Pointing (Cameras) At Things

That’s what photographers do, right? At a most basic level, in hopes of pointing out things.

Soccer field green grass creative uploads

Sure, there are all the technical skills that make your image better, or coherent. Plus a basic understanding of composition, somewhat steady hand, the literal ability to focus — if you aren’t doing avant garde shapes on purpose.

But we like to point at things we find interesting. If you taped a camera to a toddler’s hand, they would great at this.
So did we never grow out of “Mommy look at that! What are those? Pretty!”
Depends. Do you think about how to improve your skills even when you aren’t holding a camera? Do you look at other people’s stuff and wonder how it was done, or plot ways to imitate it with your own spin? Are you inspired by good work or only jealous (a little jealousy can be motivating)?

These are the steps it takes to rise from toddler to an adult with a childlike sense of wonder.

Totally worth the trip.


P.S. Inspired by musing on my new 360 camera, which on the one hand shows the world the way I see it, with an infinite number of angles but a perspective limited by my current position in the universe. On the other hand, it’s hard for people to see exactly what YOU are trying to point at….

Dance studio 360 panorama creative uploads

https://kuula.co/share/7PrNG?fs=1&vr=0&thumbs=1&alpha=0.60&chromeless=0&logo=0&logosize=40 P.P.S. I have been getting frustrated with WordPress, especially the mobile apps, as I prep for posts but drafts or photos aren’t uploaded, and drafts don’t sync between different devices. Then the app doesn’t sync… Ridiculous and not at all inspiring. I have other stuff to do. Perhaps I will be able to tell you about it sometime…

Pointing (Cameras) At Things was originally published on Creative Uploads

Bark! Insert Dog Pun (And Video) Here

Amy the Dog in “Dog Years,” a movie made with Google Assistant. A few years ago I wrote * about how cool this app was and how easy it made it to share pictures and video snippets in video form. It’s better and worse, but still neat and still only on Android and iOS.

Click To See the video from the new Google+ post here!

Thanks to face recognition in the Google Photos ecosystem, you can make a quick movie featuring a specific individual, or even your dog if you have enough pictures. I literally picked a sideways shot with Amy in it and Photos Assistant found the rest of the pictures based off of that, always including her in the ones it chose. It seems to be in chronological order too, which I like as a default, although you can and I did rearrange some of the order and timing of the images, which is really easy to do with the very basic graphical editor.

Amy The Dog Photos Movies On Creative Uploads

The music? I let Google pick the music and it’s perfectly cheesy and appropriate for such an experiment as this.

This movie was made on my iPad, and now I am going to have to explore the Android version again, because at least in iOS it has been simplified and lost some of the things I thought made it unique, in favor of other cheesier looking templates. But let me check the more native version and get back to you. It looks like it doesn’t support titles over the video anymore (although if you post to YouTube you can overlay text on existing video so you can mimic that kind of presentation.)

Some other Assistant Tricks shown on the Google Photos Assistant page - Creative Uploads

In the meantime, here’s a cute timeline of one of my dogs.


P.S. This was originally posted on our “Creative Upload” Google+ page to experiment with how the links all worked out, but as I write this it occurs to me that this updated post will probably cross post back…. Sorry about that but at least there’s more stuff.

* Another still useful post on Google Assistant is here though it mentions some now absent features.

Bark! Insert Dog Pun (And Video) Here was originally published on Creative Uploads

March To The Beat Of Your Own Steel Drum

Taken during the downtown Phoenix Festival For The Arts.

The featured image is a portrait rather than a wide angle, and gives a great example how framing can create a different mood and feeling with the same subjects. Here he seems empty and alone, maybe even ignored. In the portrait there is height, perhaps something to climb or aspire to. But in both he seems to be soldiering on, pounded out his own beat regardless of audience.

Something we should aspire to.

Whether the viewer wants to add an empathetic emotional layer of foolishness, sadness, grit or something else is up to them.

In reality, the steel drummer could have set his drums up the other way, facing the rows of food and market tents set up on the street behind him, facing any potential audience, but he didn’t. And I could tell you about any audience, but I chose not to by shooting this picture instead.

