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Photography Question 
howard h. ting
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/5/2005

Presenting a Slide Show

Hi, I just came back from Africa, where I shot about 45 rolls of slides - mostly Fuji Velvia and Kodak 100vs. My colleagues at work want me to give a slide show, and I'm trying to sort out what's a good length of time (I'm thinking about 20 minutes), but I'm not sure how many slides I should show in that amount of time. I'm a reasonably serious shooter, but I don't think anyone's going to want to dwell on any particular shot, so is there a rule of thumb out there for number of seconds/slide that I could use to get a sense of how many slides I should select? Thanks, Howard

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8/5/2005 11:38:20 PM

Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/17/2003
  45 rolls! ... WOW! ... Sounds like you have some serious editing to do. I have had some experience doing slide presentations in the past, and I think I can help to address your concerns. The length of time of your show will depend upon your material and its ability to hold interest.
If your shots include a lot of scenics, edit them carefully to include only a dozen or so of the very best ones. I like to use scenics as "breaks" ... when I go from one theme to another.
As an example, if you were showing a series of big cat photos, a scenic or two would change the mood as you go into grazing animals like zebras and antelope. (I've found that showing a bunch of scenics together will get your audience to lose interest quickly.)
Try to create "story telling" sequences with the images you have on hand.
Example: A shot of a herd of dik-dik or other grasslands species casually grazing, then a close-up of one animal looking over its shoulder. The next frame could contain a lioness crouching in the grass, followed by a shot of a herd running. Photos displayed in sequence will hold interest better than just a bunch of shots shown in random order.
As far as how long to "dwell" on a particular shot, 8 to 10 seconds is enough time for you to briefly caption the shot and let your audience get whatever reaction they are going to get from it.
Don't take time to "explain" the shot - why or how you you took it or what you were trying to capture. Just throw it up there and let it stand on its own. A very brief "captionary" synopsis about the subject matter should be all that is mentioned before moving on.
As to how many slides to show, I've never done more than a standard Kodak Carousel (140 slides) in any presentation. This usually takes about 30 to 45 minutes up to an hour, depending on the audience's participation.
A few more quick tips:
- Have a catchy "focus slide" as the first one in the presentation. This will show up when you first turn on the machine. It should be something humorous and fit into the theme of your presentation. When I do shows of fishing for wild trout, I use as my focus slide a shot of a sign on a tree which reads: "Trespassers will be SHOT". This image stays on the screen while my audience is assembling and they immediately know that they are in for a fun evening.
-When you sequence your shots, start with the weaker ones and place the best ones at the end of each series. This will help to pique the interest of the audience, and they will anticipate what's coming next.
-Be sure to preview the entire show beforehand. There is nothing more embarrassing than having a slide appear on the screen sideways or upside down. :(

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8/6/2005 6:47:45 PM

John P. Sandstedt
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/8/2001
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  Great ideas from Bob. Also, remember, the amateur photographer will show you all his pictures, the professional will show his best.
The slide show can be great, but you really need to do ruthless editing - thereby finding the best of your slides, consistent with the story/chronology you wish to present.
Make certain you have rehearsed some kind of script about what's in the image and NOT how you shot it. And be aware that too short a show might be as bad as too long. However, I'd opt for the 20 minutes you describe.

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8/8/2005 11:45:49 AM

howard h. ting
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/5/2005
  Dear Bob and John: These are great suggestions. Yes, I spent about 7 hours on my slides this weekend. I've got them down to about 330 slides that I think are worthy of showing to other people, and frankly, only about 5 or 6 that I would actually consider enlarging to frame and put on my wall, so I think I'm in the right mindset.
I also really like the story-telling idea, which supports what I've been thinking about (at least when I do have an interesting story to tell, instead of random shots of animals).
Thank you so much for the point on scenics - I was considering stringing a series together that I took at sunrise and sunset, since the African sky is so spectacular and I was going to weave a theme on that, but maybe I'll reconsider. Obviously, I'd only show the ones that I consider to be truly spectacular - what I might term "Galen-esque".
Thanks also for the advice on not explaining the shot necessarily. My audience is a group of my colleagues, so they're not going to want to know about the graduated filters I used, bracketing, the type of film, etc.
This has been great and valuable coaching, and I incredibly appreciate these thoughts!!

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8/8/2005 12:59:40 PM

Allen M. Aisenstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/3/2005
  Hi Howard,
Well you have already received some good tips. Like you, I have had occasion to share travel photos with friends and colleagues. Having done this many times, I found that a lot depends upon the interest of the group. Assuming that your stuff is great, experience has taught me to limit the number of slides to no more than 200. Time spent per slide should vary. Some are self-explanatory. Some need a "brief" story. I usually play some background music, or suitable sounds along with the presentation. Examples might be recordings from the mountains, jungle, disney, or wherever.
Sometimes I serve pretzels and popcorn too. Make it an enjoyable experience for you and your audience.

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8/9/2005 8:35:32 AM

howard h. ting
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/5/2005
  Allen: Thanks for your suggestion. Yes, I'll be serving some wine during the slides, and I plan to share 1 carousel only. I don't think I have that much great stuff!Thanks again.

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8/9/2005 9:41:31 AM

Maria Melnyk   I do quite a few slide shows, mostly for churches celebrating anniversaries. This is how I do it, and it's worked great:
You need to set your slide show to music, otherwise it will get boring to watch no matter how exciting your photos are. My slide shows run about 15-18 minutes using 140-200 slides. (Each image is displayed for roughly 4.5 seconds.) I group my slides into categories, and play appropriate music for each category.
Here's an example of a typical show. (Now this example doesn't apply to your photos, but it should give you an idea.) For photos of the church being built, I played classical music that "built up" and got more exciting as the walls of the church went up. For the ladies fashion show, I played "Oh You Beautiful Doll". And for the outdoor festival pictures, I played "Stars and Stripes Forever". It was great because the audience really got into it, and clapped along with the music.
Likewise, you could play music that goes with your particular slides. For beautiful landscapes, you could play some kind of classical or whatever kind of music you want to fit those images. If you have images of scary animals, play scary music. Slides of kangaroos jumping? Play something with a Polka beat. Get the idea? (Remember the "Titanic" music?)
Now, about your 20 minutes. This might be too long. Not all of mine are 15-18 minutes; the shortest was 9, and that was enough for that particular show. Even with 45 rolls, this is still one thing - a trip to Africa. (With my church slide shows, you've got a ton of different things - building the church, different organizations doing their thing, road trips, luncheons, weddings, holidays, etc., and on and on.)
Once you have everything set and your music recorded, have a "rehearsal" or run-through to make sure everything fits together well.
OK, so you might ask how you're going to talk through this thing. You're not. If there are any slides you want to talk about, show a few of them AFTER your music slide show ends. You may repeat ones you've already shown.
Have fun. It's a lot of work, but very rewarding.

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8/9/2005 10:55:34 AM

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