Wednesday, November 15, 2006

How to Post Photos Online Using Picasa and Blogger (Lesson 1)

OK. Let's see if I'm any good at this. Before we get started with the "how" part, we need to make sure you have the appropriate tools. Relax, all the tools are Free, so you don't need to buy anything.

 

Things you will need:

  1. Google Account (If you already use gmail, blogger, blogger beta, or any of the other google services, you'll already have one of these, but let's assume for a moment that you don't. The first thing you'll need to get it a google account.
  2. Picasa (This is the program that Google offers for free. It's a photo program that lets you edit, sort, and manipulate your photos. Considering it's free, it's a very very nice program. The only thing you can't do yet is add captions to your photos, but you can do that online now, so that's not necessarily a problem either.
  3. A membership to a blog account, or your own blog account on blogger.(If you don't want to run your own blog, I can make you a "team member" on this one. Right now, you're a visitor, so you can make replies [comments] to other posts, but can't make your own. If you're a team member, you can write your own posts and add photos, hyperlinks, conversations, etc.

That's really about all you need to get started. The good news is that you can do all three of these through google.com. This way, you get one account that can handle all your needs. Now, you can't just sign up for gmail.com accounts. You need to be invited by a member. That's not too hard to do. Each of us get 100 invitations that we can send out to others, so just make a comment to this post and let me know what email address to send you an invite to, and I'll invite you.

 

Getting Started: Creating Your Accounts

Let's assume you already have gotten your invite from me, or someone elese, or already have your gmail.com account. That's the one thing I can't easily "show" you how to do on here. We'll proceed to the Picasa part of the program.

Download Picasa:

Go to http://picasa.google.com and click on the "Free Download" link on the right side of the page.

 

When you click on the link, you'll go to the automatic download page. You MIGHT get a pop-up on your screen that says "internet explorer has blocked this site from downloading a file to your computer.. blah blah blah. If you do, Right-Click that bar you see and choose "download file."

When you do, you'll have the option to "Run, Save, or Cancel." Choose Save.

When it asks you where to save the file, choose the "desktop" button on the left side (for Windows XP Users) and press "save."

Then, you should see the "saving file" screen that lets you know you're downloading the file.

When it's finished, you MIGHT see this screen:

If you do, just press Run. If you don't see this screen, go to your desktop and double click on the file to get it launched. This will begin the installation Process.

Install Picasa:

Now, we perform the install. I'm not going to walk through all of this on here, because it's really very self-explanatory. Click on the file you downloaded to start the installation and keep pressing "next" until you're done.

Since I already have it installed, I'm going to go on to the next step.

Run Picasa:

The first time you run picasa, especially if you're like me and have alot of pictures, I'm going to suggest that you open the program and walk away from your computer for about 15 mintues. Picasa will start by automatically finding EVERY picture on your hard drive. This will take a few minutes. You will see a small scree on the lower right-hand corder that will flash images pretty quickly. This tells you that Picass is finding more files and adding them to your library for you. It will do this every time you open it, but it should only take a few seconds usually and it will run while you're doing other things. The first time is always slow though. You have a lot of crap on that computer it has to sort and search through.

NOTE ABOUT THIS: The one thing I do NOT like about Picasa is that it finds all kinds of files you "think" are junk. Be careful here. There are lots of images that are associated with other programs. For Example, Adobe Acrobat has images located in the adobe directory that are useful when you use the Help function in adobe. They use these images to show you how to do things. If you start randomly deleting things you don't think are important, you might find out that you have some programs that no longer work. So, unless you know what it is, don't delete it.

Let's "tweak" Picasa a Little Bit.

Personally, I don't like the view that picasa gives you on the left side of the screen. Since I know where all my photos are, I'd like to be able to work with the folders in a more convenient fashion. If you find that Picasa's default layout is ok for you, don't bother with this step. However, here's what you do:

Go to the top of the Picasa Screen and click the "view" button on the top title bar. Then put your mouse over the "folder view" button on the bottom of the menu. Then choose "Tree View". Do this again, and make sure you choose "Sort By Name." (Doing this will let you see the directories your pictures are in on the left side of your screen. You might want to move them around to other folders, and this menu style helps out with that.

Now, my first suggestion is to go spend half an hour playing with the program. You can brighten, rotate, sharpen, auto-color, and do tons of other things to your photos.

NEAT NOTE: There is one important thing to remember. Picasa does not change your original photos. When you make changes inside Picasa, it leaves your originals alone and makes copies for you when you decide to put them online, email them, blog them, or whatever else. That's important to someone like me who has 5000 photos in high-resolution digital quality and doesn't want to lose those originals. This feature is what first turned me on to the program.

Next: Doing Something With Your Photos

Now that you have the photos, it's time to do something with them. Those of you on dial-up or on slower connections (bridget) will like this part. Let's say you have a picture from your digital camera but it's too big to email to your mom. Well, you don't want to spend an hour trying to send one email, or make her spend an hour trying to download it from you. So, here's where Picasa comes in handy.

I'm going to send my mom a HUGE photo, but I want her to get it quickly. So here's what we do:

  1. Choose the photo you want to work with on the right side of the screen: Just double-click the photo to make it larger.
  2. Now it looks like this:
  3. Let's recolor this a little. Press the "I'm Feeling Lucky" button on the left side of the screen. This will automatically try make the picture look as good as the computer thinks it can, based on color information stored in the picture. In this case it made the picture a little darker and more sharp. See below.
     
    See the difference between the two pictures?
  4. Take out the extra stuff you don't want. Press the Crop Button on the left and use your mouse to make a box, leaving out the excess parts of the picture you don't want to see:

    Now choose "Apply" on the left menu.

    Now, I have a brighter, zoomed-in picture.
  5. Let's email this. (Alternatively, you could choose to blog this photo, put it on a web album, export it for other purposes, etc, but we're gonna use email since that's the easiest thing for anyone to know how to do.)
  6. Simply Press the "email" button on the bottom of the page. This takes a second, so don't rush it. When it's done, you should most likely have a screen that looks like this: (I'm using Microsoft Outlook/Outlook Express, so if you're using a different email program, get with the program and quit that yahoo/aol crap!)

    You can see in the attachment line of the email, my picture is now only 28kb. That's very very small and easy to email to anyone. The original photo is actually over 2000 KB, which would take up to ten minutes to email, depending on your internet speed.
  7. Ok.. now we've covered some of the ways to work with a picture, email a pictures, etc. Il'l take a second and show you some of the other things you can do with the same picture, using Picasa:

    Sepia Tone

    Black and White

    Recropped the photo to zoom in on Mom.

There are a hundred things you can do, but you can play with the photo on your own.
NOTE: If you decide tomorrow or next week that you want to go back to your original, Picasa hasn't changed your original photo, so you can click on the photo at any time and choose "undo crop" "undo tuning", etc.

To go back to your list of photos, you can press "Back To Library" or press the ESC key at any time while you're working on one particular photo.

Now, the goal is to show you how to blog your photos here on Scooby Central, or on your own blog, so let's get to that part next. You've figured out the photos, now you just need to figure out how to get them online. Well, we'll make it as easy as possible for you.

Create a Google Photo Account:

Let's do this the way I tried it, which did all of it in one step for me.

Go to your library and select a few photos. Let's work with 5 Photos for now. To Select 5 photos, here's the easy way to do it.

  1. Click on the first Photo you want to add to your online test album.
  2. Hold the "CTRL" key and click on the second one. Repeat this until you have selected 5, or 10 or however many you want to test with. I'll test with 5. So, I hold the control key and click on the other 4 I want to work with. (you shoudl be able to see below that a little blue box surrounds the ones I've selected to work with.)
     
  3. Go to the bottom of the screen and press the "Web Album" button. (This is going to open a new screen for you). It will look like this:
  4. Press the "New User? Sign up!" button. (This will open a new internet browser window on your PC)
  5. You'll be taken to this page you see below:
  6. If you do NOT have a google account, press the link under NO, which should take you to this location. (Click here to go there now.)
  7. Now, since I already have a google account, I'm not going to go through the whole sign-up process, but I feel certain you can figure this out. Once you complete the sign up process and have your username and password, you'll be ready for the next step.

UPLOADING YOUR WEB ALBUM

I'm assuming by now you have created your own account on the site, so let's go back to picasa and work with that a little.

  1. If you need to, click on your photos again to select the ones you want to upload. If they're still selected, great.
  2. Press the Web Album button on the bottom of the screen again.
  3. Log in to the account using the username and password you just registered for when you see this screen:  (HINT: Your username is going to be in the format of username@gmail.com , so be sure to use the full email address, not just the "name" portion.
     
