Create cool assignments
You probably take digital photos all the time, but what do you do with them besides printing them or sending them to friends by email? Have you ever thought how you might use your digital photos for your school assignments? How about taking photos as you go through a science investigation or snapping photos of an environmental problem in your community for a current events report? You and your friends might have a great time getting into costume to create photos for social studies, foreign language, and literature reports. Once you have the photos, you'll be ready to put them into your school assignments.
Using word processing and presentation programs, it's easy to slip a photo or picture into your reports and presentations. All you have to do is click on Insert or Place or whatever command your word processor or presentation-maker uses, and then browse around your computer for the picture (or pictures) you have in mind for your work. You can size it as you want, place it where you want, and even make the words of your report go neatly around it or through it.
But that's not all you can do with your photos
Some people will definitely be impressed that you know how to insert photos into your work. However, if you really want to impress them, why not try making your photographs "just right" through photo editing? Don't worry if you don't have any photo-editing software. We'll tell you how to get around that problem later. But before we do, let's consider how you can WOW your audiences—probably your teacher or class or maybe even your parents—with your photo-editing expertise.
What can you do with photo editing software?
- Crop your pictures so that the images on them look like you are an expert photographer who takes photos that are always perfectly centered.
- Select a particular part of a photo to use for your report cutting out the parts that don't seem to fit. After all, you don't want to waste a good photo, just because it has something on it that won't work in your report.
- Make the photos the size you want so that you won't need to worry about sizing once they get into your report.
- Lighten dark photos and darken light photos. Most of those terrible photos you took that didn't turn out the way you expected can be salvaged.
- Turn the photos into grayscale, creating black and white images. Grayscale photos are perfect if your assignment is to publish a newsletter or newspaper. (It also saves the cost of printer ink.)
- Change the colors in your photo to make them look like they are antique prints. Think sepia tones for giving your photos an old-time feel. This technique will be especially useful for those costumed "historic" photos you and your friends posed for.
- Rotate photos so that they fit on an angle in your report, turn photos upside down, or change them to a sideways view. If you are creating a presentation or making a scrapbook-type report, sometimes putting photos in at an angle can add interest. A unique science report might include an upside down photo.
- Paint or draw right on your pictures. For example, let's say you put a picture of yourself in the photo editor. By selecting a color and a paint tool (brush), you can "dress" yourself in a toga, a mad scientist's lab jacket, or a Civil War uniform. You can draw a powdered wig on your head for a Colonial picture or lengthen your hair for Wild West image. Pop yourself into footwear that fits the image you need. And don't forget that you can paint in whatever you want in the background. If there's a tree that looks like its growing right out of your head, you can simply remove the tree by painting over it with a color that fits into your background.
- Add text to your photos. Create a photo caption right on your photo and you won't have to do this after you put the photo into your report. You can also create speech bubbles and place words into the bubbles as in a comic book.
When your photo is ready, what's next?
Once you get your photo just right for your assignment, save it in the format you want. Usually jpg or jpeg works best for the type of work you are doing.
Next you'll want to insert your picture into your assignment. Look over the layout of your work to make sure that your page or slide has a nice appearance. Does the picture fit neatly on the page or screen? Do you need to move it to another location? If you want the text to flow around the picture, look for a Text Wrap feature in your word processor, presentation maker, or desktop publisher. This feature lets you select how you want your text and picture to look together (text wrapped closely around picture, text over the picture, text below the picture, etc.) Once everything looks fine, save and print your work.
If you are planning to print on heavy paper, transparencies, adhesive-backed paper etc., print first on plain paper. Then you can check to make sure you don't need to make any changes. After you are satisfied with your printout on plain paper, print to the more expensive paper.
What to do if you don't have photo-editing software
Go online to check out information on photo-editing programs. We've listed a number of them below for you. Many of them offer a free trial of the software, so you can download this software to your computer and work on your report with it for a certain period of time (usually 30 days). After seeing what it can do for you, our guess is you'll be telling your parents that you need this software.
Sample Photo-Editing Software
Adobe PhotoShop Elements
30-day free trail
Corel Paint Shop
Windows Only $119-$129
30-day free trail
Microsoft Digital Image Suite, Digital Image Suite Plus, Digital Image
Starter Edition free for 60-days
30-day free trial