You're learning about photography through our Digital Photography 101 column, and now you're wondering what to do with all those wonderful pictures you've taken. How on earth will you keep them organized and tagged and share them with your friends and family? With Google's free Picasa desktop app and companion web service, all of this becomes a snap. Let's check it out.
Organizing and tagging
There are many ways you can choose to organize your photos. Pictures of animals, nature, people, and the like can always been separated by the idea or thing they represent. With Picasa, you can organize your photos into any number of albums based on these or other topical groupings. Each album can be tagged with a description of what's inside, and each picture can have descriptions added as well.
But there's also a new way to separate pictures that holds a great appeal for all those family vacations and road trips you've taken over the years. It's known as geotagging, and it allows you to tag photos based on the location where they were taken. Using Google Maps within Picasa, you simply select the pictures you want to include for a particular location. Do a search on the map, and drop a green pin at the location where you want your pictures to be tagged as being taken. You can also drag and drop pictures onto the map.
Editing and advanced features
Another great feature of Picasa is image editing. There are quite a few basic image manipulations available as one-click fixes, such as eliminating red-eye, color adjustment, and lighting. Need more than that? No problem! Picasa also has several tuning and effects filters to help you make that image just so.
If you're still looking for more advanced image editing features, Picasa now works in conjunction with Picnik, an online photo editing app. Cut, paste, crop, and more with this free web app. The best part is that it's a featured icon right inside of Picasa, so you don't have to hunt it down when you need advanced features.
There's so much more to Picasa, it's hard to know where to stop. Picasa can be used to design photo collages, create slideshows, and make screensavers for your computer. You can even order prints of your photos through Picasa from major retail services.
Share and share alike
Now that you've got your pictures organized, tagged, and perfected, it's time to share them with someone! Don't break out the CD-ROMs just yet. Things are a lot easier than ever before in this department. Because of cloud computing, services like Picasa Web Albums have taken off over the last few years. Using Picasa Web Albums is as simple as signing up with Google and linking it to your desktop Picasa app. Not only can you use this to share your pictures, but you can also use it as a backup of what's on your desktop computer.
You can share your albums with friends and family with one click. The Picasa software will upload your album and all the images it contains. You can share it with only certain friends and family members, or you can list it publicly and share those scenic landscape pictures with the world. When geotagged, the photos will appear on Google maps and Google Earth, if you've shared them publicly.
A top rating
Overall, the Picasa app and Picasa Web Albums service won't disappoint you. The features are pretty good for basic and even most advanced image editing needs. Only hardcore graphics designers will probably want more in the way of editing functionality. Organizing and sharing your photos really doesn't get much easier than this. The web service does have a 1 GB limit on storage with the free version; paid upgrades are available if you need them.
We're giving Picasa 5 out of 5 stars for its ease of use, editing features, and sharing capabilities. Plus, you know, it's free.
Post by Michael Arcand