I love my Canon, it takes great photos, but, so does my iPhone 7+ and the iPhone is a lot smaller! Besides, I’ve always believed that what makes the most difference in the quality of a photo is a few seconds spent with good editing tools after the photo is taken. I believed that back with Picasa, and I believe it now with Google Photos and Snapseed. I have no ambition to be a professional photographer, that’s a completely different story. I just want to capture my memories and make them nice to look at.
We had 4 cameras with us even without the Canon! My phone, an iPhone 7+, Jim’s phone, a Pixel XL, Jim’s Samsung Camera 2, and Jim’s GoPro video camera. I enjoyed having only one camera, no decisions to make about which one to use, just learn all I could about using the iPhone. The only time I even thought about my Canon was when we were on a train or a boat. It is so much faster to grab the Canon, put it to your eye, twist the lens to zoom in and snap. That can all be accomplished in one smooth motion, 3 seconds top. With the phone, there is always a lot of fumbling to get to the right screen, squinting to see the image on the screen before snapping, and changing your grip to be able to snap the picture. I’m sure I missed a few good shots because I was too slow, but I still got plenty of nice photos. Here are a few, with notes. Many of these would not be possible with the SLR – e.g. in-camera Panoramas, selfies, animated gifs. See lots more (445 to be exact!) in our Album.
1. Duomo in Florence, Italy
iPhone 7+, Google Photos crop, auto, pop
2. Water lily in gardens at Florence, Italy
iPhone 7+, Snapseed HDR-Scape filter
3. Castiglion Fiorentino, Tuscany Italy
Pixel XL – panorama with a run-around-behind subject
4. Begonias on our terrace at El Santucce
iPhone 7+ using Portrait mode
iPhone 7+ Snapseed HDR-scape, text added with Snapseed
6. St. Mark’s Square in Venice, Italy at night
iPhone 7+ – selfie (front lens) so good at night exposure. no editing other than crop
Samsung Camera 2 – panorama with Google Photos Pop
8. Kayaking on the Grand Canal in Venice
iPhone 7+ on a selfie stick
9. Jim at Miramare castle, Trieste Italy
iPhone 7+ using Portrait mode
10. Boat ride in Ljubljana, Slovenia
iPhone 7+ Edited in Snapseed, HDR-scape filter, Text added
11. Plitvice Lakes, Croatia
iPhone 7+ Live Photo, converted to animated gif with Motion Stills app
12. Plitvice Lakes, Croatia
Samsung Camera 2 on Waterfall setting!
Smartphone Photography Workshops
We will be teaching 2 sessions of our Smartphone Photography workshops at
the FMCA Convention in Indianapolis next week. If you’ll be there, come find
us in the Info center and sign up!
Chris demonstrates how drop-dead easy it is to create collages using Google Photos on your phone or on the computer. If you want more options, she also demonstrates how you can download the picture to your computer and use Picasa.
Tags are the keywords that you can attach to pictures. They are not meant to be visible. They are meant to give you multiple ways to find and group pictures. In our 11 years of RV Travel in the United States, we have been in Texas several times. I store my pictures by month, so I have Texas pictures from April, 2015, we’re in Texas right now , and I also have Texas pictures from March, 2006 and November, 2005 and March 2008, etc. etc. I try to add a tag for Texas to all the best pictures that I took while in Texas. To add a tag, you just select the picture(s) and then click the Tag button, type the tag and click the green +. That way, any time I want, I can view all our pictures from Texas, regardless of their folder location on my computer.
If you Want the Tags to be Visible
1. If you just want to see what tags have been applied to any given picture, the easiest way is to set your thumbnail caption to show tags.
2. If you want to see what tags have been applied to a group of pictures
Select the Group (by clicking on a folder or an album)
Open the Tag Panel by clicking on the Tag button
You will now see the list of all tags used in the selected pictures
3. If you want to see your complete list of all tags you’ve ever used – you’re out of luck. Picasa doesn’t have a way to manage the list of tags. I wish they did! I do have a workaround though. You need to be able to select ALL your pictures so they are one group, then you can see the tags for the group like in #2 above.
