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.



Fix those fuzzy dots!


As you may know, I took the family out to the Guadalupe Dunes the other day. We had a quick afternoon/evening visit to one of our area’s more beautiful destinations, especially for watching the sunset. The kids had a good time, running in and around the decent sized dunes, and we scurried around to keep up with them.

I was able to bring along a bit of my photo gear and I took a few photos while I was at it.

Lately, I’ve been struggling with keeping my lenses clean. I use a basic UV filter on each lens, to protect it, but that actually adds a few more surfaces to keep clean. I have one of those sweet Nikon lens pens, that really help, especially in the field.

However, more often than not, I end up back at home, processing in Aperture, and I see a whole plethora of smudges and unwanted fuzzy dots. The tools built into most decent photo processing apps, these days, have quite good methods for helping us all clean up our photographs. I like what Apple’s Aperture has to offer. I just don’t like having to use it SO much.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve discovered a sweet little trick that I use to help me find all those smudges and fuzzy dots. Here’s what I do:

#1, I open up a desired photograph, and inspect it for the blemishes.


#2, I then take my exposure slider(s) and shoot them all the way up. This helps me see what I’m dealing with better.


#3, Next I slam the brightness through the roof. This of course makes a really ugly photograph, but that’s not the initial goal.


#4, Now I’m ready to make my repairs. In these few sample shots, of the same photograph, you can see how each step reveals even more for me to repair.


Now, you simply undo all the exposure work, because we’re all using an app with nondestructive image processing, right? This allows you to do all sorts of edits, without messing up your original. That’s real important. So, now that you’ve undone all the repair-based exposure work, it’s time to continue with your normal processing. I’ve done that below too.


What do you think? Could you put this little tip to work in your photo processing system? Let me know!

I have incited a riot

Yesterday I was in a special mood. I don’t know why, but I was grouchy for a bit. However, as usual, I wander the internets reading blog posts and articles.

Apparently, I stumbled upon one of my dailies, and posted a comment. Well, I guess my comment was a bit off topic, or something. I was also critical. I know, I know, that’s out of the ordinary for me. Usually I’m such an amicable kind of guy.

Well, the blog post in question was over at Scott Kelby’s blog. The article is titled, Camera Raw, Bridge, or Lightroom? Basically, Scott had a question about the confusion over using the RAW converter in Photoshop, Bridge, and Lightroom. Rather than answer the question directly to the asker, he blogged it. Makes sense. I’d do the same. In my special mood, I read the article and was curious about why Scott didn’t mention anything about Apple’s Aperture.

Photoshop Insider » My Apple Aperture Conspiracy
Uploaded with plasq‘s Skitch!

Now, let me be clear. I was a bit harsh in my comment. I was being sarcastic. I guess it was enough for Scott to reply with a blog post today.

However, I am still curious about Scott deciding to take a specific question, from one fan, and answer it generally for the public. Now, if the original question happened to come from a Windows user, then a Windows based answer is appropriate. But, to bring the discussion to a more open forum, and attempt to become more general, why not include a wider set of variables to the question?

Why not consider the RAW converters in most of the industry standards for photographers? I’m sure if you included Apple Aperture, Nikon NX, and maybe an open solution, he’d have generated a much more curious dialogue. I expect a more narrow conversation from lower level bloggers, like myself. But from the top bloggers, I expect more.

So, I apologize for my attitude. And I wish I had posed my question differently. However, I am still curious. I understand that Scott has made his brand loyalty choice. That’s fine. However, when reading his awesome book, The Digital Photography Book, you don’t have him telling you all about his Nikon cameras. Yes, he prefers Nikon. But, his book looks more generally at the issues facing all photographers. Scott is a great writer and instructor. Why can’t I expect that a blog at would provide me with the same high level of fairness in evaluation?

Huge announcements, just huge!

I have two, unrelated, things to discuss right now. I really, really want your input.

#1 WordPress 2.5

WordPress 2.5 is finally released. I haven’t upgraded yet. Mostly because I was a little afraid. You see, the administration panels are drastically different. I’ve been listening to WP podcasts, and reading WP blogs so that I can learn as much as possible.

Someone suggested a test blog. So, this morning I decided to launch a test blog, at, and play around. I have been wanting to play with a few plugins, and decided that this would work best for them too.

Once the blog was up and running, my plan was to mess with the plugins first, then upgrade to the 2.5 beta. But, when I sat down to begin, I saw that 2.5 was out of beta, and official. So, I tossed the plugins for now.

