Automatically Geotag Pictures with Droid

First, just what is geotagging?  It’s attaching the lattitude and longitude coordinates to a picture, a .jpg file, so it can be placed on a map in the location where it was taken.  When a photo is geotagged, these coordinates are part of the ‘metadata’ embedded in the file itself, just like the date and time where it was taken.

Picasa displays Geotagged pictures in ‘Places’

In the screenshot of Picasa below, you can tell which pictures have been geotagged by the little red balloon icon in the lower right of the picture.  If you open up the ‘Places’ pane, you will see the markers on the map.  Click on a marker, and you’ll see the picture.

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We all take for granted that the date and time of a photo is stored with the photo.  Someday (soon) we will also take for granted that the place of a photo is also automatically stored with the picture.

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Manual Geotagging

In previous articles I’ve written about how you can manually geotag a photo. They’ve, made it pretty easy, but it’s still something that takes a bit of time and thought.  For me, I’m just too lazy to make the effort.  But, if it can be done automatically, now that’s a different story!  I’d love to be able to see all my travel pictures pinned to the spot on the map where they were taken.  And, now I can as long as I take the picture with my Droid cell phone.

How Droid does Geotagging

I have the Motorola Droid cellphone from Verizon.  Other devices have this capability, but Droid is what I know.  You see, in addition to being a phone, and a camera, the Droid is also a GPS receiver.  It knows exactly where it is, so it can stamp the pictures taken with that information if you turn the setting on.

You’ll find the setting on the camera app.  Touch the menu option: image then ‘Settings’ and finally ‘Store Location’ and touch ‘Yes.’  From now on, when you take a picture with the Droid, it will include the location.  When you import that onto your computer and view it with Picasa, you will see the little red balloon and, if you open the Places pane, you’ll see the picture in place.  Here’s a little video:

http://content.screencast.com/users/ChrisGuld/folders/Droid/media/6172b0c6-41bb-46b8-a49f-8aa632147c94/mp4h264player.swf

I’ve even been known to snap a photo at a location when I’m not really taking it for the picture, I’m just taking it for the location.  I can later use that picture on the map to navigate back to the same spot.

Other methods to Auto-Geotag

The Droid isn’t the only device that will auto-geotag photos.  Other cell phone/cameras have a similar capability and you can also buy SD cards to Geotag. If you use any of these methods, please leave a comment and tell us about it.

This tip brought to you by Geeks on Tour

Geeks on Tour is a membership website with hundreds of Tutorial Videos on topics of interest to travelers, such as managing digital photos with Picasa, Route-Planning with Streets and Trips, and sharing your travels with a website using Blogger or with friends on Facebook. You can subscribe to our free e-newsletters, or become a paid member and be able to view all of the videos in the Learning Library.

 

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Geotagging

 

 

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Picasa’s Latest: Picnik for online Photo Editing

I had never heard of the website Picnik.com until I got the message that Google bought Picnik as part of the Picasa group.  Picnik has been around for a while as an online editing tool for photos that you upload from your computer, or that you link to on Picasa Web Albums and many other Photo Sharing Websites like Flickr, Facebook, and Photo Bucket.image

Why would you want to use Picnik?

If you don’t have Picasa or any other program on your computer for cropping, color-correcting, and retouching your photos, Picnik will do it for you completely web-based.  Even if you do have Picasa, Picnik has features that Picasa lacks, like the ability to add frames and round the corners, callouts, and special clipart images called ‘stickers.’  Here’s the results from my playing for just a few minutes with one of my photos:

Is Picnik Free?

Yes and No.  A lot of the editing tools, frames, and stickers are completely free.  You can start using Picnik for free.  Then, you may discover some more advanced tools, like Curves, Levels, and Cloning, that require a Premium Account.  For $24.95/year you get all the tools, plus Priority Help Support.

What Will Google Do?

Hopefully they’ll make it faster.  Picnik is very bandwidth intensive, if you have a slow connection, you better have a lot of patience!   I expect that Google will keep maintaining the Picasa software for your computer, but they are looking to the future when nothing is on your computer!  Your pictures will go directly online from the camera to Picasa Web Albums, and you’ll do your editing with Picnik. I’m certainly not ready for this yet .. but that’s what my crystal ball sees for 5-10 years from now.

This tip brought to you by Geeks on Tour

Geeks on Tour is a membership website with hundreds of Tutorial Videos on topics of interest to travelers, such as managing digital photos with Picasa, Route-Planning with Streets and Trips, and sharing your travels with a website using Blogger or with friends on Facebook. You can subscribe to our free e-newsletters, or become a paid member and be able to view all of the videos in the Learning Library.

Members may want to view the following tutorial videos.  Not a member?  Join now.

Picasa Tip: Picture Information

Every once in a while I’m telling someone the date that their photo was taken and they ask, “How do you know that?”  I’d like to say that I am just that smart … I am all-knowing!  But, the truth is that Picasa displays all the information you could ever want to know about each and every photo.  You just need to know where to look. (Tutorial Video: Library View)

Basic information in the Library View

In the image below, notice the blue outline around one of the pictures … that is the selected photo.  Information about that photo appears on the status line … the blue bar below the pictures.

  • The name: 20090804-tt-kennisee-6.jpg
  • The date and time it was taken-provided by the camera: 8/3/2009 6:23:24 PM
  • The dimensions, or resolution, of the photo in pixels: 2358X1569 pixels
  • The file size of the photo: 3.0 MB

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Thumbnail Captions

Another thing showing in the screenshot above is the caption for those photos that have captions.  How is that showing?  It’s called the thumbnail caption and you can set it to display the Caption, or the Filename, or Tags, or Resolution.  Just click on the View menu, then Thumbnail caption, and make your pick.

