Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Adding 165 Instagrams to a Photobook, without crashing the software

Last week I shared some photos from our newly arrived 2014 photobook along with some suggestions for things to include.  One was all my Instagram pictures taken and posted in 2014. 

Now, I don't know about other photobook software but My Publisher definitely cannot handle adding near 100 pictures files to a single page, I found that out the hard way when trying to add all the Facebook comments to Luke's 1st year book.  I gave myself a few days to think about it and came up with a solution.  Here we go:

1) Store all Instagram pictures on your computer
I transfer all my phone pictures to my computer using Dropbox.  I store all Instagram pictures in a separate folder from my other pictures (detailed here).  Within my Instagram folder I rename all the files to IG XXX, in chronological order of when I posted them. 

I add an "Instagram" tag to all these pictures as well as any others that apply (if I've already added other tags before running through Instagram those stay on the file, it's just iPhone pictures that were never on my computer before being posted that need additional tags). 

2) Pull out all pictures taken within a current year (or other time period)
While the file numbering lets me sort the pictures in the order they were posted, sorting by "date taken" lets me see all the pictures taken in a current year, regardless of when they were actually posted to Instagram. I copied all these files to a new folder on my desktop.  It made it easier to see how many pictures I was working with and easier to pull them up when needed.

3)  Figure out my grid size

There is no good science to this.  Well, maybe there is and I'm just not that smart.  I did it by good old trial and error.  I knew my pages were about 8x11 and would want my grid to be about that size.  So I played around with dimensions, multiplying and dividing to come up with a grid size that have an 8x11 ratio but still fit most or all of my pictures.  I ended up with 11 rows by 15 columns.  This would hold 165 pictures and I had 167 Instagram shots for the year. I could easily find 2 duds to cut.

4) Sort pictures in row folders
Since I knew 11 rows, I put the pictures into a different folder for each row.  This would make sure I wasn't doubling or skipping any and would keep my place. 

Make sure when you do this that you have the pictures sorted by "DATE TAKEN".  Not date modified or name or whatever else it defaults to.  My first 15 pictures for the year (as they happened, not as they were posted to Instagram) were in the "row 1" folder.  The next 15 were in "row 2".  So on. 

5) Use software to make a collage for each row
I'm a big fan of PicMonkey and use it for many things.  I started a new collage, adding all the pictures from my "row 1" folder, and then put them in a collage.  They don't have a default for a 1x15 collage so I made my own which was easy by just dragging my new pictures to the end of a row. 

I kept my folder for that row open at the bottom of my screen so I could make sure I was adding the pictures in the correct order.  PicMonkey uploads them in a random order.  

I played around with the height, using the mouse to pull the edge up and down, until the squares were all fully showing without being cropped.  My 1x15 rows are 3000x218 pixels. 

Then I saved each collage as "row 1.jpg", "row 2.jpg", etc.  Once the file was saved I could remove the pictures from this row by clicking the X in the upper right corner:

Then removing the uploaded files from the left (again, clicking the X in the upper right corner):

And then adding the pictures for the next row and repeat.   I made 11 collages for my 11 rows.

6) Put it all together

I used the super sophisticated Paint software to put all my rows together.  I opened my first row in Paint and moved the zoom down to 25% so I would be able to see the whole row at once.  Then I extended the file down so I would have room to add all my other rows. 

Then I opened the "row 2.jpg" file in a different Paint window, did "Select All" and "Copy" and the pasted in my expanded Paint window with Row 1. 

It pasted the row on top of row 1 but I just drug it down and kept the horizontal as even as possible to the vertical spacing done automatically in PicMonkey. 

Repeat, repeat, repeat until all the rows have been added to one beautiful file. 

This, admitted, isn't the most high tech solution or high resolution but worked with the free software I had available.  And when printed in the book, each Instagram is about the size of my thumbnail.  When looking at the book there aren't any noticeable resolution problems and I would even do the same method if I had much fewer pictures (which would end up printed larger) to put together.   All this only took about an hour and I love having all these shots together as the last page in our book for the year.  I will definitely be repeating for 2015.

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