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Managing Photos with Picasa by Glenn Euloth

I am a geek and I have been a geek for a long time. ‚So, when I first started man­ag­ing my dig­i­tal images I never thought I could trust a piece of soft­ware to look after the files on my com­puter. ‚I would use Win­dows Explorer to copy the files off of my cam­era and into a folder on my hard drive. ‚If I wanted to edit an image I would make a copy first and then edit the copy. ‚It worked great but it was very time consuming.

I tried the Kodak soft­ware that came with my first point and shoot but it was very slow and clunky and didn‚„t come with a decent image edi­tor so I gave up on it and went back to copy­ing files in Windows.

Google bought Picasa from Ide­alab in 2004, branded it, and started giv­ing it away as a free down­load. ‚The Google fan-boy that I am I decided to give it a try and it was instant soft­ware love. ‚I don‚„t know how much of it was Ide­alab and how much of it was Google but I found Picasa to be a won­der­ful piece of soft­ware that did every­thing I needed in a slick, easy to use package.

First up was image import. ‚I no longer had to launch two explorer win­dows, cre­ate a folder and copy the files from my SD card to the new folder. ‚Instead, insert­ing the SD card into my lap­top auto­mat­i­cally launches a win­dow that asks me if I want to import the files into Picasa. ‚All I have to do is click OK. ‚Picasa looks after the copy process and deletes all the images off the SD card after con­firm­ing the copy so I‚„m ready to go shoot­ing again.

Next is the easy edit­ing tools. ‚Once the image is in Picasa I can quickly nav­i­gate to an image and per­form a num­ber of easy edits.

Picasa soft­ware — Click to enlarge

  1. Red-eye removal
  2. Sat­u­ra­tion and sharpening
  3. Con­vert to black and white or sepia
  4. Crop to any dimen­sion or aspect ratio
  5. Facial recog­ni­tion
  6. Straighten the image
  7. Tag and Geotag
  8. And much, much more…

Not only do the edit tools work eas­ily and quickly but Picasa auto­mat­i­cally cre­ates a backup copy of the image and per­forms the edits on the copy so if you make a mis­take or if you want a copy of the orig­i­nal you can always find it or revert back.

I ran into a bit of prob­lem orga­niz­ing my images ini­tially as I was not using Picasa so I had cre­ated a 2009 folder and in it I cre­ated Jan­u­ary, Feb­ru­ary, March, etc. ‚After I started using Picasa I had a very sim­ple way to upload images to Pica­s­aWeb for shar­ing with just a click of a but­ton, how­ever, it used the folder name as the album name on Pica­s­aWeb. ‚This became a prob­lem when I started upload­ing ‚“Jan­u­ary‚ images from 2010 as they got put in the same album on PicasaWeb.

To solve this prob­lem I devel­oped the fol­low­ing strat­egy: ‚At the begin­ning of the month I cre­ate a folder in Picasa with the for­mat YYYY-MM (Mon­th­name), so for exam­ple I have 2011-01 (Jan­u­ary), 2011-02 (Feb­ru­ary), etc. ‚This allows me to store and man­age the images by date with­out wor­ry­ing about dupli­cates and when I want my hol­i­day pho­tos I can eas­ily search for ‚“December‚.

If you are not sure how to man­age your pho­tos or if the soft­ware you are using is awk­ward and not work­ing well for you then I highly rec­om­mend you‚down­load and install it. ‚At the very least you should check out the‚video. ‚Come back next month and I‚„ll talk about advanced image edit­ing with­out hav­ing to spend a lot of money on expen­sive software.

Liv­ing in Hal­i­fax, Nova Sco­tia, Glenn Euloth enjoys trav­el­ling on the pho­to­graphic jour­ney. ‚Visit‚www.euloth.com to join him on the trip or find him on our pho­tog­ra­phy forum under the nick­name of Iguanasan.

Vintage photo of the day Feb. 15, 2011

The vin­tage photo of the day is Side­long Glance by French‚photographer‚Robert Dois­neau and was taken in 1948. Dois­neau is one of France’s most famous pho­tog­ra­phers and many of his images like Kiss by the Hotel de Ville are con­sid­ered iconic.

