Helping a friend…

***If you don’t want to learn about using a Google Docs, and a few of their free tools to make a Google Slides presentation, skip this post***

OK, a photography friend in Texas has asked for some help. Sometimes the tools at hand the the easiest. Feel free to use this slapped together tutorial for your won purposes, hopefully not for a last minute memorial service like this one is designed to help.

Forgive any bad grammar or insufficient screenshots. I did my best, and I pray that I have provided a service to help honor someone’s recently passed on loved one.

First you’ll need a free Google account

Gmail, Google Docs, whatever. Most have one, if you don’t, get one anyway, best online email, etc..(Unless you’re John Podesta, and you keep your password: “password”. Then you don’t deserve to use technology…ever.)


Next, search for Google Drive.


Go there.


Create a new folder.


Give it a title, I’ve chosen “Funeral”. (Don’t think I’m morbid, I just woke, and I’m trying to be efficient.)



Now just drag and drop your images from anywhere off the desktop, a disk, folder, wherever they are currently. Don’t worry, you’ll have a chance to organize and even edit them.


They’ll auto load. You have a few options on organizing them here. But no drag and drop to order them yet.

From here we look at editing the photos, if they need it. Cropping, and all sorts of easy options are available with the two different apps. I took a screen shot of the more advanced editor Pixlr Editor and the easier Pixlr Express. The second one has almost every tool the regular Joe might need.


Here’s the more complex one, Pixlr Editor.

And here’s a shot of the easier, Pixlr Express.


Notice the “Save and Replace” and “Close”, at the top right. Once you make your changes, and Apply them, choose those options and return to your Google Drive folder to see the changes.

Now we head over to Google Slides, to make the presentation.


Upper left hand corder, once Slides opens, Click on the Orange Logo


It’ll change to this…


Choose Photo Album.


And we’re off with their suggested template.


Just start customizing. Depending on your experience with PowerPoint or other presentation software, you’re left with your experience. If you don’t know what you’re doing, let’s just take what they give us and start making it out own. I changed the name of the Presentation to “Jan’s Funeral”. I deleted two of their three initial images.



I resized the last photo’s box in the template.


then right clicked to choose to “Replace Image”.


Here you can change over to your Google Drive, and find the image folder you already made with your own images.





Here you’ll see one of my “own” images inserted in place of their sample image.

Screenshot_1_7_17,_08_58 2.jpg

I continued on with this, slide by slide, keeping some template slides, and right clicking to delete others. Once you’ve inserted/imported all your images, you’re basically done. Fine tuning becomes your own prerogative.


At this point, you have a few options. Most of the time the end result is a desired presentation file, like a PowerPoint or to even just run the slide presentation from within Google Slides. That can be done either way. You can simply export your Google Slides presentation to a PowerPoint file, or choose to play it by clicking on “Present” button in the upper right corner, which will start playing it.


Or you could even “Publish” it to the web. There’s a few choices, but the Facebook option may end up being the most common one. Most of these choices will also give you the slide time duration and even the option to loop it during playback.



No matter what choice you make, I think we’ve solved our problem. You have a last minute need to make a photo slideshow, with free online tools. Please ask questions, and I’ll be happy to investigate further, or include better details.

Since today’s problem includes helping in a time of sadness, I’ll add my condolences to the family of the recently passed. May God bless their memory.




This post was originally posted at

I’m reposting it here, to reach a broader audience outside of our church blog’s readership. If you’re from out of town, and am interested in contributing to our North Santa Barbara outreach, comment or get a hold of me. I can make that happen.

If you’re interested in getting something started like this in your own community, let me know and I can put you in touch with one or more of our local group’s leadership.

Here’s the article I wrote…

“And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” (Matthew 25:40 ESV)

Take a moment to envision with me a common experience in any city in the US.

You’re in middle school and come home from school to find someone from Child Protective Services (CPS) and a police officer waiting for you. They tell you that your single parent made a mistake, and you’re going to have to go with CPS so that they can find you a safe place to sleep tonight.

