Is Picnik Really Dead?

Last month it was announced that Picnik – the online photo editing software that Google bought in 2010 – was closed.  No more could you enjoy the special tools it brought to the table like framing your pictures or adding ‘stickers’ (little clip art) or wrinkle removal, or shine-be-gone.  Picnik fans were very disappointed.

Picnik is now Creative Kit

But wait … reports of Picnik’s death may have been greatly exaggerated!  Have you noticed the extra 2 tabs of effects in Picasa 3.9?  Most of those features were taken from Picnik.  And, if you use Picasa Web Albums, or Google+ to share your photos online you have the online editing features called ‘Creative Kit.’  Creative Kit is Google’s reincarnation of Picnik – for Google photo products.  They’ve reorganized it, streamlined it, and made it faster.

creativekit

Picasa still includes ‘Edit in Picnik’

The surprising thing is that the Picasa desktop software still has an Edit in Picnik button – and it works!  It sure looks exactly like Creative Kit to me (the 3 stars is the logo for creative kit), but all the labels still read ‘Picnik.’  So, if you have resisted upgrading to Picasa 3.9 because you didn’t want your ‘Edit in Picnik’ button to go away – fear not!  It is still there, and it works better (faster) than ever.  (5/17/12 note: I just downloaded the latest update to Picasa and the button now correctly reads “Edit in Creative Kit” – that’s build 136.02)

picnik

It doesn’t have all the features that Picnik had. For example, I know a lot of people liked the special redeye removal for furry friends – I can’t find that feature anymore. But, other things, like ‘Wrinkle removal’ have just changed names … it’s ‘airbrush’ now. And, ‘Teeth whitener’ may be gone, but you can accomplish the same thing with ‘Face Paint’ using the white color and a high level of transparency.

Try it – you’ll like 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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Is Picasa the Only Software for Managing all your Travel Pictures?

by Chris Guld, www.GeeksOnTour.TV Aren’t digital cameras great?!  Just snap away to your heart’s content, no worries about wasting film, or costing more money, or taking up more space.  You can see right away if you captured the image you wanted, and take more shots if you didn’t.   I’ve been known to take over 100 pictures in any given day when we’re traveling thru beautiful countryside.  For RVers, like us, you can quickly rack up thousands of pictures! 

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Now what?

If you put your pictures onto your computer, which we think you should, then you have lots of choices for what software to use for managing and editing them.  At Geeks on Tour, we’ve been evangelists for Picasa over 7 years now.  It’s a free program that you download to your computer from Google.  We teach several seminars on it, produced over 60 tutorial videos, have a website dedicated to Picasa, and wrote a book on it!    But, we know it’s not the only game in town.  Many people with Macintosh computers are very happy with iPhoto which comes preinstalled on their Macs – even though Picasa does have a fully compatible Macintosh version.  On Windows computers, the gold standard photo editing program is Adobe Photoshop ($700!) or Photoshop Elements ($99.)  There are also several free programs, including Microsoft’s offering – Windows Live Photo Gallery, and a full featured, Photoshop workalike called GIMP.

Why we Still Like Picasa the Best

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As you can see from the crowd of over 700 people in one of our Picasa Seminars for FMCA, Picasa is very popular.  The free price certainly has something to do with that, but Picasa also gives you the greatest capability for the least effort.  When we started teaching Picasa about 7 years ago, it was drop-dead easy.  Over the years, Google has added more and more features.  Some areas have now become a bit complex, but it’s still pretty darned easy, especially compared to the full-featured image editors like Photoshop or GIMP.  Before Picasa, I used a program called Fireworks – generally in the same class as Photoshop.  It would take me 1 – 2 hours every time I went thru my process with the day’s 50 or so photos, when I switched to Picasa, the time shortened to about 15 minutes! 

IMG_1712-003The closest competitors to Picasa in ease of use are iPhoto and Photo Gallery.  They even have some features that are an improvement over Picasa.  iPhoto gives you multiple ways to view your pictures in location on a map, better slideshow features, and built in ways to make cards and books.  Photo Gallery has that cool photo fuse feature where you can replace one person in a group shot, it has a Panorama feature that Picasa lacks, and I like the way tags are handled better in Photo Gallery.  I actually considered switching to Photo Gallery but then realized that I simply could not live without Picasa’s features of Text on photos, or combining pictures in a Collage.  And Photo Gallery as well as iPhoto only have a fraction of Picasa’s photo editing features.  I have so much fun just trying all the different single-click effects, then undoing them if I don’t like it.

What about Flickr, or Snapfish, or SmugMug?