Sidelong Glance by Robert Doisneau - 1948

Side­long Glance by Robert Dois­neau — 1948

What makes this pho­to­graph so appeal­ing is the sense of story and sense of humour. The woman is look­ing at the art in the‚foreground painting‚but the man sees ‘art’ in a dif­fer­ent paint­ing off to the side. The model’s bare bot­tom in the paint­ing is the bright­est ele­ment in the image so our eye (as well as the man’s rov­ing eye) goes right to it. The point of view of the image, the fab­u­lous tim­ing, as well as the fact that the sub­jects seem unaware that they are being pho­tographed all add to this image’s appeal.

Three Basic Rules of Close-Up Photography by Kristen Smith

So you want to get close, huh? ‚Close-up pho­tog­ra­phy is mag­i­cal and can be done with almost any lens, even your nor­mal zoom lens (all of these shots were taken with the Zuiko Dig­i­tal 12-60mm zoom, not a macro lens). ‚Sure, seri­ous macro pho­tog­ra­phy requires spe­cial­ized equip­ment, but you can get good results right away using what you have if you remem­ber a few guidelines.

First ‚œ get close! ‚So many times I see ‚Ëœclose-up‚„ pic­tures that include way too much in the frame. ‚Like a flower image that shows other flow­ers, leaves, a fence, the dirt etc. ‚That‚„s not a close-up. ‚The rea­son good close-up and macro pho­tos are so mag­i­cal is that they show us a world we might not ordi­nar­ily notice. ‚Here‚„s what to do, find out how close your lens will focus and then try and stick to that as much as pos­si­ble. ‚My ZD 12-60mm lets me get a cou­ple inches from my sub­ject and does a good enough job that I can some­times leave my macro lens at home.


Ice Crys­tals by Kris­ten Smith

Sec­ond ‚œ iso­late! ‚Close-up pho­tographs are much more effec­tive when the sub­ject is clearly sep­a­rated from the rest of the scene. ‚You can do this in two ways, first by choos­ing a sub­ject that doesn‚„t have any­thing near enough to be in the frame with it. ‚So pick that flower or mush­room that doesn‚„t have any friends. The sec­ond way you can iso­late your sub­ject is by open­ing your lens to a large aper­ture. ‚Doing this lim­its your depth of field and cre­ates an out of focus back­ground also known as bokeh. ‚Of course sharp focus on your main sub­ject is crit­i­cal, so be care­ful. ‚Watch the shut­ter speeds and use a tri­pod if necessary.

Chicory Blos­som by Kris­ten Smith

Third ‚œ sur­prise! ‚Show me some­thing dif­fer­ent. ‚Oh gee, another flower pic­ture. ‚Yay. ‚How about a bug? ‚Yawn. ‚A leaf? ‚Zzzzz. ‚Sorry, I‚„m not really dump­ing on any of these things, but haven‚„t we all seen a mil­lion of them? ‚I‚„m just as guilty of it. ‚After a while they‚„re all the same and it takes an effort to bring some­thing dif­fer­ent to the world of close-up pho­tog­ra­phy. ‚Find it. ‚What­ever it takes, find some­thing unusual about an every­day object or some­thing you hardly ever see pho­tographed. ‚Try new angles, per­spec­tives, jux­ta­po­si­tions, play with depth of field, back­ground, color com­bi­na­tions; any­thing to help your image break free of sameness.

Bro­ken Cork by Kris­ten Smith

So that should get you started. ‚Get close, iso­late and sur­prise me! ‚Feel free to post com­ments with links to your best close-up pho­tos or share them on the‚forum.

