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Come in! There are a few adventures I’ve written about, but most of the content offers classes in photography and mentoring for photographers, including photo theory, which, although a vital part in our profession, is largely an overlooked subject in all published media that profits from and feeds our gadget minded mindset today.

Editing software such as Picasa2 makes filters accessible to all – A28

September 19 2009 - Photo Technical

Previously we tapped into nearly everything of importance covering our exploration of Picasa2, except for the Filtered B&W, Focal B&W, Graduated Tint under Effects and the bottom panel still to be covered.

The Filtered B&W is useful.  Many of us like the art-y look of black and white, but simply pressing grayscale in any program including the most sophisticated will not get you the best results instantaneously.

In the old days (O.K. I have said it), that is in the days of film (in general a medium of the past when a photographer had to be far more knowledgeable about the processes) we used color filters to enhance the performance of black and white film.

Red filters were used to give maximum contrast between the clouds and sky.  We used green filters to block green wavelengths and lighten foliage in respect to other aspects of a black and white photograph. Dark yellow diminished blemishes.  Add a little orange and create vivid and clear contours in landscape and architectural photography.

There are (or were) many more color, specialty, infrared, soft focus, trick effects filters (many I avoided) for black and white and color film, but in the new digital age a photographer doesn’t need to know how they these filters affect light or  image being taken.  Any person simply can press buttons on their computer software program as the Filtered B&W allows in Picasa2 to quickly see changes that back in the days of film could only be achieved by filters at the time you took the photo.  That’s the way it is so take advantage of it.

I can add here that Picasa2 does well, but with little sophisticated control.  As there was in film photography, there is a learning curve that is demanding if you want to achieve greater control using more sophisticated software programs.  It is interesting to note through this ever changing transition that before, with film, photographs were mostly depended with what was in front of the lens and processed by the camera.  So much of this, most of it in this digital era is now being accomplished on the computer.

There are two filters which can still be used effectively today between the lens and the subject.  Neutral Density filters were used to control light, that is if you had a sensitive 400 ISO film in your camera and you wanted to use it in bright daylight, you could add an ND filter and reduce the light reaching the film.

Polarizing filters blocks certain vibrating rays perpendicular to its foil grid.  This reduces glare from sun or lamp light reflecting from a service.  This can be a good thing as it glare can be very distracting and disturbing to our eyes.  It also can act like a graduated filters discussed further down the column.

Back to Picasa2 Effects, the Focal B&W gives you an area of color and black and white.  You can adjust the positions and size of the area of color vs. black and white.  It’s kind of gimmicky.

I’ve coined a new term for photographs made through using gimmicky, or using trickery that is enabled by computer enhancing software such as Picasa2, but especially more powerful programs such as PhotoShop.  I call such productions “photographs on steroids”.   Often they are used essentially to make something out of nothing, that is nothing very good photographically speaking.

And the last of the Effects options available is The Graduated Tint.  This is again a computer version of glass or acrylic graduated filters that photographers and filmmakers used to put in front of the lens.  A most common version would be a blue graduated filter.  The bottom third of this filter would be completely clear.  Around the mid way point it would turn towards blue.  At the top would be the most intense blue.  In films you sometimes see a vista view with the sky looking intensely orange brown.  Likely they this effect to make it appear as such.

This concludes a review of the editing possibilities with Picasa2.  Not bad for a program that is free from Google.

The bottom section, running horizontally in the program has items that are fairly self explanatory.   Your Photo Tray is on the far left to hold all the images you select to work on.  This is followed right by Hold, Clear, and Add to, which do what they say.  Right of this is a star symbol, an arrow spinning counter clock wise and the next spinning clock wise.  The star symbol puts a non permanent star marker on the photo indicating you like it and the arrow flip the photographs in the direction they indicate, if needed.

This is follow by horizontal tabs for things you can do; creat a web album, e-mail, print, and so forth.  I haven’t tried them.  I never use this program myself, but I’m sure when you click any of these tabs, it will be clear as to what to do.  Give it all a try!    In the meantime, I’ll ask permission to come ashore.