Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Digital Media: A Remix Tutorial – How an Old Photo Becomes Something New

So this week we’ve been talking about using digital media apps to remix photos. Regular readers know that I am a big fan. I used to want to be a photographer growing up, but we never had the money for good equipment and I will never know if I have any talent or skills. But now I have a smart phone and a variety of apps and I loved to create using my device. Over the years I have shared with you a variety of apps and today I’m going to take you through a walk through. Doing digital media with teens in the teen makerspace is one of my favorite activities and the teens like creating amazing images to share on their Instagram. I also use my designs to make posters for displays and to share right here on TLT.

See the background of the painting in the picture below? We’re going to turn it into something completely different. The take away here is that you can turn anything A into something completely different and amazing B. As The Teen was painting this picture, I really liked the background so I took a picture of it before she added the trees. I’m constantly taking random photos because you never know when you can use it and turn it into something different. That’s trick 1: take a lot of photos, even of the most random things, because you never know what they can become.

So here’s the picture of the background, which is our starting point.

I then uploaded this photo into the Hipstamatic camera app. This app has a steep cost to it but it has a lot of elements that I like. One of my favorite effects is the Shanghai photo effect, which I used here.

After saving my first remix, I then uploaded this image into the Word Swag app. This is one of my favorite text and font apps, but I don’t like the filters and such. I used Word Swag for text and text only, but your mileage may vary. A little cropping, a little text and viola . . . I created this.

I use my digital media apps to create icons for TLT and I’m not going to lie, the walls of my home are covered in pictures of my children I have created using the technique I just shared with you. I have no less than 3 different printers that I use to print my photos, which I discuss here. I have also turned my photos into postcards, buttons, and canvas. The Teen and friends make fun of me because they know I’m going to be taking pictures, but they also love that they have a lot of great photos that capture some of their favorite memories.

Some of my favorite apps are:

  • PS Express: for cropping photos, filters, effects and more
  • Instamag: for making photo collages
  • Word Swag: for adding text
  • Hipstamatic: for filters
  • Be Funky Pro: again, for filters
  • Comic Book: for creating comic and graphic novel pages
  • Candy Camera: for stickers
  • SuperImpose X: for blending two or more photos
  • Fotorus and Enlight are more advanced apps that I’m just learning how to use

Do you have a favorite photo app? I’m always looking for new ones to try so please share yours in the comments.

Digital Media: Using Photo Apps to Make Pride Photos

The month of June is Pride month, a time when the LGBTQIA+ community remembers the Stonewall riots and the struggle – which continues today – to ascertain basic civil rights. In celebration of Pride, I’m going to share with you how you can create Pride themed digital media effects. On Monday I shared with you some apps you can use to create space effects on photos and today I’m going to share with you some apps you can use to add rainbows or rainbow effects to photos to create signage, avatars, social media graphics and more.

You’ll need a device of some sort with the following apps pre-loaded and a way to get photos onto the app. You can set up an in-library photo booth as discussed in Monday’s post. Once you have your photos you can begin mixing them with apps to create awesome pictures, like the one above.

Be Funky Pro

If I’m being completely honest, the only app you really need for this is the Be Funky Pro app as it has a variety of rainbow effect photos and is a full photo editor. It’s one of my favorites and I highly recommend it. There is a free version, but I recommend unlocking the app by buying the $1.99 pro version. Under the effects tab there are a variety of Pop Art effects that you can choose to create eye catching rainbow hued photos. I used the app to make all of these photo effects:

As you can see, Be Funky Pro has a variety of Pop Art effects that work great for creating Pride photos. It’s quick and easy to use and because you can add text using this app, it’s a one stop app. Those of you who read a lot of posts here know that I often use a variety of apps to create one final image, so it’s nice to have a one stop app.

PicsArt

The PicsArt app has a couple of effects that I really liked. The initial app download is free but there are in app purchases that you can buy. It did look like it had a lot of great additional features, but it has a subscription cost and of all the app purchasing options out there a subscription fee is my least favorite. I want to buy an app and be done with it. The features I used to make the photos below are found in the Pop Art and Color Gradient features. I made the pictures below without making any additional purchases so the app was completely free to use.

Rainbow Love

The Rainbow Love app allows you to add a variety of fun effects to a photo, including simply adding a rainbow onto an image. There are stickers, filters and more. You can download the app for free and use some of the features but there are additional charges for additional features. I liked that you could add a subtle yet beautiful rainbow to an image without changing the entire photo. I made the following pic using a free version of the app.

But wait, there’s more . . .

There are a variety of other apps available to add rainbow effects to your photos out there, some specifically designed to promote Pride.

Any and all of the apps mentioned here are fine but I recommend starting with Be Funky Pro or Rainbow Effects, depending on what effect you want to create.

You have a photo, now what? After you make your remixed Pride photos, you can do a variety of fun things with them:

  • Print them off and make them into buttons if you have a button maker.
  • Change your social media avatars to Pride photos
  • Decoupage them onto a canvas
  • Print them onto photo paper and paint a frame

How a Photo Becomes an Icon

The icon that Amanda MacGregor uses for her monthly What’s New in LGBTQIA+ column was made by me, an amateur, completely on my phone in less than 5 minutes. I began with the photo of a canvas that The Teen painted for a project. The canvas background is seen here in her completed picture, I just thought it was such a pretty background that I took a picture of it before she added the trees. So the background of the painting from this picture . . .

I used an app to remix the photo – in this instance I used the Shanghai filter on the Hipstamatic camera. I then used Word Swag to create the wording. And this is the story of how a photo of the canvas you see above became our LGBTQIA+ icon for our monthly feature.

So the background from the painting in the picture above plus a few magic tricks in an app becomes this icon . . .

Digital Media: Using Apps to Take Your Photos Out of This World

This year many public libraries are participating in a summer reading program that is out of this world – literally – with the Universe of Stories theme. I happen to really love 2 things: mixing photos with photo apps and a tween who wants to be an astronaut, so I am here for your space programming needs. Today I am going to share with you how you can set up a simple photo booth station and help tweens and teens create out of this world photos with just a few simple apps.

Step 1: Set Up Your Photo Booth

You can create a photo booth anywhere in the library with just a bit of space. If you have one, you can set up an actual photo booth with a screen. If not, you can use a blank space of wall or a tri-fold presentation board setting on a table. A white background works well, but any solid color background will work. What you want is a contrast because we are going to extract some of the images. You can also use a green screen and I am here to tell you that you can use a bright green tri-fold presentation board as a green screen to do things like head shots.

There is a previous post here where I talk about some simple green screen photo tricks.

You can set up your photo booth as part of a program or if you have a makerspace set it up as part of your makerspace. You’ll also need access to an tablet or smart phone with some preloaded photo apps to mix your photos.

If you want, get creative and make photo booth props as well, though they aren’t necessary.

Step 2: Mixing Your Photos

After you have taken your photo, you’re going to use your device to mix your photos with backgrounds, filters, stickers and more. Here are are a few of my favorite apps, tips and tricks.

PhotoShop Express (PS Express)

This is a good starting app to do things like apply basic filters or turn your photo into a black and white photo. Sometimes, black and white makes for a good silhoutte that you blend with a background (more on this in a minute). PS Express also allows you to do things like enhance colors, fix lighting, etc. You can download this app for free and use a lot of the features, though there is a cost to unlock additional features.

The PS Express app also has a Beta feature that allows you to add bokeh lighting and . . . the cosmos. This is a picture of The Teen leaning over a bridge staring at a lake but thanks to the PS Express app it looks like she is looking into the Aurora Borealis. This is the only photo that I created using only 1 app.