My Web­site = www.wickeddarkphotography.com and I’m based in New Hamp­shire, USA

Photography forum image of the month January 2011

Every month on our pho­tog­ra­phy forum mem­bers nom­i­nate images that they like. Then at the end of the month I choose an excel­lent image and talk about why it rocks. The photo I choose is not nec­es­sar­ily the best one of the month. I’ve come to real­ize it’s not really log­i­cal to pit images from totally dif­fer­ent gen­res against each other. That’s why there are cat­e­gories in photo con­tests. I just choose a photo that has extremely strong ele­ments that we can learn from.

A snowy morning by Bambi

A snowy morn­ing by Bambi

This month’s choice is‚A snowy morn­ing by Bambi

I chose this image for sev­eral reasons:

Mood — This image has a won­der­ful mood and this mood is cre­ated by the falling snow, the snow cov­ered branches in the fore­ground against the darker toned trees in the midground and of course the fig­ure in the back­ground. A shal­lower depth of field with the sharpest ele­ments in the fore­ground might not have been the obvi­ous choice for many pho­tog­ra­phers, but it is rock­ing this image big-time! The shut­ter speed catch­ing the sus­pended snow is also help­ing the mood. The Black and white con­ver­sion is very well done, and it suits and enhances the other ele­ments con­tribut­ing to the over­all mood.

Com­po­si­tion — Very well done here! There are ‘lay­ers’ of inter­est­ing things for our eyes to look at start­ing from the fore­ground and con­tin­u­ing to the back­ground where the focal point (the per­son) is. Our eye is well guided through this win­tery ‘tunnel’.

Exposure/shutter speed — Both are well han­dled here. The shut­ter speed ‘freezes‚ ’ the falling snow here. A good expo­sure keeps the whites in check and offers up won­der­ful tonal­ity with a good range of tones. If I have 1 teeny nig­gle I might burn in the light­est branches at top right by maybe 5%.

For all these rea­sons, this is my choice for image of the month. Since we all have opin­ions, some mem­bers may dis­agree with my choice. That’s cool but THIS post is not the place for debate over my pick, NOR is it the place to fur­ther cri­tique the image. The pur­pose here is to sug­gest strong ele­ments in the photo that we may learn from.

Con­grats again Bambi for cap­tur­ing this gor­geous scene!

Photographing Cityscapes — A City Mouse Perspective by Jacqueline A. Sheen

I am a city mouse; there is no get­ting around it. Not for me get­ting up in the predawn hours to drive for hours out to coun­try vis­tas wait­ing for the per­fect sun­rise. No. My milieu is the city. I live uptown and love it here. I walk just about every­where I go. I encounter inter­est­ing char­ac­ters almost daily and the bus­tle of rush hour makes my heart flut­ter just a lit­tle. When I leave the city, upon return­ing, the moment I see the city sky­line in the dis­tance my heart races just a lit­tle with the feel­ing one gets when they know they will soon see an old love once again.

Calgary Cityscape by Jacqueline A. Sheen

Cal­gary Cityscape by Jacque­line A. Sheen

Cal­gary is not a big city although it suf­fers a bit from urban sprawl. It sits nicely on the prairies, where the Bow River runs through it. The CPR rail­way also runs through the down­town core. This is a vibrant, wealthy city, that was built on a ‚“can do‚ pio­neer spirit.

Calgary‚„s many sky­scrap­ers afford some won­der­ful sky­line pho­tog­ra­phy. Because the city core runs east to west along the core, some really won­der­ful late day pho­tos can be had from the west­ern side of down­town fac­ing east. The glass tow­ers lit­er­ally glow pink and gold. The down­town core itself is located near the riverbed in a bit of a val­ley, which makes for some awe­some van­tage points both at river level and from higher van­tage points.

When pho­tograph­ing the city, I walk every­where. It is not really much dif­fer­ent than land­scape pho­tog­ra­phy in that respect. To see, really see what you are look­ing at, you have to slow down. I try to pho­to­graph the city in a way that shows off its beauty but at the same time, shows it in a way that the com­mon com­muter may not notice in their race to get down­town. Look up. Did you notice the clas­sic art deco styling on that old build­ing? ‚Did you see those gar­goyles way high up on another?

