Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Crafting Community: Instax Locker Decorating

Welcome to a new guest post series called Crafting Community, with me, Stacey Shapiro. I work in a standalone library in central Jersey, but we are fortunate in that every year we can apply for a grant from Union County, the county we reside in. This year, we’re planning to use that money to create a Crafting Community. Cranford is a town with a strong downtown shopping area and lots of local businesses to partner with, so the children’s librarian, Lauren Antolino, came up with the idea of Crafting Community to pay local businesses to host workshops for our patrons. Most of the money will go towards that, but the first big expenditure was Instax cameras.

I first learned about the possibilities of crafting with Instax photos from this blog, and I’ve wanted to do programs with them since then, but haven’t had the funds. The cameras themselves are $50, plus film which you will go through quickly. Luckily, our cameras arrived in plenty of time for the first Instax program.

Instax locker decorating

Supplies:

  • Instax cameras (I purchased 6)
  • Instax film
  • Sharpies
  • Pens
  • Washi tape
  • Roll of magnets to cut
  • Color lenses 

Stickers and other decorations would have been ideal, too.

Step One: Show the teens how the cameras work, turning them on and turning them off. Make sure to take out the film cover prior to any programming (the first photo is always the cover).  Then let them loose! I had a limited quantity of film so I tried to limit them to two apiece, but they were quickly overrunning me. I had enough film for them to all go home with several magnets.

Step Two: Let the film develop. Instax photos don’t need shaking like a Polaroid; it’s easiest to put them down on a table and leave them. Only start decorating once they’ve developed which should be fairly quickly, or else the inks might get squeezed out.

Step Three: Cut out squares of magnets for them to stick on the backs of the photos, and voila, they have magnets to decorate their locker!

I was cautious about how receptive the teens would be to the Instax format, but several teens had their own at home, and they had their friends there and took a bunch of pictures of each other and themselves. All of the teens had fun, and really enjoyed decorating the photos with washi tape. Several didn’t develop at all, and a teen drew on them with Sharpie and took those home as well, so they weren’t wasted. Towards the end of the program, we had one picture left and a kid’s finger slipped and took an accidental, artsy shot and then we were out. But the teens were definitely interested, and they want more crafty programs like this one.


Stacey Shapiro is a teen librarian in Cranford, New Jersey, a cat mom, and a BTS fan. She was a 2019 ALA Emerging Leader and is currently serving on the Printz 2020 committee. When she has any free time, she’s playing Breath of the Wild on the Switch.

More on the Instax Mini at TLT

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.

A Tale of Three Printers, portable photo printers that is (Tech Review)

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Doing both makerspace and outreach events, I have found it helpful to have a portable photo printer available. This allows you to work with teens and instantly print photos while eliminating the need for traditional printers, wires, Internet access and the constant rearranging of printing tray sizes. The advantage is that you are not tied down to a large printer that plugs in to a wall and requires access to the Internet. You can do photo booths, quick photo based crafts (including buttons!), and so much more with a portable photo printer. Fear not, there are many portable photo printers to choose from and today I’m going to talk about three of them. Each devise has their advantages and disadvantages and having tried them all, I break it down for you. The three devices I will be reviewing today include the Fuji Instax Square 10 photo printer, the Polaroid Zip Pocket Printer and the Canon Selphy 1300.

The Fuji Instax Square 10 Printer

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As some of you may have figured out, I am currently obsessed with instant photography. I started with the Instax Mini 9 (which I recommend) and started exploring the square format because I liked the size and look of the film. It turns out, there is a Square printer that you can purchase for roughly $160.00. And yes, this is not in-expensive. And to top it off, then you have to buy new film pretty frequently and it all starts to add up. Instant photography is not a cheap interest by any means.

But before you dismiss this printer right out of hand because of the cost (and cost concerns are legitimate, especially for a library), let me tell you one thing that rocks about the Square printer: you can print right from your mobile device. This means that you can create the photos that you want using any app on your phone and print it and still get the instant photography look. It takes a lot of the guess work out of instant photography and gives you so much control and creative license. Many people invested in instant photography consider it cheating, and in many ways it is, but with the film being so expensive it’s nice to have an idea that your photo is going to look good before you print it.

