Picasa2 is not as powerful as some programs, such as Adobe Lightroom, but is free to download.
We ended our exploration of Picasa2 in the last article going through basic fixes in the editing section of the program. The final adjustment under this heading was Fill Light. This can be a very useful adjustment, but has to be used gingerly in this program. More sophisticated software such as Adobe Lightroom had a black adjustment to counter the effects of the Fill Light adjustment, which tends to wash things out.
Adobe Lightroom is a software program specifically designed for photographers. It allows for the optimum in ability to organize photographs, transfer them to various needed file formats, and to make exceptional changes in color, contrast, hue and saturation, and so forth.
You may then wonder what makes it different than a program such as PhotoShop. The answer is the latter optimizes retouching, enhancements, and graphics capabilities. Apart from this Lightroom is the way to go to optimize organizing and adjusting your photographic images in the quickest way. This software program is less expensive than PhotoShop, and I will introduce you to this program later, but for now let’s continue to explore the free download Picasa2.
The next tab right of Basic Fixes is Tuning. Clicking on it brings up the following dropdown window. This includes:
Fill Light: This appears to me a curious repeat of the same adjustment found with basic fixes. So again use it sparingly.
Highlights: Adjusts all the lighter parts of a photo to make them go even lighter, with little effect on the darker elements.
Shadows: I mentioned at the top of this article that the more sophisticated Lightroom had a black adjustment to counter the affects Fill Light has in washing out blacks. This slider seems to be that adjustment in this program, but not a match.
Color Temperature: Allows you to control and add warmth or coolness to the overall exposure of your photo. Inside photographs may be too warm from incandescent lights and this control will allow you to color balance the image.
Neutral Color Picker: This last tuning adjustment comes with an eye dropper that you can click on, for instance, a wall that should be white, but looks warm from incandescent lighting, and correct the color cast. It’s your judgment call. I find the Color Temperature slider gives me more control.
To the right of Tuning is the last available tab Effects. Clicking this brings up a window with the following options, each with a thumbnail of the photograph you are currently working with showing you a rough of the effect. This includes:
Sharpen: You can click on sharpen again and again and see with each click how it is affecting your photographs. A little will help as all digital photographs tend towards being slightly soft. Too much and edges become too pronounced and noise will fill the image. At the bottom of the Effects window are two buttons allowing to Undo Sharpen and Redo Sharpen.
Sepia: This involves the removal of RGB colors to one brownish tone. The effect works just like the Sharpen Effect and offers the Undo Sepia and Redo at bottom.
B&W: Removes the appearance of color making the photographs grayscale. I say “removes the appearance of color.” If you want to know what this means e-mail me. Just using this effect gave me a flat b&w. I found I could switch to Basic Fixes and use the Contrast slider, and switch to Texture to use the Fill Light to add some punch to the image.
Warmify: A Picasa2 word for adding warmth to a photo. It works like Sharpen.
Film Grain: As it claims it adds grain and works like Sharpen.
Tint: This could be fun to play with. It adds an overall color cast in varying controllable intensity. I find it not very useful apart from being an effect.
Saturation: This is a slider offering you another way to make a b&w or to exaggerate color. I might at times add a touch of saturation. Here again as with many other controls Lightroom is a better performer, but not for the price.
Soft Focus: I like this one. One and is great for your portraits. This has two sliders controlling the Size and Amount of what is in focus (sharp) and what is soft. It puts a crosshair on the image you can move around to position the area you want to keep sharp.
Glow: Again, two sliders for intensity and radius this time. I think it can have an interesting effect and purpose for the right photograph to expand a glow. I found intensity more functional than the radius, which will wash out the image overall.
This leaves Filtered B&W, Focal B&W, Graduated Tint under Effects still to be covered. I’m leaving this until next time. Filtered B&W requires a bit more space to explain and the latter two I have to play with a bit more to best explain their purpose and usefulness. In the meantime, I’ll ask permission to come ashore.