Steel yourself for anything, and march to the beat of your own drum.


P.S. He was pretty good.

P.P.S. Taken with my Galaxy Note 4 that I don’t want to replace yet, with a little cropping and edit in Google Photos.

March To The Beat Of Your Own Steel Drum was originally published on Creative Uploads

Flying Makes People Look Even Smaller Than Ants

Flying to New York


I really can’t help looking out the window….


P.S. At least I’m not pretending to be Superman while I’m up there. Great, now the theme song is in my head.

Flying Makes People Look Even Smaller Than Ants was originally published on Creative Uploads

Leaving NYC

From our summer visit, wishing it wasn’t time to leave. Such a photogenic city.

Another dive into a Google Photos Assistant video with a bit of customization. Just discovered they killed off the Themes, which I didn’t always love but did like having available.


Leaving NYC was originally published on Creative Uploads

Automated Inspiration Meets Editing



Here’s a slideshow I probably wouldn’t have made but for Google Photos Assistant.

On my NYC trip my Android phone automatically backed up photos I took with it as usual, and as I’ve said before every night I copy over my camera photos to a laptop as a backup, then log into Google Photos to upload each day’s folder overnight so even if my camera, cards and computer somehow went away I would at least have the pictures. You can do this with Dropbox, Flickr, Box, an FTP server, iCloud, even Facebook — just do it even if you don’t want these Google features.

This habit also reminds me to check that I still have my camera and also space on my memory cards for the next day, plus a charged battery. One trip to San Diego the camera bag vanished overnight, probably left on the curb or dropped on the way to the room after unloading the car. Still miss those photos….

TIP: I always leave my camera compartment door open when the battery or cards are out, usually resting in the camera bag with the flap open, as a physical reminder that a battery is on the charger or the card is in the computer. CAVEAT: Be careful not to snap off those hatches, but really just put your camera in a safe place. 

Anyway, when you feed it photos, Assistant gets to work. Sometimes it offers a collage, stylized photo or animation, or in this case, a slideshow movie complete with music and a filtered style.

It was terrible. Like a machine had randomly made it.

It picked some bad photos, failed to tell a story, chose the wrong version of shots that I had made multiple takes on and left out ones I would have picked. To be fair it was guessing from 400 photos.

But it inspired me to make a slideshow of our Central Park visit that someone could watch in about minute, instead of me dumping 50 pictures on a social media site. And because there is filter effect you can paste over top and images keep moving, I can post it out faster than carefully editing each photo individually, and even use some shots that technically would be poor candidates but helped tell a story nicely (though yes, in a professional situation that would improve it more. But there’s a balance to be struck – I want to represent my work in good light but I am also not expecting a new client from just this, or any money — I was on vacation!)

TIP: If you are publicizing that you are out of town on social media, be sure you trust your friends (or limit your Facebook privacy to just friends and family). Or do what I do: Have a housesitter and/or security with cameras, and remind people you have a housesitter and cameras whenever you can 🙂  A lot of people don’t post vacation pictures until they are back home. This also works well and makes the good feelings of your vacation last longer as you get to see and share and make your friends jealous for a longer time.

So I’ve written about how to use and be inspired by Photo Assistant before, and I encourage you to read about it through the link below, and I’ll try not to repeat myself as I make some updates and detailed notes on the interface here.

Google Photos Assistant as a starting point


When I first experimented with it, I hoped and expected that you could edit these Assistant movies in Chrome on a computer, with a real big screen and better bandwidth. You can’t.

The support page says https://support.google.com/photos/answer/6128826?co=GENIE.Platform%3DAndroid&hl=en

This can’t be done on a computer yet.
To make or edit movies, you’ll need one of these devices:
One of these Android devices:
(LONG list of devices from the last several years)

Since you can only edit on Apple and most Android devices, that’s what we have to work with.