Situations like this happen often, but there other times when the situation has no criminal or law enforcement element.

A teenager might have the wherewithal to know what to grab on the way out of the house. But what if it’s a crime scene now, and you cannot even enter your own home? What if all you have is your backpack for school and a skateboard?

Here in the Santa Maria Valley, we have this outreach that helps prepare people like the CPS staff with the most basic of items that they can have ready for situations just like this. They call them GoBags.

At Element, we’ve helped put together these GoBags in the past, and we’re doing it again. During the month of November, after each service, there will be a table set up where you can get any questions answered, and pick up a large zip lock bag with all the instructions. You can choose between making up a bag for an infant, toddler, school-aged child, or a teenager.

All we ask is that you go purchase the items on the list and return the bags to us within the month of November. These are regular items that you would need to make that first few nights not as bad as it could have been. The list has common items for their first nights such as: Pajamas, a Toothbrush, Socks, a Blanket, and a small toy or coloring book. We ask that these are new items for safety and hygiene reasons.

Then just bring the filled bag, along with the original instruction card, to the GoBag booth before or after the service you attend.

Again, we’ll be doing this all of November. Please take the time to consider how supporting children with GoBags can and does impact our community here in the Santa Maria Valley.

“But Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.’” (Matthew 19:14 ESV

Here’s a nice article talking about the project a couple years ago

And here’s the GoBags Facebook page.

How can I help Japan? Send $10, to help churches…

Seriously, what’s Japan’s best hope for a blessed future? Jesus Christ.

Now, duh, there are tons of great things all sorts of well-meaning people will do to help real, tangible needs of the hurting people in Japan. Those are important things that must be done now. Thousands of people are dead; tens of thousands of people. That alone is causing tremendous suffering. Then there’s the survivors. They’re hurting because they need food and water. They need a dry place to sleep tonight, and tomorrow night.

The needs will continue. The list will grow.

Much of these needs will, albeit slowly, be met by NGOs, missions organizations, locals helping locals, and their own government. The felt needs will slowly be met. But the deep pain, sorrow, and hurting will continue. For some, it will go on for a very long time.

Only Jesus can heal this pain.

I just donated $10 to Churches Helping Churches. CHC was birthed out of two pastors who knee-jerk jumped at the chance to head down to Haiti last year, within days of their disaster. These two pastors combined their desire to connect willing people to needy churches. Now this week, they’ve committed to helping the Church in Japan too. That’s something I can get behind!

So, you should text “chc” to 20222 to donate $10 to Churches Helping Churches too. Don’t forget to reply “yes” when prompted. Wanna give to a more well known ministry? Fine, give to World Vision. Still hesitant? Or you just don’t care about the Church in Japan, fine, donate to the Japanese Red Cross, via Google.

Churches Helping Churches announced that they are supporting a local ministry that has been and is continuing to serve suffering Japanese. Perfect! What better way to make sure that donated funds are most effective, than to hook up with a ministry already serving effectively? Well done, CHC! This local ministry is called CRASH Japan. (CRASH stands for Christian Relief, Assistance, Support and Hope network)

CHC also announced that they’re encouraging churches to take a special offering this weekend, March 26 and 27, to support CRASH Japan’s efforts. Read more about that here.

Family trip to the Grand Canyon

Hey folks! First, I’m writing this post with WordPress for Android. Cool, but not quite the same.

Later this week we’re taking the family to the Grand Canyon. It’s everybody’s first time but me. We’re expecting to have a great time, see God’s awesome creative handiwork, and get some great photos.

We’ll be camping the whole time, and Deanna is frantically building a menu, with the help of her Facebook friends.

Here’s the thing, I too want some help from my ‘net-friends. What tips do you have? Photo opp locations? Any must-visit destinations for the kids?

Comment away!

What to give those who need?

With our economy in the ropes, are there people in your life with real, genuine needs? Do you know someone who lost their job? Do you know someone preparing to loose their home?

All these people have real, genuine needs.

At this time in their lives, there are a lot of things they DON’T need. However, there are some things they do need. Don’t know what they need? Ask them!

