Monday, April 26, 2010

Online Photo Editing

I am a flickr fan from way back. I have had a flickr site for awhile and I'm in my second year of having a pro account. It is hard for me to even look anywhere else because my "love and devotion" to flickr is that strong. Some of the best things about flickr include
1. an inexpensive way to back up my photos online and have access to them anywhere.
2. a great way to gain feedback on my photographic work from fellow artists.
3. a fabulous way to travel the world without ever leaving home
4. a wealth of new ideas and inspiration about art, photography, knitting and all the other hobbies and things I endeavor to do!
5. meeting people from around the world who share my interests.

I love flickr groups and contacts.  I have people looking at my photos from all over.  They offer honest commentary.  Usually in the summer I go back and forth with my contacts, most of whom I've never met in person, but with whom I do share a love of good photography.  The downside of flickr is that it is a bit cumbersome to edit photos with, but I have Photoshop so why would I edit images online? :)

See my flickr slideshow at the bottom of the page.

I decided I'd try new things anyways since that's what this class is about so I visited TagGalaxy and Picnik in addition to revisiting Flickr. TagGalaxy it turns out is based on Flickr and appears to be a 3-dimensional collection of images from flickr organized and grouped by the tags they've been tagged with. I couldn't really get the images to actually download or allow me to do anything with them other than just look at images related to a certain tag. This was interesting for awhile, but didn't allow me to do anything with the images. I also wondered how TagGalaxy got the images from Flickr. I consider some of my photos works of art so it concerns me that someone could just gather things by tags and have them.

Picnik had a lot more image editing capabilities and reminded me of iPhoto. It was a bit annoying to be reminded repeatedly that if I wanted to do more I had to pay for the premium version. I also didn't like that that picnik library doesn't save the edited versions of the images only the original uploads. The edited versions are saved to your computer and then you'd have to re-upload them to use in picnik. There were some cute collages, but most of the ones I liked were part of the premium package.  Here are some of the photos that I edited in picnik.  They had already been edited in Photoshop, but I went a bit farther with them just to try the tools.

Picnik and Flickr are of value for the art room. I already have students using Flickr to save their images and to research other artists and their techniques. I think Picnik could be fun for students to do basic editing. It's interface is based on Photoshop so students would understand it easily and it would give them free tools to use when they're not in the mac lab.

I had a blast with the photofunia site. I could spend a long time there although again knowing Photoshop I could choose to do most of this there. It is fun to see the random results of merging my images with somebody elses. Here's a couple of the results. The dancing gif is my favorite for sheer kitsch!  Unfortunately the animation doesn't appear to be working here.

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All the Stuff That Makes The Internet Fun!

This week more than any other thrills me because we get to discuss image editing and photography tools on the Internet.  To me this is what makes the Internet fun.  Back when the web first began so many people's pages were text intensive with the only design excitement being colorful text and weird little html tables.  Now we have so many options for making the web all it is and more.  I think images both moving and still have been a huge part of the explosion of  web 2.0.  If one looks at the history of photography the common average person got excited about it when kodak invented film and made cameras cheap and easy to use for all.  We're experiencing the same kind of revolution now on the web with dyi video, audio and images.

I think creating your own avatar is a lot of fun on Voki. I like how you could import your own images as part of this and customize within. I have a ning network and each student has their own homepage. I could see doing this as an introductory assignment in Digital Photography and Animation, but even in some of the other classes. Setting up the ning network and having a cool photo on your profile page is something we already do at the beginning. Making it talk and move would be even better. I think the podcast sites like ipadio have a lot of possibilities for the classroom. I especially love that they involve using a cell phone. I think students could do interactive presentations for their final critique of work. I am already doing this, but we could add the audio portion that they record on ipadio.

I think the audioboo site could be used in creative ways. While I'm not much of a performer and feel self conscientious recording my voicemail greeting, much less a public boo I think the boos that are out there could be used as audio backdrops for Animation and video. I think you could weave a web of these found audio clips and really go to town with something intriguing and multi-layered. Sound as art would intrigue students and move them beyond the two-dimensional art making plane.

I could see the blogtalk radio being a great resource for classes and personal enrichment. In all honesty I don't think I have the time to start doing a talk radio show, maybe kids could? Art talks? I could see this being used in Art History as a research option. Kids could research an artist and then do a blogtalk broadcast about their findings, maybe have one student play the artist while another conducts the interview.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

RSS Wikis and More

For me the most useful part of class was learning what an RSS feed is and how it works.  I had subscribed to many, but never really understood where they went, how they were saved or how I could ever get back to them.  I wonder where all of my RSS feeds are?  I have often clicked that option on a blog or website and really didn't get where it goes.  If they asked me to save with Google I usually chose the homepage option and so I do have a box of feeds on the iGoogle homepage.  Now that I have a Google reader account too it will be much easier to keep track of the feeds.  I am not sure I will truly have time to read and follow all of them, but I am glad to finally truly comprehend what they are and how they work.  I have another blog that I do just for fun at Wordpress.  On this blog I have enabled RSS as an option for anyone who looks at the blog (readership is pretty small I think), but I really didn't get what this was enabling readers to do.  Glad to finally understand!

Wikis are something I've dabbled in a lot this year.  I used to work as a webdesigner for awhile so anytime I get to "design" again it is a good thing.  They are somewhat restrictive, but I've slowly begun to find examples on the web that are really good.  The wetpaint site has given me another resource to look for examples, especially those that are specific to education.  I also am looking for ways to improve how I use them and what I have students put up on their pages.  This year it was my first year so I used the wiki mostly as a place to do research and to learn how to use different things in our class.  I saw it as a website for the class.  I have a wiki for Animation, Digital Photography and AP Art.  I've tried to make them visually appealing by creating photographic banners that I use at the top of each page.  Eventually I could see doing an entire template that would be uploaded in the background.  I am still learning the code that would allow you to do more advanced things like this.  There are a lot of help sites out on the Internet where people give html code and tips how to go beyond the basics of the wiki.  I am thinking that I may try to get students to do digital portfolio slide shows via the wiki.  Having an online exam with the portfolio might be an option.  I'd also love to partner with another class out there in the world and have them look at the portfolios and get involved in critiquing our work.  The collaborative nature of a wiki appeals greatly to me.

Social Bookmarking sites such as Delicious and Diigo are something I've also been using already.  The only thing I don't like about them is that if you use both the extras that are built into them and are installed to your computer can sometimes interfer with each other.  I have also not yet been able to migrate all of my bookmarks in an organized fashion over to the Delicious Bookmarks.  I probably have too, many bookmarks anyways, but I do go back and use many of them for research and to show students how to do varied art techniques.  Delicious and Diigo haven't always worked with the school network either.  At the beginning of the school year I had searches set up that students couldn't access.  I am hopeful that with the one-to-one wireless initiative students will have access to both sites.  I have used the shared aspect of these sites for Animation class.  I have also benefitted from colleagues sharing things with me.  There is also a groups feature in Diigo that allows you to follow groups of interest and get email updates of posts to the groups.  This has helped me discover more Web 2.0 tools and ways to use them.

One final thing to mention was the You Tube/Google Search Stories that was shown at the end of class.  Sounds like a fun way to track your research.  I have been doing geneaology research lately and this appeals to me as a way to track where I've been visually.  I haven't experimented yet, but plan to.  Stay tuned for my post to the bellafiore you tube channel!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Blog Sharing-What Are You Reading About?

I am going to do an entry to share my blogs.  I have loved the whole blog-revolution and have been a follower of many for awhile.  I have learned so much about the web 2.0 and techniques in new media by following blogs.  I have also enriched the hobbies I practice and found communities of artists and teachers to admire and find inspiration from.  A few of the blogs that I follow are:

Teach Paperless which is written by Shelly Blake-Plock (aka R. Richard Wojewodzki).  It is a very challenging and inspiring blog.  I sometimes don't know what he's talking about as he is uber cutting edge in terms of technology.  I also find that the opinions are sometimes abrasively presented, but the wealth of knowledge and the reason for the blog are philosophies that I aspire to as an educator.