If you have recently fed Google Photos, the Assistant may provide you a notification, or a list of projects when you open the app. If you swipe to delete them they are gone. I haven’t found a recycle bin list. If there aren’t any, or you don’t see one you want to play with, you can tap at the top to create a new new Movie (or Album or Animation or Collage.) (Story no longer appears to be an option.)

TIP: If you are adding video clips in the mix (Assistant only uses a few seconds of these when it adds them alongside photos, which is smart), realize that the editor will download the whole length of the clip (it may be a lower temporary resolution), so try to be on WiFi for this.

Three icons under the video: A sparkling slate (Themes), a music note (Music), and a Film Frame with sprocket holes (Editor). All of these are editing steps but I will generally refer to the Editor as editing. You can move back up to the main pages with the back button in Android or the back arrow in IOS or Android.

When you open the Editor you’ll see an X which closes the editor and cancels your changes, tiny Plus squares for adding images, a Trashcan for deleting the selected (and highlighted) media, and a Checkmark, which saves your changes while closing the Editor (but doesn’t prep it for publishing like the SAVE button on the entry page or lock future edits).

If you make edits, exit the editor and click X to return to the main Assistant page, your app will ask you if you want to SAVE this video. If you say yes, that’s your SAVE button (SAVE TO LIBRARY), it locks the edit and makes it ready to publish. If you say no thanks, it will leave it on the list for future editing decisions.

You CAN add videos and pictures after clicking to Edit, by pressing the tiny Plus squares and digging through your pictures, which are listed in reverse chronological order. They are inserted after whatever photo you have selected. You can press and hold on a photo to drag it through the timeline, but I can only move one picture at a time, so plan your inserts ahead of time if there are multiple photos to add (up to 50 can be used.)

You can also play or pause the clip with the icon in the middle of the video (Side note: I hate having that icon overlay for the few seconds when clips start. Just me I guess.)

Edit video clips by selecting on then choosing the Scissors icon to change the in and out points of the clip. Remember you can the same clip multiple times if you want to use parts, but each clip is only one part; you can’t just chop pieces out of the middle.

I’d forgotten writing in the other post that after you edit and save changes, while your movie disappears from the Assistant list, you can still open it from Categories inside Google Photos and edit it again. This is wrong or has been changed because I couldn’t do this as written. Well, you can import it into a movie project, but only 10 seconds of it appear, and the theme and music are baked in, though you can change the music.

(SO I tested this, and in the Editor it opens the first five slides, which showed as five two-second clips. But I opened a clip and dragged the start and end point out to the entire length of the clip! SO you could using trimming and add to a published video, but: The theme is baked in, and the file will be compressed a second time leading to lower quality.)

TIP: Make a mental note of what theme and music you like before trying different themes and music, in case you want to go back to it. It will save you some time and make experiments less stressful.

You can choose to mix in the original audio from video clips with the music track. You can also skip Google’s music library and use audio files on your phone. The app warns you to respect the copyrights of others, which besides the legality of I will note that many sites (Facebook and YouTube among them) will block or change your audio track if you are using copyrighted material their automatic scanners recognize. So that’s a consideration.

Some themes crop tall portrait style photos and some show them in full with a frame. Since you can’t crop or re-position a picture in the Assistant you can use a theme to help with that. Or if you are a perfectionist, you can crop a few photos before or during your editing process using the Photos interface and then import them. If you click the Checkmark icon, editing changes you make are saved, and the editor is not locked out until you click SAVE in the upper right, so you can leave and return until you are happy with your video.

You can also title your clip by tapping on the gray untitled line at the top and entering one; it will overlay your first image. Changing themes changes the font. You could also create an image with a title and import that if you want more control or don’t want to cover a picture.

TIP TO MYSELF: Create a self-promoting slide image with my website and copyright on it that I can add to the end of all these cool videos. Ooh, make it two-second video clip!

I always save to my device first to publish because sometimes the publishing step crashes the Google Photos app. So I save locally then try the sharing feature. I then have the option of other publishing choices, or I can Chromecast it, drop it to my computer, etcetera.

That’s enough hand-holding. Play!

— David

Automated Inspiration Meets Editing was originally published on Creative Uploads