One easy way to find out who has real, genuine needs is to ask someone else who might know. Be careful to stay clear of the gossip channels, though.

I’d suggest you ask your pastor. That’s a good person to be in the know about those who have real, genuine needs, this Christmas season. He can tell you who recently lost their job. He can tell you who’s about to loose their home.

Now, there’s a good chance that he won’t just give you their name(s). In fact, that’s probably a real good thing. So, just ask him to give you some stats about the family in need. Then, head down to a decen local store, like Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Lowe’s, or Sears for a gift card.

However, in times like this, there are great gift ideas that are a must. When the family budget gets smaller and smaller, the family eats out less and it’s important to carefully manage the food cooked at home. That’s when having the right kitchen tools can really help the family.

I’d suggest you look at a few items. Here’s an example:

Additionally, items for repair around the house can be of great value. There may be less trips to the mechanic for the family car(s), and/or less call outs for repairmen. So, a decent set of tools can be valuable.

All these ideas are less then $100. That’s what’s so cool. You can really help a family in need, without breaking your own bank.

If I had $100 to spend on helping out someone or some family, these are the kinds of things I’d consider. How about you?

This idea came to me, from a blogpal, BenSpark. BenSpark Grants a Wish is his post, about doing quite a similar thing. He’s running a contest on his blog, so go check it out!

10th Anniversary British Isles Cruise

Here’s the skinny…I’m taking my wife on a cruise for our 10th Anniversary. We’re going to visit many cities in Great Britain and Ireland. I hate the pre-packaged excursions you buy through the cruise-line. I’ve written a detailed page, you can see the tab above, and I’m interested in your input.

I need tips and ideas on what to do and where to visit. I’m especially interested in photographic locations and places you live or have actually visited.

Please head over and read the article I wrote, and comment there. Commenting has been turned off for this post.


15 days until the December Challenge

Portrait prep

Don’t forget, in just 15 days, the December Challenge will begin.

All you need to do is commit to shooting a portrait a day, each day of December, 2007. You don’t need a blog, just upload them to Zooomr (or Flickr if you must). Tag them with, “decemberchallenge” so that I can track them all easily.

During the month, I’ll write a couple of posts, tracking our progress. You should too, if you blog. With each post, I’ll also include some of my favorites from the Challenge.

Now, there are many of you out there who seem interested, but you’re concerned that the Challenge is too much for you. Don’t be discouraged! It’s really not that hard. I’m going to make a nice long list of everyone in my life who I can shoot. A friend from church, who flies for the US Navy, the comical lady who watches our kids on occaision, my pastor, a friend who is a local deputy sheriff, one of my wife’s pretty friends, all people who are great subjects. You only need 31 people. Everyone knows 31 people!

If you don’t know how to pose someone…try this. Have your subject stand or sit, however they feel comfortable. Now, use a lens that is somewhere between 30mm and 100mm. Set your camera to Aperture Priority and shoot at f/2.2 (or 1 stop above your lowest f-stop setting possible.)

Now have your subject close their eyes. Give them an emotion. Any emotion will work. For example, let’s say you say “giddy”. Tell them to think about the last time they were giddy. Interact with them, make them tell you about that situation. Keeping their eyes closed, have them talk about it until you see their face begin to “go back to that moment”. When you think they’re ready, have them open their eyes. Now! You’d better have focused and framed the shot. Right when they open their eyes, shoot away!

There are many methods that work well. This one is what I’m using, and will try to see how it works over time. Don’t be afraid to use emotions that lack a smile. Sadness, depressed, anger, melancholy, thoughtful, etc.

I hope you all decide to take the Challenge, and we’ll enjoy the ride!

Tripod problem, help!

OK, so a good friend who will go unnamed, gave me a tripod. The only problem was that the head was broken. So, I have a good set of tripod legs. No problem, I just set it aside until I could afford to buy a nice ball head for it.

Fast forward to today…

I just bought a nice Giotto ball head. Great? No! Neither item has anything that looks like it can connect with the other. Help!

Below are a couple of images so you can see: