Facebook for Family Storytelling

Facebook thumbs up via Wikimedia Commons

Facebook is a great tool for “getting the word out” to your people quickly. It’s not just where I go to post news to my family and friends, it’s also where I go to see what news they might have to share.

If you are going to use Facebook to share family history there are some things to consider. At the risk of overthinking this topic, I offer these reminders:


Public vs. all of your Friends vs. Private Group

There are a lot of tutorials already about creating groups on Facebook. Potential groups might include

  • Your immediate family
  • Everyone in your friend group who is related to you and/or in laws
  • Groups from “each side” of an extended family – for example, people related to my mother might not be interested in information I want to share with my father’s relatives

Public posts are searchable and will be readable by anyone on Facebook. I sometimes use this option if I am trying to “cousin bait” and locate people who are family members but might not be in my friend list (yet.)

To Tag or not to Tag

Tag (CC SA 3.0 via wikimedia commons)

You can tag family members when you write a Facebook post. If you do choose to tag someone in order to get their attention, keep in mind that the people in the person’s friend list might see the post. Perhaps think twice about posting childhood photos, photos with ex-boyfriends, etc. for living people. On the other hand, if the subject of the photo says to go ahead and post the material, post it! I had a close relative ask for photos like this so he could share them with his children and grandchildren.

Copyright (again)

Posting copyrighted material that belongs to someone else without permission is always a bad idea. Even if that person shared the material or photo publicly, it’s always nice to ask that person for permission before you put it in your Facebook feed.

Legacy Contact

Facebook has created a method by which your Facebook posts and photos can be preserved and accessed after you die. This is part of your digital legacy and you should give it some thought. The idea behind the feature is that someone you designate can become your legacy contact, and your Facebook page will no longer be accessible. Posts can still be made to your wall. Your legacy contact can change your profile and cover photos, and they can manage future friend requests. A nice feature is “see relationship” – your friends have the opportunity to see the timeline filtered down to the personal interaction between you and just that person.  The content can also be downloaded, which gives family and friends the opportunity to gather the important family information you shared.

Post Ideas

What should you post? Well, the things you normally post and share, for starters. As mentioned above, your Facebook feed is part of your digital legacy and will give a viewer a lot of insight into who you are and what is important to you. But if you want to share family history stories, consider posts like these:

  • “this day in history” or family anniversaries, especially if the family members are gone
  • Holiday memories – when every one else is re-posting the same meme, you could upload a photo from the family past and comment on the content
  • Photo sharing
  • Interesting family history discoveries
  • Relevant blog posts
  • Heritage vacation photos and anecdotes
  • And of course, if you publish a digital story somewhere else, such as YouTube or a blog, be sure to share it to your Facebook feed

Related links

Facebook Legacy

Group post privacy


Write a memory not a story



Getting Back on Track

Since my focus has recently been on my regular job, this blog has unfortunately found its way to a low spot on my priority list. I resolve this year to bring it back.

I realized recently how much I love making the digital stories. I still have lots of tales to tell my family, and I also believe digital media is an effective way to share this type of information.

I’ve also had some reasons to begin to consider making old fashioned paper printouts and books for the children in my life, and the number one reason for that is the recently disabled rootsweb website. Many people parked their family information on rootsweb and shared in the spirit of goodwill. Now security issues and possibly other business decisions have taken this resource offline, at least for now.

I had quite a bit of storytelling on rootsweb, and I am glad I kept a back up copy of my stories. I will be migrating them to this blog, and also producing paper copies of the stories for future safekeeping.

Hope you aren’t too affected by the rootsweb outage.

Moms, as babies

Happy Mothers Day 2017

I am experimenting with digital scrapbook pages in order to come up with something nice to use as Ancestry.com shares. I am just getting started and have found several “quick page” scrapbooking templates, mostly via Pinterest, that I used to make some embellished baby pictures. I thought I’d compile a few of them into this little video, but first the credits:

“25 pastel kit” via Granny Enchanted

“Memorykeepers mini” via Alexis Design Studio

“Pretty Shabby” and “So Madly Deeply” via Kim Brodelet/Kimb’s designs

“Histoirede free” via meldesigns

“No Reimer Reason” via Amber Reimer/No Reimer Reason designs

“Vintage Rose Elegance” via Creative Elegance Designs

Music is “Prelude No. 21” by  Chris Zabriskie, via Free Music Archive

A few moms as babies from Barbara Pahlow on Vimeo.


DISCLAIMER: This information is for general purposes only, and is not intended to provide legal advice of any kind. Information may not be completely accurate or adequate for your individual situation. Information about this topic is always subject to change. The best advice is to do your own research before applying for a registered copyright, and also before using content that was created by someone else.

paper-1976101_640.png, by janjf93, via pixabay

Copyright owner: highlights

  • The content, not the idea, is the material that is copyrighted. (If you write an article, it is copyrighted. If you just think about writing the article, it is not copyrighted)
  • Copyright protections:
    • The (copyright) owner is the only one who can reproduce this original content
    • The owner is the only one who can revise the content
    • The owner is the only one who can distribute, display and/or publish the content
  • The protection lasts for the life of the owner, plus 70 years
  • If someone copies your work without your permission, it’s infringement (likewise, if you copy somebody else’s work, it is also infringement)
  • Content that can be copyrighted:
    • Music: songs, lyrics, scores. Recordings can also be copyrighted as distinct and separate from the song itself.
    • Written words: books, blog posts, poems
    • Performance works: plays, screenplays
    • Visual arts: photos, drawings, graphics, video clips, movies
  • How to get a copyright: Create original content and you already have a copyright. When you create something original, and then you record it, write it or otherwise get the idea out of your head and into the world, copyright is attached to the content immediately.
  • Why and how to add a copyright statement to your original work
    • If you add a copyright statement, it puts the world on notice that you are pointing out that your work is original, you own it, and you don’t want people to copy it.
    • If your work is really substantial, consider registering the copyright formally with the government copyright office (http://www.copyright.gov)

 thief-1825713_640.jpg by 3dman_eu, via pixabay

Copyright infringement notes

  • Among the works that cannot be copyrighted: facts, and items produced by the US Government.
    • If you publish your family tree, the family data facts (birth, marriage, death, dates and places, etc.) are NOT copyrightable. Your notes, comments, and presentation are yours, however. More information
    • US Government documents themselves are NOT copyrightable either. However, the service that scanned and created images for you to access and download may hold a copyright on those digital files.
  • Sometimes, limited reproduction permission may have been granted to you as a user – an example from the current Ancestry Terms and Conditions says:

“Ancestry does not claim an exclusive right to images already in the public domain that it has converted into a digital format. However, the Websites contain images or documents that are protected by copyrights or that, even if in the public domain, are subject to restrictions on reuse. By agreeing to these Terms and Conditions, you agree to not reuse these images or documents except that you may reuse public domain images so long as you only use small portions of the images or documents for personal use. If you republish public domain images, you agree to credit the relevant Ancestry Website as the source of the digital image, unless additional specific restrictions apply.”

  • Before using any music, images, videos, etc. that you did not create yourself, find out if somebody owns the copyright.
  • Just because it’s online does not mean you can just use whatever you find.
  • Fair use:
    • Generally, the content used under fair use is expected to be only a small excerpt
    • The content should be used for specific purposes, such as critique, parody, reporting, teaching and research
    • More information on Fair Use
  • If you’ve published something online, and have used content that isn’t yours, and you receive a takedown notice, take the content down immediately. Otherwise, it’s possible the owner of the content could pursue charges against you.
  • Getting permission
    • In writing is best
    • If you ask, you might find that the content owner would be delighted if you use some of his or her material, as long as you provide proper credit and possibly a link back to the original source. But just crediting the source is not enough if the owner decides he/she does not want  you to use the material.

Content that comes with “built in” permission: Public Domain and Creative Commons

copyright-free-39515_640 by Clker-Free-Vector-Images, via pixabay


  • Public Domain means the work has no copyright protection
  • US Public Domain – check the laws for other countries


  • Creative Commons has several license types
    • Some allow you to use the content almost unrestrictedly, as long as you credit the creator
    • Some are more restrictive, limiting re-use to non-commercial purposes, or they allow it only if you re-distribute the containing work under the same “share alike” type of license.
    • “No Derivatives” means you have to use the entire material – you can’t extract portions and use them or embed them within your own work
  • How to attribute creative commons content
    • Keep the copyright notice/license for the work intact
    • Credit the author/creator
    • Include the title of the work
    • Include the URL to the work (if applicable)
    • Creative Commons best practices

How to find reusable images via Google Image Search

  1. Go to Google Images, and type in your search term (example: “daisy“)
  2. On the results page, click the Tools button
  3. Click the down arrow next to Usage rights
  4. There are several usage rights filters available:
    1. Not filtered by license
    2. Labeled for reuse with modification
    3. Labeled for reuse
    4. Labeled for noncommercial reuse with modification
    5. Labeled for nocommercial reuse
      (Windows 8 daisies! Public domain, free for commercial use, no attribution required)

Sources for photos you can use

Read and be aware of any terms of use. Confirm  status (public domain or otherwise) before you use the content




More resources (from Wikipedia)

Sources for music you can use

Check the terms of use for each digital file you want to use (terms may vary from artist to artist)


FMA (Free Music Archive) – includes some public domain


PDinfo If you can play an instrument, here is a site which is collecting songs that have entered public domain. You might be able to make a recording of yourself playing one of them.


4 March 2017

Collecting the scenes

A storyboard is a collection of notes and drawings that represent the scenes you’ve planned for your video story. You draw, sketch, or describe the visual part of the scene on one part of the story board page or cell, and you write down the narration and production notes in another part of the page or cell.

A map for you

My storyboard notebooksThere are many good, free templates you can use. My preference, however, is to use simple composition notebooks, such as the kind used by children for handwriting practice. They have a blank top section for drawings and sketches, and a set of ruled lines in the bottom section.

In the top section, I sketch idea and make notes about what I want to happen visually at this point in the story.

  • If a relevant photo or video clip already exists, I just note the file name and path here.
  • If the media does not already exist, I sketch out my intention here

In the bottom section, I write out the narration itself, and I sometimes use this storyboard as a script to read while recording the narration. Other information I put here:

  • Any planned text overlay
  • Any planned transition effects, such as pan/zoom, etc.
  • Any planned photo edits
  • Other visual items needed to complete this particular scene in the story:
    • Photos I need to go take
    • Graphics files I need to make
    • Website screenshots
  • Planned music files for this pane in the storyboard if I have that already
  • A note indicating what content needs to be credited to another person. I write out the credits themselves on the last page of the storyboard.

Storyboard page

Don’t overthink it

Just lke many other steps in the digital video storytelling process, it’s easy to over-think this step. It’s just a simple guide to help you organize the production process.

Free storyboard templates

TES teaching resources

From TES teaching resources. Google login required, and you might get some marketing emails, but the resource is free.

Education World storyboard template

Education World also has templates to download. The one above is in .doc format.

SampleTemplates.com has many templates, including a 1×1 grid similar to the handwriting practice notepad I use.

IndieFilmHustle has templates and a tutorial



One Photo, One Voice: A 5-step Digital Video Story

18 March 2017

Sometimes, when I am scanning photos, I come across one which has a story I should tell

A photo is only a moment in time, showing one event out of context. There is nothing to explain what happened leading up to the photo, and also nothing to explain what happened after the picture was taken. The knowledge you have about these events may not be present in the image, and might not be generally known by other people who might look at the photo someday. Recorded audio can be combined with the photo into a simple digital video file.  You can explain what is happening in the scene shown in the photo.

Step 1: Edit the photo if necessary

You want the photo to be the best it can be, and after scanning the picture at a quality resolution, you might want to edit out scratches and adjust brightness. I was able to use the free Photos program that comes with Windows 10 to adjust this baby picture of my mother.

Digital image before editing
Original scan, before editing
Image after editing
Image after editing


Step 2: Write down what you would like to say about the photo (write a small script)

I was told she had a skin allergy that was alleviated when they switched from cow’s milk to goat’s milk. Before the goat’s milk, she would scratch a lot. The ball and toys in her hands were there to keep her from scratching herself while the picture was taken.

Some script tips:

  • Write a memory, not a story
  • It’s not necessary to “start at the beginning”
  • Keep it short
  • Use your five senses to tell about the photo
  • Answer who, what, where, when, why

Step 3: Record the audio and create a digital audio file

Practice reading the script until you can read it smoothly. With this type of digital story, it’s helpful to record the entire reading in one file. For other digital stories which might contain several photos and video clips, it might be helpful to record in phrases and paragraphs because they are easier to work with later.

Some recording tips:

  • Shut the window, turn off the fan, etc. Minimize ambient noise.
  • Keep kids and pets busy and out of the room
  • If the household ambient noise becomes a problem, consider sitting in your car to record audio using your smart phone or other portable device.

Step 4: Combine the photo and audio using a video making application

Here is an example of how to do this using Windows Live Movie Maker.

Click the Add video and photos button

Browse to the Windows folder that contains the edited version of your photo, if you made any edits. Click the file, then click the Open button.


Click the drop arrow to the right of the Record narration button and then click the Add sound… button.

Browse to the Windows folder that contains the recorded narration file. Click the file, then click the Open button.


After you add the recording, a brown bar will appear under a thumbnail of the photo, on the right side of the window. Hover the mouse over this brown bar, and you should be able to see the duration of the audio. As shown here, the duration is 27.25 seconds.

Now you have to adjust the photo du ration, so the photo stays on the screen long enough to match the audio. Click the Edit tab at the top of the screen:


Click into the Duration box to highlight the default value of 7.00. Type in the duration of your audio file, then press the Enter key on the keyboard. You should see the timeline to the right of the screen populate with thumbnails of the photo.



If you want to adjust the start or end point, double-click on the timeline. Three text fields will appear in the ribbon above the timeline. Move the black vertical bar on the timeline to the pont where you want the video to start, and then click the Set start point button. Drag the black bar to the place where you’d like the video to end, and click the Set end point button.


Use the Play button to preview your video.

Click the Animation tab and try on some pan and zoom effects. You could also add some music at this point, but you might want to skip this if you plan on stringing many little videos like this one together into a longer digital video photo album.

If you have Title metadata attached to your photo, it will appear as a text overlay on the photo. If you do not want this, double-click on the pink bar in the timeline. The text box over the photo will become editable, and you can delete the text.

Click the File tab on the ribbon, then click Save movie to make the video file. Choose your output settings (“recommended for this project” or some other choice.) Give your video a name, and browse to the Windows folder where you’d like to save the file. Click the Save button.

Remember, you are the narrator and the director, so you are in charge of choosing which details to describe and which details to omit.

Here is my finished video:

Allergy to cow’s milk



Photo organization with Windows Live Photo Gallery

27 February 2017

Tagging pictures with Windows Live Photo Gallery (pdf)

NOTE: All the steps to follow assume you’ve created jpg files from scanned photos on your computer, or are going to be re-naming and tagging newly imported photos that came from your camera or smart phone. The steps also assume you have Windows Live Photo Gallery installed, and that the photos you’re working with are in .jpg format.

1. Add your pictures to the program

1. Click the File tab

Photo Gallery File tab

2. Click Include folder

Photo Gallery Include Folder

3. If your pictures are in a location other than the default locations (Pictures, Public Pictures, Documents), click the Add button in the “Pictures Library Locations” dialog.

Photo Gallery Library Locations

4. Browse to the folder you want to add. Click the Include folder button. The new location will be added to the list of folders already included in the library.

2. After the pictures appear, set up the interface

1. Click the View tab
2. Click All details. Each thumbnail will now include text to the right showing the file name, the date taken, the file size, and the file width and height. There is also a “star” control that can be used to add and remove star ratings, and also an “Add caption” prompt.

Photo Gallery All Details

3. Click the Tag and Caption pane button. A vertical pane to the right of the main window pane appears, with the following sections:

People tags: Used to add faces to a face recognition database. These are separate people tags from the descriptive tags (see below)

Photo Gallery People tags

Geotag: This is populated from a place database. Places you have recently used will appear first as you type in the location information. When a match appears, you can select it.

Photo Gallery geotag

Caption: The text can be entered here, or it can be added using the “add a caption” field next to the thumbnail in the main pane.

Photo Gallery add caption

Descriptive tags: This is the section where a tag collection will be built up. Tags can be added and removed in this section.

Photo Gallery descriptive tags

Information: There are several editable fields here, such as the file name, date taken, rating, flag, and author. Use the horizontal bar to expand and collapse the section.

Photo Gallery information section

3. A Suggested Workflow

1. Rename the file if necessary. You can rename it in either the information section or by clicking on the existing file name to the right of the thumbnail. Whatever you type in either field becomes the name of the file in Windows Explorer. A suggested naming convention:

YYYY-MM-DD City State Subject
2017-02-23 Mazomanie WI Teddy on the bed

You can see the existing date by looking at the field below the file name next to the thumbnail in the main pane.

Photo Gallery Rename File

2. If you would like to use some of the photo editing tools, double-click the photo you’re working on.

  • Auto Adjust will adjust color, exposure, and straighten the photo if the program determines that the photo needs to be straightened.  There is a blue Undo arrow available at the top of the program if you don’t like the result. All of the adjustments can also be made individually by opening the corresponding separate tool. Even more control is available under the Fine tune button.
  • Try some of the Effects filters: black and white, sepia, cyan, and orange, yellow or red filters. To discard all of the edits, click the Revert to Original button.
  • The crop tool lets you select a common proportion, such as 8×10 or 5×7. You can rotate the crop tool. The guidelines that appear will help you apply the Rule of Thirds to your photo crop. Hit the Enter key to apply the crop.