Search for .jpg – this should give you a group of ALL your pictures (unless you shoot in RAW)
Click on Search Results in the top left, this should select ALL your pictures. For example, my selection tray now says “Album Selected – 55,550 photos”
Open the Tag Panel by clicking on the Tag button and you should now be seeing all tags applied. Unfortunately, you’ll notice that they are not sorted Alphabetically, they are sorted by popularity.
Looking for the article on Data Usage? Click here.
Organizing ALL your photos can be a daunting task. I hear so many people say, “My pictures are just such a mess! I need to clean it up … someday when I have time.” We all know that someday never comes. My advice is, don’t worry about all your existing pictures. Start with the next picture you take. Develop a system for where you store your pictures from now on. Maybe, someday, you’ll go back to your past pictures and clean them up. Meanwhile, starting now, you’ll know where your pictures are! If that someday does come, you’ll be comfortable with your system and know what you want to do with all those old pictures. I use Picasa (free from Google) as my photo management software on my computer, but the principles in this article apply with other software as well. This article will explore 4 basic steps to organizing your pictures:
Consolidate: gather your pictures in one place
Tag: identify different groups of pictures
Choose: pick your “keepers” and share them
Protect: backups for safekeeping
1. Consolidate: Gather all Photos by Month
Gather all your photos to one computer. Photos from your camera, your smartphones, and your tablets should all be copied to a computer and removed from their original device. I recommend putting them into folders by month, that way you don’t have to think about where to put pictures when you import from the camera. If the picture was taken in January 2015, it goes in the folder Pictures\201501 … period. No choices, no changes. If you don’t know how to view or make folders on your computer, stop right now and read this article: Forget About Picasa and Learn Files and Folders!
In my lifestyle, I’m taking pictures every day. If you only get out your camera for specific events, you may want a folder system where there is one folder per event. Do not use the Picasa “Import by date taken” unless you have decided to use daily folders as your system. I think daily is just too many folders. I use Picasa’s Import feature, but I enter my own folder titles. If you don’t know how to do that, here’s our tutorial video: Import to Named Folders (membership required.)
2. Tag: Organize by Groups and Faces
Use Tags for Different Groupings: Let’s say you want to view all of your cat pictures together. Do not move or copy your cat pictures from their homes in the monthly folders. Leave them where they are and add a “Tag” for cat. Tags are also sometimes called keywords. You can then use Picasa’s “View Tag as Album” tool and see all the cat pictures in one group. Tags are stored in the metadata of the picture itself, so if you decide to use another program, the tags are there, right in the .jpg file. This way, you can also tag photos with the state where it was taken as well, then you could see all your Arizona pictures together, or your California pictures, or … in our case, any one of 49 states!
One picture can have many different tags, so, one picture of your cat, in Arizona, at Christmas in 2013 can have tags for cat, Arizona, and Christmas. You will see it along with all the other December 2013 pictures in the 201312 folder, but you can also view the group of “cat” pictures as well as the group of “Christmas” pictures or the group of Arizona pictures. Tagging can be done at any time – even years later. You can select several photos and tag them all at once. But, as I mentioned at the start of this article, don’t worry about the last ten years, just start tagging now.
Faces: Don’t use the tag feature for people’s names, let Picasa do that . It’s called name tags, and the end result will be special People Albums for each person. Start with the pictures for January 2015! Select the folder, then click the “People Pane” button. You will see faces and suggestions appear in a right sidebar. If the suggestion is correct, click the green checkmark, otherwise click the red x. If there is no suggestion, and it’s a person you want to keep, enter their name in the blank provided.
