fun with picasa - a mini tutorial

While I was in California, one of the things I did was help my mom download Picasa onto her computer. My mom's an awesome painter and she wanted to be able to put her photos of paintings onto her computer (and for whatever reason, she was having problems getting them out of her camera). Picasa is, in my opinion, one of the most awesome ways to organize and play around with photos, so I installed it for her.

However, I didn't have enough time to really walk her (and my neice, who is a budding photographer/ artist)  through all the awesome features. I kinda figured my niece would play around with it and show it off to my mom and I think that's what happened.

But since there was a big, awesome update yesterday, I thought this would be a good time to explain a few simple things and then link her (and you) to a site I found that has a lot of great Picasa tutorials called, aptly enough, Picasa Tutorials (that's good SEO!).

First, to get really simple, let's start with the basics. Screenshot time!

Picasa is a photo organizing, editing and sharing program (owned by google) that you download onto your computer. You can download it here, if you don't already have it. (If you already have it but you haven't updated to version 3.9, the newest update, you might want to go do that now, too.)

Since Picasa is owned by google, when you click that big green "share" button your photos are stored on google+ (you can choose who you want to share them with. My photos are mostly set to be fairly private, although I probably need to mess around with my settings, since I have many years worth of photos stored up there on the cloud).

You can also add a "Facebook" button to that bottom right bar (you can see mine is already installed). Go to "tools" and then "configure buttons." I've also added the "movie" and "collage" buttons.

Over there on the left hand side, those are all my photo folders. (I've been experimenting with organizing them by date shot for the last year. So far so good, although I could probably add key words to make them more searchable. Since my mind tends to work chronologically, this system has been working for me.)

Once you click on a folder, the files all "open" to the right. Double click a photo to open it individually. (And even more cool, the new update allows side by side editing, I'll get to that in a second!)

In the new update, google took elements from Piknik (an online photo editor which is being shut down on April 19) and added them to Picasa. You can see some of them in this screenshot. My favorite for awhile has been "Lomo-ish." I've already Lomo-fied this sparrow.

Click on the effect you want to use.

See those sliders? Play with them! Change the effect until it looks the way you want it to look!

You can use multiple effects, too, although they don't all play well together. Experiment!

OK, now here is one of the most exciting new features to me: side by side editing.

See those little A AB AA buttons up there in the right hand corner? A is the default, that's single photo editing.

AB gets you two different photos to edit together (shown here, unedited, since these photos work for me straight outta camera - most of my photos are left that way). You still edit them one at a time, but you can see how the edits look together, giving a better sense of unified editing (for blog posts, let's say).

AA opens the same photo in two views so you can look at the edits side by side (which is helpful when you aren't sure where you want to go with a photo: should it be black and white or sepia? Orton or lomo? You get the idea.)

After I edit photos, I add text (my url or quotes or poetry). I'll try to put together a mini tutorial on my poetry/ quote photo making, but for now, here's a screenshot:

Awesome Blue Jay is awesome.

We bought Photoshop last year, but I have to admit, I have not yet gotten a lot of practice using it because for the most part I prefer the simplicity of Picasa. This new update makes me even less likely to switch over to using Photoshop (although I would like to master layers - although I suspect that might be in the Picasa pipeline, we'll see).

I hope this tutorial has been helpful. If you have any questions, let me know either here on on Facebook.