Thursday, July 14, 2005

Free Picasa2 from Google

by Christina VanGinkel

If your computer is lacking software that conveniently edits and organizes your photos, yet you do not want to spend a fortune on purchasing any, Picasa2 is for you. A free application put out by the online giant Google, it does everything you would expect from a high end, expensive software suite. When I first downloaded it, I had yet to purchase any graphic software outside of Microsoft Picture It! which came installed on my Dell computer. I went on to purchase Paint Shop Pro Studio, which included Paint Shop Photo Album 5.

Each of these programs has its very own distinct advantages, yet I find myself constantly opening and using Picasa2. The answer to why is actually simple. It is so easy to use. It prints without any technical difficulties, and all my pictures are instantly there. Anytime I download new photos from my digital cameras, I know without any hesitation that the next time I open Picasa2 they will be already cataloged in Picasa2.

Not to be confused with just an organizer though, Picasa2 lets you manipulate your photos in all the traditional ways. Want to see what your latest snapshot would look like in sepia tone or black and white, or even film grain? Picasa2 not only offers these effects, but also sharpen, warmify, tint, saturation, soft focus, glow, filtered black and white, focal black and white, and graduated tint. Picasa2 also offers fill light tuning, shadow tuning, highlight tuning, and color temperature tuning for those who are confident in performing these tasks on their own. Not to be overlooked, Picasa2 also fixes red eye, crops, straightens, and has an auto contrast and auto color button.

One of my favorite parts of this program is the crop feature. It allows the user to select manual crop, which can produce a picture of various sizes, but it also allows the user to specify the crop to produce a 4 x 6, a 5 x 7, or an 8 x 10 picture, which in turn allows for more ease when it comes to printing your final picture.

If none of this were enough for a program to do, a free program nonetheless, it can also create a customizable slideshow of your chosen pictures, and it will step you through creating a gift CD of your favorite pictures. You simply select what folder to choose pictures from, click on the gift CD tab, which then allows the user to select which pictures to include on the CD. If pictures from other folders need to be included, there is a simple tab to click on to do this. You can also tell it to include a built in slideshow of the pictures on the final CD. You finish up by naming the CD and burning it.

While other programs may be capable of doing much more detailed work and alterations to your snapshots, if you want something both simple with a few basic fixes and effects, this free program offered for download from Google is definitely the way to go.

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