Playing with the New Google Photos: Animations

Dead Sea Sunset by Natalie Parker

I took the plunge and decided to try the new Google Photos.  I’ll put comprehensive thoughts in a future post, but I wanted to share one cool thing today: animations.

As Google ingests all 30,000 photos in my collection, every so often it will take similar photos and animate them!

You must enable this feature by clicking on Settings and turning on Suggest New Creations.

I love seeing this surprises pop up.  At the top of this post is the sun setting over the Dead Sea.

Or, perhaps you like baby monkeys?  These two are from a national park in China:

Monkeys in China by Natalie Parker

It handles sports pictures really well:

Cal Football at Northwestern by Natalie Parker

And pictures of koalas:

Koala at Taronga Zoo in Sydney by Natalie Parker

One of my favorites is from our wedding day.  Our photographer took a bunch of pictures of us on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley, trying to get the effect of people zooming by us.  I don’t think the pictures were that successful by themselves, but the animation really shows the effect:

Wedding Day on Telegraph Avenue Berkeley

I see just a few nit picky downsides:

I can’t control what is animated and what isn’t.  Sometimes it splits items into two animations when really everything could have gone together.  EDIT: I’ve learned I can create my own animations using the Photos mobile app.  I haven’t found that option on the web version.

I can’t edit for brightness and color.  If I haven’t edited some of the photos (often they are dark), the animation will use unedited photos.  Once the animation is created, I can’t edit to punch up the color.  If I really wanted an A+ looking animation, I’d have to delete, edit, and reupload the pictures then hope Google selects and animates them again.

For example, I really really want to fix the brightness so this little penguin looks like he did in real life (on bright white snow!):

Penguin moving by Natalie Parker

Or fix the brightness on this set of me sliding down the snow in Antarctica:

Sledding in Antarctica by Natalie Parker

But, all in all, I love these!  I’m not sure what I’m going to do with them since I can’t exactly put animations in a scrapbook.  We’ll see!  What would you do with these?

Getting the Correct Date & Time on Photos

Batch Adjust Photo Dates by Natalie Parker

Have you ever thought about the date and time on your photos?

My phone always selects the correct local time zone because of cell towers.  My camera, on the other hand, has a manually-set time zone.

Why is having correct date/time important?

It really matters for sorting photos from multiple sources.  If I have cell phone photos and DSLR photos, I’d like to flip through them at the same time so I can decide what I want to keep.  If I took a picture of the same thing with both devices (it happens).  I need an easy way to scroll through and see them at the same time.

Plus, my camera has this annoying habit of restarting photo numbering at odd points during the trip, so even just looking at that one source, I have to sort by date/time to see them in order.

It also matters for posterity.  Having at least the correct date is helpful for looking back in the future.

Option 1 – Change Time Zone on Camera

The first option is to change the time zone on the camera right at the beginning of the trip.  When you get home, no muss, no fuss.

Personally, I’m pretty sure I’ll forget to do this.  It hasn’t occurred to me on any previous trip and I don’t want to forget to switch it back.

Option 2 – Change Time Zones on Photos Afterward

This is much better.  If you know what time zone your camera is on and what time zone the picures are supposed to be, some quick math and a Picasa tool can fix it in a few seconds!

Use Picasa to Batch Change Time Zones

Understand what time zone your camera is in.  Either check your camera settings or pick a photo you generally know what time it was taken and compare the time recorded on the photo.

Make sure to take Daylight Savings into account.  I figured out my DSLR is in Pacific Standard Time (as opposed to Pacific Daylight Time, which is during Daylight Savings).  It’s also important to know if where you are traveling has Daylight Savings or not.  Our trip to Ireland was after the US sprang forward, but before Europe did.  I flew to London the next weekend during the spring forward.

Figure out how many hours off your photos are.  When I did the math, I realized my photos in London were 9 hours behind what they should be.

In Picasa, select the photos you want to change dates/times for.

Batch Adjust Photo Dates by Natalie Parker

Click the Tools menu, then click Adjust Date and Time.

Batch Adjust Photo Dates by Natalie Parker

In the pop up box, change the time.  It will show the time for one of the photos, so just adjust accordingly.  For my London pictures, I added 9 hours.

Make sure the radio button for Adjust All Photos by This Amount is selected.  Then click OK.

Batch Adjust Photo Dates by Natalie Parker

All done!  Sort your photos by time and they will appear chronologically no matter what device you took them on.

How to Color Correct Craft Photos

Color Correcting Craft Photos by Natalie Parker

Editing craft photos is always challenging.  I’m not talking about making pictures look better than real life.  I just want my pictures to show what things look like in person — not that easy!

Even with my fancy pants DSLR and trying my best to use natural light, my photos still come out dark and a bit off color.

The darkness I can fix.  I use Picasa to turn up the exposure and add a little more contrast to compensate.  Even then, the pictures are still tinted a bit — they’re either too blue or too warm.  Even more challenging, if I fix the temperature on the photos, it’s hard to get a series of photos looking the same.

Here’s the trick: add a piece of white paper to your photos.

Color Correcting Craft Photos by Natalie Parker

I use a small square of white cardstock and position it in my photo so it’s on the side where I can easily crop it out later.

