Incense

by Bart Arondson

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I'm by no means a photographer — this is my first time here and my (actually, my wife's) camera is 4 year old point and shoot.

I have taken photos of my wife throughout pregnancy (every week). I'd like to combine them now into something nice (girly nice, you know, some sort of slide-showy thing). the problem is, the photos were taken in different places, thus different backgrounds, lighting conditions and even slight angle/distance differences. Are there any tools that would help me reduce those differences without spending significant amounts of time? I've a very basic grasp of GIMP and layers, but given my previous experience, it would likely take me weeks to get this done manually...

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I don't think this is necessarily off-topic, but you may have better results on the graphicdesign.stackexchange.com site, since at least part of your question is about designing something.... –  mattdm Oct 5 '11 at 12:57
    
Are you trying to create a movie/slideshow/dvd type of output? Or are you trying to create a scrapbook/book/album? I'm confused exactly what you are looking for. –  dpollitt Oct 5 '11 at 13:43
    
@dpollitt: either would do, really. some timeline kind of thing. I assume she'd most appreciate a slideshow-like video clip. –  seminolas Oct 5 '11 at 14:34

4 Answers 4

If I'm reading your question correctly you're asking more about the photo processing part of the problem (i.e. how to level out the differences in light, style, etc.) than the slideshow part (what software to use).

If that's the case I have a couple of suggestions that require very little in terms of software and know-how:

  1. Picasa has a handy "I'm Feeling Lucky" button that auto-corrects the exposure of your photo and should also do a fair job of evening out the colour temperature differences between daylight, indoor and flash-lit scenes. If you're using a Mac, the Enhance tool in iPhoto does a similar job. Both also have a range of easy-to-use creative effects you can play with to apply similar styles to your photos.

  2. If that still doesn't do the trick, converting to black and white is a great way to quickly hide all those colour and lighting imbalances.

  3. Try cropping and/or adding a vignette (i.e. darkening the edges of the frame) to further reduce any background distractions.

  4. Cropping to a standard size, and perhaps adding a frame, can introduce a running theme where there wasn't one before.

As a quick example, I took three quite different photos of my daughters and edited them the same way:

  • Converted to black and white
  • Increased the contrast a touch
  • Close, square crop
  • Added a thin black border

Do you think that comes close to the sort of consistency you're looking for?

Before

enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here

After

enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here

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If you would like to combine the images into a slideshow that is pleasing, easy to create, and set to music - one of my favorite options is Animoto.

It allows you to take images and video and combine them into a unique slideshow that is set to the music of your choice. They do the processing and hard data crunching on their side, so you do not need to be an expert in video editing, own any software, or even own a fast computer.

You can upload images from your computer, or any number of online photo sharing services. You have the option to upload a song, or choose from royalty free music that they offer.

The biggest benefit to choosing a service like this is the overall quality as compared to price and effort. In about 5mins of time and for under $10 USD you can have a video your friends/family will think was professional created.

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animoto seems like a nice service, but the 'stick these photos together into a flow' is not the difficult part as far as I'm concerned. –  seminolas Oct 5 '11 at 15:27
    
@seminolas - It sounded like the "pretty" part was the piece you have difficultly with. Animoto has nice templates and requires literally no design or artistic eye. –  dpollitt Oct 5 '11 at 16:46

Please take a look at Noah Kalina's slideshow of self-portraits over 6 years . The result can be really nice just by adding the pictures and create a small movie, with a preffered sound theme. Because there are not so many pictures, you can make transitions between the pictures. Good luck :)

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the photos were taken in different places, thus different backgrounds, lighting conditions and even slight angle/distance differences

This can make for a great stop-motion animation, where the slight differences between images are masked by the effect.

You can easily put together something nice in iMovie (Mac) or Windows Movie Maker (PC).

Simply load the sequence of photos in order, specify a short interval between each image, and add a suitable soundtrack.

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Nice suggestion. Picasa also has a nifty little stop motion feature now. –  Mark Whitaker Oct 6 '11 at 6:44

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