The test blog is running 2.5, and the admin dashboard is very different. I’m excited. I like new things.

#2 Moab Photography Workshop

I have the days off, and I really, really want to go to this exciting photography event in Moab, Utah. I can drive it in 10 hours, and I’m willing to take my car. I plan on camping, to save cash and have a bit more fun. If you can make it, you should try and attend this one. Ann Torrance, who helps plan and organize the Salt Lake City Photowalks, is speaking and she give it a good review.

For those SoCal photographers, who want to go, let’s carpool!

On the road to some good photo editing and management

Yesterday I had the great opportunity to shoot another architectural photo shoot. I shot two residences and earned enough to acquire a copy of Apple Aperture 2.0 and step a bit closer to my first real strobe kit. I’ve been shooting with my one speedlight and renting more when I need them. Yesterday, I rented a pair of genuine dyna-lite strobes, from Samy’s. I’m very grateful to have been able to shoot with those nice lights. I’m sold on strobes!


Additionally, I tested out Aperture 2.0, with their 30 day trial, over the last month. My trial expired a week back, and I was actually sad when it did. Not that I don’t have decent alternative asset management  and editing. I have been using a combo Adobe Bridge and Photoshop system. It has worked well for almost a year. Unfortunately, upgrading to Adobe’s Lightroom is really the professional step they want you to make. I trialed Lightroom late last year, and I didn’t like it. I didn’t like the modular system. I didn’t like how it performed on my slower Mac Mini. I simply didn’t like how it flowed.

I had played with Aperture in version 1.0, and quickly didn’t like it. But I think the biggest killer was that it was dog slow. Then came version 2.0.

The most important change to 2.0 was the speed enhancements. It’s now quite smooth, even on my slower Mac Mini. I can’t afford to upgrade the Mac right now, so a software solution that can effectively operate on it, is more than likely going to get my vote. In the next week or so, I’ll review what I do with Aperture, and show you my workflow. I have noticed that many more people use Aperture than I originally thought. So I’d like to help increase Aperture’s awareness just a bit.

So yesterday, I got it installed and processed the photo shoot with it. Lovely.

Today I woke up to see a big announcement from Apple about Aperture 2.1. What?! No problem, a free upgrade for me. It’s not loaded with a huge number of improvements. However, it is loaded with one massive feature addition. PLUGINS!

Now third party developers can design plugins to assist and enhance the editing within Aperture. Over time, I may not need to load Photoshop at all. I don’t have a problem with Photoshop, but how sweet will it be to only need one clean solution for my photo processing needs. I’ve heard great things about the solutions from Nik Software. Maybe they can be enticed to produce their plugins for Aperture too.

To show us how nice this new plugin system is, Apple included one nice plugin with the update.

Dodge & Burn Plug-in. A sample plug-in is pre-installed, taking advantage of the Edit API introduced in Aperture 2.0. The plug-in adds brush-based tools for Dodge (Lighten), Burn (Darken), Contrast, Saturation, Sharpen and Blur.”

I was actually poking around the manual last night, looking for dodging and burning. Sweet! I’m real excited about all these new tools and how I’ll get to use them.

****edit*** is reporting that several top notch plugin developers have announced…

Expected additions to Aperture plug-ins include:

• Nik Software’s Viveza plug-in, powered by U Point technology, which provides a powerful, precise and easy way for photographers to selectively control and adjust color and light in their digital images;

• PictureCode’s Noise Ninja plug-in that delivers advanced high ISO noise analysis and reduction;

• Digital Film Tools’ Power Stroke plug-in that features a simple, stroke-based interface to quickly mask and intuitively perform targeted adjustments;

• The Tiffen Company’s Dfx plug-in that provides an expansive suite of creative filters and effects;

• dvGarage’s dpMatte plug-in, which is a high performance chroma key tool for creating seamless composites, and the HDRtoner plug-in that enables the selection of multiple photos to create a single high dynamic range (HDR) image; and

• Image Trends’ plug-ins that include Fisheye-Hemi to quickly and effortlessly correct fisheye lens distortion, ShineOff which automatically removes shine from faces and PearlyWhites that automatically whitens and brightens teeth.

Sweet! I shot over to Nik Software’s page and discovered that they’re already announcing compatibility with Aperture 2.1 in May 2008. (less than 2 months away)