign up during the day, but it wasn’t until the night before that we did anything major. We created a video of the transformation of our original zombie, which had been chosen earlier that day. The Snapchat video never showed her face, and had over 367 views by the end of the night, rounding out to 501 views by the end of the 24-hour lifespan.

We also included another YouTube video showcasing the zombie transformation, featuring MSU chemistry professor, Dr. Chris Hansen. The opportunity to get a real professor involved, just gave the game more traditional value, and he was happy to be involved.

This video was sent out earlier in the day before the game began, but it was also shown to the students in the HvZ meeting prior to the start of the game. Using simple science experiments, we created a fun video with some movie magic.

Let the games begin…

The room was filled for the HvZ rule meeting. While mandatory, if you let them know you had class or work, you were excused. If not, then you began the game without some much needed supplies.

The rules were very simple. If you were a zombie hit by a sock, you were frozen for two minutes. If you were tagged, after 30 minutes you became a zombie. There would be missions throughout the week that humans had to complete or be risked turning into a zombie. A zombie also had to eat every two days, or they would be erased from the game. Prizes went to the Original Zombie, who was chosen from a drawing; for top zombie; and top human. The prizes were monetary giving a lot of students the drive to win.

On Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat we unleashed the original zombies name. Kirsten Durr was the first zombie and ready to win. Fortunately, after the meeting, we found her outside the student center and featured her with a personal message on Snapchat. In the first night, only four humans were turned into zombies. This would easily change as the days went by.

Snapchat had just released their on-demand geofilters, so we thought we would try one. This gave us a chance to test out the new tools and do something fun. For five hours and $10.01, we created a filter. While during the first mission, it wasn’t a requirement to use the filter, it was a way to promote the game to the university to let everyone know what was going on. The filter covered our student center and the first site of the mission.

Midwestern State - Humans Vs Zombies

As you can see, we had over 4000 impressions with only 39 uses. The first mission was to run to the university replica Liberty Bell and take a picture with it and tag the University Programming Board. We also asked them to use #MSUHvZ, but this wasn’t a requirement. The first mission was done on the second day of the game, with the mission description sent over Twitter and Instagram. We retweeted UPB and sent another announcement on Snapchat.

From noon to 5pm that day, you had to complete the mission or become a zombie. Those who got there early, didn’t have to face zombies. Students who got there late, had to make a run for it. Some exploited the rules to their advantage. And to add some clarification to these photos. Students who had bandanas on their head were zombies, and students with bandanas on their legs or arms were humans.

Since the replica Liberty Bell is outside the administration building, the HvZ discussion began to spread by word of mouth. Even our staff had to pose with the zombies. We even through it out on Facebook, so alumni and other students would know what was happening.

Midwestern State - Humans Vs Zombies

We were trending in the Wichita Falls area for the day with #MSUHvZ. After the first mission, a lot of students were now zombies. The curfew on the game was midnight, so every night on Snapchat we would show a clip from a famous zombie movie about surviving. This included”Warm Bodies” and “World War Z.” We received quite a few smiley faces through Snapchat messages after each one.

As the days went by, the game lasted a little longer than we hoped. I would actually have to leave for a conference before the last human was found. I relied on University Programming Board’s advisor, Mario Ramirez, to get pics and video of the last moments.

The best part of the whole game, was the level of involvement we had from our university president. She is very active with the student body and knows us very well. As part of her weekly series, Mustangs Minutes, we did a HvZ feature about the game with Juan Mercados, a student from the University Programming Board as the interviewer.

The video was one of the most talked about video on campus for the next week. Students, faculty and staff were asking how we did this and how we got our president, Dr. Suzanne Shipley to run in the video. We didn’t, she did this herself, and we caught it all on video. This is where as a videographer, it’s best to know where your subject is at all time. Once the video hit, everyone knew about the game and HvZ was the talk of campus for the second week of the game as it was winding down.

While the game is fun, it takes a lot from other social media posts we promote, as they have to compete with one that is trending on campus. With over seven missions throughout the 12 days of HvZ, we succeeded in making this game trend for about two weeks on all of our social media platforms.


On March 2, 2016 we were trending in Wichita Falls along with Texas Independence Day according to Our trending numbers for Twitter and Instagram were the following based off the #MSUHvZ:

  • Twitter Favorites: 546
  • Twitter Retweets: 136
  • Instagram Favorites: 741
  • Facebook Likes: 143

We did not have a way to track Instagram impressions at the time, due to software limitations. These numbers were over 12 days and included a weekend with very little activity. I also included some number from Facebook, which were the second lowest.

Midwestern State - Humans Vs Zombies

While longer were fun, it was the shorter 15-second videos that gave us the most views, plus it was easy to upload them on other social media platforms. The Snapchat geofilter proved that there is an audience for this kind of tradition, and next year, we will utilize it more than before. As for Facebook, we may post a few things on it for the public’s view into the game. When we put out the video and the pictures, we got great feedback and it helped spread the word. Staff and Faculty were asking who was playing HvZ throughout campus.

Our video views were low on YouTube, but we did use it when a room full of people were watching. Video is important, but we could have been better prepared. I think a GoPro or a drone would be a fun addition next year, along with possibly using the app Periscope.

Other things we learned, is that after the second day, we had quite a few zombies. I think we should have done a little more to focus on the zombies as the game progressed, especially when they became the majority. We focused on the humans, but I think focusing on the zombies for a couple of days would have strengthen the game.

This was my second year involved with this. The first year, I was brand new to the university and barely getting my feet wet. I wasn’t able to put much input, but I saw where the potential was for HvZ. The third year, will have more involvement and we will be utilizing the social media ambassadors within the game for a student point-of-view. The students enjoy HvZ, and it gives the campus a fun and exciting spring tradition. If you’re reading this and have questions, please email me at the address below and I would love to talk.

A J Lopez III