Thank you for all who wrote to me about my article on Tuesday 4th March entitled “Are you having fun with your digital camera”. Many of you wonder if there was a freeware program so I investigated and found Picasa from Google. In fact it seemed so good I am using it myself. Both on my PC and, as there is a Linux version, on my Notebook as well.
It finds every photograph on your computer and presents then in one page, together with a contents column on the left. You can instantly find your photograph by clicking on the folder name on the left, or scroll down incredibly fast to spot them on the right. Nothing gets lost anymore. Unlike LightRoom, the method of making the picture more presentable isn’t as thorough, but it is free, and will do a minimal job. Enough for anyone who is not a professional or a serious hobbyist using a DSLR with interchangeable lenses!
The program has some interesting facilities; apart from importing pictures directly from your camera, you can select a series of photographs and watch them on a full-screen slide show. If you want to send a very large slide show, you can burn them immediately onto a CD which also contains the software to present them on another PC as a slide show. To make this easy for you, there is a “temporary tray” facility where you can chose whatever photographs you want to work with, no matter where they are on your computer.
You can use this temporary tray for all of the following. You could upload them to the Picasa website for show to anybody, or as an unlisted show just for your personal friends. On the other hand, if you build your own websites, you can export as an HTML page. There are six nice templates to chose from or you can write your own XML code if you are a professional programmer. Personally I have found two of the six templates offered superb for my needs.
You can email them to anyone using your own email program; if you use GMail then it is almost automatic. If you are sending one photograph you can send it full or reduced size. Batches of photographs always go out in reduced size. If you want to send a large batch of full size photographs, it makes it easy for you to do so outside of Picasa, by allowing you to easily export all of your original files to a folder of your choice on your computer.
You have two choices if you want to print them.
You can print them at home, using their templates of twelve to the page, four to a page, two to a page or full page (A4). In addition, you can print contact sheets onto A4 with up to 42 pictures per sheet. When printing a contact sheet, it will print the Album name at the top, the dates the photographs were taken, and the file name under each picture. Ideal for your friends to choose what they want.
Or you can choose a printing house (including Bonus Print and Photobox – and quite a few others. I use Photobox as their prices are good and if you get your files uploaded by 4:00am, they will post, via first class, the same day. And they do. They also send you a Calibration Sheet with your first order and if you are not happy with the colours, go to their website and follow their simple instructions and in future your photographs will look as they do on your screen.