Thursday, January 22, 2009

Editing photos using Picnik

Add photos to your blog to help illustrate your points, show off your photographic skills, or just plain dress up your blog's index.

To do this you'll need digital images, of course, and some photo-editing software. Professional photographers use high-end, extremely capable programs such as Adobe PhotoShop. And while you could learn these programs, there are a couple of big drawbacks unless you ARE a professional photographer. The first is they're expensive. The second is there range of capabilities makes them tougher to learn.

So try using some of the free software programs that are available. We used to recommend Picasa for the P-I's bloggers. It's free and does pretty much all you'll need to upload photos for a blog or website. Its downside is that you have to download the program into your computer.

Another free program that's at least as capable of meeting your blog and website needs is Picnik. The photos shown here were edited with Picnik before being uploaded using Blogger's photo uploading system.

Picnik tips

Picnik is pretty easy to use. You don't have to download the software. And you don't have to sign up for the service. Just go to the url and click "Get Started Now."

It will take a moment, then give you a new screen that offers demos and some background on Picnik. But all you need to do is click the button that says "Upload a Photo." That will launch a new popup box asking you to select the photo you want uploaded from files on your computer.

To make it easier to sort through all the photos I have on my computer, I like to have a file on my desktop called "Working." I stash the photo or photos I want to upload in this file before I start editing. So when this dialog box asks what photo I want, I find the "Working" file on my desktop and simply select the photo I want to edit.

When it loads in Picnik, I'm ready to start editing the photo. Make any necessary adjustments for exposure or contrast and crop the photo to the image you want.

Then you'll want to resize the photo. This does a couple of things. I usually shoot photos with a camera set from about 5 to 10 megapixels. That's way more than necessary for the Web. If you upload huge photos like that, it'll slow the upload time for your website or blog. So I reduce the size of my photos. By habit, more than anything, I cut the size of any photo I want to run big to 450 megapixels, mid-size to about 275 and small to about 150. Picnik is set to resize in pixels so just enter that number in the first of two boxes for the dimension. As you've already cropped the photo, check the box "Keep Proportions" and it will fill in the second dimension of the photo automatically.

After you've cropped and resized the photo, you may notice it got a little fuzzier than you remembered when you started. That's typical. To fix that problem, click on sharpen and move the sliding bar to the right until the photo looks sharp again. Be careful not to overdo this; an image that's too sharp looks as bad as one that's fuzzy.

Now you're ready to save the image. Find the "Save and Share" button at the upper right of the window and click. On the next window, you will again have the option of resizing your photo. I prefer to resize earlier, as noted above, so that I can sharpen the image if necessary. But on this window, you will also have the option to set the "format" (which should be .jpg) and set the "JPG compression quality." Usually, you'll want it to be set around seven or lower for use on the Internet. This, the tool says, gives you "good quality, medium file size." Any higher quality is likely to slow your page, so when using photos for the Internet, get in the habit of using "medium" to "good" quality. So set it around 7 or less and click "Save Photo." You'll get another box asking where to save it. Just drop it back into the "Working" file that you created for it on your desktop. And now you're ready to upload it to your blog.

Uploading into Blogger

Blogger's blog software uploads photos in a snap. In the area above the editing box, you'll see a line of icons to the right of the drop-down menu for "Font." The third one from the right is a tiny image like a photo (just right of "ABC"). If you hover your cursor over it, you'll see it's the button to "Add Image." Click it and it will ask you which photo you want to upload. Click on the image you want in your "Working" file, select small, medium or large size and indicate whether you what the image centered above your type, floating in type to the left or right, or "none" and upload. It will do so at the top of your blog post almost immediately.
To position it where you want it, drag the image to a spot between graphs where you want it displayed. Then play around with it in the post until you make it look the way you want it to. You've just edited and uploaded a photo to your blog. Congratulations!
All the photos in this post were editing in Picasa and uploaded as small, medium and large photos. The top photo, from Grand Ridge in the Olympic Mountains, was uploaded as a "large" image from a 450 pixel-size edited version. The other two were 250-pixel-wide images. The flower, an image from my garden, was uploaded as a "small" image and the hiking trail sign as a "medium image," accounting for the difference in the size of the display.
This is something you'll just have to play around with to achieve the look you want.

No comments:

Post a Comment