Tech Tips: Picasa — set your digital pictures freeWritten by Carrie Rathsack | | firstname.lastname@example.org
As any former film photographer knows, taking digital pictures is easy in comparison. It’s because of this “ease” that we’re left stranded “after capture.” Whether the issue is a dozen memory cards full of images (because it’s easier to buy a new card than download the old) or you haven’t gotten around to learning how to use photo-editing software to correct the redeye.
Having so many pictures leads to a couple of problems (none of which would be proclaimed by most film enthusiasts). The first is a management problem-what do I do with all these pictures? And, second-a quality problem-what do I do with all the pictures that are not quite right (probably because I have not taken the time to read the 200-page manual that came with my camera).
So what is one to do to manage and fix all these images?
If you use a Mac, you probably have iPhoto, which comes with most new Macs (this is what I usually use). But the majority of computer users have Windows, so what is available for them — beyond that folder called “Pictures?”
Say hello to Picasa, which solves both of these problems-it is a photo management system to organize your images as well as a photo manipulation tool to quickly change, or better yet, improve your images.
Until recently, Picasa was only available for PC/Windows users. Now, newer Mac users (with Intel-based processors) can also break free from Apple, if they desire, and go with Picasa beta… or use both!
So what’s so exciting about Picasa (besides the aptly cute name)? Here’s a run-down, which Google summarizes with – Organize, Edit, Create, Share:
- Free! – As with most of my favorite tech tools, Picasa is free. It’s from Google and the PC/Win version has been fairly popular for a few years now;
- Organize (see Image 1) – By creating folders by subjects or dates, you can easily manage your images (Picasa creates dated folders automatically, where pictures are displayed as small thumbnail images for quick viewing);
- Edit (see Image 2) – With a click of a button or simple sliders and tools, you can retouch photos, remove redeye, create emotion with sepia, black & white, or soft focus, or try the one-click “I’m feeling lucky” for general light and color adjustments; there’s also now a text tool for you to add titles right onto your images and even a “crop suggestor” that gives you options to pick from;
- Create – Now that you have all these amazing pictures, it’s easy to create photo collages, email snapshots, send away for prints (or print your own), books, make movies (share to YouTube or elsewhere), web albums, photo CDs, slideshows, geo-tagging, photo gifts, and more! (But note that the books, send-away prints, and gifts are not free – but the convenience is possibly well worth the cost!); and
- Share – If you so desire, you can upload selected pictures to Picasa Web Albums for online viewing; with a click of the Share button and a few selections, you can make friends, family, or colleagues aware of your latest happenings or artistic creations (but private or public is your choice)
Just like any other free tool or one that uses web-based technologies (that the all-mighty Google is famous for) there are some things to be aware of or possibly concerned with, depending on your needs, preferences, or level of paranoia. The ability to post pictures online can be both a blessing and a curse. Be sure to think carefully about what you make public on the Web Albums as well as share publicly with others. And, as with any online technology, even though you may select “private,” the fact that it’s hosted on the web makes it “possibly-not-as-private-as-you-might-think-or-want”-just be careful!
As a “mostly Mac” user, I have always liked iPhoto-it’s not perfect, it’s certainly not Photoshop or Lightroom, and likewise, neither is Picasa. But for Windows users, Picasa is well worth the free price tag, if at the very least, to be used as an organized dumping ground for all those digital pictures!
Now if you can only find the time to get all those pictures into Picasa! Good luck and set them free!
For the visual learners, here are some videos: