Introduction: From Phones to Cameras, Photography for the Blind

Strangely enough photography has become very popular with visually impaired people, many of them becoming published as artists in their own right. There are many misconceptions about the blind and the visually impaired but this Instructable is not about that.

Photography has its own unique difficulties for a person living with visual impairment, auto focus and auto flash makes taking a photograph easier for everyone. But visually impaired people don’t always see the phone or camera's LCD showing what they are taking a photo of. Even if they use grid lines in the display, it won’t help if you cannot see them. The subject may not be centered or the camera may be tilted.

This Instructable is about salvaging photos taken with your phone or camera and making simple edits on your computer to make them look like they were taken by a professional photographer. Then adding text and shapes to the photo for projects like Instructables.

I will be using three programs Serif PhotoPlus Paint and MSWord.

Step 1: The Photo

Start by taking a photo with your phone or camera, from there you can now Email it to yourself or down load it directly to your computer.

Once it is in your computer, you can open up a program like Serif PhotoPlus.

Browse your files and select the photo you want to view and open the file.

Now you can zoom in or out by pressing CTRL + + or CTRL + - or you can click on the magnifying glass icon in the toolbar and left click on your mouse to zoom in or right click to zoom out. For the first time you can see your photo clearly.

This is a photo for an experiment I am doing, my subject is not centered and it is off kilter. I want to salvage it so I can use it in an Instructable the photo needs to be edited.

Step 2: Keyboards

Before I go much further let’s talk about tools starting with Keyboards. The first thing a visually impaired person loses is chromatic key, the ability to see black on black or white on white and so on. Most keyboards are made black keys on a black base or white keys on a white base. I use a Keys U See keyboard. A Keys U See keyboard is a USB keyboard with yellow keys on a black base that you can use with any computer with USB ports. You can use it at home or take it with you to work or to an internet Cafe. In the photo you can see how much easier the keys on the Keys U See keyboard are to see.

Step 3: Shortcut Keys

I have five programs for editing photos and video, all the programs have toolbars however all tool bars are not created equal. I can’t always see the icons in the toolbars like Undo and Redo. Now if I open Paint, and look at the toolbar I can’t see the Undo or Redo in the toolbar. Now if I draw a line in paint and press the Ctrl key and the Z key on my keyboard at the same time and the line I just drew disappears. Why does this happen? It happened because Ctrl + Z is Undo. Now if I press Ctrl and Y at the same time and the line returns, this happened because Ctrl + Y is Redo. These are called Shortcut Keys and they work in most windows programs.

Some toolbars when you place your mouse pointer over the function you want, it will show you what the shortcut key is if the function has a shortcut key.

Other toolbars don’t tell you the shortcut keys even if the function has one.

And some toolbars don’t have the function in the toolbar, but the function works if you know the Short Cut Key beforehand.

I use Shortcut keys simply because I can’t always see the toolbar icons, so here is a list of the Shortcut Keys I use most often.

Shortcut Key combinations

F1: Help

F7: Spellcheck

F11: Full screen in out.

ALT+ F4: Quit program

CTRL + A: Select

CTRL + B: Bold

CTRL + C: Copy

CTRL + D: Deselect

CTRL + F: Find

CTRL + G: Grid Lines

CTRL + I: Italic

CTRL + N: New

CTRL + O: Open

CTRL + P: Print

CTRL + S: Save

CTRL + R: Rulers

CTRL + U: Underline

CTRL + V: Paste

CTRL + W: Resize

CTRL + X: Cut

CTRL + Y: Redo

CTRL + Z: Undo

Program dependent Shortcuts, these shortcuts work depending on the program you are in.

CTRL + + and CTRL + Page Up: Zoom In

CTRL + - and CTRL + Page Down: Zoom out

Step 4: Time to Start Editing

I start with Serif PhotoPlus because paint only rotates in 90 degree increments and my other editing programs don’t auto crop to a nice clear image. Another reason I use Serif PhotoPlus is, as long as I don’t work the photo to much it will save in the original file format.

After opening Serif PhotoPlus and looking at the photo I decide what to do next, since straitening the photo fuzzes the edges and auto crops to a clear image, so I straiten the photo first.

In the toolbar on the left I click on the down arrow with my mouse pointer and select Straiten Tool icon this has no shortcut key.

Then finding a straight edge in the image I move the cursor to that strait edge and hold down the left button of my mouse. I move the cursor to another point on the strait edge in the image and release the button of the mouse. Serif PhotoPlus straitens the image and crops it to a nice rectangle.

If you make a mistake you can click on Undo icon or press CTRL + Z on the keyboard to undo the edit and start over.

Step 5: Cropping Your Photo

Now it is time to crop the image to center the subject and remove unwanted elements from your photo go back to the tool bar on the left and select Crop Tool icon or just press C on the keyboard. Place your curser on where you want to start the crop and hold down the left button on your mouse. Drag your mouse across your image highlighting your image. For small adjustments to the crop place the cursor on the edge of the highlighted area and it will change into arrows pointing in the directions you can move the crop edge, hold down the left button on your mouse and move the edge of the highlighted area to where you want it.