I talk to many people who say, ‘Oh, I don’t use Picasa, I use Snapfish.’  They don’t understand.  Picasa is software on your computer for working with pictures on your computer.  No Internet involved.  Flickr, Snapfish and SmugMug are photo sharing websites.  Google also offers a photo-sharing website called Picasa Web Albums, but Picasa and Picasa Web Albums each can stand on their own without the other.  So, “I don’t use Picasa Web Albums because I use Snapfish.” would make sense, but I would still ask them what they use to edit their pictures on their computer.  Maybe they use nothing – just copying the pictures from the camera to their computer, then uploading them directly to Snapfish.  Oh what they’re missing! 

Is Picasa going Away?

picnikGoogle is going thru a lot of transition these days, with their social network – Google + – leading the pack.  They made an announcement a few months back that Picnik is closing on April 19.  Picnik was an online photo editing website that Google bought last year.  They linked it to Picasa with a button along with Picasa’s main editing tools.  Now they’re taking it away, and that is starting a lot of rumors about the future of Picasa.  Many of the cool photo editing tools that were developed at Picnik are now incorporated directly into Picasa 3.9, and many more have become part of the online photo editing available thru Google Plus.  The Picasa desktop product is still very strong at Google.  Google is certainly not above killing product lines, but they do it with failures, not stars.

That said, Picasa may very well be renamed to Google Photos.  It’s certainly appropriate that a star product be recognized by the company’s brand – and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they used the April 19 date to make that happen.   If that happens, I sure hope they do something to distinguish between the online photo-sharing software and the desktop photo management software.  Over and over again, I ‘ve had to explain the difference between Picasa (desktop software) and Picasa Web Albums (online photo-sharing.)  It would be even worse to have Google Photos (desktop software) and Google Plus Photos (online photo-sharing) !!

The Best Software is the One you Know How to Use!

The bottom line with any computer software is knowing how to use it.  You’ll accomplish a lot more with a half-good program that you understand, than with the cream of the crop that you can’t figure out.  I’ll keep using – and teaching – Picasa because I understand it inside and out.  Whenever they come out with new features, like the side-by-side editing introduced in version 3.9, you can count on new videos like the one -below from GeeksOnTour.  Sign up for our free Picasa Tip-of-the-Week if you want to stay on top of all things Picasa!

http://content.screencast.com/users/ChrisGuld/folders/Showme-Picasa/media/bab7b1ee-17b6-42ae-b184-dcb1c643c7ab/scplayer.swf

Geeks On Tour is Jim and Chris Guld. They have been traveling the US in their RV since 2003. They teach fellow travelers how to use computers and technology to plan, preserve, and share their travels. They have both been involved in professional computer support and training since the early 80s. They maintain a family of websites including www.picasageeks.com containing hundreds of articles, and www.geeksontour.tv where members can watch tutorial videos on all their topics.

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Picasa Releases version 3.9

Last week, Google came out with a new version of Picasa – version 3.9.  There are some major differences between this version and its predecessor, version 3.8.  Here’s the official list:

  • Added ability to upload to Google+: share with circles, post pictures to your stream, and upload images at original size.
  • Social Tagging: name tag people in your Google+ circles and notify them via G+.
  • 24 New photo editing effects, including my top picks: Adding frames with Border, Polaroid, Vignette/Matte or Museum Matte, adding special effects like Pencil Sketch, Invert Colors, Posterize, Focal Zoom
  • Side by side editing: compare two pictures side-by-side, or compare different edits on the same picture.
  • Updated RAW support for pictures from newer cameras.
  • Support for WebP files.
  • On the Tools > Experimental menu, we’ve added support for migrating your database to another local drive.
  • Improvements to Face Movie maker: number of photos included, chronological ordering.
  • Sync now uploads unshared albums privately.
  • Improved restoring of virtual albums when you uninstall and reinstall, or move to a new computer. Album data is written to the picasa.ini file now, along with all of your other edits.
  • OAuth support: use 2-factor accounts without getting an application-specific password.

Where Are My Buttons?

The biggest difference you will see as soon as you upgrade to 3.9 is on the bottom line.  Your buttons are gone!  In 3.8 and earlier versions you saw this:

PicasaButtons
Old, comfortable, buttons in version 3.8 and less

Picasa39Buttons

New buttons in version 3.9 before logging in to Google Plus

Picasa39Buttons
New buttons in version 3.9 after logging in to Google Plus

So, Upload has changed to Share, we still have Email, Print, and Export.  But what happened to all the rest?  In case you’ve never used the other buttons, here are articles on Shop, BlogThis!, Collage, Movie, Geotag, and Facebook (includes installation instructions.)  You can get them all back on your bottom toolbar by clicking on the Tools menu, Configure buttons …, and Reset to Defaults.  When you click OK, your toolbar will look like the image below (Facebook button requires previous installation.)

