Mar 112014

picture-workflowDo you have a photo workflow?

What’s that you say?  You don’t work any more?  You’re retired.  You just play and travel.  I hear ya!  We want to erase the word ‘work’ from our vocabulary, but, if you don’t have some kind of process for managing your photos – they’ll just get lost.  We take all these great pictures for a reason: to preserve the memories and to share them.  You can’t do that if you don’t know where they are!  For me, there are 3 reasons to have a workflow;

  1. To make sure I collect all the pictures taken with various cameras.
  2. To winnow them down to just the best, and make sure those best photos are great!  I also want to have some labels, captions, keywords, or filenames on my best photos so I can easily find them.
  3. To share just those best photos, making sure they’re easily accessible to me at any time.

Showing Pictures of Alaska

A couple of weeks ago, we were in a campground with some friends who are planning an RV trip to Alaska this summer.  I told them how I lived in Alaska for many years when I was a kid, and my first RV trip was from Alaska to Guatemala.  I love telling that story of my first RV trip, I like it even better to show pictures!  I was able to grab the smartphone from my pocket and quickly find pictures of that 1962 trip.  How did I do that?  I certainly didn’t take that picture using my phone!  Well, actually I did!  I found an old photo album on the shelf at my Mom’s – it had these Alaska pictures so I took out my phone and snapped pictures of the pictures.  I plan to do a lot more of that.

2014-03-11 10.46.55I take a lot of regular pictures with my phone and I have a process where I import them to my computer and then erase them from my phone.  That way the phone never fills up.  I also use my phone to snap pictures from old photo albums – like the ones from Alaska.  After a little bit of editing in Picasa, they’re looking good and I upload them to Google+ Photos.  At least, that’s what it’s called now.  It used to be called Picasa Web Albums and I’ve been uploaded there for many years.  All my best pictures from the last 10 years are there.  All I need is the Google+ App on my phone, and I can easily pull up any of my photo albums from Google+ Photos.


My Complete (current) Process

I’ve developed my Photo Workflow over the years to match our photo-taking style.  I often revise it to take advantage of new tools that are available as well.  Your system will probably be different.  My goal in detailing my process is to get you to think about it.  Do you have access to all your pictures regardless of what camera took them?  If your computer with pictures on it crashes, do you have those pictures somewhere else – backups?  Can you find a picture from any given event in your life?  If you’re visiting a friend and want to show them pictures of that event, can you?  If you can answer yes to those questions, then you have a good system.  If not, perhaps reading thru my process will give you some ideas.

1. We take pictures with multiple cameras, then collect them all on one computer.  For cameras with SD cards, I import directly from the SD card to the computer.  For cameras from mobile devices, I install Dropbox on each device and set it to automatically synchronize to a ‘camera upload’ folder on my computer – then I move them from the camera upload folder to the My Pictures folder.  Once the pictures are safely on my computer, I erase them from the camera card or phone/tablet.  I normally put pictures into folders by the month they were taken.  Sometimes I find an event deserves it’s own folder.  Each year, I move that year’s folders off my computer and onto a USB External hard drive.  I use Picasa to browse all my pictures.  It can include the folders on the external hard drive , as well as the folders on the computer in its library.  I call this my master library.

2. I recently turned on the new Google+ Auto-Backup feature and set it to automatically copy every photo on my computer’s My Pictures folder.   I use the Standard Size option to reduce the pictures to 2048 pixels so I have unlimited free storage of these backed up pictures.  Realize that, if I have followed my #1 step correctly, this is only backing up my last year’s worth of photos because the others are on an external hard drive.
3. Picasa manages my master library.  I use it to view my pictures, make them look good, add captions, add tags, make collages etc.
4. Also using Picasa, I upload my best pictures to Google+ photo albums, and I share them publicly
5. Once a month / quarter / and year I backup that month/that year to DVD and put those DVDs in a separate location – a family members house.  I may stop doing the monthly or quarterly backups and only backup to disk at the end of each year since Google+ Auto-Backup is already making one backup for me online.
6. Install the Google+ App on all my mobile devices so I can view my entire life on Google+ photo albums from any device.

Feb 212014

This is an excerpt from our Picasa Beginner’s Guide – see right sidebar for details.

