Saturday, July 8, 2006

What's Up With The Picasa Link?

You are probably wondering why a lot of my blog entries are starting to have this little button, Posted by Picasa that links to Picasa, at the end. Well there is a perfectly good explanation for that; I'm blogging direct from Picasa! If you don't know what Picasa is, it's Google's photo organizer.

now where did I save that photo at....For years I've shunned any type of organizational program after trying one (that shall remain unnamed) that came as part of another program. It was unbelievably slow, kept crashing, and it would 'adjust' the levels and contrast of the photo thumbnails and views automatically (which could not be turned off) so what I looked at was never representative of what I'd saved. For over three years now I've been using nothing more than window's explorer and 'my pictures'. I thought my folder layouts worked great..... yeah. Well things were way out of control, as they naturally would when you have over 4000 images. I had duplicate folders, images that should have gone in a different folder, images that weren't filed in any specific folder, unprocessed images hidden deep in the folder hierarchy, and I could never find a specific image I wanted unless I'd just recently taken it. I was about to start screaming and pulling my hair out. So I decided to try something different... I pulled all my images into one place and deleted all my folders. Then I re-organized by year and month. Cleaner yes, but now I had no clue where anything was. Cue screaming and hair pulling again. Enter Picasa.

folder viewPicasa is free from Google. You just download it and install it and it searches your computer for images and organizes them by year. It's surprisingly fast with jpegs and tifs, large RAW files slow it down a bit. You can specify what image file types you want it to find though, I deselected RAW, and you can specify what folders you want it to search. I told it to search just 'my pictures' but not the folder of unprocessed images. It displays things beautifully, it's quick and easy to scroll through folders, and it has a lot of really nice features. One of those is labels.

label viewIf you have a lot of images that are different, labeling is a bit time consuming, but it's worth it in the end. A label is like a tag or keyword and it organizes the images by label, within a separate section of Picasa. The labels are searchable and you can assign multiple labels to pics. Say I do a search for 'waterfalls', Picasa will bring up all the waterfall images,search view in the menu bar to the left they are organized by year and label, and also by year and folder on disk So if I want waterfalls taken in Canada, I just click on the Canada label to the left and there it is. Alternately I can enter waterfalls + candada in the search bar.

You can also do some minor editing to your images such as cropping, red eye, levels, contrast and special effects such as sepia and B&W. It does not change the original image on your hard drive, but if you like the changes you can export them and save it as a new image. My favorite is the filtered B&W, where you can do a B&W conversion based on different color channels. Red, blue or green channel will always give you a different B&W tonality, and for each photo one may look much better than the others. Picasa makes it easy to observe these differences to find the one that works best.

EditTuneFiltered B&W

One of my favorite features though , has to be the 'blog this' button. If you use Google's Blogger for your blog, just select an image and click the button and it opens up a posting window, image already inserted. Type out your blog and hit publish and there you go. There are also buttons for printing and emailing, and ones that makes collages, slideshows and burn gift CDs. Other things I love about Picasa? I can send images directly to photoshop, or if I need to go from an image in Picasa to it's exact location on the hard drive, I just hit ctrl-enter and Picasa opens up window's explorer and takes me directly to my image. You'll also find imagescollage you completely forgot about. I had a friend download it last night and he did a search by file name and found he had two images by that name, the one he was looking for that was taken recently, and another taken three years ago!

Ok I apologize for the long rambling. If you are still using windows explorer in an attempt to organize a large amount of photos, give Picasa or any photo organization program a try, there are several out there. You'll have fewer headaches, I know I sure do! Posted by Picasa


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