  4. Now you will be presented with some options. Do you want to Create a new album? Add photos to an existing album? What do you want to do? Well, since this is your first album, you simply choose "create a new album."
  5. It's going to name the album the same thing as the folder name your pictures are in, so you can change this if you want to.
  6. Enter a description so those of us who visit your album will know what its about.
  7. HINT: You might want to choose "Medium Size" on the "Upload Settings" option. This will make your pictures a little smaller and will make them faster for other people to see. We arent' ALL on a blazing internet connection, ya know!
  8. Select Public under the "visibility" section at the bottom if you want people to be able to see them. Otherwise, no one but you will be able to see your pictures.
  9. Press "OK"
  10. When you press the ok button, you'll see a progress indicator (shown below)
     
  11. When it's completed, you'll see the following screen:
  12. Press the "View Online" button on the top. This is the quickest way to get back to your photos online to make sure they're all looking the way you want them to. This will also take you to the options page, so you can blog your photos if you want to. (If you can't remember where your photos are online, simply to go http://picasaweb.google.com/home and log in. That will take you to your photos any time.)
  13.  Now.... how to we share the photos? Well, we can see them, so we know they're online. You can either click on the "share album" button on the top right, or you can click on the "Embed in Blog/Myspace" link on the left. Let's cover both options.
    1. Share Album: This takes you to a screen that allows you to easily type the email addresses of friends you wantto send the photos to. Simple enough huh? Type--> Click --> Done!
    2. Click the "Embed in blog/myspace" option.
      Oh crap.. what's all that code I see? Oh no! Web Geek Code! What am I gonna do?
      1. Relax.
      2. Listen while I explain.
      3. Google is trying to make it simple for you. As soon as you clicked that link, it opened a small box on-screen and highlighted a bunch of code you'll need to copy. You dont need to be a web programmer to figure this part out. It's really simple. If the text still looks highlighted, press CTRL and "C" at the same time. (that's the shortcut for "copy" on your computer.) You're not going to see anything happen, so don't expect it to. If you accidentally clicked away from that part of the screen and the text isn't still highlighted, you'll need to highlight it again. That's easy too. Click anywhere inside that little box, once. Press CTRL and "A" at the same time. (That means Select All). NOW press CTRL and "C" (which means copy). Now you've got your code copied to your computer's temporary memory.
      4. (the code should have looked something like this:)
      5. It's called Raw HTML code, so don't worry about it. Now, we go to your blog site and make a post. (You have to be on the team to post a new post of your own, but let's assume you already are a member.)

Paste the Code Into A Blog Message

Open your web browser to your blog, or in this case, my blog. (I almost typed the address, but then I remembered you're already here if you're reading this screen.. duh.)

      1. Scroll down the screen on the right side until you see the link titled "Add New Post To This Blog". (Hint: It's the first link under my picture on the right side)
      2. You should see this:
      3. Enter a title for your post. I'm going to use Test Album.
      4. Leave the Link field blank, unless you want me to link to a web page somewhere, which you don't want in this instance.
      5. In the message body section,type whatever message you want to then press "enter" to make a new line.
      6. Now, click your mouse once in the empty area and press "Ctrl" and "V" (that means Paste) This will place that code you copied earlier into the message.
      7. It should look something like this: (it's going to have a lot of that raw code you saw earlier. That's ok. It's supposed to have that.)
      8. Press Publish Post. Now you're done! You should see a screen that looks like this:
      9. Go back to the blog site and inspect your work to see if it worked.
      10. Now... if you have comments or questions, leave them in the comments area of this post and I'll reply to them. 

Whomever you are reading this, I hope you have found it informative. I tend to speak a little over people's heads sometimes, so if anything doesn't seem very clear, let me know and I'll explain the step differently to make it easier to understand. Since I spent the time to write this, I expect to see posts from at least a few of you so I know it worked. Otherwise, I've just lost an hour and a half of my life that I'll never get back! lol.

Have fun!

Post some pics soon!

Note to family:

Cathy & Frankie and My Mom. I'll email you team membership invitations this morning so you wont have to go through that part of the process to join this blog. Then you will be able to post messages on here any time you want to.

1 comment:

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