Picasa39AllButtons

Picasa 3.9 toolbar with all the buttons restored.

I’m not quite sure why Google removed all the buttons in the first place – maybe they have some future plans for that space?!  If you don’t want to put them all back, you can still access the features via the menus.

  • Shop = File | Order Prints…
  • BlogThis! = Create | Publish to Blogger…
  • Collage = Create | Picture Collage…
  • Movie = Create | Movie
  • Geo-Tag = Tools | Geotag on Google Earth
  • Facebook = not a Picasa feature, you need to install the button using these instructions

What Happened to Picasa Web Albums?

It’s still there.  If you have not joined Google Plus, then the ‘Share’ button takes you to Picasa Web Albums with no change.  However, if you *have* joined Google Plus then the Share button takes you to Google Plus photos.  It’s the same albums of your photos.  If you just joined Google Plus, you’ll see that all of your Picasa Web Albums are there.  Think of it like a fast food restaurant, you can go inside or use the drive-thru – it’s the same hamburgers either way.  With Picasa Web Albums and Google Plus photos, it’s the same pictures, just a different interface.  Even if you have joined Google Plus, you can still see your pictures with the same Picasa Web Albums interface by going to www.picasaweb.google.com/home (if you’re logged in) or www.picasaweb.google.com/your-username (if you’re not logged in.)

Google wants you to use Google Plus! They are hoping that Google Plus will compete with Facebook as your social network of choice.  They are enticing us to join by bribing us with new features if you use Google Plus Photos for your pictures.  Including:

  • Basic and fancy editing right with the picture all online. When viewing a single photo in Google Plus Photos, you have a new ‘Edit Photo’ button. It gives you immediate rotate and auto-fix options and then a really cool ‘Creative Kit’ which takes you to a Picnik-like web-based app where you can crop, fix lighting, add text, add clipart, and even give yourself a tan! The big difference with this online editing tool, and the Picnik tool that you get with Picasa or Web Albums is that all the options are free, there are no ‘premium’ features.
  • More storage space for your pictures.  Pictures of 2048 pixels and less are always free on Picasa Web Albums and Google Plus.  If you upload using Google Plus your pictures are automatically resized to be under that limit, in essence giving you unlimited picture storage.
  • Beautiful new collage-style display of album pictures.  In Google Plus Photos, when you open an album, you’re greeted with a collage of your photos, when you hover your mouse over any one it enlarges.
    G photo-album
  • More control over sharing.  Some people who view Google Plus Photos for the first time are distressed over their perception of how the pictures are shared – thinking that everyone on Google Plus can now see their photos.  Actually, you have much greater control with Google Plus Photos than you did with Picasa Web Albums.
    Picasa Web Albums gave you 4 choices for visibility of your pictures
    Google Plus Photos give you the same 4 choices and adds the ability to make the pictures visible to specified ‘Circles.’
    What gets some people upset is that, in Google Plus Photos, people who you share a photo with can also see who else you shared with.  See Google’s information on the difference between Picasa and Google Plus Photos on ‘Who can see the people I’ve shared with?

More …

One thing I was SO hoping to see in this new release was a re-design of the Collections sidebar – the left side where you see the lists of all folders, albums, people, etc.  I think this area is very confusing to people and needs a redesign badly.  Here’s my previous article on the topic: Picasa, I Love You, Now Change!

In next week’s Picasa tip, I’ll cover the cool new editing features and effects that have been added to Picasa 3.9.  I will also have some tutorial videos coming soon for Members of Geeks on Tour.

Discuss this!

Geeks on Tour members have been discussing Picasa 3.9 in our forum.  Check it out.

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, orbecome a paid member and be able to view all of the videos in the Learning Library.

Picasa Tip: Frame your Photos with Picnik

There actually is a way to provide simple frames for your pictures just using Picasa’s Collage tool.  But now, with the online editing tool called Picnik, it’s even easier, and you can get really fancy.

A simple Picnik frame:

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A fancy Picnik frame:

Dolphins can fly

So, how do you do this?  Just select the picture you want to frame then click the Picnik button on the Basic Fixes tab.  You need a good, fast Internet connection for this to work because all the Picnik editing tools are completely web-based.  When you click the Picnik button you will be asked if you want to edit your picture in Picnik.  If you click Yes, be prepared to wait a bit – even on a good, fast connection this takes a minute or two.

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Once your picture is showing up in Picnik, you should see 4 tabs: Home, Library, Edit, and Create.  Frames are found on the Create tab. The first picture above just used the ‘Border’ type of frame.  The second one used the Daisy Frame, and then the Reflection frame after that..  Make sure to apply changes after you choose a particular frame.  When you’re done, click the button to Save to Picasa.  You then have a choice to Replace the Original or Save a Copy.

