I went for a walk with my Mom the other afternoon. We have this favorite little park, and it was a gorgeous day. She’s walking pretty slow these days, so I had ample opportunity to take my phone out of my pocket and snap pictures. I showed her each picture I took and she would point out something else worthy of a shot.
Editing Pictures as you Take Them is FUN
I was excited to catch the duck in flight just as it came in for a landing. Then I looked at the photo on my phone and realized that you couldn’t even see the duck! It needed to be cropped. No problem, with no tools other than my finger and the phone, I tap on the little pencil that brings up Google Photos editing tools, tap the crop tool and drag a corner in closer to the duck while still leaving some of the lily pads in the shot. I tap the checkmark to signal that I’m done with cropping, Then, one tap on the Auto adjustment gives me a better look.
The second picture below just has an auto adjustment applied, and the third has a crop and auto adjustment.
Yes you can make a collage on your phone
I took a few more pictures, including a selfie of Mom and me that needed no improvement at all! It was such a nice day I wanted to share it with my friends on Facebook, but I didn’t want to post multiple pictures, so I decided to make a collage. Still using nothing but Google Photos on my phone:
I select 7 pictures
Tap the + button in the upper right
While viewing the collage, I tap the share button , choose Facebook, and post to Friends. I also tapped the + and added the collage to my monthly Web Album on Google Photos.
During this lovely one hour walk, I took pictures, enjoyed having Mom point out more pictures, had fun editing them, and shared a collage to Facebook, and added the day’s collage to my monthly album … all before even getting back to the car!
Google Photos has removed all the work and left only the play
In years past, I would have taken my digital SLR camera – a Canon Rebel T3i – and taken many of the same pictures. After getting home I would need to transfer them from the camera to the computer, decide where to store them, spend some time doing the editing, upload the best ones to the web, make the collage and upload that too. That would probably take me a half hour using Picasa, much longer with other software. A half hour may not sound like much, but when you multiply that times all the days and all the pictures I like to take – well, I think you get the idea. And, worse than the time it takes is when I didn’t take the time and never enjoyed my pictures or shared them.
I love playing with my pictures and trying out the different creations that Google Photos includes. And, at the end of the day, I’m done. All my photos are safely, and privately, stored in my Google Account in the cloud. I can delete them from my phone to free up space for taking more! I also have Microsoft OneDrive grabbing a copy of all my phone’s photos for the ‘belt and suspenders’ protection. This is all automatic.
Have you ever wished you could use Picasa’s Fill Light tool on just a selected area of a picture? Take the picture at right as an example, the Lincoln Memorial in the background is perfectly exposed, but the two faces in the foreground are too dark to see. If you use Picasa’s Fill Light tool, you can make it so the faces are bright, but the whole picture is affected. The Memorial will be way overexposed.
If you upload the picture, using the “Share with Google+” button, you will have more editing tools available to you, including the Selective tool. Once the picture is showing on your Google+ Photo album, you can view it then click the Edit menu. If you are using the Google Chrome browser, you will then see the four basic editing tools and several “Creative Adjustments.” We’re using the Basic editing tool of ‘selective.’ This is similar to ‘burning and dodging’ in darkroom terminology. This feature requires the Google Chrome browser, it won’t work with Internet Explorer, or Safari.
Once you’ve chosen the ‘Selective’ tool, then you click on “Add Control Point.” In this example, I did it twice, once for each face. So
Add Control Point, and click on one face
Adjust size of selection to cover the face
Increase brightness by clicking on B and dragging to right
Increase contrast by clicking on C and dragging to right
When you’re done, click “Done Editing.” Now isn’t that better?!
This edited picture only exists online, in your Google+ Photos Album. If you want it on your computer, you’ll need to use the Download command.
Geeks on Tour members may want to review the videos about uploading pictures:
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, orbecome a paid member and be able to view all of the videos in the Learning Library.
It’s places like this that give me joy in using my good digital SLR camera, and then viewing and editing the pictures later in Picasa. The picture of the two of us is of particular interest since we were all alone on this beach, and we didn’t have a tripod. How did we get that picture? The answer is at the bottom of this post.
Anastasia Island is a Florida State park on the beach at St. Augustine. We only stayed there one night, but we made our way to the beach at those all-important photography times of sunset and sunrise. I can’t stop looking at these pictures and just feeling love for the world of beauty that we live in. I took over 250 pictures! With help from Picasa’s Side-by-Side editing feature, I chose the 49 best and then edited them so they look even better. I hope you enjoy them!
Just one example of Before and After editing in Picasa. I hope you agree … the one on the right is better!
Crop: most all of my pictures need a crop
I’m Feeling Lucky: I always click on I’m Feeling Lucky. Sometimes – especially with sunsets – I don’t like what it does so I click on Undo
Straighten: my horizon always seems a bit crooked when taking ocean pictures!
Graduated Tint: to make blue skies bluer, or sunsets redder
Increase shadows: for a richer look on some photos
Sharpen: when my picture looks a little soft, clicking on Sharpen gives you more defined edges
HDRish: when sharpen doesn’t do enough, HDRish will make my images pop! I usually move settings to lessen the effect, it can be very dramatic.
Saturation: to make colorful pictures even more colorful.