Google+ Auto-Backup: When you installed Picasa you were probably given the option to turn on Google+ Auto-Backup. If you did that then every picture on your computer is being backed up to your Google+ Photos account in a folder called Auto Backup. If you don’t want this, you should uninstall the Google+ Auto Backup program. If you keep it there are settings you must check.  When you launch Google+ Auto Backup click the button to Get Started.


To see your backed up photos, go to and log in to your account. From the left side dropdown menu under ‘Home’, choose ‘Photos.’ Under the ‘More’ menu option, choose Auto Backup.

Dec 232013

picasabackupIf you use the Picasa desktop software regularly, you may have noticed an update within the last week.  If you installed this update, you saw a message asking if you want to turn on the new Auto Backup feature.   If you say yes, then you need to be sure to log in to your Google+ account.  This isn’t so much a feature of Picasa as it is a separate app from Google Plus.  In fact, you won’t find an Auto Backup setting in PIcasa; it is actually a program called Google+ Auto Backup that you’ll find in your Control Panel / Programs area.  There are also settings you must check. 

Settings to Change:

  1. Select just the folders you want uploaded for the Backup Sources
  2. Be sure to change Photo Size to Standard, unless you’re willing to pay for more Google Storage
  3. UNcheck the option to “Also copy photos/videos from cameras and storage cards to My Pictures\…

First, you set what folders of pictures you want backed up.  If you don’t select specific folders, it’s going to look thru all of your computer for pictures.  Second, you should change the photo size to Standard size of 2048 – you have unlimited free storage space if you limit your uploaded picture size to 2048.  If you leave it at Full size, you will quickly use up your free storage.  You can purchase more storage at $5/mo for 100 GB.  As for the “Also copy photos to My Pictures\… Really?   How many copies can we handle?  I’m buried in pictures as it is.  I’m now working on how to eliminate some duplicates, not create more!



This Backup Feature is Not for Me

I have my own backup system, I’ve written about it many times.  To be honest, I’ve only had to use my backups once that I can remember.  Sometimes I wonder if it’s worth the effort.  But, yes, one backup set is g backup1esssential.  These days I take most of my pictures with my Android phone or my iPad.  Those pictures may be automatically sent to the cloud using iCloud, Dropbox, or Google+ .  Heck, you can even set Facebook and Skydrive to automatically make their own copies of pictures taken with your mobile devices.  This new feature from Google+ adds to those hundreds of pictures by also including all the pictures that are now stored on your computer.  In my case, those pictures are already backed up – once with my archival photo backups and again with my disaster recovery computer backup system.  I don’t want them backed up yet again!  I just don’t need that many copies, not to mention the bandwidth that is being used.  Notice in the image at left, you see the icon for Google+ Photos image in the system tray and the message that it’s going to take 17 days to do the initial upload of 10,000 pictures!  Many of us are using limited bandwidth cellular plans for our Internet connection.  This feature alone could easily use up a standard monthly allotment.

Is this Backup Feature for You?

If you are just starting with digital photography and Picasa – this could be a great option for you.  Just turn it on and know that you’re always protected.  You will never lose a photo.  That is, IF you trust Google with your account, and IF you’re content with the 2048 compressed size. 

Here at Geeks on Tour, we field a lot of questions from folks about using Picasa.  I can’t count how many times we’ve gotten the following question: “My computer crashed, how do I recover all my pictures with Picasa?”  People who ask this question have been under the mistaken impression that Picasa, on their computer, automatically copied all their pictures to the web.  I would have to deliver the bad news that their pictures were gone – unless they had manually uploaded them to Picasa Web Albums, or made a backup to disk.  I think this new backup feature is aimed squarely at those people.  Now, assuming they had turned the feature on, we will be able to tell the distressed photographer that all their pictures are safely stored in their Google+ account – at least a lower resolution copy of them.

Do you Know Where Your Pictures Are?

Before you go signing up for more backup plans, we think it’s important to be more organized with your pictures.  With cell phones and tablets today, you may be taking pictures with several devices.  How do you keep them all organized?  Watch this video for our advice.

This tip brought to you by Geeks on Tour

Geeks on Tour is a membership website with hundreds of Tutorial Videos on topics of interest to travelers, such as managing digital photos with Picasa, Route-Planning with Streets and Trips, and sharing your travels with a website using Blogger or with friends on Facebook. You can subscribe to our free e-newsletters, or become a paid member and be able to view all of the videos in the Learning Library.