Mextures

The Mextures app allows you to mix some simple lighting and effects with a picture. I use this app to add radiance which creates the purple hue that works well for galaxy photos. The radiance feature I use is called Bonfire. The Mextures app has an initial cost of $1.99 and there are additional in store purchases you can make (I only have the initial purchase).

The photo below was created by turning a photo into black and white and then adding the bonfire radiance feature to give it the purple and blue highlights.

SuperImpose X

I have long enjoyed blending two photos together but had a hard time finding an app that did this well and was easy to use. A lot of them require you to “cut out” the part you want using a lasso feature that requires a precision I could never master. Before finding SuperImpose X, I had to use two apps to do this but SuperImpose X is so easy to use that I only use the one! This makes me happy. This app costs 4.99 but it is totally worth it.

SuperImpose X works in layers, which means that you have to layer your pictures. You always want to start with the first layer being your background picture. To make a galaxy photo, you can find copyright free background images to use as your background layer.

Your second layer is going to be your layer that has your photo of your person. You use the mask feature to cut out your person. SuperImpose X has an Auto Mask Person feature that makes everything better. Occasionally I have to fill in a few details, but for the most part it works like a charm.

After you have used the mask feature to cut out your person, you can then use the blend feature to blend your two layers together. There are a variety of options and you can mix and match until you find the balance that you like best.

Candy Camera

Candy Camera is an app I like for the stickers feature and only the stickers feature. I’ve used it many years now to make my family Christmas cards and have made some fun space themed photos featuring Thing 2 using some space stickers. (Yes, as a matter of fact, we do just happen to have an astronaut space suit laying around the house, why do you ask? LOL) This app can be downloaded for free and additional sticker packs have an additional charge.

Using a variety of apps, I was able to take pictures that each had actually 3 people in them (and I’m not showing you the original photo because I don’t have the other teens permissions to share them online) and turn them into these final photos. Beginning image after two other teens were cropped out:

Final image:

Beginning image after 2 other teens were cropped out:


Final image after mixing:

Word Swag

The final app I want to share with you today allows you to add text to a picture with a variety of fun fonts. It’s by no means the only app that does this, but I find it to be the quickest, the easiest, and to have the funnest fonts. You can literally roll the dice – there is a die icon on the bottom right of your screen – and it will show you a variety of layouts and options. This app can be downloaded for free and there are additional in app purchases that you can make, though I use the free version.

I used Word Swag to turn one of the above pictures into this great image:

After you make these images, you can do things like share them on social media, print them, or print them and then decoupage them onto a canvas if you want to take your program to the next level. I have both a Selphy and Instax Mini printer and find printing with them to be a ton of fun. If you’re going to do canvas decoupage, follow these steps.

This is a pretty easy and fun program and it gets tweens and teens thinking creatively while learning some basics of digital media. My home is full if pictures just like you see above decorating my walls.

Digital Media: Using Photo Apps to Create a Glitch Effects

It’s been a while since I talked about photo apps. In fact, it’s been so long you probably thought I had lost my love for digital media and photo apps. You would be wrong. I simply hadn’t found anything new that I really loved and thought did something different. However, if you follow teen TLTer Elliot on Twitter, then you would know that they take a lot of cool photos and lately, a lot of their photos have this cool rainbow tilt effect. So I asked Elliot how they did that effect. If you ever want to know how to do something cool with tech, ask a teen.

The effect I am seeking to create is this rainbow effect that you see in the picture below. It is called a glitch effect. You know how in the movie Wreck It Ralph Vanellope keeps glitching in and out? That’s the effect I’m trying to create on my photos.

Elliot shared with me several apps that they use to create this effect and then I found a few additional ones. I should point out that all of these apps are initially free, but they require in app purchases to unlock additional features. I went with just the free versions because they allowed me to create the effect that I wanted. The two apps I liked best were Instabit and Glitch Studio. Elliot’s apps of choice are Vaporcam, Glitch Effect and Rad VHS.