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This photo printer has a rechargeable battery that makes it completely portable without cords and you connect wirelessly with its built in wifi directly to the printer. That means if you have properly charged everything up, you can print using only your wireless device and this printer with no cords for a period of time. It gets a 10 out of 10 for portability. And it’s fairly easy to use. It’s biggest drawback is, of course, the price. Pictures can cost anywhere from $1.00 to $1.50 depending on where you get your film and how much you pay.

  • Portable: Yes
  • Wireless: Yes
  • Requires a free printing app and a mobile device
  • Cost: $160 for the printer, about $1.00 a picture

Polaroid Zink Mobile Printer

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This mobile printer also connects wirelessly to your mobile device so again, you can create photos using any app of your choice and print them in a size that is very similar to the Fuji Instax Mini film size, which is 2 x 3 inches. When I asked The Teen which of the three printers she preferred she said this one because she liked the size of the film the best. I should note here that you can get an Instax Mini Film printer that works similarly to the Square printer mentioned above, but in terms of printing cost this printer is more cost effective. The printer itself costs around $95.00 and the film is around $10.00 for 20 prints, or .50 cents a print.

Of all the three portable printers I have tried, this one had the worst quality printing. The colors were off and the pictures just didn’t have that depth and snap to them compared to pictures produced by the other two printers. So it’s less expensive, but it’s also not as good of quality.

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I also had the most connectivity issues with this printer. You connect to it wirelessly with its own mechanism, which means you can use it in a park or at a school you are visiting, but I had to reconnect with it more than I did the other printers.

  • Portable: Yes
  • Wireless: Yes
  • Requires a free printing app and mobile device
  • Cost: $96.00 for the printer, about $0.50 a picture

Canon Selphy 1300

printing7The Canon Selphy 1300 is a slightly less portable printer that has its own wifi connection and prints onto a more standard size film paper. You must use Selphy paper for this printer and each bundle of paper that you purchase comes with its own ink cartridges because yes, you have to change (though it is quick and easy) ink cartridges. Paper bundles range in size and price but you can get a 216 sheet bundle for $68.00, which makes this the most affordable printing device at roughly .32 cents a picture.

As I mentioned, the Selphy is slighlty less portable simply because it is bigger in size and has a few more elements. You can still connect to it wirelessly, but it doesn’t fit in the palm of your hand like the other two printers do. You can, however, buy a handy carrying case designed specifically for it.

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The quality of the pictures, however, far surpasses the printing quality of the other two printers. And it gives you the most creativity and adaptability because you can print any size picture up to a 4×6, which is the size of the paper. I use this device with an app called Print to Size and you can even print multiple pictures on one page and cut them down to size. So a little more work is involved, but if you want a square size with a white border like the Square printer, you can do that. And if you want the small size of the Polaroid Zip printer or the Instax Mini, you can also do that. There is so much more versatility with this printer once you figure out how to get multiple photos on a page.

  • Portable: Yes
  • Wireless: Yes
  • Requires a mobile device; a free printing app is not required (you can print directly without an app), but it is recommended to get more versatility in your designs
  • Cost: $160 for the printer, about $0.34 a picture

Final Thoughts

I highly recommend the Selphy printer as it has the most functionality, the most adaptability and it has the best quality photos. There is an optional battery pack that you can purchase and it has it’s own built in wifi for connectivity, so it is truly portable though it is biggest in size. The cost and quality make this the optimal purchase.

If true instant photography is what you are looking for, the Fuji Instax Square printer is a costly but high quality tool that is truly portable and fun. I plan on using this one for a long time, though sparingly.

I gave the Polaroid Zink printer to The Teen because she seemed to like it but it was the lowest quality in terms of printing. The cost and portability are there, I just was the least satisfied with the prints.

Depending on your needs, there is a portable printer out there for you. If you want to get the most bang for your buck, I recommend the Canon Selphy 1300.

MakerSpace: Instax Mini Fun

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I have had an Instax Mini camera sitting in my house for some time, but Thing 2 (now a Tween, how did that happen?) recently discovered it and fell in love. She started asking me to go on walks with her and now we go on nightly walks and take pictures. And because she has spent some time in the Teen MakerSpace at my library she knows all about photo booths, so she asked me to help her make one and some props so that she could have her friends over and take pictures of them. And as always happens, this got me started thinking about all of the ways we could use the Instax Mini in teen programming.

