Monday, September 10, 2007

Thing 5: I don't like Flickr and I want you to try Picasa

I love to take pictures. It has been a passion of mine since I was a little girl and was gifted with someone's old B&W camera, the type that you hold at your waist and look down into.

Over the years I became more lazy about film photography. Storage was such a hassle. Where to keep those big bulky albums? I can go for years and years without looking at old photos. If I need to find a particular one, it takes a lot of effort to find the right box with the correct album, select the correct album, and find the picture. And I can just forget ever trying to find the negatives. Only a few people can view an album at one time. I tried slides and a projector for a while, but ended up hating that format and selling the projector. And how do you share your pictures with friends and family in other areas?

Once point-and-shoot digital photography became affordable, I fully embraced it and began carrying my Kodak Easyshare in my purse. I am frequently the one called upon to take candid snaps of social events.

Online photo sharing is not a new concept for me. My first attempts at this were to create my own website and link photos to it, but that was a lot of the document in the html editor, edit it, save it, then upload it and the photos. The emergence of online photo galleries made it so much easier and it can be done from anywhere.

When I purchased my digital camera, I began using the Kodak Easyshare Gallery but soon found it to be cumbersome. Some friends were using Webshots and I liked the sharing aspects of it, but it took a long time to upload and view photos. Someone told me about Snapfish, but that took a long time as well. I used Yahoo! Photos for a while, but they are now Flickr.

You can usually count on Google to come up with a fantastic solution, and they did not disappoint: in 2004, they started offering Picasa, which is free software for editing, organizing, and uploading photos. They offer 1 GB of free storage and despite having many online albums, some with more than 100 pictures, I have not even come close to filling my free quota. It can't be beat for on-the-fly photo editing. You can batch process your photos (for instance, do a batch "sharpen") or you can edit each one one by one. It is incredibly fast...I returned home from a trip to the Bahamas with about 150 digital images and edited and uploaded the entire set in about an hour...I was able to share them with friends who had gone on the trip with me before they had even unpacked their dive gear! Here I am in San Salvador with my partner Jay.

Honestly, while I've had a Flickr account for quite some time, I just can't get excited about it for sharing my personal web albums. I feel that Picasa's interface makes my photos easier to access and in a larger format for others' enjoyment. I don't have a personal need to have my photographs available to the web community at large, and I think Picasa looks much cleaner and more professional. It is easy to subscribe to other Picasa user's albums via RSS, and it is easy to e-mail a particular album to anyone. You can link to any individual picture in a variety of sizes from thumbnail to large and use it on another web page, forum, or social networking site. You can make your Picasa album searchable within Google if you want the world to see your photographic art, but I have disabled that feature.

In addition to the free online albums, Picasa's free software, downloaded to your computer, will help you export html for a web album that you can upload to your own website. It looks so much cleaner than Flickr that I wonder why libraries that use it don't use Picasa instead. Here is an example of one I created after Hurricane Wilma and uploaded to a friend's website. To me, Flickr just looks like a mess and I really wonder if that is the image we want to portray to our customers.

That said...there are a lot of fun Flickr toys that I will explore in Thing 6. Last year I created my own Librarian Trading Card. However, I have been unable to find a way to link directly to the .jpg image within Flickr to post it here. Flickr is VERY limited in how you can use it to link to images on other sites. I can only post to Blogger from within Flickr. Photobucket is a very useful tool for linking photographs to posts. You can easily resize your pictures and you can insert them in web pages or posts on forums and social networking sites. I am an avid road cyclist and SCUBA diver, and here is a photo I have stored in my Photobucket account that I've used on cycling and diving forums.

That said, there is a cumbersome way around linking to images within Flickr. I just saved my trading card to my hard drive and then uploaded it to my Photobucket album. Here you go, enjoy!

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