Find any photo in less than 5 seconds! Or how about making a collage out of your photo collection? Just like how you manage your music collection so that you can find songs instantly, organizing your photos is a good practice.
Let’s say you have a folder on your hard drive in which you dump all the images that you capture with your digital camera. If the photos aren’t organized, sifting through thousands of files to find your 2005 vacation pictures or photos of your graduation day can be quite a task!
Modern day image management software off er a lot more than just helping you organize your photo collection and fi nd pictures instantly. Some of the good applications also have built-in tools for editing photos and uploading them to web photo albums. Picasa is one such feature-packed tool by Google and it’s available for free at picasa.google.com. Here’s how you can use it to manage your photos, make them look better, and fi nd the ones you’re looking for in a jiffy.
When you start Picasa it scans your entire hard drive for pictures. Stop the scan and remove all the folders it added. Organize all your photos in one folder and add it to Picasa (‘File | Add Folder to Picasa’). While selecting the folder to add from the Folder Manager, make sure the Scan Always radio button is checked. Picasa will monitor this folder for new images and automatically update the photo collection.
Create albums depending on the pictures you’ve shot—places, people, birthday, pet, food, nature, others, and soon. Press [ctrl+n] to create a new album. Key in the album name and press the OK button to add it to Picasa. Now organize the pictures in your mega photo collection into relevant albums. To add images to the album, select the images you wish to add and drag them over the album in the left pane. Note that the images won’t move to the album because Picasa just creates their entries into its database. You’ll now have two collections in the left pane—one containing the albums and the other containing your photo collection. Collapse the former by clicking the tiny green triangle to the left of its header.
Searching pictures becomes easy when they are tagged. To tag an image, first select it and then press [ctrl+t] to bring up the Tags dialog box. Add as many tags (one or two words each) relevant to the image. It can be anything from names of people, places, occasions, year, and so on. You can also tag multiple files simultaneously if they share similar attributes. Now collapse the photo collection and expand the albums collection and try searching for images by tags from the search bar right on top. Easy?
In addition to managing photos, Picasa also provides tools for basic image manipulation. When you double click on a thumbnail in the library it opens for editing in a new section. In the left pane you will fi nd tools for basic fixes, tuning and eff ects. If your camera was tilted while taking the shot you can straighten the image. Plus there’s a very useful tool called Retouch that helps you remove blemishes from skin. You can also adjust the exposure of underexposed images and add eff ects such as soft focus, glow, sepia, graduated tint, and so on to give your photos a face lift.
How about creating a photo collage out of images from your collection? Select an album or images the collection and hit the Collage button on the toolbar at the bottom. Picasa will randomly arrange the images and create a collage. There are six collage formats to choose from and parameters such as orientation, cell spacing and page form at can be adjusted. Not to mention you can also shuffle pictures in a collage. Other features include creating videos and screen savers out of pictures, uploading photos to web albums, geo-tagging, and backing up photos. Try out this software and you’ll get hooked on to it!