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Thing 2 taking some pics with her Instax Mini

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The Instax Mini is an instant camera that produces pictures on the spot. The camera itself can be purchased for around 55 to 65 dollars. It comes in 3 sizes, the 7s, the 8 and the 9. If you can, I recommend purchasing the 9 because it comes with a close up lens. You can purchase a close up lens for the other editions, but you might as well buy the 9 which comes with the lens. The Instax mini is fun and instant, but it doesn’t have a lot of versatility in terms of things like shudder speed, focus and flash. In fact, the flash always goes off and it is recommended that to avoid over exposure in some situations you may want to cover the flash with electrical tape. There are some user guides out there and I recommend taking a look at them.

The Ultimate Fuji Instax Camera Comparison – Photography Concentrate

The Key Differences Between the Instax Mini 9 and Mini 8

Using your Instax Mini 8 | Some Tips & Tricks – Heidi Swapp

Let Your Creativity Show in an Instax! · Lomography

If you buy the film in bulk each pictures costs an average of anywhere between 60 and 65 cents. Be careful when buying the film, because it can go as high as $1.00 a picture. You can buy film with a plain white border or buy film with decorative borders. Fuji even occasionally releases specialty film, like Alice in Wonderland or Lilo and Stitch. You can buy sticker frames or acrylic frames for your pictures, put them into photo albums, or make a variety of cool crafts with them. You can even buy small scrapbooking stickers and decorate the border yourself.

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This is a Instax pic with a pre-purchased sticker frame. Teens can make their own frames using scrapbook paper or patterned vinyl. Cut it by hand using a stencil or using a cutter like the Silhouette Cameo.

I’ve already made one crafty display for my pictures and Thing 2 is working on one of her one that will take up a large chunk of one wall. In fact, I started a Pinterest board of Instax Mini ideas that I’m planning on trying to implement in a makerspace.

instamax1

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A co-worker and I recently did our final outside outreach event of the season and we made an “I Love My Library” sign and used the Instax Mini camera to take pictures that we gave to attendees to take home and remember the library. Kids were amazed by the instant photo and their parents were excited to have a blast from the past.

Some ideas I have include:

For Teen Read Week: Have teens create a tripdic (a series of 3 pictures) that relate somehow to their favorite book. Display the pictures and see if other teens can guess what book it is. This can be set up as a bulletin board or display wall and be an interactive promotion.

For Banned Books Week: Set up a jail cell or photo booth and take pictures of teens with their favorite “banned” books. Again, this would make a fun display.

Let teens take a picture or series of pictures and decorate or display them. They can create frames, wall art, magnet frames and more. In fact, we have a Silhouette cameo and you can purchase magnet sheets that can be cut with the Silhouette Cameo. Cut out frames, then cut out a piece of vinyl to decorate the frame, and you have a great fridge or locker craft.

MakerSpace: Rhonna Designs Photo and Collage App Review

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Behold, I have found a new photo app! As I mentioned last week, a friend fell into a button maker group and they talk a lot about two things:

1) The Canon Selphy printer, which I reviewed last week and

2) The Rhonna Designs app, which a lot of people in the button making community use to design their buttons.

rhonna1For more information about Rhonna Designs, visit their homepage

Rhonna App information at the iTunes stores

Here’s a look at some photos created by the Rhonna Design app from the Rhonna Designs homepage.

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And, since you know I love a good photo app, I decided to try it out. For you. I’m a giver.

As you can see, the Rhonna Designs app specializes in making Instagram ready pics and memes by layering photos, backgrounds, texts and graphics. There is a pretty steep learning curve for this app, but once I figured it out I was able to make some quick and easy graphics for this post in literally one minute.

The Basics

Technically, there are 3 Rhonna Design apps: Rhonna, RhonnaCollage and Rhonna Magic. You can buy one for $1.99 or buy all three in a bundle for $4.99. I made the mistake of buying just one and realized it is better to have all three. Each app in the package does a very specific thing and then you can open your photo in the next app to do that specific thing.

Let me try and clarify, it’s kind of confusing.

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App descriptions screen cap from Rhonna Designs home page

Rhonna Designs has a collection of backgrounds which you can use or you can use your own photo. You can then add text or a variety of stickers. In this app you also have some filters, frames and a mask feature. If you buy only one of the apps, this is probably the one you want to buy.

Rhonna Collage allows you to make a collage, just like the name says. You can pick a layout or begin with a blank page and create your layout. I have tried a lot of collage apps and this one is probably my favorite in terms of how it lets you choose a background and layer pictures over the top of it.

