Why Picasa is the Non-Professional photographers best friend
Many of my friends like to take pictures and video, but more and more of my friends, dont use any kind of photo or video management system for their photos, instead opting for using windows to manage their files. This is well and dandy, but it can lead to confusion, and its easy to lose track of your photos if your collection is large enough. When importing photos or videos from the camera, where are your photos placed? How can you access them later? And how can you easily edit them? Most professional photographers that I know use a program called Lightroom. It allows you to import your photos, manages backing them up, and also allows you to edit them. Now, lightroom is a little pricey, and a bit advanced, so for all you other budding photographers, I recommend Picasa. First of all, its free! You can’t beat that price! Secondly it has many features that even Lightroom doesn’t have. Lets start by looking at its import feature.
I use a little point and shoot camera, the Canon Powershot A560. It’s a humble camera, but it gets the job done. Its simple and uncomplicated. Everything I need.
Ok, so we have a camera, how bout a computer? Picasa works on both mac and pc, so you are set either way. Now, if you have a mac, you probably already use iPhoto, which is very similar. If you are more comfortable with that, then no problem. If you want more features, then switch away! To get picasa, go to picasa.google.com. Go ahead and download it. Install it like any other program. Once it is installed, it will ask you 2 questions. The first is whether you want to search your entire computer, or simply your main file locations. I normally go with just my computer and thats it. Next it will ask you if you want to use googles picture viewer. I like their picture viewer, as it is quick, and easy to look at most pics. Ok, Now for the good stuff!
Ok, so above you will see the default screen for picasa. Here is a breakdown of what you get. on the left are your folders. There you can move quickly between all your pictures. This is divided up into sections. The top has your albums, then people, then folders. The People section is awesome! Picasa will automatically search your pictures and put people together. as you label people, it will get smarter and label more accurately. If you have a lot of pictures, its wonderful because you will all of a sudden find pictures of people that you forgot you had. Its one of my favorite features! Ok moving on! The middle section gives you thumbnails of your pictures. To select a picture click on it, and to edit the picture double click on it.
To the right, you have 4 options. The first is to see the people that are in a folder. So for example you have a folder with pictures from a get together. It will have all the people that are in those photos, and you can put peoples names to them.
Next is locations (what you actually see above). If your camera (or phone) has gps, you will see exactly where this photo was taken. Very neat feature, but other than my phone, my camera doesnt have gps, so it doesnt help me much.
The next one is pretty cool. You can attach word tags to your pictures. This is key if you want to maintain a very organized library of photos. As you know, photos don’t know what they are. Being static images, they don’t know if they are about scenery, people, or things. This bar gives you the opportunity to go in and label your photos with tags. That way when you go to search your photos, they are well labeled. I don’t use this feature yet, but I plan on using it soon!
Ok, this last one is very important if you plan on becoming a professional photographer. This last one gives you the EXIF Data (Data that is stored in jpeg and TIFF image files, such as shutter speed, date and time, focal length, exposure compensation, metering pattern and if a flash was used a the time a photo was taken). This is very important if you plan on becoming a photographer one day, since you will use this information.
Ok, here is an important one. How to add photos from your camera or memory card. You will need to plug in the device or card, and click on import on the top left hand corner. This takes you into the import screen. You then have many options. First of all the program will check your camera to see if you already have the photos on there. If you do, it will put a red x in there so you dont make duplicate copies of them. There are 2 ways to then import. The first is to select one by one (using the ctrl key and clicking), then when you have selected the photos you want you choose the album name at the bottom, and then import selected to the lower right. Or, you pick out the album name then import all. You can also choose to erase photos from the camera after they are transferred over.
Ok, so lastly, here are some little goodies that you can do with Picasa.
Want to make a cool slideshow for someones birthday or special event? You have to check out this tool then. Simply select the person and then at the top it says make face video. You have to see what is possible with this! Its pretty awesome!
So, as you can see, managing your photos has never been easier using Picasa, and its many features. Try it out and you’ll see what I mean. And hey, if you don’t like it, ask google for your money back ;).