From the Archives: Tell a Story with a Photo Slideshow

Do you remember the Christmas Tour of Blogs? What a fun project that was! This post is about taking advantage of your photo-editor’s slideshow capabilities to tell a story with pictures and as I was browsing for appropriate photos to use in my example, I stumbled onto my photo “cards” that I used in the tour. So, of course this project gets a Christmas theme!

Just about every photo-editing platform has some form of slideshow feature. If yours doesn’t or it’s too clunky for you, then put your Power Point/Keynote presentation app to work instead. Either way, you can build a fascinating story to share with family and friends. Let’s start by taking a look at the finished slideshow.

Tell a Story with Pictures – The Christmas Tour of Blogs from Moultrie Creek on Vimeo.

There’s no rule stating that a slideshow can only be made from photographs. Why not use your scrapbook skills to create graphic images – which can contain multiple photos – and use them in your project? I’m using iPhoto’s slideshow feature with the Vintage Prints theme. This theme worked best with my portrait-oriented images and it did the least bit of auto-cropping. The background music is Deck the Halls by Richard Freitas – a $1.99 purchase from Vimeo’s Music Store. It’s license lets me use it for public projects such as this without worrying about the DRM-Nazis screaming for my head. The track runs right at 90 seconds so I set the slideshow to time itself with the music. That gives the viewer time to read the captions as well as look at the photos. Once the slideshow was finished, I exported it to video and uploaded it to Vimeo. The entire slideshow part of the project took less than 30 minutes to complete and much of that was experimenting with the various themes to choose the right one for this project.

While the slideshow only took minutes, the cards took a bit longer. They were built in Photoshop Elements. The card background was created using a layer of my red background color, then placing a stylized line graphic over the background and adjusting the graphic layer’s opacity to have it fade into the background. The background was saved as a template file. Photos then had to be selected, each cropped to the same size, placed on the background template and saved as a separate image file. The light colored border around the image gives the look of a beveled edge to the card and the text color matches it. Once each of the cards was finished, it was saved and imported to iPhoto. The toughest part of the original project was cropping and sizing the images to fit in the template.

iPhoto lets me export the slideshow project in sizes ranging from small (fits an iPhone screen) to large (tv and large monitor screens). Nothing says I can’t export multiple copies – each in a different size. I can then email one size, share another on Facebook, post to my family blog or display a larger version on my tv using Apple TV or a Roku box.

Whether simple or complex, a photo slideshow is a great way to tell a story.

Side note: I don’t know about you, but I import a “finished” copy of just about every graphic/scrapbooking project I create into iPhoto. Not only is it inspiration for future projects, but as in this case, it can become the content in a new project.

Found Ephemera – Custom Brushes

When working with most image-editing applications like Photoshop Elements, brushes are the digital equivalent of the rubber stamp. Like their physical counterparts, brushes can be “loaded” with different colors and “stamped” at different angles. The digital version carries it a bit farther because they can be re-sized and have any number of effects added to them.

In addition to finding brushes in all kinds of shapes and effects, you can easily create your own. I found this ornament in a 19th century tourist guide to St. Augustine. It can easily become a brush for use in Photoshop Elements and used to create cards or collages or become part of a background.

Like rubber stamps, brushes can be simple or complex designs. They can be images or patterns. Brushes are a great way to turn a flat-colored background layer into palm trees silhouetted against the moon. Moon BrushWith brushes you can create crumpled or distressed paper or a worn piece of leather. In addition to making your own, you can find a lot of free brushes online. I’ll warn you right now, using custom brushes is quite addictive.

To learn more about custom brushes, check out these resources:

  • has a series of great tutorials on creating and using brushes in Photoshop Elements. They also have download sources for free brushes.
  • The Scrapping Guy has a very nice video tutorial on using brushes and offers some good sources to find additional brushes.
  • Renee Pearson has written a series of Digital Designs for Scrapbooking books which are full of great ideas and howto information. Digital Designs 2 has a whole section on using and creating brushes. Renee also offers a series of classes. Visit her site for details.