Photo made using Rhonna Collage

Photo made using Rhonna Collage

Rhonna Designs Magic uses layers and allows you to use a variety of filters and effects to enhance your photo. For example, you can use Bokeh lighting, light leaks and blur effects. It also has a “candy” feature which allows you to color your photos. One of my favorite features in Instagram in the title shift, which allows you to blur edges and pull the focus on a specific part of a photo. Blur effects allows you to do that same thing here. Bokeh lighting allows you to add light flares allows you to play with the lighting on your photo. If you don’t like an effect, you can just go in and delete the layer.

Photo then opened in RD Magic and transformed using the candy function

Photo then opened in RD Magic and transformed using the candy function

This is a photo I transformed using something from all three of the apps:

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And here is a photo I created using Rhonna Designs made into a button. The background is a background provided in the app, I then just layered stickers and texts using this years Teen Summer Reading theme.

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I spend a lot of time using photo apps, and overall I liked this one. I still don’t think it does everything I would like one app to do and I kind of hate having to open it in another app to do some of the magic effects. I do, however, really like many aspects of the collage app. In fact, I like everything it does, I just wish it did them all in one place and for one lower price. And like many apps, there are additional in app purchases for things like more text fonts and sticker options, so it can get pricey if you let it.

I do have a digital media lab in our Teen MakerSpace which consists of a bank of iPads with pre-loaded apps, and I would definitely consider adding these. Though you can do a lot of these same things with a free Canva account, which has a lot more versatility when using a tablet. Though it works very quickly and pretty easily for a smart phone app. So if you’re using a smart phone, definitely check out this app. If you’re using a tablet or a PC, I also recommend researching Canva before making any purchasing decisions. It’s also important to note that although a basic Canva account is free, there can be some additional purchases in using that as well.

I would recommend this app, depending on what you want to use it for. If you are looking for quick, mobile and something to use on your smartphone, it definitely has a lot more options in one place, especially if you are primarily going to be making Instagram pics and memes. Many photo apps do one or a few specific things, and all together this app bundle does a lot of things in one place.

There is also a PC version of Rhonna Designs that you can use, which I have not tried.

More Digital Media/Photo App Reviews at TLT

How Did You Do That? Photo Apps Version – Teen Librarian Toolbox

Fused (with an assist from the Silhouette app) – Teen Librarian Toolbox

Aviary – Teen Librarian Toolbox

App Review: FotoRus

App Review: Candy Camera

App Review: Enlight

App Review: Prisma

App Review: A Beautiful Mess

Book Review: The Summer of Jordi Perez (And the Best Burger in Los Angeles) by Amy Spalding

Publisher’s description

summer of jordiSeventeen, fashion-obsessed, and gay, Abby Ives has always been content playing the sidekick in other people’s lives. While her friends and sister have plunged headfirst into the world of dating and romances, Abby’s been happy to focus on her plus-size style blog and her dreams of taking the fashion industry by storm. When she lands a great internship at her favorite boutique, she’s thrilled to take the first step toward her dream career. Then she falls for her fellow intern, Jordi Perez. Hard. And now she’s competing against the girl she’s kissing to win the coveted paid job at the end of the internship.

But really, nothing this summer is going as planned. She also unwittingly becomes friends with Jax, a lacrosseplaying bro-type who wants her help finding the best burger in Los Angeles, and she’s struggling to prove to her mother—the city’s celebrity health nut—that she’s perfectly content with who she is.

Just as Abby starts to feel like she’s no longer the sidekick in her own life, Jordi’s photography surprisingly puts her in the spotlight. Instead of feeling like she’s landed a starring role, Abby feels betrayed. Can Abby find a way to reconcile her positive yet private sense of self with the image others have of her?

 

Amanda’s thoughts

If you are not reading Amy Spalding’s books, you are totally missing out. Her dialogue is A+ and I always want to be best friends with all of her characters. This book was no exception.