If you apply some of the effects, you might want to click the Make a copy button which will save this edited photo with the same file name, and this copy will be saved to the same folder where the original is saved. The file name will have a (2) added to it. You might want to change the (2) to something more meaningful, like “sepia”, “cropped”, or “edited.”

If you’ve saved off a copy of the edited photo, click the Revert to Original button to get back to the original, unedited version of the photo. Otherwise, all of these edits will be applied to the original photo automatically. Click the red X, upper right, to get out of the edit work area and go back to the tag and caption interface.

Photo Gallery editing tools

3. Add people tags if applicable, in the People tags section. Faces will be recognized if they’ve been tagged before, and as the program finds matching faces in new photos, it will ask you about the match.

Photo Gallery people match

Photo Gallery who is thisOtherwise, the program says, “Who is this?” Click there and either type a new name or type to search for a name which you know has already been used. As you tag people and the database grows, you will be able to click on faces in the ribbon above the photo thumbnails to filter your photos to only those containing that face-person. The program may identify more matches when you click the face in the ribbon.

Photo Gallery people ribbon


Photo Gallery geotag4. Add a geotag: Start typing the city. The program will try to find a match for what you are typing.

5. Add a caption. Write whatever you like. This ends up being written to the Title and Subject fields in the Windows Properties form for that photo.  You can see this by right-clicking the photo and choosing Open File Location.Photo Gallery Open File Location

When the folder opens, your photo should be highlighted. Right-click again, and choose Properties. Click the Details tab. The caption you added will appear in the Title and Subject fields.

6. Descriptive tags: These tags also get written to file properties. I always tag the year, city, state, and people or subjects at minimum. Although this might seem like repeat information if you’ve used these as part of the file name, the descriptive tags are differently searchable depending on the photo program you are using to try and ind the phot later on. Some of my tags include:

  • Season (summer, fall, etc.)
  • Indoor or outdoor
  • Event names (“1st birthday”, graduation, anniversary, “50th anniversary”)
  • color or “black and white”
  • detailed location (“Pope Farm Park”, home, “Park Elementary School”, kitchen, etc.)
  • Anything that uniquely identifies the specific photo (glasses, “blue dress”, “with toy train” etc.)
  • Holiday (Easter, Halloween, Christmas, etc.)

Make sure tags which consist of multiple words are put into quotes. That way the words won’t get collected as separate tags.

To actually enter a tag, click the Add descrptive tags text, type the word or phrase in quotes, and hit the Enter key.

Photo Gallery Tagging

Photo Gallery: How to find photos that have no tags at all

  • Click the File tab
  • Click Options
  • Click the General tab
  • Check the box for Show Descriptive tags under the Navigation Pane section and click OK

Now, the left-most pane will have a section at the bottom called “Descriptive tags” which is useful for filtering all the photos in the collection which share a specific tag! The side-benefif is that the first group under this section is called “not tagged.”  Now you know which photos need attention.

You might also want to populate the “Add an author” field in the Information section of the Tag and Caption pane on the right to preserve the name of the person who took the photo. This is also written to the Windows properties for the file.

7. Make a backup .tif for archiving: If you don’t already have a .tif copy as a backup, a copy made now will inclide all the title, subject, and descriptive tags you’ve created for the photo, written to the properties of the .tif file. Move the .tif files to a separate location for backup.



5 – Step Photo Organization

There are plenty of “how to” blog posts on Pinterest, so I’ll have a go too. 
4 March 2017

According to the Library of Congress, we need to be our own digital archivists

The Library of Congress has an entire website dedicated to personal digital archiving and family history. On their blog The Signal, they listed 4 easy steps toward preservation: Identify, Decide, Organize, Make Copies.

Here are my five steps:


Gather, Name, Organize, Maintain, Enjoy

None of these steps are very easy in my experience. I struggled for years with the steps of digital media organization. I have one big overall rule, though – don’t overthink it. There are really only two goals:

  1. Be able to find what you are looking for
  2. Be able to share what you’ve collected


  1. Find and scan the physical photos in your collection and save them to one folder on your PC (I start with “Pictures” as the top-level folder name)
    1. Photo albums
    2. Picture boxes
    3. Pictures in frames
    4. Also scan documents such as newspaper clippings, school programs, obituaries, memorial cards, etc.
  2. Find and collect photos from hard drives, phones, camera SD cards, and cloud storages such as Facebook
    1. How to download photos from Facebook
    2. Also get the video clips from these locations


What have you got? Look through all the pictures. Think about an organization hierarchy based on what you have. You can also start thinking about tags and metadata. It will help a lot in the long run if you take the time right now to rename the Windows files to something that identifies what is in the photo.  More information