Using the Glitch Studio app, I created this Old TV effect pic. You can’t see it in the picture, but it also produces a wavy gif effect like a TV screen going in and out of reception if you want to use the image as a gif.

I used the Instabit app to create the next two pictures.

As you can see from the screenshots, there are a lot of features that are locked because I didn’t choose to pay to unlock them. In fact, the Instabit app has a cool VHS style camera feature you can use to shoot old school looking video which I did not try out because at this time I’m simply looking at creating cool photos.

As someone who creates a lot of publicity for teen oriented events who also understands copyright and enjoys digital media, I like creating my own pictures and uploading them to feature in promotional flyers and on social media. I also use pictures in a lot of crafts and programs, because digital media is about the extent of my artistic capabilities. These are a couple of cool tools that I am adding to my extensive collection of photo apps for the specific and very cool effects that they create.

Although I barely touched the surface of what you can do with these apps because I was seeking to create a very specific effect, I recommend them. To create the effects that I wanted there was no cost and they were both incredibly easy to use.

Want to know about more of my favorite photo apps and the effects that I use them for? Check out this post or click on the apps tag below.

MakerSpace Tech Review: Canon Selphy 1300 Printer

makerspacelogo1

When I began thinking of creating a Teen MakerSpace, I knew that one of the things I wanted to include was a digital media lab or station. My goal was to teach my Instagram and meme loving teens how to create their own Instagram worthy pics or memes. And given the number of super cool apps available out there, I thought that using tablets would be a good way to do this. The only problem with tablets is that they don’t print well with conventional public library printing systems. If you have secure access to a wifi printing system, you can get around this, but if you have to hard wire into a printer using tablets for things like photo manipulation and meme creation can be a real stumbling block. Actually, it’s impossible. Printing from a tablet is challenging if you don’t have secure access to an air print enabled printer.

I developed a somewhat doable work around for this problem, but it involved more steps than simply hitting print and it is by no means ideal. This work around involves creating some type of an account, such as a Dropbox or Flickr account, to upload photos into and then logging onto another device to print them. See, not ideal. Too complicated, too many steps, and just too cumbersome. I have spent 3 years researching the best ways to print from tablets.

selphy4

I have recently, however, become aware of the Canon Selphy 1300 photo printer and have found that this is indeed a really good device to help fix the printing problem. The Canon Selphy has a built in WLAN so you connect with it using wifi but it has its own unique password so you don’t have to worry about others jumping onto your connection and accidentally printing. I want to print my pictures, I don’t want others to find the printer and send their own prints to it.

The Canon Selphy works like this: You have to download a print app to print from your tablet or smart phone. There is a Canon Selphy app that you can use, but I have also used it with a generic app called Print to Size. Both worked fine. The Print to Size app allowed me to make my picture smaller on the sheet and make more than one copy as I was printing the image to make buttons out of them.

selphy

The Basics

The Canon Selphy 1300 costs $110.00 by itself.

You can buy a paper/printer cartridge pack that makes 108 prints for $37.99. This averages out to roughly .36 cents a print.

You can print wirelessly through a password secure WLAN.

The Canon Selphy printer prints onto 4×6 photo paper.

It has a few other features that I haven’t fully explored yet, like making photobooth strips.

Mobile & Compact Printer | SELPHY CP1300 | Canon USA

A Few Unique Things

Printing on the Canon Selphy is different than printing on a regular copier because of the printing method used. Here, your paper will make several passed through the printer and it prints one color at a time.

The Canon Selphy paper has perforated edges, which means that your photo doesn’t have crisp edges at the two ends. You can solve this with a paper cutter, but I would prefer clean edges without this extra step.

The Quality of the Photo

selphy3

For me, the biggest selling point was the amazing quality of the photo. It does not compare at all to a standard printer because it is really sharp and clear. I have made a lot of art using a simple smart phone and some apps and I was blown away with the improvement in print quality using the Canon Selphy. I printed several prints in both color and black and white and was very satisfied with the quality of the prints.

So Why the Canon Selphy?