 

17-year-old Abby has always viewed herself as the quirky, funny sidekick in her own life—the one who watches cool things happen to other people and is there for advice and clever one-liners. Because of this view of herself, she kind of can’t believe it when Mexican American Jordi Perez, who is cute, cultured, serious, and seems to have it all together, reciprocates her crush. Both girls get a summer internship together at Lemonberry, a faux vintage clothing store. Abby runs a fashion blog and Jordi takes excellent photographs. Though they’ve gone to high school together, they don’t really know each other—in fact, Abby can’t even remember Jordi’s name at first. It’s a summer full of unexpected things for Abby, who also ends up becoming best buds with Jax, a lacrosse-playing friend of her best friend’s boyfriend (Jax is convinced this makes them friends-in-law, so of course they should hang out). Jax ropes Abby into eating and rating burgers all summer as part of his dad’s new Yelp-like app. Jax is a gem of a character—funny, supportive, and so much more than the cliche that it seems like he may be. While Abby has a cool internship, a rad girlfriend, and great friends (including some unexpected new ones), it’s not all roses. Abby repeatedly mentions that she’s fat. When she says something about being fat and Jax starts to say she’s not, she points out to him that she is, which isn’t bad, but “acting like fat’s an insult is.” She’s cool with her body and her weight, for the most part, though she is a little self-conscious especially when she and Jordi start making out (a not-so-unusual feeling for anyone). Though she runs a fashion blog, she never posts pictures of herself on it. She’s particularly self-conscious about pictures of herself, not because she doesn’t like to look at them, but because she would like to avoid all of the fat-hating comments from people who may view them. It just seems easier and safer to not put herself out there. Then there’s the issue of her mother, a food blogger, who seems to constantly view Abby as a disappointment. Abby is pretty sure her mother would prefer her to be straight and thin, things she more or less says outright to her. But despite the feeling of being a disappointment to her mother, things are mostly going great… until they aren’t.

 

This book has a super wide appeal—it’s an excellent romance full of joy and happiness. Abby’s zest for fashion is contagious—my own closet is full of mostly black and extremely boring, but I loved reading about Abby’s outfits and the clothes at the shop. Though there is a fight and some fallout/heartbreak, this is a feel-good book with tons of charm, humor, and heart. This funny, sweet, summer read was the perfect thing to spend a blizzardy day off of work reading. 

 

 

Review copy courtesy of the publisher and Edelweiss

ISBN-13: 9781510727663
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Publication date: 04/03/2018

MakerSpace: Making a Photo Booth Prop Holder

Yesterday I completely re-arranged and marketed our Teen MakerSpace. As a librarian, this is indeed my idea of a good time. But one thing that has always bothered me is the way we display our Photo Booth Props. As you may know (if you don’t, hi new readers!), we have a lot of photo booth props. We like to make thematic units as new tie-ins come about. But we’ve never had a good way to display them. In fact, they were laying flat on a shelf like this before yesterday – check out the upper left hand corner:

photoboothpropstorage2

 

Awkward, unattractive, hard to get to and easy to make a mess. In other words, not good at all. So yesterday Teen MakerSpace Assistant Morgan and I had a conversation that went like this:

Morgan: I wish we had a bucket or something to display them in.

Karen: We do, but they still get all wobbly and fall over and stuff.

Morgan: What about using that trashcan over there.

Karen: Oh, gross.

**pause**

Karen: We’re a MakerSpace, let’s make one!

So I went into the office and looked around and we have a stack of empty shoe boxes that we can maybe do something with. And it hit me – WE CAN MAKE A PHOTO BOOTH PROP HOLDER. And we did.

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Here’s what we did:

1. We filled our shoe box with rocks to make it heavy so that it would stand up straight. The rocks were placed in a plastic ziploc bag and duct taped to the bottom of the box. The weight is 100% necessary for balance.

2. We covered our box in duct tape to make it attractive.

3. We used a screw driver to poke holes in the top to place each individual prop stick in. This keeps them all nice and neat. No more flopping over! There was much rejoicing.

Now it sits, sturdily I might add, next to our photo booth. See, we used our making skills to solve a problem and make items more accessible. I’m going to call that a win.

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To learn more about our photo booth or photo booth props, check out these posts:

Making Photo Booth Props

Building Our Portable Photo Booth

TPIB: Turn your Instagram pics into Photobooth bookmarks

Building Our Portable Photo Booth – Outreach at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County, Day 2

photobooth12Yesterday I shared with you that this week was all about outreach and introduced you to our basic format. Today, I’m going to share with you how we created our portable outreach photo booth.