Color Correcting Craft Photos by Natalie Parker

See what I mean?  I took that photo in natural light in my living room.

In Picasa, use the eyedropper tool and the white paper to correct the photo.  Simply select the eydropper and click on the white paper.  Boom!  The color is instantly corrected.  I’m not an expert, but I think it has something to do with telling the program that the paper is a true white and it adjusts the rest of the colors accordingly.

Color Correcting Craft Photos by Natalie Parker

I do this step first, then I play with the brightness and contrast.

Color Correcting Craft Photos by Natalie Parker

When I’m done, I crop the white paper out and get my finished product:

Color Correcting Craft Photos by Natalie Parker

As a reminder, Picasa is a free photo editing tool.  I’ve written about my favorite Picasa editing tools here, and how to make photo collages in Picasa here.

Color Correcting Craft Photos by Natalie Parker

I Love Street Art

Street Art by Natalie Parker

Street Art by Natalie Parker

Street Art by Natalie Parker

Street Art by Natalie Parker

Street Art by Natalie Parker

Street Art by Natalie Parker

Street Art by Natalie Parker

Above in order: Melbourne, Paris, London, Paris, Melbourne, Melbourne, Melbourne

Not many words today — just pictures.  I love street art and I love taking photos of it when I travel.  I went through my photo collection to find my favorites from my trips.  Melbourne is by far my favorite and I love how the city has embraced street art.  I can’t wait to use these in a scrapbook.

Improving My Photoshop Skills

Improving Photoshop Skills by Natalie Parker

It’s been a few months since I took a Skillshare class and started using Photoshop.  I want to take a few more of their Photoshop classes this summer.  But for now, I’m cruising along and learning some new stuff on my own!

If you understand the basics, it’s pretty easy to learn new tasks without a class.  Like many things in life, just Google it.

How I learned to make Animated GIFs

I’m going to use my new GIF skills as an example.  When I took a blog design class last year, it included instructions on how to make GIFs.  The problem was my version of Photoshop wasn’t the same and I couldn’t figure out how to make it work.

By then I totally had my hopes up for creating GIFs so I had to find something.  Enter Google.

For a very specific task, it’s pretty easy to find someone who has published instructions or a video to help.  Just take what you want to do plus what program you want to do it in.  I searched create GIF CS6 because CS6 is the version of the program I’m using.  And boom!  I found instructions to tell me exactly how to do it.

The result?  I have cool GIFs that flip through each of my finished scrapbooks in my blog archives.

I use this same principle when fiddling with CSS when I can’t remember how to do something.  So many people put helpful instructions online!

Improving Photoshop Skills by Natalie Parker

2006 Photo Count

Photo Purge by Natalie Parker

My 2006 scrapbook is all complete.  It’s time for my 2006 photos to head off into the sunset (aka backup).  As I mentioned in my photo process post, I purge photos heavily after scrapbooking.  How did I do here?

When I started the 2006 album, I had 620 photos.

After purging, I ended up with 173 photos.

Note, this does not include the 1057 wedding and honeymoon photos from 2006.  I already purged those when I finished the wedding scrapbook, taking them down from about 4000.

That means I’m keeping about 25-30% of my photos permanently.  Not bad, I think.

It will be interesting to see how I do in the years to come, I’m going to try and make sure I get a count before I start the next album.

almost made a graph here but decided to spare you.  Maybe next year?

Photo Process 2: During and After Scrapbooking

Photo Processing by Natalie Parker

I last talked about my photo process in 2011.  This post is part 2 in a series showing my current process.  Read part 1 here.

Where we left off, my photos were purged and safely backed up.  After that work, my photos will usually sit for a couple (okay, a few) years until I scrapbook them.

Step One: Ready to Scrapbook, Go Through Photos

Before I design a page, I look at the photos to get an idea of what I want to use.  I edit and touch up the ones I really like and think I will print using basic Picasa tools.

Step Two: Crop, Print, and Scrapbook!

I do not crop the original photos.  I will touch up the originals but if I need to crop them to fit in a page, I crop copies.  I print all my photos at home and only print them when I need them.  No waste.

Step Three: Purge Again

After I’m done scrapbooking, what didn’t get used?  Do I really need all of the photos?

The scrapbook is my final thing that I do with the photos.  If I didn’t use it in the scrapbook, I think hard about deleting it.  For archivists, this process is called appraisal (I know you were dying to know that).  Not every photo is worth saving.  Saving too many makes it harder to find the important stuff.  I’m serious.  I’ve read studies on it.

Anything that doesn’t fit the “save forever” label gets deleted.  After finishing my wedding scrapbook, I ruthlessly deleted a ton of wedding photos.  Serious.

Step Four: Make Sure Metadata and Tags are Correct

Yep, I talked about tagging in the last post.  When I check the metadata again, it will have been at least a couple years since I touched the photos.  Maybe I realized that I like tagging transit photos now?  Maybe I want to tag every picture that has yellow in it?  I update all of the tags.

Step Five: Backup Again

I delete the backups on my external hard drive and on SmugMug.  Then I recopy and reupload the new folder that has the touched up, purged, and retagged versions.  SmugMug doesn’t have syncing, which is really a bummer.

That’s it!  The end!  A place for everything and everything in it’s place.

What do you do with your photos after you put them in albums or scrapboook them?