3. Choose: Pick Your Best Photos and Make Web Albums
Face it, not all your pictures are “keepers.” I have a hard time deleting bad pictures – so I normally don’t! But, I do know which ones I want to keep! For those I take a few seconds and add a caption. Captions are super simple and you will love yourself years later if you take just a minute to describe your pictures now. Once I’ve done that, it’s easy to see what pictures I’ve decided are my “keepers” – they have captions! I’ll also do a little cropping, color correction and other edits, then I’ll select my keepers and upload them to a web album.
You can use any photo-sharing website you like, but I recommend Picasa (on your computer) and Google+ Photos (web albums) because they work together – just select the pictures you want, using Picasa, and click the Share on Google+ button. Give it an album name, select the size you want (I recommend “Best for Web Sharing”), and choose who to share with. I usually select Public here, but you don’t have to. If you leave it blank, the resulting web album will be visible to only you, then, later, you can get a link to send to someone else.
All of these web albums will be available for you to look at from any device with an Internet connection. Just get the Google+ App for a mobile device, or browse to Plus.Google.com on any computer and log into your account. I love talking to someone about a place I’ve been and being able to bring up pictures on my phone without the pictures actually being on my phone!
Digital Photo Frames are also a great way to view your keepers. You can export them from Picasa to the photo frame and enjoy all your pictures, running a continuous slide show on your living room wall!
4. Protect: Auto-Backup and Backup
Google+ Auto Backup: When you install Picasa these days, you also get a small program called Google+ Auto-Backup. If you allow it, (you have to click OK) it will copy all your pictures to your Google+ account on the web (in the “Cloud”) I like Auto-Backup because I know that, as soon as the pictures are on my computer, even before I start messing with them, they have all been copied to a private album online in my Google account. The problem is, many people click OK without looking at the settings. Check the image at right to see what settings need to be changed. And be aware that this process uses a lot of Internet bandwidth. You don’t want to do this if you’re on a metered connection.
Local Backup: You probably already have a system for local backups of your pictures, either using Picasa->Tools->Backup Pictures, or some other computer backup program. Google+ Auto-Backup does not replace your local backup for two reasons: 1) if you follow my recommendations, Auto Backup is not getting your original resolution picture, it’s being reduced to 2048 pixels. 2) Auto Backup does not preserve your folder structure. It cannot be used for disaster recovery to restore your Pictures in the folders you had them.
Are you Ready?
Just start now. Gather your pictures for this month and put them on your computer in a folder for this month. Look at them. Add Tags and Captions to your keepers, and identify the faces. Then upload them to a website where you can view them from anywhere and share them with friends and family. If you want to use Picasa (on your computer) and Google+ Photos (on the web) to do this, we have lots of tutorial videos to help.
For the best viewing, be sure to click the FullScreen button in the lower right corner.
There are show notes below which document what was covered in the show and include timeline links, so you can watch just the part of the video that you want. If you are not a Geeks on Tour member, you can watch Episode 25 video on YouTube, but you won’t get the show notes. Become a member here. This episode covers:
Google+ is a great place online for your pictures. It is the rebranded name for Picasa Web Albums. I’ve been uploading my pictures to Picasa Web Albums (PWA) for many years. That’s how I share my pictures. Once I allowed my Google account to migrate to Google+, those same pictures are viewable in Google Plus photos. It’s the same set of pictures, just a different interface.
Google+ is also an app for iPhones, iPads and Android devices. This makes it easy to view all your uploaded photos on your mobile device. There is also a setting that will automatically upload the pictures you take on your phone or tablet to your web albums. If you use that, then you’ll be able to delete photos from your phone. I know several people who have run out of space for photos on their phone because they never delete any!
Google+ Auto Backup is now available for your computer. If you’ve updated your Picasa software lately, you’ll see a new option to turn on a feature called Google+ Auto Backup (G+ AB.) I’ve written about this a couple of times on our PicasaGeeks blog:
You don’t actually need to use Picasa for this to work however. It is a separate piece of software, it just gets delivered with Picasa. If you don’t want Picasa, you can separately download Auto Update for Mac or Windows Desktop. You will see Google+ Auto Backup in your list of Apps, or All Programs, of your computer. All on its own, it will upload all pictures from your computer. Those uploaded photos will be in your Google+ Photos account in a private album called Auto Backup.