Our primary outreach event is called First Fridays, which is a downtown festival with food trucks, an outdoor concert, and an opportunity for local businesses to promote themselves with booths. On average, we have noted that we talk to anywhere between 200 and 400 people in the space of 3 hours. We had a module where we made buttons, and it turns out they are very popular but making 300 buttons in 3 hours can be exhausting. And after 3 First Fridays, we wanted to kind of spice it up and show a different side of the Teen MakerSpace. So we decided to make a portable photo booth. This turned out to be a fun and popular decision.

We needed a photo booth that was easy to transport and set up/take down. After a lot of research, we used this as our model. We only made on slight change in that we have to different sizes of cross bars so that we can have a smaller or wider photo booth depending on the size of the space we are in. Also, we have both a green screen and a black background. We just bought cheap sheets at the local store and these work fine.

photobooth1Supplies needed:

PVC Plastic Pieces/Pipes

(These can purchased at Lowe’s or some other home repair store)

2 pieces of PVC elbows (for your top connectors)

4 pieces of PVC “T” connectors (2 for your middle cross bar, 2 for your feet)

10 pieces of PVC cut to 3 feet (2 for your back cross bars, 4 for your height, and 4 for your feet)

2 pieces of PVC cut to 5 feet (if you wish to have a larger width photo booth)

Please note: all your pieces of PVC pipe should be the same. We used 3/4 of an inch in diameter. In this picture shown we have used the smaller PVC pipe for our crossbars.

Additional Supplies

  • A black flat sheet (technically you can use any color that you would like)
  • A Kelly Green flat sheet (if you want to use your photo booth as a green screen)
  • Alligator clips (to hold your cloth in place)
  • Various sizes of binder clips
  • Some type of banner
  • Photo booth props (tomorrow we will talk about making your own)

Our total cost was about $50.00, including one sheet.

Setting Up the Photo Booth

Once you have all your pieces cut to the correct size, setting up is easy. As I mentioned, we have to sizes of cross bars so our width can be either 3 feet across, which fits one person, or 5 feet across, which accommodated groups pretty well. We have used it both as a green screen and as a basic backdrop. You will need at least 2 staff to set up and take down the portable photo booth. I also recommend making step-by-step photo instructions.

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After you set up your frame, you’ll need 2 people to drape your sheet over the frame. Especially if you are using it as a green screen, you want to pull your sheet as tight as possible. Wrinkles can cause lighting issues which can cause the green screen to not be properly replaced with your software. Good lighting is really important when using a green screen as well.

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We used both binder clips and alligator clips to pull the material tightly in the back and keep it in place.

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We made a banner so that people knew who we were using triangles, string and giant letter stickers. We eventually made gears to decorate our banner, which is not shown here.

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Signage is very important – as is creating a hashtag. People were invited to take their own pictures and staff used their devices to take pictures as well using the library’s account. All pictures were tagged with the hashtag so that patron’s could go find them online. In addition, we had a slip of paper that we handed to each person telling them about the library, about the hashtag, and inviting them to come into the Teen MakerSpace where we could show them how to print their picture and make it into a button or use some of our photo apps to add text and filters.

Tips and Tricks

The night we first used our portable photo booth turned out to be a really windy night. We had to have staff sit on each side of the photo booth with their foot on the bottom bar to keep it stable. We are talking getting a bar of rebarb to slide through the bottom to help with this in the future. We also discussed sand bags, though we are hesitant to add more bulky, heavy items to our set up. Just know that if you are outdoors wind can be an issue and you may need a stabilizing agent.

For the larger size booth – 5 feet across – we cut the PVC pipe to 5 feet. This means that we had these longer pieces to carry. We are talking about cutting them in half and adding another connector so that all the PVC poles are shorter and we can fit them into a larger gym bag. The jury is still out on this.

Final Verdict

I love the portable photo booth! Everyone had a really great time and it was very easy to set up and take down. And to be honest, it was easier on staff then making 300 buttons in 3 hours.

Here are some of the pictures we took . . .

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Tomorrow, I will share with you how we made our own photo booth props, what worked . . . and what didn’t.

App Review: Prisma

Knowing my love of photo apps, several people have wanted to make sure I know about the new Prisma app. Prisma allows you to transform your picture into a work of art based on the styles of many famous artists. It’s actually a fairly easy app to you, in part because it is limited in functionality. It does all the work, so there isn’t a lot that you, the user, have to do. You can manipulate the degree to which your photo is changed, you can split the screen so only half the photo is changed or the two halves of the photo are changed to different degrees, but you don’t have to worry about things like contrast or brightness or exposure.

