Organizing and editing photos

March 4, 2007

I love taking pictures. Organizing paper photos wasn’t my strong suit — I’d put them in a long box, in chronological order, meaning to put them into scrapbooks (but never having the time to do so).

When I got my first digital camera, that was it. No more paper photos — unless I want to print a certain photo out. Nowadays, I save all my photos on my computer’s hard drive (and back them up onto a CD once in a while!). I organize the photos into folders with the year first, then month (like this: “2006-12 photos”, “2007-01 photos”). Special events, like my daughter’s birthday party with many photos, merit their own folder (like this: “2006-12-31 Daughter’s birthday party”). And I then take out the memory card from my camera, plug it into a card reader, and move all my pictures from my camera card to the right folder(s) on the computer.

But now, how do I edit these photos? I’m not talking about in-depth photo editing with swirls of color and beautiful fake backgrounds — I use Adobe’s Photoshop Elements (a paid program) for that. It’s a memory hog, and it has too many features. I’m talking about doing some simple editing like rotating photos 90 degrees, or cropping it so that the photo focuses more on my daughter and does not include the kid near her picking his nose, or taking out those red-eyes that makes me look so satanic (as if I’m not already). Or, shrinking its size so that it becomes easy to add to an email or to a blog.

Two ways I edit my photos. One way is through a free program, another way is using a really cool onsite service.

Free program: Google Picasa is an excellent way to organize your photos, and it has a fantastic photo editing function, too. Just download and install it, and it’ll then start indexing all the photos it can find on your computer. (The first time it does that, it takes quite a while — but it becomes much quicker after that.) You can pick a photo and rotate it, crop it (cut out some stuff on the sides and/or top/bottom), fix devilish red-eyes, change color tints, and do a lot of other cool stuff to it. I highly recommend this program. And oh, how much does it cost? Zip, nada, zilch, zero.Picnik logo

Cool onsite service: There are quite a few online photo services where you’d upload a photo onto the Internet and make edits and then save it either back onto your computer or on an Internet storage space. Of those, at the moment, Picnik.com seems to be the best and the most simple of those that are free. (Heads up: Adobe is planning a free, on-line version of its much-vaunted Photoshop software, supported by advertisements. When that comes out, maybe I’ll change my mind.) Just go to Picnik.com, and even without creating a login ID / password, you can “Try Me”, upload a photo from your computer, and then do some simple editing to it. Then save it back onto your computer, or to Flickr (a popular online photo site). (Make sure you save it under a new name, or you’ll overwrite your old photo — unless you REALLY want to get rid of that kid picking his nose near your daughter — I would, too.)

Go forth and edit your photos. Nothing’s sacred nowadays; the photo for our family’s last several Holiday cards (except for 2006) were doctored anyway.  <Evil laugh>

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