Saturday, August 16, 2008

Picasa - What is the "I'm Feeling Lucky" button for?

As of right now I am really sold on using Picasa, the free image manipulating software from Google. We've seen a vast improvement in our Etsy pictures and, hopefully, some sales will confirm that.

What we (Barb and I) do is periodically shoot a number of pictures of earrings and necklaces. We use the light tent as well as some simple props such as the bust, a nice crystal glass bowl to hang the earrings on and, for certain earrings, a copper display that Barb purchased from a seller at a beading show. Other than this we generally refrain from too many other props although she has used some seashells. I'm elevating some of the work so that the camera is more in line with the work being photographed. This coming from a helpful comment from one of the eSmartsteam members.

I then download the camera to the computer and use Picasa to "massage" the images, then save them to a memory stick or, if many, a portable hard drive so that Barb can write her descriptions and upload the 3 - 5 images for Etsy.

One selection that I only used a few times but now use it all the time is called "I'm Feeling Lucky". Picasa describes this option as follows:

"The "I'm Feeling Lucky" button enhances dark and bright colors in a photo and adjusts both color and contrast to optimal levels in one click."

For some items I also increase the light fill to compensate for the lesser light that seems to come from the light tent. I may change the bulbs for the tent but, for now, this light fill seems to do a decent job and it is easy to use.

I like the results I am getting and the relative ease of use. Barb visits many Etsy stores and feels our pictures are coming out quite well in relationship to other stores. Plus Picasa is freely available and provides a very nice display of both your raw (from camera or scanner) images as well as the results after you save the final product and the preview screen showing the changes is large enough to be easy to follow.

It is not a paint program so it has no use for banner design, something several have been writing about on the eSmartsteams list recently.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008


One thing many of us struggle with is taking good pictures of our work for Etsy or other similar sales venues. There are challenges of lighting, cropping, etc.

Some use Adobe Photoshop and similar and some use lesser cost or even free packages. Each has it's strengths and weaknesses and the learning curve to effectively use them probably ranges all over the map.

I found a free package, Picasa, and, so far, it seems to do a pretty decent job on processing our raw pictures from the camera.

Picasa is one of the Google resources as is the Blogger package. One can transfer images directly from Picasa over to their blog although I pick the images up from my hard drive or portable drive.

I like Picasa for its organizing of the images and the ease of tabbing through the thumnails to preview and make editing adjustments as necessary. By clicking on a thumbnail from the Library you are taken to a screen of Basic Fixes, Tuning and Effects. So far I have been able to do everything using Basic Fixes. You can crop, Auto Contrast, Auto Color and Fill Light. A "I'm Feeling Lucky" button automatically does some of this for you. I've found the Fill Light to be very useful in adding more light to my images and for many of the beads it really helps to show the colors.

Another thing I like about Picasa is it seems so easy to process the raw image, preview it on the screen (the preview window is almost 2/3 of the screen so one can easily see the changes to the image as you apply the effects), then save the image into another folder for use in uploading to Etsy.

Wife Barbara and I are taking our pictures together. I then use Picasa to make these editing enhancements. I then put them on our portable hard drive so she can access the files from her laptop, located in a different room. This seems to work out the best for us. We list each item with a descriptive name so I can save the images and assign a sequential number. She then previews each image and decides which best work on the Etsy listings.

If you are looking for an easy to use and free package I'd recommend Picasa. You can download it from a Google website. It also allows you to upload your images to a web album and has several other bells and whistles. I have not used Photoshop or some of the other packages and, at this time, I spent my budget on the light tent and a nice digital camera so a free package that offered the tools to crop, adjust colors, contrast, etc. seemed the best way to go for us.

Ken - Magpiedreams