Once you are happy with the highlighted area move your mouse to the green check mark and click on the Apply Crop icon, or you can click on the red X for Do Not Apply Crop.

After you have cropped your image you can click on Undo and Redo or press CTRL + Z and CTRL + Y to go back and forth between the two images and decide which one you like.

Now if you want you can add text to your image by pressing T on your keyboard or select the Text icon in the toolbar on the left. Or you can adjust the color brightness or other attributes in the toolbar on the right, however if you do it will only save as an Spp file that you cannot up load to Instructables or edit in other graphic programs.

Step 6: Saving

Now that you have an image you like it is time to save your work, I like to save every few minutes so that if my computer freezes or some other problem comes up I do not lose my work. I also like to keep my original image just in case I want to go back and redo the image, so don’t just press CTRL + S or just click on save icon, click on Save As icon and pick a new file name.

Make sure you save as a png bitmap or jpeg not a Spp or some other program specific abbreviation. These editing programs and Instructables do not like to share many program specific files. In fact I tried uploading a Spp file to Instructables and I could not find it in my image library afterwards.

Once you saved the photo you can close the file by clicking on the X on the right of the toolbar and open another photo file to work on, or you can close up the program by clicking on the red X at the top right hand corner or ALT + F4 keys.

Step 7: Paint

I like Paint for a number of reasons, I use it for circuit tracing in Reverse Engineering and adding boxes and arrows in a photo to point out an item of interest. Instructables and the other editing programs I have also accept paint’s file formats.

Open your photo file just like I did in Serif PhotoPlus.

Click on View icon in the upper toolbar then you can click on Zoom In or Zoom Out icons. The shortcut keys for Zoom are CTRL + Page Up for Zoom In and CTRL + Page Down for Zoom Out.

Step 8: Adding Shapes

I like to add boxes and arrows to highlight elements in my subject now that you are happy with the size of your photo click on home and then the shape you want to add to your photo.

Next click on No Fill so that the shape just surrounds the element in the photo you want to highlight.

Next select the size and the color of the border of your shape.

Place your mouse pointer where you want to start your shape and holding down the left button drag the pointer across the photo until the shape is the size you want. If it is off center or you want to move it, while the shape is still highlighted push the up, down, left, or right buttons on your keyboard. You can do the same with your mouse pointer. To adjust the size of the shape, place the mouse pointer on the edge of the selection and press the left button to move the edge in the direction of the arrows.

Step 9: Adding Solid Shapes

To add solid shapes click on the shapes.

Click on Fill and Solid Color icons.

Next pic your first color and a second color, after that it is the same as the box I added earlier.

Step 10: Adding Text

Serif PhotoPlus is almost like Word for adding text however it doesn’t have spellcheck and it will only save in a Spp file type after you add text to your photo, so it won’t share with other programs or up load to Instructables.

Paint on the other hand is even less like Word but it will share with other programs and Upload to Instructables.

To add text click on the text icon in the toolbar, the text toolbar won’t come up until you highlight where you want to put the text.

When the text toolbar comes up select font size, font, Transparent, first color, and the color you want the writing in.

If you want the text in a colored background, when the text toolbar comes up select font size, font, Opaque, first color, the color you want the writing, then select second color, and the color you want the background in.

Last adjust the sides of the text box the same way you adjust the shapes to your liking.

My next trick is to use MSWord to enhance adding text to your photos.

Step 11: MSWord

Although Paint and Serif PhotoPlus doesn’t have spell check and paint doesn’t right, left, or center align, you can use word copy and paste to add these elements to your text in Paint.

Open word to a new document and click on No Spacing icon.

Select the font you want.

Select the font size.

Select the font color.

Type what you want to say and press F7 or click on Spellcheck icon.

Fix the spelling errors and highlight.

Then if you want center and copy by pressing CTRL + E and CTRL + C on your keyboard or the icons in the toolbar.

Leave word open and go to paint, if you close word you can loose the copy.

Step 12: Paste in Paint

In paint just select the text icon and make your text box.

When the text toolbar comes up select Opaque or Transparent icon.

Press the paste Icon or press CTRL + V on your keyboard and paint will paste exactly what you typed in word.

Last adjust the text box to place the text where you want it and save.

Step 13: Screen Capture

Although this is not photography, I used it and the same programs to make this Instructable.

Beside F12 is the Print Screen key it may be marked Prt Sc or PS like my Keys U See keyboard.

Press the print screen key, open paint and paste in paint and save, it is that simple. From there you can edit the image to your hearts content and email, post, or use it to write an Instructable.

Epilog Contest VII

Participated in the
Epilog Contest VII

Phone Contest

Participated in the
Phone Contest