Show of slides

I’ve produced a yearend online slideshow of my work every year since 2010 and this year is no different. It showcases some of my favorite photos that I’ve shot throughout the year and can be seen, the Record’s YouTube channel and here.

Here are a few things to consider if you’re thinking about producing your own slideshow of any kind.

There are a number of different programs you can use to make your show. Adobe Lightroom and Apple’s iPhoto have features that allow you to make a slideshow. Up until recently YouTube had a slideshow creator but it seems to be gone now.

I like to use a program called Soundslides. It’s relatively cheap and easy to use. With it you can easily spread the pictures evenly to length of the music. If there’s any tweaking of the show can be done by manipulating thumbnails of the images on a timeline of the song.

I tend to like to use instrumentals for the music that accompanies the slides. You don’t worry about matching a specific picture with a specific lyric (However, if you have photos with a distinct theme then a song with words may be appropriate). The music should strike a balance. It should create a mood for the photos without distracting from them. It took me about an hour or so listening to different tracks to pick out just the right one.

For my 2011 and 2012 slideshows my friend Sacramento composer and pianist Chris Goslow allowed me to use some of his music. Using a song you hear on the radio or iTunes may be problematic. Unless you have permission you shouldn’t use a song. You may be able to get away with it if your show is posted in obscurity, but if becomes popular or if you’re doing it for some commercial enterprise you could get in trouble. At the very least they can demand that you take it down, at the most you can get sued. There is an alternative, however. There are royalty-free music sites that will let you use music for free. I got the music for this year’s show from YouTube’s Creator studio which has a large list of free music to choose from.

Another consideration for music is time. The optimal length for a slideshow is somewhere between 3 and 4 minutes. While there are exceptions, any shorter and the images will be on screen for a short time. Too much longer and no one will want to sit through it no matter how good the images are. If you have a lot of images you might want to consider breaking them up into 2 or 3 different shows.

Editing a slideshow is very important. Every year I chose 52 of my favorite photos of the year. Why that number? There are 52 weeks of the year, though due to vacations and such I don’t work all 52. I know it’s an arbitrary limit but then again so would any other number. It helps me to edit down to the very best photos. It allows each image to stay on screen for a good 3 to 4 seconds. I set aside my favorite photos as the year progresses so that It makes it easier to edit by the year’s end. This year that total came to more than 1,000 images. From that, I thinned down the herd to about 180. Then it took a series of increasingly painful edits to get to 52. It was a process that took about 3 days.

You don’t just want to pick the best photos but you should also arrange them so that they flow together well. In this year’s show, as in the past, I’ve grouped similar photos together – sports, animals, weather, etc. It starts out with a title slide and a drum intro. When the music starts the photos start with images of musicians. Those end with a woman playing the accordion with her pet chihuahua sitting atop of her instrument. The show then transitions to pictures of animals.

Speaking of transitions, I like a simple fade from one photo to another. To me fancy fade effects that swirl, crosshatch or explode the images can be too distracting. Simpler is better.

With slideshows, no matter what the subject, if you want your photos to shine, then simplicity is the key.

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