Posted by: David Vernon | November 18, 2009

Slideshows, Part I

Above Lower Two Medicine Lake

Slideshows – digitally speaking – are an interesting way to present your images (or your holiday photos *wink*). We’re going to explore, over the next few weeks, many different ways to create slideshows – from the free to the inexpensive to the luxurious.

Just to be sure – since we’re not actually putting slides in a projector and projecting them – what do we mean by a slideshow? What we mean is a slideshow is something that stands alone – it is a finished product – like a video – that the user watches but doesn’t necessarily interact with. It includes two or more images and it transitions from image to image with or without the user clicking a button.

Furthermore, a slideshow can be a standalone document/file that plays on a user’s computer as a unique way of showcasing a set of images. But it can also play in a browser – like some of the things you’ll see below.

Let’s start simply. If you use a service like Flickr – you can simply link to a set of images and have it play as a slideshow by default. If you want to do this outside of flickr, you can just post a link and the slideshow will play in the browser:

Slideshow #1 – Interesting Images

I simply went to the set in flickr, clicked the Slideshow button, set my options and copied the URL. The link above simply takes the user reading this post and shows them the slideshow in flickr. Pretty easy.

Now – what if I don’t want to host the images on flickr – or anywhere for that fact. What if I just have them on my computer? Well – Photoshop has a nice feature built in (or if you have Adobe Acrobat you can do the same thing) that lets you create a slideshow. Under the File menu of most versions of Photoshop around today, there’s an “Automate” button. Clicking that let’s you create a PDF presentation. You then have to make a few choices:

I’ve simply picked the files I want to include and chosen “Presentation”. I then set the slides to advance automatically every three seconds and to do a dissolve between slides. Clicking “Save” I then have to make two other choices:

On the “General” tab (reached when I clicked “Save” I tend to choose “Smallest File Size”. If I’m viewing on the web, this keeps the file small and easily uploadable. On the “Compression” tab, if I’m doing a slideshow – I turn off all Compression and Resizing. If you aren’t doing a slideshow, you can choose to resize some images. For slideshows however, I turn it all off.

Back on November 6, National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Rocco Landesman made an appearance in Peoria. I photographed his day for ArtsPartners. I haven’t uploaded any of these images to flickr but I did create a slideshow as a PDF. Again – I can’t embed this – but I can showcase it as a link that you can click and it will load it in your browser:

Slideshow #2 – Rocco’s Visit to Peoria (you’ll need to click to advance – the three-second thing works as a file – but not on the web)

But what if you want a little more? Flickr’s slideshow looks good but it isn’t very customizable. The PDF slideshow does fine – but again – not much in the “bells and whistles” department. Well then, consider a site like With a free membership over there, you can create slideshows from the simple to the extravagent – with effects, music, themes, skins, and the works. You can upload images from sites like Facebook, Flickr, MySpace, etc., or from any URL. In fact if the images are already hosted elsewhere, you just link to them and does all the work. It’s a pretty nifty interface for something free. And the best part – from the perspective of a blog like this – you can embed the slideshow so it shows up right here in the article. Like this:

Slideshow #3 – A Portfolio

So there you go – three fairly easy methods of creating simple slideshows. I’m sure there are many more fairly easy methods (iPhoto, creating movies of still images in mpeg or quicktime formats, mucho etc.) – after all this is the Age of the Interwebs – anything is possible. Down the road we’ll explore two other methods – methods that require you to drop a few bucks – or even a few more bucks (hi honey! I need to buy some new software for the blog!) but that give you a ton of control in your final product.

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