Cal­gary is blessed in that the down­town core is vibrant and alive. There is an active arts com­mu­nity and there is much pub­lic and pri­vate funded art. The photo above shows a por­tion of a large sculp­ture that graces the side­walk in front of one of the ‚“Oil Tow­ers‚ down­town. It looks like a styl­ized dinosaur skele­ton, which makes sense as all the oil reserves come from ‚“dinosaur bones‚ so to speak. Although the own­ers of the sculp­ture may not like my use of it to frame a sky­scraper other than their own, when I saw the photo, the title came imme­di­ately to mind. ‚“This City was Built On Dinosaur Bones.‚

Jacque­line A. Sheen is a pho­tog­ra­pher liv­ing in Cal­gary Alberta, Canada. You can check out more of her work at www.jasphoto.ca and she also goes by the han­dle JAS_Photo on our pho­tog­ra­phy forum.

Photographing Architectural Abstracts by Lisa Couldwell

Liv­ing in the down­town core of a large city with some inter­est­ing glass tow­ers makes for great oppor­tu­ni­ties to shoot urban archi­tec­tural abstracts. The beauty of this type of pho­tog­ra­phy is that some­times unco­op­er­a­tive weather or light can make for some great oppor­tu­ni­ties to catch build­ing reflec­tions. So any day I feel the need to get out for a walk, I take my cam­era and head down­town to see what the tow­ers will offer up for opportunities.

I guess the most impor­tant aspect of shoot­ing these types of sub­jects is the abil­ity to look up, ver­ti­cal, side­ways, basi­cally any way that gives one a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive. When shoot­ing, look for inter­est­ing shapes and reflec­tions off the glass win­dows of the tow­ers. This can be any­thing from the reflec­tions of the other parts of the build­ings them­selves, to reflec­tions of the sky or clouds, sun­light or other build­ings in the area.

Energy Plaza - Calgary, Alberta by Lisa Couldwell

Energy Plaza — Cal­gary, Alberta by Lisa Couldwell

If you see some­thing that catches your eye, try turn­ing your head, body in a way that might per­haps give you a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive and if you see some­thing, get the cam­era ready. I usu­ally set my Pen­tax into auto-bracket mode because I like to have the option of an HDR shot to play around with when I get home. Put the cam­era to the eye and again turn the cam­era, side­ways, on an angle or basi­cally any way that inten­si­fies the abstract­ness of what you see through the lens. Take your time and don’t be afraid to take sev­eral ver­sions of the shot while mov­ing the cam­era and your body into dif­fer­ent angles as you never know what may work and what may not. When com­pos­ing the image in cam­era, I often com­pose lines to move on the diag­o­nal as this moves the eye through the photo and cre­ates a pleas­ing per­spec­tive. I look for sym­met­ri­cal and geo­met­ric shapes when I move and pho­to­graph. I will go across the street and try from a dif­fer­ent street cor­ner as well. The beauty of this kind of pho­tog­ra­phy is any­thing goes and you never know what you may end up with just by mov­ing either a few cen­time­ters or sev­eral feet. (Just as an FYI, some­times you may get has­sled from secu­rity peo­ple but in Canada as long as you are on a pub­lic side­walk and not on pri­vate prop­erty you have the right to con­tinue to photograph.)

In this image, I really was attracted to the V shaped angle of the build­ing, van­ish­ing per­spec­tive, sym­me­try, and the reflec­tions of the other win­dows and the clouds. I pointed the cam­era straight up and tried to angle it so it was per­fectly sym­met­ri­cal. I then auto­brack­eted 3 shots at expo­sures of +.5/0/-.5 stops, com­bined them into an HDR image in Pho­tomatix, con­verted to BW in Sil­ver Efex and minor touch ups in Light­room to really bring out the cloud detail.

Lisa Could­well is a pho­tog­ra­pher liv­ing in Cal­gary Alberta, Canada. You can check out more of her work in the Pen­tax Gallery, on flu­idr,‚and on Smug­mug. She also goes by the han­dle casil403 on our pho­tog­ra­phy forum.