Picasa – Pretty Cool

After the Yosemite backpacking trip, I wanted a way to share all of the photos I took on the trip. I also wanted to be able to have the other guys on the trip be able to upload their photos if they wanted. I was vaguely aware of Picasa, and so I checked it out.

Turns out Picasa is both a photo sharing site, and an associated app to perform photo manipulation. I downloaded the app, and it automagically spent some time finding and indexing image files on my computer, including the batch of Yosemite photos. I haven’t played with the Picasa app yet. I usually use Paint (either the Windows or Linux versions) or The GIMP when I have to manipulate images.

I uploaded the Yosemite photos. I created a Picasa web account (and since I already had a Google account, that was pretty straightforward), pointed it at the directory where the pictures were, added a title and some other info, and then the photos uploaded. It was fast and easy.

Once the pictures were there, it was trivial to enable sharing. I added email addresses for the other five guys, added some geolocation data to show where Yosemite is on the map, and then looked at the presentation. It was pretty simple, medium-sized previews, which could be clicked to bring up larger, or even full-resolution images.

One thing I had been dreading was captioning, since I had 200+ photos. I have looked at packages that required a lot of keystrokes to caption a picture. Usually the sequence is click the photo, then click a button to caption, type in the caption, then click save or whatever, then go back and repeat.

Not so. I clicked Actions, then Captions, and got 50 pictures arranged with caption space next to them. The process is such that when adding or changing a caption in a field, moving off the field changes the caption automagically (via Javascript, I would imagine). Since the photos were arranged by time, I got into a rhythm of typing in a general caption for a major section (for example, “Day 2, Hiking.”), and pasting it into picture after picture. So the process was click mouse in next the field, Ctrl-V, repeat, unless I wanted to add some additional text like “Boy, were we dirty!”. So captioning everything took about 20 minutes.

Another thing that was pretty cool. If there are people in the picture, Picasa does a decent job of identifying faces, and prompts you to name the people when the mouse crosses the face. It’s optional to actually name.

I noticed that one of the other guys uploaded photos into the album at some point. One thing that I would gripe about, when the album is updated, the people that you have authorized to upload to the album all get notified when someone uploads new photos. The owner of the album apparently does not by default. So I will look and see if there is some option I need to enable for that. Note several hours later: It turns out that I got an email from Picasa, while I was writing this post, that let me know that the photos had been uploaded. So, gripe > /dev/null.

Overall, Picasa on the web is a pretty cool site. I posted a link to the full site from the blog post I wrote for the Yosemite trip, and I think I can recommend Picasa when you have pictures that you want the world to see.

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