Art

©Tasha Galardi, 2007

When I first read about the Art project, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I spent some time brainstorming and talking to friends about ideas. It became clear to me that I wanted to use some form of computer technology because I have enjoyed becoming more comfortable with various computer programs through this class. I tend to avoid using new computer programs because I get easily frustrated with the learning process. There are a couple of programs that I use regularly at work and I know them well, so I use those easily. It has been a bit of a challenge for me learning some of the programs that I have used for this class, but now that I have figured them out I know I will feel comfortable using them again in the future.

Taking photos of my kids is something that I have always done, but I prefer a traditional film camera. I have scrapbooks for the kids, so I like to have physical copies of the photos to put in their books. I feel that documenting their childhood is something they (and I) will treasure later. I have a small photo album of photos from my childhood and I enjoy looking at them to remember certain events. I also like to see how my children look at a specific age compared to me and my husband at that age. Unfortunately, neither of us has a very detailed photo record of our childhood so I can’t make many comparisons. Documenting my children’s lives through photos is fun for me and makes me feel like I am doing something that will be valued in the future.

I chose to take digital photos and create a collage using computer software for this project because it was something that I wasn’t comfortable doing. While I have used our digital camera in the past, I have never uploaded the photos to the computer or used the computer to create a project. I gained some experience manipulating digital photos while doing my cultural project, but that was for purely functional purposes. I wanted to create something with my photos, not just make them work efficiently. I feel that digital photography is the wave of the present and future, so I wanted to get some experience with using the digital camera. I also wanted to familiarize myself with the photo editing software that is on my computer and how to use it to enhance my digital photos.

I took the photos with our Olympus D-370 digital camera. It is a fairly old camera (only 1.3 megapixels), but the pictures came out OK. The kids had fun posing for me throughout the yard and in various activities. I wanted to capture them doing things they actually normally do, so I took photos of my son, Skyler, and my daughter, Noelle, in the tree they regularly climb. I carried the camera in my car for a couple of days so I was able to get a photo of my older daughter, Bria, at the barn with her horse, Bo, and at her violin lesson. After I was done taking the photos, I removed the SD card from the camera and inserted it into the SD slot on our computer. The computer recognized the card and the Comcast Photoshow Program popped up. It asked if I wanted to download the photos onto my computer. I did that and put them into a folder that my husband had already created that contains photos of the kids. In Photoshow, there was an option to create a slide show of the photos I had downloaded. I went ahead and tried that. My husband had already set up the slide show template so that the photos are displayed with a musical track. It was fun, but not something that I had created myself. I wanted to use the photos to create a collage that I could e-mail to family and friends who live out of town.

I had used Adobe Photoshop to optimize the photos for my cultural project, so I knew it was a good program for editing the photos. I opened each photo that I had taken in Photoshop. There were some photos that didn’t come out well or were similar to others, so I narrowed it down to my twelve favorites. In Photoshop, I cropped the photos and adjusted the brightness/contrast as needed to make them look as clear as possible. I couldn’t find a way to create a collage in Photoshop, so I searched for another photo editing program on my computer. I found one called Microsoft Picture It! that my husband told me had options for creating projects with photos. Picture It! had an option specifically for creating a photo collage. It was perfect! You could choose how many photos you wanted in the collage and if you wanted the layout to be Portrait (vertical) or Landscape (horizontal). At first, I chose the 12 photo collage because that was how many photos I had saved. However, the collage was pre-set for specific photo sizes and shapes and my 12 photos didn’t fit well into these shapes. There was an option to crop each photo to fit the space and another one to scale the photo to fit into the space. You can also adjust the photo manually to try to get it to fit in a certain way. I could make many of the photos fit, but some of the collage spaces were too small. I decided to narrow down my photos to my nine favorites and use the collage set for nine photos. In this collage the photos spaces were larger, so I was able to make my photos fit. I had to try each photo in various spaces to find the best spot and crop many of them to fit, but in the end I was happy with the overall layout.

The next step was saving my collage in a format that would be easily and quickly uploadable into WordPress. Picture It! saves each photo as a png file, unless you tell it otherwise. I saved my collage as a png file onto my desktop, but I saw right away that the file was too large (36MB) to upload quickly on WordPress. Next, I tried saving the file into Adobe Acrobat as a pdf file. This worked well and reduced the size to 697KB, but I had problems uploading it into WordPress. When I uploaded it, WordPress would only allow the link, not the actual photo collage. That obviously wasn’t what I wanted, so I decided to try using Adobe Photoshop. I knew I could optimize the collage in Photoshop and make sure it was a small enough file. This worked perfectly and I was easily able to upload my finished creation into WordPress.

I have really enjoyed this process! I sent my finished collage to a number of friends and family. My sister-in-law in California already wrote back, thanking me for the photos. This was a nice way to be able to share various photos of all three kids in one file. It drives me crazy when people e-mail me a bunch of photos that I have to open individually. Using this collage makes viewing multiple digital photos more convenient for people. Now that I am more comfortable downloading digital photos onto my computer, editing the photos and creating a collage, I know I will do this in the future. The only thing I would do differently is to open the photos originally in Picture It! instead of going through so many different programs. It would be so much less complicated to open the photos, edit the photos and create the collage all in one program. I also would like to get a new digital camera with more megapixels and a better zoom capability.  Our old camera doesn’t take the greatest photos and I have seen some taken with newer cameras that are much better quality.  If we will be using the digital camera to record our children at their different ages, I want the photos to be as good as possible.  All of our family and many of our friends live out of town, so they don’t get to see the kids very often. Taking nice photos of the kids and creating collages that I can easily e-mail will be a simple way for me to help those people watch my children grow up.

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