Weekend Website

23 Jan

In the past, I have only used Facebook to share photos. I know how to upload them, crop them and turn them so that they are not displayed sideways (and I only learned how to do this because my sister messaged me frustrated that she had to turn her laptop in order to view half of my photos). My skills with Facebook photo sharing are by no means extensive. I usually opt not to share photos online since I am my own worst critic and I tend to feel that I look fat or my smile is crooked. This seems to be getting worse as I get older (the big 3-0 hit me hard). I am becoming more critical and, as a result, I am less likely to share my photos willingly. I know someone who Photoshops every one of her photos before she shares them on Facebook, but seriously, who has the time for that?!?

I have previously looked at using Flickr as a photo sharing site and my experience this time wasn’t any different. It reminded me a lot of the photo sharing found on Facebook with albums (sets), sharing and very basic editing (rotate, rename, etc). In all fairness, Flickr is a good method for photo sharing between a group of people. I found the page of a quilting group I have been interested in joining so I saw some of the amazing talent that I would be joining into (though this was also somewhat intimidating).

But then Picasa came into my life. Picasa was like a breath of fresh air compared to the previous two photosharing sites! When cleaning my house the other day I realized that, while my husband and I have albums for our wedding and engagement photos, we have nothing to display our honeymoon photos. Picasa has remedied that – we now have a honeymoon slideshow! (WordPress won’t let me embed the slideshow so if you want to see it, check out freshlymintedlibrarian.blogspot.com)

Picasa’s editing capabilities are easy to use and intuitive. Many of the photos in our honeymoon folder were overexposed and had harsh shadows but after dedicating some time to editing using Picasa, and Picnik, a linked photoediting service, when Picasa wasn’t enough, I have a series of photos that are a great reminder of the time that my husband and I shared.

The photos below are my favourite example of the editing capabilities of Picasa. When we were on the beach, a couple asked us to take a photo of them and, in exchange, they would take a photo of us. The gentleman made Matt take at least 20 photos with very specific instruction to get the perfect shot of them and then he only snapped one of us, assuring us that it was the perfect photo. I had my doubts and those doubts were confirmed when I saw the photo (see the image below on the left). You can barely even see us!! I was so disappointed because we have so few photos together. But Picasa saved the day. It took me quite a  while, and I became good friends with the Undo button, but I am so happy with the resulting photo (below, right).

When I showed my husband the honeymoon slideshow that I created, he had two favourite photos. He insisted that I email them to him right away because he has seen how I get distracted when I’m finding new things on the computer. No problem! The controls on the bottom toolbar are clear and easy to use and, before he knew it, the two photos were in his inbox.

Picasa allows much of the work to be done on your computer hard drive and then you can easily upload the photos that you would like to share. But wait, that’s not all! Once uploaded, the group of photos can be changed into a slideshow, posted to Blogger, made into a collage, made into a movie, emailed to friends, printed, purchased or further edited. How do you do all of those things? For someone like myself, who sometimes has difficulty understanding “computer-speak,” Picasa provides slides and detailed instructions with many of its program options. Using the prompts and instructions that Picasa provides, I have collaged some  wedding photos that were “saved” with editing that I was able to do on Picasa. These photos no longer need to be hidden in my digital files; they are now good enough to display proudly!

From Wedding

My mind is brimming with ways to use Picasa in my high school library. Over the past few months, I have been taking photos of the window art and library makeover that I have been working on. I would love to document the work that I have done and the exciting things that are happening in the library and a slideshow of these photos is the perfect addition for our library website! I will also download the slideshow to our library computers and have it run as the screensaver when the computers are not in use.

For classroom applications, Picasa would be a quick and easy way to document a classroom activity as a slideshow, create a collage for a special event or make a movie at the end of the term to document the moments and memories. In a high school biology or chemistry class, students could take photos of a lab as it progresses and create a captioned movie of what took place at each step. This would be a great way to have students demonstrate an understanding of the process and details of a lab. Picnik has a section in their Help pages called Picnik for Educators that provides ideas for how educators could incorporate Picnik into the classroom (and I see that they have a lab dissection listed there but I guess that great minds think alike because I had that brainstorm well before I found this resource). I will be using the lesson “Creating a Website Header” for myself. Stay tuned for a header update in the next week or so.

I am so excited to have found Picasa! It makes my photos look beautiful, allows me to share them easily and makes me proud of what I am able to create. My photos may not be Photoshopped but I think I have a few photos that I will be sharing on Facebook the next time I log on!

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