Picasa

Over the last two days I’ve been learning a new (to me) piece of software.  I was looking for a way to organize my photos as the sheer number of digital photos and movies that I have is large and growing at a near exponential rate.  I now have three digital still cameras, cell phones that take photo and video and a MiniDV video camera.  Not to mention the tonne of digital images that I produce on a regular basis in the form of graphics, 3D model stills, drawings and blueprints.  I need a way to organize.  I was using Adobe Photoshop Album Starter Edition 3 but I felt that I needed something with a little more flare and juice.  Out of curiousity I downloaded and tried Google’s Picasa 3. This is yet another example of the fine products in Google’s stable.  I use a multitude of Google products every day including Sketchup, Google Reader, Google Calendar, Google Docs and now Picasa.

Picasa went through my hard drives and cataloged all of my media and put it in one, easily navigable place that offers many viewing, sorting and editing options.  It is the editing options that I like the most in this package.  Picasa offers some simple, easy to use photo “editing” tools.  I say editing but really they are tools for doing things like colour correction, exposure correction and blemish repair.  It also offers some great artistic “effects” like turning your image into a Sepia tone image or, one of my favourites, a filter called B&W focus where the selected centre point of an image is in colour and slowly disolves in a circular area to black and white.  Now these filters or effects are not for every photo and could easily be over used and become quite tacky.  However, if used sparingly they can be quite effective. Another feature that I have been messing with is the Make a Movie option.  In which, you can take a selection of photos and turn them into a slideshow complete with music.  I have tried a few other programs for this function and I am still up in the air as to which I prefer.  I tend to like Windows Movie Maker’s option of changing the length of each frame as well as being able to change the transitions that are used during the movie so that you don’t have to always use the same one.  But, there is something to be said for Picasa’s simpleness and it’s all-in-one-ness. I also just like how slick it looks. So, after this more than ample amount of time of playing with Picasa, I attempted to make a video slideshow. The result is below.

In November of 1995, my best friend and eventual best man, Mark and I took the year off school and bummed it around Europe for 84 Days.  This was a fantastic trip and helped me to get my mind around many things that I was dealing with at Architecture School and to grow up a little bit (just a little).  Not only that, it was a really great way to spend some really great time traveling with my greatest friend of all.  It is an opportunity that not everyone gets and I cherish those days wholeheartedly.  Mark and I never argued, never cared when we got lost or stuck in the middle of a french rail strike.  I learned a lot from Mark on that trip and I hope he learned a little something from me.  So, here is what I did for 84 Days in 95/96. Sort of.

You can see a High Quality Version on YouTube here.

**Edit: Link to High Quality Version Fixed.

***Edit to Edit: Embedded video is now High Quality after messing around with embed code for a bit. And reading this post

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9 comments on “Picasa

  1. Dude: The high def link is busted. YouTube says there is a “malformed ID” involved. Sounds pretty dramatic to me.

    Nice job on the slideshow. Obviously, there were a LOT of pictures to include, and you were limited by what Picasa can do, but I have two general criticisms of such a slideshow. One, the rhythm of the transtitions from shot to shot has to be varied from time to time to avoid a kind of industrial effect (unless, obviously, that’s a mood you’re trying to create); some photos deserve to be lingered over slightly. Also, it would be nice to be able to include a rostrum camera kind of effect (the sort of thing Ken Burns does in all his films, where the “camera” travels from side to side or up and down across a still image; changing the focus of the viewer with this movement creates the illusion of watching a film rather than a slideshow. I suspect, based on your comments about Picasa, that you couldn’t achieve these effects using that software; but that may be reason enough to insist on another tool.

    I liked the choice of music a lot; well-suited to your subject material. C’est quoi, ca?

    One other, unrelated observation: it occurred to me that those pics were taken using actual film, back in the days before digital. You did a great job, it seems to me, getting a boatload of great pictures without the instant feedback of an LCD display – and in spite of the amount of alcohol the two of you were consuming.

    Is that last picture from drop off day? It seems to me I dropped you guys off at the airport and bought you your last Canadian beer for a while. Is my memory broken?

  2. First,the link was, indeed, broken. I fixed it then removed it once I figured out how to embed the High Res version. (see edit note in post for link)
    Second. The rhythm of the transitions is not totally to my liking either. Unfortunately Picasa would not allow differing slide lengths in the slide show. This is where Windows Movie Maker (and perhaps others Premiere comes to mind) are better in their creation of a slide show. I had played with the idea of a pan and zoom effect on the slides but you need some serious linger time and I was a bit rushed to find some suitable music and under a bit of pressure to stop goofing around and do something more productive. I suppose that I could have created a longer sound track and therefore been able to get closer to the desired effect but, I was also limited by YouTube’s time limit on uploads.
    The music is by a guy named Ulrich Schnauss and is off an album called “Far Away Trains Passing By” Good stuff, especially for working.
    As for the pics. These are scans of the original negatives that have then been played with to get better exposure, colour framing &c. I can’t remember why I decided to scan all of the negatives instead of the original photos but it made me appreciate what taking your film to a good photo developing and printing place could do for your photos. I did quite a bit of digital work on the photos before making the video that I’m sure equated to what the photo printer must have had to do. The funny thing is that in 84 days I only took 400 or so photos because I knew that it was going to be expensive to develop and to carry around that many exposed rolls of film. By the time we got back there were 16 rolls all tolled. Now, I’m not knocking my abilities with the camera. At the time, I was very aware of the frame and metering for exposure &c. because I was taking a lot of photos for school and knew that each shot needed to be “good” or else I was going to waste money. I was also using a prime lens that had good glass (I only brought my 50 and regretted not having the 24 every day!). I wonder what having a digital would have done. Perhaps somewhere in the 1000’s of pics?
    And finally, the last picture is actually from when you came to pick us up. You can tell by my beard and the joy in our eyes to be enjoying Canadian beer!(and if you look closely the stank-lines coming off of us). You did, indeed, drop us off at the airport and buy us beer then too, but that is not evidenced in the photos but it is in evidence in my travel journal.
    So, your memory is not broken, totally.

  3. Hey Doug, great pictures. Your Dad & I have never seen your pictures. We would love to see them just a bit longer in duration, so we could take in the detail. I too thought the music fit.

  4. I know that you couldn’t change the rhythm in Picasa. Pan and zoom wouldn’t have worked in the interval you had available to you – would have been too quick, given the number of photos you had to get in. I hadn’t thought of YouTube’s time limits.

    Good tunes, nice effort. Glad to hear my memory is not entirely pooched.

  5. Mom, I am pretty sure that you have seen those photos. I was living at home after returning from Europe and brought them home to show you. But, I would gladly show them to you again. I am working on making a longer version of the slide show that is more in depth and suitable for lingering and enjoying the images. I just have to find the proper way of sharing it online or making it available for download. I could, I suppose, just bring the photos out one day and show them to you. 😉

  6. Pingback: Many Days « Dear J-

  7. This is remarkably amazing — hats off to you, not Picasa, as it’s content that makes for an enrapturing slide show. If you’re of a Macintosh bent, iPhoto also does what they’ve dubbed the “Ken Burns” effect, where you get a pan & zoom.

  8. Thank you Mike.
    Recent posts here, over at Heroes in Rehab and your own site have me thinking quite a bit about photography and the other “arts” that I have abandoned over the last 10 years or so like painting and drawing; things that I was doing constantly while in school. I am realizing that I miss those and need to make time to do them again.

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