Cameras can illustrate your bedtime stories


When I was young my mother would always read a bedtime story to my brother and me. That was the time of day when my imagination would take over even though Mom always read from a library storybook. Just listening to the words, "Long, long ago, and far, far away" I could make believe I was exploring everything from the distant galaxies to hidden trails in our backyard.

As I grew older these childhood memories of storytelling influenced me to take a class in storytelling while in college. This course would add the extra dimension of how to create my own story using storyboards, and could be used later in life when telling stories to my own children.

Over the years I have had the opportunity to listen and participate in storytelling from the far reaches of the Artic to the remote villages in India, Africa and the Amazon.

Now with the advent of digital photography and the sophisticated electronic custom menus built into the cameras, it is possible to take pictures of storybook settings and instantly convert them into illustrations to inspire a vivid imagination.

While reading through my new camera manual for the Nikon D7000 I noticed a "Retouch Menu" setting. What this means is I can convert the live scene into a "color sketch," with the push of a button. The original photo is preserved and is saved inside the camera.

When downloading the pictures to my computer via a card reader the "color sketches" are perfectly edited. This easy step makes the process of storytelling for young parents and grandparents very easy, as there is no need for post editing with software like Photoshop.

When I tell stories to our grandchildren I like to take them on imaginary adventures, and the backyard Summer Garden is a great starting point to capture the photo images.

A brief synopsis of a bedtime story

My bedtime stories always began with the words, "Long, Long Ago, and Far, Far away" in a mythical village lived a family with four children, a mother, father, cat and dog. The children were very small and by day lived a normal life except for breakfast.

Each morning their mother would serve waffles and since the children were very small they could swim in the pools of syrup and even explore the crevices and caves of the dough.

As the evening approached and the family retired, the children would quietly get out of their bunk beds and sneak past the cat and dog to get to the back door. Now the adventures would begin. As they would navigate the back yard trails and streams lit by lanterns and sometimes the children were guided by talking flowers and bugs. Sometimes the children would fly away in a hot air balloon to explore other neighborhoods or launch their own little rocket ship to explore the galaxies.

Capturing images for storytelling

Capturing images for stories like this is relatively easy with digital cameras. First, using the macro lens (close up) take a picture of a waffle with syrup and crop one square. This image is best shown live; the colors are very similar the camera software cannot differentiate the outlines. Second, all the elements of the summer gardens including trails, flowers, bugs, lanterns, (which usually have a strong focal point and good contrast) reproduce very well in the cameras "Color Sketch" mode. Third, capturing distant objects, like a hot air balloon (taken at the Walla Walla Balloon Festival) or a full moon, requires a tripod.

Telling the story

When it's storytelling time a number of options are available, including printing a storybook with easy software that's readily available; viewing the color sketches on your television set direct from the camera with the audio/video cables that come with most digital cameras; and viewing the pictures on a iPad is easy by just transferring the pictures from the camera.

Walt Disney once said, "If you can dream it, you can do it." With the advent of today's digital cameras storytelling has become easy and you can do it!

Don Fleming can be reached at and he can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.


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