Let’s look at what it does. Here’s my original photo:

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There are currently 29 filters to choose from. They include things like Gothic, Transverse Line, Paper Art and Mondrian. They also have my personal favorite, Heisenberg. Yes, that Heisenberg, from Breaking Bad. Here’s what the picture above looks like using some of the filters available on Prisma. I took screen shots so you could see the name of each filter being used.

prisma9 prisma3 prisma2 prisma1 primsa8 primsa7 primsa6 primsa5 primsa4As you can see, it does in fact turn your photo into a stunning work of art. And it is very easy to use. You literally just choose your art style by clicking on it, the app does all the work, and then if you would like you can adjust the degree of filtering by swiping your finger from left to right on the screen.

I can see using this filter to create some cool pictures and then downloading them to do things like add text to make end cap signs. Or bookmarks. Or incorporating the pics into flyers or on social media.

Or you can create pictures and mod podge or transfer them onto canvas or wood blocks. Make them into buttons or key chains. There are lots of creative opportunities for this app. The best part: it was totally free.

MakerSpace: Green Screen Photo Booth, app review and tips and tricks

As part of our MakerSpace, I decided that I wanted to set up a Green Screen Photo Booth, though the truth is that I know nothing about doing green screen photos. So I started by trying out a variety of apps on our iPad stations.

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Apps investigated include:

Verdict:

For our purposes, I felt that Green Screen Wizard Mobile was the easiest to use. It doesn’t have as much versatility as the others, but as a pure shoot, snap and replace your background type of app it is hands down my favorite.

Green Screen Studio, for example, wanted you to wipe away all the green screen, which was time consuming and required a delicate hand. I wanted an app that would automatically replace all the green, which the GS Wizard app did quickly and easily.

The Green Screen by Do Ink app is a really more complicated app and needs more hands on tutorial to get teens using it. I recommend it more for a classroom or program setting.

There are several other green screen apps that you can try, but if you want a simple 3-step process app then this is the app that I recommend and am using. We wanted and need an app that is easy to use so that casual users coming into the MakerSpace can have a fun photo session but not have to have a lot of background instruction.

How it Works:

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Step 1: Take Your Photo

It is literally a 3-step process. You take your first picture, which you have set up in front of your green screen. Here I used some of my Doctor Who Funko Pop toys and a green piece of poster board purchased for $1.00 at a local store (I tested this all out at home first and then in my Teen MakerSpace):

You can then take or upload a background picture. There are some backgrounds you can use with the app or you can add your own. You will, of course, want to be careful about copyright.

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Step 2: Load your background image

As you can see, the app replaces everything that is green with your background image. It’s quick and simple.

After you save your image, you can then make a few small edits if you would like. For example, you can make your foreground image larger or smaller. You then simply save your image and it’s truly magic.

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The 10th Doctor and Tardis in space via green screen

We tried several different scenarios to see what worked and were pretty happy with them all:

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Thing 2 visits the beach from our living room

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Thing 2 floats in space

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Thing 2’s stuffed panda bear floats in space

Setting Up Our Green Screen Photo Booth:

To set up our photo booth in our MakerSpace, we simply used a green colored tri-fold presentation board. It cost us $3.47 at a local craft store and fits perfectly in our window space.

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Green Screen Photo Booth with instructions for teens

I put up a variety of props close by and some tools to make their own additional props.

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Our assistant director tries out the Green Screen Photo Booth in the Teen MakerSpace at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County (OH)

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Our teen page tries out the Green Screen Photo Booth

The GS photo app is loaded onto our iPads so that they can be easily used. Here you will see a teen editing his picture.

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Our teen page edits his Green Screen photo

And just for fun, we took it to the next step and printed them out in smaller sizes and used the images to make buttons on our button makers.

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The Green Screen Photo in various stages, including as a super cool button

We’ve had a lot of fun with this station, both at home and at the library. It was very inexpensive. But the best part was how quickly and easily we were able to make successful projects and feel like we had learned something new while having fun.

You can also take this a step further if you would like, uploading your GS images into an app like GIFfer or stop motion to make a stop motion movie.

Additional Resources:

How to Do Green Screen Photography on an iPad at School

Diary of a Techie Chick: Green-Screen Effect on the iPad

How to Use Green Screen Effects on iPads – HubPages