Digital Art Education is another blog that I find helpful.  It written by Anne P an artist and art teacher who teaches Digital Photography and Computer Graphics in a high school in Virginia. I think she has a lot of good experience and advice.  I have discovered books worth reading and approaches and techniques that I use in the tech-based art studio courses I teach.

The Mac Lab is fantastic!  If I am ever able to do even half of what this Art Educator has done in terms of technology and quality work I will be thrilled.  This blog is written by Mike Skocko of Valhalla High School in El Cajon, CA. I find Mike's ideas, knowledge of technology and high quality imagery really inspiring.  I think the advanced level of involvement that he demands of his students is also something I aspire to.  Holding kids to a higher requirement is great.  Boredom will never be an option in a classroom that challenges the students.

Lastly is the NING network called Art Ed 2.0 organized by Craig Roland.  This network has connected me with art educators from around the world.  It isn't a blog, but does have a blog component to it.  This is a social network for professional art educators who are interested in learning about and working with technology in the art classroom.  I love this group.  I feel fortunate to have connected with so many talented colleagues.  Craig also has a blog called The Art Teacher's Guide To the Internet .  I have found this to be interesting, but not as much fun as the NING network.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Music Please

I love listening to music on my computer and find that I do this more than with a traditional stereo system.  One of my favorite discoveries has been  Although it wasn't posted as one of our choices to research I had to mention it.  It is similar to Pandora, in that you choose an artist and then they play a station called by that artist's name.  You can customize your own home by the choices you make.  You can love songs and it puts a heart next to it.  Songs you love can then become an option for how you play.  You can also search for all your favorite lost vinyl records and find digital versions of them.  This is especially great if you are a real afficionado of certain versions of concerts etc.  For example, I am a big fan of Judy Garland and I actually found the London Palladium concert and the Carnegie hall concert and was able to listen to both in their entirety without having to pay a fee.  The fact that this is all free is AMAZING!  Of course, if you want to own these songs you'd are given the option to purchase them from the site.  Or you could always go to iTunes.

I like Pandora too, because it has many of the same options.  What I found a bit annoying about Pandora is that when I chose a station based on a certain artist I only heard that artist like once or twice within a 30 minute period.  If you really want to hear that artist this becomes annoying "Are they going to play any Bruce Springsteen on this Bruce station?"  This randomness also is one of the things I enjoy about these two sites because I was introduced to a lot artists that I wouldn't necessarily choose to listen to normally.  This widened my choices in music and also helped me develop some new favorites.

Slacker is one I hadn't tried so I did for this assignment and found it to be very similar to Pandora 
and Last FM.  I guess part of my dilemma is that I tend to be an album-like listener.  That is I usually love to hear the entire album by one artist.  The randomness of the connections these stations try to string together doesn't always make sense to me.  I tend to have memories and imagery that I've associated with a certain artist or song that gets interrupted when I expect one thing and they play another.  So far I think Pandora does the best job of finding similar works on their stations.  Of course if you're paying attention you can always skip the artist they've chosen and move onto the next one.
Slacker  is on right now and I chose the Rufus Wainwright station.  They played my favorite "Hallelujah" (spelling?) and then followed up with Death Cab for Cutie and now Peter Yorn, so that's a pretty good string of stuff.  Now it's the fourth song in and they're back to Rufus so that's great since he's the one I wanted to hear in the first place.  I noticed though that without the premium service I can't click to peek ahead and see the next artist.  You can do that with Pandora.  The available collections of music on these stations seems similar.

During my Animation class we tried the SoundzAbound website. It has a somewhat limited music collection that is less about known artists and more about genres of music.  It is all royalty free so students can included these clips in their multimedia pieces without having to worry.  The most popular part of this site were the sound effects.  They were perfect for adding sounds to animations.  Some students found the lack of real "stars" kind of boring.  

I like the idea that students could customize their choices with these online radio stations.  During most of my art classes we listen to music at some point.  If students have headphones and their own computer this would be great.  If I had one computer at the front with speakers I could play and customize the art stations we like from class to class based on their choices and personalities.  Unfortunately, it seems like these stations don't work really well at school on the network.  They often get slow and keep trying to re-buffer.  Maybe this will change as we upgrade to all wireless networks.