Also be disciplined about deleting things you don’t need to keep:

  • For example, I didn’t keep a digital copy of zoo animals taken 50 years ago unless there was a person I knew in the photo as well. The physical copies of these still exist if I ever really want to see that black and white picture of a long-ago elephant behind a fence.
  • Ditch the blurry photos from your phone unless they are otherwise significant, such as the one and only photo of something important to you.
  • Keep only the best of the similar shots – like the time when you took ten bathroom-mirror selfies. (Hope you cleaned up your bathroom before you did those…wash that mirror too.) You don’t need to keep all ten. Keep the ones you love and delete the rest. You really won’t miss them at all.
  • You may find duplicates. I have my great-grandmother’s photos, my grandmother’s photos, and my mom’s photos. I scanned all the albums and ended up with many duplicates. You might want to delete them now, so you have a few less to manage. However, if you prefer to wait, when you start tagging photos, the tags will help you find and weed out the duplicates.


Hard part! Once you figure out a hierarchy that works for you it makes all the difference.

Date-based hierarchy

You might like to organize by year, then by month and day, or by Event, as suggested in an article from Photography Life. I found that a date-based hierarchy didn’t work as well as I wanted it to, for me, but it might work for you.

  • Sometimes, I have no idea what the date was at the time an old photo was taken, although sometimes you can figure it out (Easter 1965 fell on April 18, Thanksgiving in 1901 was on November 28, etc.)
  • It didn’t help me locate “that photo of Cousin Pat” if I couldn’t remember the approximate date of the photo. Tagging would certainly help with that, but if you’re still “in progress” with tagging, you might need to find some specific photo before you’ve finished.
  • Not all the photos in my collection are of people. There are pictures of places, animals, flowers, cars, etc. It’s easier for me to locate pictures of my dog Teddy when I have them stored in Pictures > Animals > Pets.
It’s not perfect – but it does help narrow it down: did I save that picture of Ma’s kitchen to “Places > Wisconsin > Wyocena” or is it in  “Catch all?”

After some trial and error, this is the scheme I ended up with (within the top level Pictures folder):

  •  Animals
    •  Captive (Zoo, botanical gardens, etc.)
    •  Pets
    •  Wildlife
      •  Birds
      •  Bugs
      •  Deer
      •  Other Animals
      •  Rabbits
      •  Squirrels
      •  Turtles
  •  Catch all
    •  Fireworks
    •  Food
    •  Other catch all (furniture, household items, etc.)
  •  Clip art
  •  Digital Darkroom (includes document scans, “photoshop” type manipulation)
    •  Artistic borders and frames
    •  Background suitable
    •  Composites
    •  Document scans and screenshots
      •  Clippings
      •  Coloring and patterns
      •  Letters
      •  Obituaries
      •  Postcards
      •  School and Church related
      •  Vital records
    •  Effects and filters
    • Other manipulation (colorized, sepia, “instagram” type filters)
    •  Restoration
    •  Stacks (HDR photo editing  – stacked exposures)
  •  Flowers
    •  Fields and groups
    •  Floral portraits
    •  Macros of flowers
  •  Foliage
    •  Leaves
    •  Other foliage
    •  Trees
  •  Original scans (where scans get saved as I’m batch scanning)
  •  People
    •  Celebrities
    •  Friends
    •  Kids and immediate family
      •  1937
      •  1939
      •  1940s
      •  1948
      •  1950s
      •  and so on, up to the current year, with subfolders lke:
        •  2016-01-03 Bowling
        •  2016-01-09 Basketball camp
        •  2016-01-16 Bald Eagle days
        •  …and so on
    •  Other and unknown (those scans from your old photos which contain people you don’t know)
    •  Other family (not the immediate family, this is where all the cousins, aunts, etc. “live”)
    •  Professional photos (school photos, etc.)
  •  SORT (this is the folder that I use as the destination when I am in a big hurry to import from my cameras and phones) – this is a working folder and everything in it is supposed to be moved out to another folder.
  •  Travel, Events and Places
    •  Events
      •  2016 dance recital
      •  Grandma’s 80th birthday
      •  Rockford air show
      •  …and so on
    •  Places
      •  Alabama
      •  Around Madison
      •  Around Wisconsin
      •  Indiana
      •  …and so on
      •  Tombstones
        •  Massachusetts
        •  New York
        •  Wisconsin
        •  …and so on
      •  Unknown places
      •  Work


The actual maintenance workflow will be different, depending on the source (phone, camera, scanner, etc.) and the photo database program you end up using (Microsoft Photo Gallery, Lightroom, Paint Shop Pro, etc.)

This is the step where I’m dealing with photos I saved to the folder hierarchy listed above, renaming files, tagging, doing things like color correction, restoration, etc. It is an ongoing process. I sorted pictures first so I could find them right away, and all the tagging is still in-progress.


Share the photos

Make scrapbooks

Make digital albums and stories

Put them on facebook

Send them off for print copies



Tagging photos to add metadata

4 March 2017

Scanned photos vs. “Born digital” photos and videos from your phone

Automatic vs. Hand-crafted metadata

Whether your image file is a scanned photo or a photo or video from your phone or camera, some metadata (data about data) is automatically contained within the file. For example, “born digital” pictures and video have the date and time automatically added in the file properties.

Other examples of “automatic” metadata:

  • Height
  • Width
  • Resolution
  • GPS/geographic location (if the camera has a location feature, and you have it turned on)
  • Flash source
  • Aperture
  • Exposure time
  • Camera make and model

We can add some additional metadata ourselves, which can be used to help describe the digital file and then find it again later on. It’s especially important to do some tagging when working with scans of old photos, which won’t have very much useful information attached to the digital file automatically.

Minimum: Rename the files

When I import from my camera, it is important to me to rename the file.

A typical image from one of my cameras has a file name similar to “DSC_001.jpg.” My file naming pattern includes when, where who, and/or what and also may have a basic description such as:

“2016-05-15 Sauk City WI Dance Recital.jpg”

files in folder

Even if I don’t make any other changes, I can tell by reading the file name what the picture contains. I won’t waste time opening this file if I’m looking for a picture of my dog, for example. Some programs will help with the file rename process by sorting your photos for you before you import them from your camera. If your camera or phone SD card contains photos accumulated over one calendar date, the import wizard might batch those files into separate dates. You can choose to let the program rename the files with this date included in the file name. Make sure the date and time are correct on the camera-side copy before you import the pictures.


The purpose of tagging is to help you find what you are looking for.

I always tag year, city, state, sub-location (such as “home” or “River Arts Center”) names of the people in the photo (in quotes), event name (if the photo is of a specific event), and which camera I used to take the photo.

I tag mostly the same way for scanned photos – year or era (1942, or 1940s), city, state, sublocation, names of the people or things in the photo, event name (if the photo is of a specific event) and “scan” instead of the camera name.

Step back before you start tagging, and think about what you might search for if you are trying to find this specific image.

Make some rules

  • Re-use existing tags whenever you can
  • Pick a format for abbreviations, names, and locations and use it consistently
    • Will you abbreviate it or spell it out? (St. Louis or Saint Louis)
    • Will you use nicknames or full names? (Jim or James) – I always use both as separate tags, such as “James Smith” and “Jim Smith” – both tags applied to the same photo. I might use the “Jim” tag but somebody else someday might use “James” as their search term.
    • How will you format phrases? If you don’t enclose them in quotes or make them all one string, the words will get separated into individual tags. “May Elementary School” will become “May” “Elementary” “School”
      • “May Elementary School”
      • MayElementarySchool
      • May_Elementary_School
    • Will you tag married women with their maiden name, married name, or both? I always use the maiden name, with the married name if I need a tiebreaker (I have two women named “Ida Wing” in my family)
  • Add as much information as you want. The goals are:
    • To describe the photo to people who might not otherwise know what is in it
    • To find the photo again later when you want to use it.

Audio Recording Basics

4 March 2017
This is a really long article – sorry!assorted recording devices

Recording Narration

Once you have a storyboard, it’s time to create the narration audio clips. The technical methods vary, and you may have to try a few to discover a process that is both comfortable to use, and produces recordings of acceptable quality.

Recording Tips
  • Record in a quiet place
  • Shut the windows
  • Turn off any fans, motors, etc.
  • Shut the door
  • Take care of children, pets (and spouses before starting
  • If you are going to use a portable devce such as a smartphone, consider making your recordings in your car. Drive to a park or secluded place, shut off the engine, and make your audio recordings.
  • If the finished digital story will be short (such as one photo, one voice) try to record it all in one file.
  • If the planned digital story will be longer, such as when you’ve planned several segments to the story in the storyboard, record in phrases, paragraphs, or sentences, making a separate audio file for each. However, try to do all of the recordings in one sitting so the ambient noise, volume level, etc. are all somewhat consistent from recording to recording. If you break up a longer story into several recordings, you don’t have to re-record the entire thing if you make a mistake with one word or sentence.