Mulitiple Exposure Collage in Picasa
That’s how we got the picture of the two of us. It’s actually 2 pictures and I put them together using the Collage feature of Picasa and choosing Multiple Exposure. Rarely do 2 pictures work so well in a double exposure – but these two sure did! To see exactly how it was done, members can watch the Collage Short Course of tutorial videos. Multiple Exposures is the 8th video in the series.
by Chris Guld, www.GeeksOnTour.TV Aren’t digital cameras great?! Just snap away to your heart’s content, no worries about wasting film, or costing more money, or taking up more space. You can see right away if you captured the image you wanted, and take more shots if you didn’t. I’ve been known to take over 100 pictures in any given day when we’re traveling thru beautiful countryside. For RVers, like us, you can quickly rack up thousands of pictures!
If you put your pictures onto your computer, which we think you should, then you have lots of choices for what software to use for managing and editing them. At Geeks on Tour, we’ve been evangelists for Picasa over 7 years now. It’s a free program that you download to your computer from Google. We teach several seminars on it, produced over 60 tutorial videos, have a website dedicated to Picasa, and wrote a book on it! But, we know it’s not the only game in town. Many people with Macintosh computers are very happy with iPhoto which comes preinstalled on their Macs – even though Picasa does have a fully compatible Macintosh version. On Windows computers, the gold standard photo editing program is Adobe Photoshop ($700!) or Photoshop Elements ($99.) There are also several free programs, including Microsoft’s offering – Windows Live Photo Gallery, and a full featured, Photoshop workalike called GIMP.
Why we Still Like Picasa the Best
As you can see from the crowd of over 700 people in one of our Picasa Seminars for FMCA, Picasa is very popular. The free price certainly has something to do with that, but Picasa also gives you the greatest capability for the least effort. When we started teaching Picasa about 7 years ago, it was drop-dead easy. Over the years, Google has added more and more features. Some areas have now become a bit complex, but it’s still pretty darned easy, especially compared to the full-featured image editors like Photoshop or GIMP. Before Picasa, I used a program called Fireworks – generally in the same class as Photoshop. It would take me 1 – 2 hours every time I went thru my process with the day’s 50 or so photos, when I switched to Picasa, the time shortened to about 15 minutes!
The closest competitors to Picasa in ease of use are iPhoto and Photo Gallery. They even have some features that are an improvement over Picasa. iPhoto gives you multiple ways to view your pictures in location on a map, better slideshow features, and built in ways to make cards and books. Photo Gallery has that cool photo fuse feature where you can replace one person in a group shot, it has a Panorama feature that Picasa lacks, and I like the way tags are handled better in Photo Gallery. I actually considered switching to Photo Gallery but then realized that I simply could not live without Picasa’s features of Text on photos, or combining pictures in a Collage. And Photo Gallery as well as iPhoto only have a fraction of Picasa’s photo editing features. I have so much fun just trying all the different single-click effects, then undoing them if I don’t like it.
What about Flickr, or Snapfish, or SmugMug?
I talk to many people who say, ‘Oh, I don’t use Picasa, I use Snapfish.’ They don’t understand. Picasa is software on your computer for working with pictures on your computer. No Internet involved. Flickr, Snapfish and SmugMug are photo sharing websites. Google also offers a photo-sharing website called Picasa Web Albums, but Picasa and Picasa Web Albums each can stand on their own without the other. So, “I don’t use Picasa Web Albums because I use Snapfish.” would make sense, but I would still ask them what they use to edit their pictures on their computer. Maybe they use nothing – just copying the pictures from the camera to their computer, then uploading them directly to Snapfish. Oh what they’re missing!
Is Picasa going Away?
Google is going thru a lot of transition these days, with their social network – Google + – leading the pack. They made an announcement a few months back that Picnik is closing on April 19. Picnik was an online photo editing website that Google bought last year. They linked it to Picasa with a button along with Picasa’s main editing tools. Now they’re taking it away, and that is starting a lot of rumors about the future of Picasa. Many of the cool photo editing tools that were developed at Picnik are now incorporated directly into Picasa 3.9, and many more have become part of the online photo editing available thru Google Plus. The Picasa desktop product is still very strong at Google. Google is certainly not above killing product lines, but they do it with failures, not stars.
That said, Picasa may very well be renamed to Google Photos. It’s certainly appropriate that a star product be recognized by the company’s brand – and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they used the April 19 date to make that happen. If that happens, I sure hope they do something to distinguish between the online photo-sharing software and the desktop photo management software. Over and over again, I ‘ve had to explain the difference between Picasa (desktop software) and Picasa Web Albums (online photo-sharing.) It would be even worse to have Google Photos (desktop software) and Google Plus Photos (online photo-sharing) !!
The Best Software is the One you Know How to Use!
The bottom line with any computer software is knowing how to use it. You’ll accomplish a lot more with a half-good program that you understand, than with the cream of the crop that you can’t figure out. I’ll keep using – and teaching – Picasa because I understand it inside and out. Whenever they come out with new features, like the side-by-side editing introduced in version 3.9, you can count on new videos like the one -below from GeeksOnTour. Sign up for our free Picasa Tip-of-the-Week if you want to stay on top of all things Picasa!
Geeks On Tour is Jim and Chris Guld. They have been traveling the US in their RV since 2003. They teach fellow travelers how to use computers and technology to plan, preserve, and share their travels. They have both been involved in professional computer support and training since the early 80s. They maintain a family of websites including www.picasageeks.com containing hundreds of articles, and www.geeksontour.tv where members can watch tutorial videos on all their topics.