I learned about the Canon Selphy from a friend who is a part of an online button making community. Many button makers use this printer because it is small and travels well. Many in the button making community use the Selphy and they set up quick photo booths, print their photos, and turn those photos into buttons. This is something we do with our Teen MakerSpace outreach, minus the printing, so we wanted to see if this would be a good tool for our mobile photo booths. The answer is yes, yes it would be. It’s portable, easy to use and quick, a great resource for mobile photo booths.

A digital media image becomes a button

selphy2 selphy selphybutton

It also helps us solve the setting up a digital media lab using tablets and being able to print problem. And with the printer being portable, we can store the Selphy when we aren’t emphasizing the digital media lab and bring it out when we are.

Final Thoughts

I recommend the Canon Selphy 1300 both personally, I’m going to print all the things, and for a digital media lab looking to use tablets and wanting a quick way to print quality images using a secure wireless connection. It’s also a very workable printer for mobile printing if you want to set up a photo booth.

View from the Director’s Chair Part II: Narrative Filmmaking by Lynette Pitrak

Since its inception in the fall of 2014, Downers Grove Public Library’s teens have been busy creating in our Media Lab! Teens have created documentary films in our Viewfrom the Director’s Chair workshop, photography in our Viewfrom Behind the Lens workshop, and music demo recordings in View from the Sound Booth. The creativity, passion, and talent of the participants has been so inspiring each time! In response to requests from teen patrons, IT staff member and filmmaker Ed Bromiel and I created a new filmmaking workshop, focused on narrative films. This workshop began in June and has continued for ten weeks this summer.

View from the Director's Chair Part II, Myself and Instructor in Media Lab-1

Throughout these ten weeks, Ed and I have taken the teen filmmakers through the steps involved in creating a narrative, fictional film from start to finish. We began with camera basics such as aperture, shutter speed, and ISO settings and artistic concepts such as rule of thirds, horizon line, and contrasting colors. We then moved into lighting and sound; Ed had each student practice setting up three-point lighting and camera microphones while I sat as a practice model and interview test-subject. That was a fun exercise, because I was able to answer questions about my favorite Harry Potter character and go-to meal to cook while the students set up lighting equipment around me!

One of the most fun and inspiring classes was our scriptwriting session. Ed and I created three short exercises which would allow the students to practice scriptwriting:  writing dialogue; writing a one-paragraph scene from either a horror, romance, or comedy movie (complete with lighting, sound, and stage directions); and writing character descriptions as if for a casting call. The teens were so inventive and their writing absolutely came to life on their pages. Once this session was finished, it was time for students to get into groups to begin writing their own final scripts. The class divided into four groups of three to write and then storyboard their own original film scripts. The result has been the following amazing scripts: an action-comedy, a horror-comedy, a science fiction thriller, and a psychological mystery. These scripts are unique, imaginative, and polished—more amazing examples of the talent middle school and high schoolers have for creating works of art!

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The groups had the last three weeks of classes to shoot and edit their films; all put in a tremendous amount of work both in and out of classes. At our final class, we screened their rough cuts, discussed as a group, and gave the teens one more week to make any final edits. Then, four films were screened on our library program room’s big screen. We had food, drinks, and a fun photobooth complete with props such as feather boas and fake moustaches. Best of all,  the audience was given a chance to ask the filmmakers questions at the end of the screening.

The students have shot all of their films on Canon EOS Rebel DSLRs and are using iMovie, Final Cut Pro, and Adobe Premier to edit their films. For a full list of our library’s Media Lab equipment, please see our website. To view all teen Media Lab projects, visit our YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/DGPLnews. For any libraries interested in creating a workshop like View from the Director’s Chair, please feel free to contact me at lpitrak@dglibrary.org at any time. Thank you for this opportunity to share!

Lynette Pitrak is the Teen Services Coordinator at the Downers Grove Public Library. Reach her at lpitrak (at) dglibrary.org