'Photo Paper' courtesy Orin Zebest
In sitting down to write Part 5 of this series, "Turning Images into Objects," I realized I'd gotten ahead of myself. If you've been keeping up with this series, you'll know that we've covered photography basics, what the modes on your camera mean, and ideas for using your camera creatively in the library. Before we can think about prints, greeting cards, business cards, stickers and other interesting and practical things that you can make from photos, you have to get them off the camera and onto the web. Simple, right? Well.... It can be, if you plan ahead a bit. Here are some tips that may help.
Every digital camera comes with a USB cable with which to move files from the camera to your computer. Another option is to use a card reader, either via a USB cable or one built into the computer. The speed of either method will vary; I recommend that you try both and see which is faster. Your importing workflow will vary depending on which program you choose to manage your images. Some programs, like Apple's iPhoto, copy each image into its own folder structure, regardless of the original location. This is fine if you're importing from a card, but if you've pointed the program at a folder on the hard drive, you now have two copies of each image in that folder.
There are many options for managing the images on your hard drive. My two favorites are Google's Picasa and Adobe's Photoshop LightRoom. Either can help you organize, label and rate images; view and edit metadata; and navigate using the folder structure of your computer. LightRoom is aimed at photographers who have hundreds or thousands of images and is an excellent package for editing, exporting, creating files to print or even creating web galleries. Picasa is made by Google and is aimed at the every day photographer. Editing capabilities are built into Picasa, as are ability to upload to Picasa Web Albums, the companion website, or to print, export, publish to Blogger, or do fun things like create a collage or movie. Picasa's editing controls are very intuitive, and the folder view is easy to navigate. Unlike LightRoom, Picasa is also free!
LightRoom and Picasa's organization and management features both center around folders, albums--called "Collections" in LightRoom--and metadata, but Picasa has an added feature helpful to the every day photographer: Name Tags. Picasa uses face-matching technology to help organize photos according to the names that you supply. Sometimes the results are stunningly accurate; sometimes, not so much.