5 fun things you can do with Picasa

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If you have not used Picasa yet, you are really missing out on a fantastic, free program for organizing and editing your digital photographs. You actually had to buy it originally (that was a few years ago), then Google bought the company and made it free. If you ARE already using it, you might enjoy some of the fun things you can do with it, that perhaps you have not tried yet. I’ll show you what I am talking about – let’s go experiment and have some fun!

1. Lighten up the dark pictures
You’re at your child’s school play. You take a picture that you will never have a chance to take again, and…the flash doesn’t go off. The moment is lost forever…or is it? Picasa to the rescue! When you are viewing the image in Picasa, look for the slide bar on the left side called “Fill Light”:

Slide it to the right as far as is necessary, and see what happens with that dark picture! Below is an example of a picture before and after the Fill Light Slidebar is used (click on the images to see them full size).

2. Make a modern photo into an old-timey photo
This is done by using the “Sepia” function in Picasa. You can do it with any digital photograph. The end result is a photo that is made of just sepia tones, like pictures done a hundred or more years ago. To do this, double click on the image in Picasa, and then click on the “Effects” tab in the left column. If you don’t like it, just click the Undo button.

Here is an example of a regular color photo on which I used the Sepia effect:

3. Put the focus on one person
In this example, you might have a group photo and you just want to identify one person in the photo. Or you just want to draw the viewer’s attention to one person or one part of the photo. You can make the whole picture blurry except for that one area. You have control over what area to have in focus, how blurry the rest of the picture is, and how large of an area will be in focus. To do this, go back to the “Effects” tab and click on “Soft Focus”, then just move the cursor to where you want it. Example below.

4. Colorize just part of the photo
This can be an interesting way to present a photo. Imagine a regular photo, full of vibrant images. Then, you make that photo a black and white – except for one area. Well, you don’t have to imagine – just use the “Focal B&W” function in the Picasa Effects menu. Here’s what it looks like:

5. Zoom in
This is a fun one. It works best on high-resolution pictures. When you are viewing a picture like that, look in the lower right area of the Picasa window, right above the “Collage” and “Export” links. You should see a slide bar there. It has no text label, but that is the Zoom tool. When you slide it to the right, it gets closer and closer to the image you are viewing.

The picture below is a large picture of an airplane cockpit (click on the image and you will see how big it is). The area that I have outlined in red is the spot that I zoomed in on in the second image.

As a kid, whenever I read my Spiderman comic books, I would always see those ads for the “X-ray Glasses”. I never sent away for them because I knew it couldn’t be true. But wouldn’t it be cool to have that just for a day? This week’s video says…maybe not.

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