Change the default options to match your needs.
When the Auto Backup software is first installed, it has settings that I think need to be changed.
Choose Folders and Devices: Notice that everything is checked. In my case, I only wanted My Pictures checked.
Photo Size: Notice that the default is Full Size. That will take forever and quickly use up your allotted space from Google. Changing this setting to Standard size (2048 pixels) gives you unlimited storage space. If you’re a professional photographer, this will probably not be acceptable. Then you will need to pay for storage.
Be aware this will use your Internet connection. If your data service is on a metered connection, this could cost you big time. If you’re uploading 1,000 pictures and they’re 500K each (about right for 2048 pixels) then that is using 1/2 Gigabyte of your data service. If you have a 2GB/month plan, you’ve just used up 25% of your monthly allotment! Make that 10,000 pictures and you’ve now used 5GB! If you’re in a house with unlimited cable-provided Internet this is not a problem, but if you’re traveling and depending on Verizon or AT&T etc. for your Internet connection, you’re probably paying about $10/Gigabyte.
You’ll Never Lose a Picture Again!
At a recent appearance where we taught Picasa, we worked individually with a woman who had recently lost a month’s worth of irreplaceable pictures from a once in a lifetime trip. As I was showing her the Google+ interface for pictures on her iPad, she shouted with joy because she saw the pictures she thought were lost. Apparently, she had the auto-backup feature on and didn’t even know it. That is the true benefit of Google+ Auto Backup.
Another benefit of using the Auto Backup feature is that you will see all possible Auto Awesome pictures that Google+ can make from your photos. A few days ago, we visited Animal Kingdom at Disney World. I had my camera on action mode and snapped several pictures every time we saw an animal. I imported my pictures to the computer and just picked a few individual shots to upload and share. I later looked at the Auto Backup album on my Google+ account and I saw that a few of the animal series and been turned into animated .gif pictures. How cool!
It’s not really a Backup
When someone says “Backup,” I figure they’re looking for a system that will be able to “Restore” their computer to a previous state. The Google+ Auto Backup feature does not provide any means to “Restore” all your pictures. It does not maintain any folder structure. It is simply an online copy of every picture stored in one album called “Auto Backup.”
Should You Use Google+ Auto Backup?
I hope I’ve given you enough information here to make that decision yourself, because this feature is not for everyone. IF you have unlimited bandwidth on your Internet connection and IF you’re OK with changing the size of uploaded pictures to 2048 – then my answer is “Why Not?” However, IF you have 20,000 pictures in your My Pictures folder on your computer, then realize it’s going to take a week or so to upload them all. That was my situation. And, I already had all those 20,000 backed up to external disks and stored offsite, so I did not turn on Auto Backup at first. Then I got a new computer, and started a fresh Pictures folder, I decided to turn on Auto Backup. I’m really liking it. My previous 20,000 pictures are stored on an external hard drive connected to my new computer so I still see them all using Picasa, but I can direct Auto Backup to only work with the C:Pictures folder.
I used to make a backup to DVD of each month’s pictures. Then, at the end of the year, I would also make another backup of the year. Now that Google+ is making an online copy of all my pictures, I think I’m safe just doing my annual backup to DVD. I also feel more inclined to delete bad pictures from my computer knowing that, if I changed my mind, they are available online.
More and more, we are taking pictures with our mobile devices like our smartphones (iPhones and Android) and our tablets (iPads and Android tablets.) But we still want to work with them using Picasa on our computers. How do we get them there? Dropbox is the answer. See our newsletter article: Using Dropbox to get Pictures from your Smartphone. This video shows you how it works.