Individual Photo View

When you double click on any photo, to make it fill the Picasa screen, you will see the same basic information on the status bar.  But, there’s more!  You can see the camera information and the Histogram by clicking the little multi-colored beany icon.

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Camera Information

I find the camera information very useful.  Jim recently got a new camera.  Mine is a Canon, his is a Nikon.  The camera information tells me which camera took the picture, so it’s easy to know which pictures are mine and which are his.  You can even search for photos using the terms Nikon or Canon!  The camera information also includes the amount of Telephoto – Focal Length, the shutter speed, f-Stop, and ISO setting.  Every once in a while, I take several photos and change these settings on my camera – it’s nice to be able to identify which photos I took with which settings.  Even when I just leave the camera on Auto – it sometimes is useful to see the settings that took any given photo.

Histogram

The Histogram is another story.  I’ve never used that.  It is interesting to watch it change when you drag the Fill Light slider one way or another – or the shadows.  If you want to know more about using the Histogram, I’m not the one to help you!  But I did find a couple of useful tutorials on the web: Photoxels Histogram Tutorial  and Short Courses on Histograms.

Everything you want to know … and then some!

This tip brought to you by Geeks on Tour

Geeks on Tour is a membership website with hundreds of Tutorial Videos on topics of interest to travelers, such as managing digital photos with Picasa, Route-Planning with Streets and Trips, and sharing your travels with a website using Blogger or with friends on Facebook. You can subscribe to our free e-newsletters, or become a paid member and be able to view all of the videos in the Learning Library.

Members may want to view the following tutorial videos.  Not a member?  Join now.

 

Picasa Tip: Out of Focus? I meant that!

I took a photo this weekend that I really liked. My Mom came with us on a short RV trip and she was enjoying our cozy cab-over bunk and the view out the front window. It was kind of dark and I didn’t want to use a flash, so I hand held a timed exposure to get the shot. Not surprisingly, it came out a little blurry.

I almost deleted it, then I decided to embrace the out-of-focus quality of the picture instead! I used the Soft-Focus effect to make the edges even more out of focus. Then I used the ‘Glow’ effect to lighten it up a bit and give it even more of a dreamy look.

Using Picasa's Soft-Focus effect

When you click on Soft-Focus, you will see your photo get out of focus, all except for a circular area in the middle, around the crosshairs.

Picasa's Soft Focus options

You will also see options for size and amount. Size refers to the size of the circular area to keep in focus. Amount refers to just how out-of-focus you want the rest to be. Just drag them one way or the other and watch your picture. You can also drag the crosshairs around in the picture itself to move the focused part around. When you like the look, click Apply.

For my picture I also clicked on the Glow option which softly brightens up all edges, making it look somewhat dreamy. You also have some sliders to adjust the amount of glow. Click Apply for this effect to take place as well.

Here’s my finished photo:

Using soft focus and glow makes the photo look dreamy!

You may have pictures where these effects create a more dramatic result, but for me, this just makes it look like I intended it to be out of focus!

Geeks on Tour Members can view a video that explains all 12 of Picasa’s special Effects.

Picasa Tip: Add a Watermark to your photos

 

Just because you want to share your photos on the web, it doesn’t necessarily follow that you want people to take them without giving you any credit.  Yet, that’s exactly what can happen, oh so easily.  Any picture you see on the web can be ‘grabbed.’  Then it can be used by others who may even claim that the picture belongs to them.

Although there are some techniques for preventing copying of your photos, the best you can usually do is to add a ‘watermark’ to the photo itself.  The watermark is text which lays on top of your photo and at least identifies it’s source.  Picasa 3 now offers the ability to add a watermark to every photo uploaded to your web albums.

Don’t know about uploading pictures to Picasa Web Albums?  Here’s a member Tutorial Video Intro to Picasa Web Albums.

Here’s what you do:
Tools / Options / Web Albums (or Google+ Photos)
Check the box for ‘Add a Watermark for all Photo Uploads’ and Type what you want to be typed on the photo

After completing this setting, every photo you upload to Picasa Web Albums will include the Watermark you specify.  This is a great feature, but it’s not perfect.  The watermark is small and printed in the lower right corner.  So, if someone wanted to steal your photo, it’s still an easy matter to crop off that bottom line.

If your goal is primarily to include a notice with your identification.  This is a wonderful new feature.  Just turn it on once, and you’re done.  The watermark feature is also available anytime you Export pictures – just check the ‘Add a Watermark’ box and write whatever you want.

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Sharpening Photos with Picasa

originalsharpenedCan you see the difference between the photo on the left, and the one on the right? The one on the left is the original. The one on the right has been ‘sharpened’ by Picasa. In Picasa, you double-click on the photo you want, then, in the left column of Editing commands, click on ‘effects’. Sharpen is the first one. Each time you click it, it gets ‘sharper.’ Once is usually enough – I clicked this one twice to be sure you can see the difference.

The first picture is not out of focus. I took it with my Canon Digital SLR camera. It’s a very good camera, with a very good lens. It’s a fact of digital photography that, where two different colors come together, it blends them slightly, giving it a soft look. The ‘sharpen’ command finds those ‘edges’ and increases the contrast. I find that every photo can benefit from one click of the sharpen effect, so here’s the real kicker: in Picasa, if you click on the Picture menu and then ‘Batch Edit’, you can sharpen all selected photos at once! If you decide you don’t like this effect on any given picture, you can always ‘undo’ it!

For a video that shows how to do this, go to the Picasa tutorial page and click on ‘Improving Photos.’