Recording using a smart phone or other portable device

You can create narration using a smart phone or similar personal electronic device (tablet, digital recorder, music player, etc.)

Depending on whether you are using an IOS or Android device, you have several choices for voice recording apps intypical smart phone recording app interface your device-associated App store.  Many phones already have good, basic voice recording built in. Some things to consider when looking over the apps in the “store”:

  • User ratings
  • Easy to use controls
  • Easy ways to get the recording off the device (sometimes the recordings are hard to access)
    • Can you “share” the recording and send it to a cloud service like Dropbox, or email it to yourself?
    • If you choose to import the audio to your computer using a USB connection, can you find the file on the device? Find out if the app allows you to specify the save location for the recordings.
  • Output format: Look for the ability to save the recording as either a .wav or an .mp3 file. The .wav format is uncompressed and since the audio might be subject to processing by a video editor, it’s good to start out with as much quality as possible. WAV is supported by both Windows and OSX. However, .wav files can get large. The file size of a long narration saved as a .wav file might be too big to send voa email, or save in a cloud storage such as Google Drive. You can solve that by either recording and saving as .mp3, which will be smaller, or you can transfer the recording to a computer using a USB cable.

Recording on a computer using a USB-connected microphone

microphone glyphWith some setup you can record directly into your computer. There are two phases to the setup: getting the computer to recognize the microphone, and then getting your audio recording software to also recognize the microphone.

Microphone setup

  1. Plug the microphone in to a USB port on your computerr. Drivers should intall automatically if they are needed.
  2. Right-click on the speaker icon in your taskbar and select Recording Devices. Note: If the speaker icon is not available in the task bar, try the following:
    1. Windows 10:
      1. Go to Settings and type “Sound” in the “Find a setting” search box.
      2. On the Sound dialog that appears, click the Recording tab.
    2. Windows 7:
      1. Click Start, Control Panel
      2. Click Sound, and then click the Recording tab
  3. The microphone should be listed.  If you have more than one recording device plugged into the computer, select the device you want to configure. Right-click on the microphone and make sure it’s selected as the default recording device.

Windows Sound dialog

Helpful Troubleshooting links:

How to tell if the microphone is configured properly

On the Recording tab, click the microphone on the list of devices, and then click the “Configure” button at lower left.

Click “Set up Microphone”

configure microphone

Choose your microphone type and click Next.

Micropone type dialog

Read the instructions about proper microphone placement and then click Next.

Microphone Placement

Read into the microphone and verify that the recording response bar reacts to the reading. Ideally, the response will stay “in the green.” If it goes into the red, the volume can be adjusted in the Properties for the microphone (on the Sound dialog, Recordings tab.)

volume adjustment

Click Next. If the preceding steps went well, the microphone is ready to use. Click Finish.

Verifying the microphone setup

  • (Windows 10): In the Windows 10 search bar, type “Voice Recorder” to access the built-in Windows recording application. (Windows 7): Go to Start, All Programs, Accessories, Sound Recorder.
  • Take a deep breath, but let a little of it out before you click the microphone icon. Click the icon and begin speaking.
  • Record some test audio and click the Stop button. If you are holding a microphone in your hand, to avoid unnecessary extra sounds, click Stop before you drop the mic.
  • Listen to the recording and verify the setup and quality. If you don’t like what you hear, keep in mind that many people don’t like the recorded sound of their own voice initially. It takes some time to get used to hearing yourself “from the other side of your ears” so to speak. If the audio is legible and free from background noise, it might be acceptable.

Using recording software

If you want to use an audio manipulation program like Audacity, verify the microphone is configured on the computer, and then open the recording program. Make a test recording and then listen to the playback. If nothing records, check that the microphone is the listed recording device. If you can’t hear the recording, check to see that the output settings are correct. If the above steps verified that the microphone is set up correctly on the computer, check the documentation that came with the recording software.

Saving the audio files

Now is a good time to set up a separate folder on your computer to hold all of the digital files associated with this specific digital story. This wll make for easier project setup in your video recording software. Transfer the audio recordings from your phone to the target folder on your computer, or save files to this folder as you record them with your computer and microphone.

project folder structure

Many times, the file name as generated by the recording software will consist of the date and time. If you can tell the recordings apart easily with this naming format, you might prefer to leave them this way, but my preference is to rename them:

  • Multiple recordings get named after the storyboard segment
  • Recordings for one photo one voice get named to match the photo I am narrating. I just copy the file name from the photo and paste it as the file name for the audio. That way the two files will be sorted together on the computer.