There are lots of frame choices to explore.  Take some time and have fun!  Notice that some of them are labeled ‘Premium’ – that means you need to pay.  See my previous article about Picnik for more info.

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, orbecome a paid member and be able to view all of the videos in the Learning Library.

 

 

 

Fun with Picasa and Picnik

Picnik is the web-based photo editing software that Google bought earlier this year and added it to Picasa.  If you want to play with our pictures, trying out different effects and add-ons, this is *really* fun.

Here’s an example of the fun I had.  It’s called the Crystal Ball effect.  Read on and I’ll tell you how I did it.

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Using Picnik

You start in Picasa.  Select the photo you want to play with and click the Picnik button in the Basic Fixes.  Click ‘Yes’ when asked if you want to edit this picture in Picnik.

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Then wait …. this part takes a while.  Picnik is completely web based, and it has some very powerful features.  You need a very good Internet connection for this to work.  Once it is loaded, you will now see your picture and have all of Picnik’s editing tools available to you.  The really fun stuff is on the Create tab.

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I found ‘Crystal Ball’ on the featured list of tools as part of the Halloween series.  Just click once on the Crystal Ball tool, and here’s what you get:

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Then there are lots of options to play with including the color of the crystal ball, the placement of the picture, and how distorted it should be. If you like the results, you click ‘Save to Picasa.’  You can choose to overwrite your original, or make a separate copy.  I make a separate copy.

Have fun!  Notice that some of the tools say ‘Premium.’  That means you have to be a paid subscriber in order to use those.  The fee is quite reasonable at $24.95/year.  They even have a link for you to give a Picnik subscription to someone as a gift.  Could be a great addition to your Christmas list!

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.

Basic Edits

Tuning

Retouching Photos

Fix Redeye

How Picasa Handles Edits

 

 

 

 

 

Picasa Releases Version 3.8

A few days ago, Picasa version 3.8 was released.  You will be getting it automatically at some point.  One day, when you open Picasa, you’ll see a message about a new version being available.  If you want to get it before that day comes, you can re-download it from Picasa’s home page.  For more detail, you can watch a previous Geeks on Tour Tutorial Video on Updating Picasa.

There are quite a few new features introduced with this release, here is Google’s official list of new features in the Release Notes:

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Face Movie

If you like the Face Recognition feature of Picasa, you’re gonna *love* Face movies.  The hard work has already been done – recognizing and sorting faces.  If you have Face Albums in Picasa, it is now a single click to make a movie where all the pictures of one person are automatically shown in a slide show.  Just click on any face album, and you’ll see a new button for ‘Create Face Movie.’

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All you do is click on it and wait a minute, it will take all the pictures in that Face Album and create a movie.  There are a few options, just like a regular movie.  You can add music, adjust the amount of time allotted to each picture, and change the transition type.  But, you don’t have to do anything.  Just view it, save it if you want, and upload to YouTube if you want to share it.

What’s different between a Face Movie and a regular movie?  Picasa takes each whole picture and aligns it to the face.  So, as dozens of photos of a person play one after the other, you see their smile in the same spot on the screen.  It’s really quite beautiful.  I can see this becoming standard background slideshows for all personal special events: birthdays, graduations, weddings, and funerals.   Something that would have taken a professional film producer hours, days or weeks and thousands of dollars, is now a click of your mouse!

Edit in Picnik

I’ve written about Picnik before – it is a web-based photo editing program that was acquired by Google earlier this year.  With Picsa 3.8, they have made it accessible from within Picasa on the Basic Fixes tab.

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If you’ve ever wished you could do more retouching, or more fancying-up (clipart, frames etc.) Picnik is your answer.  In the images below, notice the whiter teeth on the right, and the lack of wrinkles.  That was done with Picnik.  BEWARE – this is a slow process unless you have a very high-speed Internet connection.  When you click on the button to ‘Edit in Picnik’, it first needs to upload your photo to the web, then you edit it there, then it copies it back down to your computer.

Before image After (whiten teeth, remove wrinkles, instathin)
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You also need to know that some of Picnik’s features are ‘premium.’ It costs $24.95 for a year of access to the premium features.  In the sample above– whiten teeth is a free feature, remove wrinkles is premium.

Here’s another example: ‘Dodging.’  So often, I have pictures where only one part of it is too dark.  If I use Picasa’s Fill Light feature it lightens everything, but with Picnik’s Dodging feature, I can just lighten the parts that need it, like the faces in the photo below.  I don’t want to wash out the Lincoln Memorial, just lighten the faces a bit.

Before ‘Dodging’
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After ‘Dodging’
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Dodging is one of those ‘Premium’ features.

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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’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.