As I write this, we are at our TechnoGeek Learning Rally in Bushnell, Florida. This is a joint rally between TechnoRV and Geeks on Tour . A small group of dedicated learners gathered with their RVs for our third Learning Rally. We offered special sessions on the latest topics of Smartphones and Cloud Computing, but we also taught our old favorites of Picasa, Blogger, and Streets and Trips while TechnoRV taught RV Electrical Safety, LED lighting and Induction cooking. We had lots of food and fun. We all met some new friends. To learn more, check out the Facebook page for TechnoGeek Learning Rally.
Our Rally attendees were so eager and full of questions over Picasa, Blogger, Streets and Trips and more, that it reminded me how many people need to know this stuff. With each newsletter over the years, we try to produce new information about Technology for Travelers. This time, we’re going to get back to basics, realizing that a lot of you may have joined us recently and probably haven’t read every previous newsletter!
Our primary program for planning our travels has always been MS Streets and Trips. We love Picasa for making our pictures look so good, and helping us to organize and share thousands of them – all for free! And, we couldn’t imagine life without Blogger as our free home on the web to keep and share our stories. So, in this issue of GeekNews, instead of high-tech tips on the latest smartphones, or Internet services, we’ll be getting back to basics. This month’s articles give you some detail and background of why we use Streets and Trips, Picasa, and Blogger to Plan, Preserve, and Share our travels.
Calendar: Coming up in April/May
As we finish off the winter season and get ready for the summer tour, we will be trying our hand at doing seminars remotely so we can be wherever you are! We have used Skype before, and we’ve tried Google hangouts. Skype seems to be a bit more dependable for what we want to do. We much prefer being in the seminar room in person – to interact with the people in the room and not be dependent on an Internet connection.
But, we can’t be everywhere at once! With the help of people who are in the seminar room, we’re going to try using Skype to project from our computer to the big screen in the seminar room, and Hangouts to connect our iPad to an iPad in the seminar room that can be passed around to the attendees for questions. We’ll see how it goes and report back to you next month!
Free Admission during National Park Weeks. Read about that and more RV news in the current issue of RVTravel.
Picasa for all your Digital Picture Needs
Sometime in our second year of RVing (2004), we discovered Picasa. Instead of taking an hour or two to go thru our pictures from each day, pretty them up, identify them, and pick the best ones to share in our blog, it now only took a few minutes. Picasa was just SO much easier than any other photo editing software! We would tell anyone who asked that Picasa was the software they should get if they take a lot of pictures. And, it is free.
We soon started teaching little seminars at the RV parks where we stayed, and by 2006 we taught Picasa seminars at the FMCA Conventions. We developed quite a specialty in teaching Picasa, and our tutorial videos even caught the attention of Google – they own Picasa. In 2009 Google flew us out to their headquarters in Mountain View, CA …
Did you keep a diary when you were a kid? I did. I love being able to go back in time and find words that express exactly what was going on. Many of my paper journals have been lost or destroyed over the years, I wanted something better for our travel logs. When we started thinking about traveling in an RV back in 2003 – I found Blogger.com and decided to keep my journals there. Tioga and George were my inspiration. A solo, fulltime RVer, George used Blogger and wrote every day – he still does! Because of reading his blog, we met up with George on the road a few times. We credit Blogger with making us many friends over the years.
Most everyone we meet who travels wants some way to record and share their travels. Some keep a paper notebook just for themselves, some send an email blast to their list of friends. We think Blogger is the easiest way …
Long before we took to the road in our RV, we had a computer training center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida called Computer Savvy. We were a Microsoft Authorized Training Center and one of the classes was Mappoint. Mappoint was a very expensive mapping, routing, and demographics database program. As an authorized training center we had our own copies of all the software, including Mappoint. So, after we sold the training center and became RVers – we figured we’d give Mappoint a try for planning and navigating our travels. Mappoint’s inexpensive little brother is called Streets and Trips . We installed it on our laptop, bought the USB GPS receiver for it and found a place to mount the laptop in the cab of our 30 foot Class C motorhome …
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