Picasa Is a Great Photo Editing Program

Using Picasa Photo Viewer

One of the greatest free programs on the Internet is Google’s Picasa. Clever name, and I can imagine Picasso himself would have fun with this easy to use program. Besides those great vacation photos, it is vital for ecommerce projects. If you are taking pictures of people and products, you have to get the pictures just right before uploading them or making a slide show.

When you try out other programs to edit photos, you really find out how tough they are to use, and/or just plain annoying. Recently I was trying to find ones that did something that Picasa couldn’t, and I could barely figure them out, even the simple functions took a lot of effort. And the gold standard, Photoshop, which has wonderful features far beyond Picasa, is tricky to use for the beginner.

To get Picasa, Google “Picasa download,” and you’ll find it right away. Download the program and save it, and then open it. To start editing a picture, click on the option to import a file under “File,” and select your picture you wish to edit.

The functions are extremely clear and easy to use, including crop, retouch, and many others. One icon is “I’m Feeling Lucky,” which is a one-stop general photo enhancer that I find useful for some photographs, always worth a try.

One handy feature is the “undo” button, you can always click “undo crop” or “undo straighten,” and start again.

If you look next to the “Basic Fixes” tab, you’ll see “Tuning,” where you can lighten or darken a photograph. If you have a photo that is washed-out looking, darkening it can make a dramatic difference. Lighting can also help a murky or dark photo.

Picasa is great for preparing photographs to use in a Movie Maker slide show, as you need to get them just right before you start a project. I usually create a special folder that has the photos I plan to use, and after finishing them in Picasa, I save them in that folder ready to access when I start.

You can salvage photos that don’t look so good for one reason or another with all the various features in Picasa, and also in Windows Movie Maker. Besides obvious improvements such as lightening a photo or darkening it with the “tuning” feature, you can make it sepia tone, black and white, or saturate the colors. This is useful for pictures that look faded, and still need to be brightened. Try darkening a photo to bring out the color first, and then try saturation. Too much saturation is not good, and the nice thing about Picasa is that you can easily tell with the “what you see what you get” aspect of how it works.

One neat trick Picasa has is the ability to blur part of the photograph around a clear image, you can both increase the width and intensity of the blurring to great effect. I once made a color photograph sepia toned, and blurred half the image except for the focal point, and it came out great. You can even make part of the picture in color and part of it in black and white.

Also, since you are in the Google empire, you can easily post a photo to your blog by clicking on the blog option at the bottom and follow the prompts.

One thing to remember when you are scanning a photograph from a print or other image is that you must close in all the sides in the scanning of the image. If you put a small picture in the middle of the scanner and save it with all the white border around it remaining, it makes it very hard to enlarge in Picasa. So use the feature in your scanner to move the frame in until it leaves very little white space before saving.

Though sometimes you can crop white space out around a photo, and it will enlarge when you save it, sometimes it won’t, and ends up a tiny image that does not fill the screen.

One good thing about Picasa is that it saves the original photograph, so you don’t lose it when playing around with the editing. I’m not exactly sure how all this works, but as with all programs, explore and test every corner of the software on all types of photos, and you’ll find out plenty of new things.

You can’t beat the price, absolutely free, and combining all other factors, Picasa is one of the top products when you need those photos for family or business edited.

Layers in Photo Editing Programs or in PowerPoint

The concept of layers is basically the same among photo editing programs and even PowerPoint. Most people are more familiar with PowerPoint than a specific photo editing tool, like Photoshop, so this example is done with PowerPoint.

Play with paper

Get several different kinds of paper in front of you. Make one sheet yellow, one transparent and colorless, another white, and the last sheet black.

Draw a big, red X on your yellow paper, right in the center of the paper. Draw a green star on your white paper and a house on your black paper. Draw a cloud on your transparent paper.

Now, stack the papers. Put the transparent paper on the bottom, then the yellow, white, and the black. If the black paper is on the top of the stack, all you can see if black paper with a picture of a house on it.

Re-order your stack. This time, put the black one on the bottom, then the white, then the yellow, and then the transparent paper. Now you can see the cloud you drew on your transparent paper in addition to the big red X and the yellow paper.

From this, you should garner a few pieces of information about layers. Each layer has some properties.


Is the layer transparent or opaque? Can you see through it? When you’re using PowerPoint, every shape, text, graph, or smart art is its own layer. Select the shape. Right click on the shape and then select “Format Shape” from the menu that comes up. Go to the “Fill” section. Click on “Solid Fill.” Then, underneath the fill color, is a slider bar with transparency. If the slider is set to 100%, then the layer is completely transparent. If the layer is set to 0, then it is completely opaque.

This is a little different from the paper example, however. In the paper example, the cloud you drew was not transparent. In PowerPoint, the entire shape is its own layer and has the same transparency level.

Order of the layers

Just like you controlled the order of the papers in your stack, you can control the order of your shapes (your layers) in PowerPoint. Right click on any object and a menu will pop up. The menu has “Bring to Front” and “Send to Back” options. If you hover on the “Send to Back” option, another option appears to “Send Backward.” “Send to Back” puts the layer on the bottom of the stack of images. “Send Backward” just sends the layer one back.

How can I make part of the shape transparent?

If you want part of the shape transparent and part opaque, you can use the “remove the background” feature to make parts of the picture transparent. This only works with photos, so if you want to do this with a normal shape, you need to save the shape out as an image and then reload it into your document.

For example, say you have a photo that has a cloud in the sky, and you want the center of the cloud to be transparent with a dog showing through.

Size the dog so it will fit in the cloud.

Click on the picture that has the cloud in it. Go to the “Format” tab. On the left hand side, click on Remove Background. PowerPoint 2007 doesn’t give you a whole lot of control here, but 2010 is much better. Use the plus sign to mark areas to keep. Use the plus sign to mark everything that is not a cloud. Use the minus sign to mark the cloud to remove. Leave some of the edges of the cloud there. If you don’t like the results, click on “Remove Background” again and modify your work.

Online Photo Editing Programs

As technology increases and the internet continues to expand, it is increasingly common to use a simple photo effect for free digital artwork creation. Manipulating photos, creating website banners and developing new icons are just a few of the thousands of things people can create to add to their web pages or to use as internet ads. A photo manipulation program can digitally edit a user’s existing media, but can also be costly. People can try free online image editors before purchasing expensive image editing programs.

How To Use an Online Editor

Step 1: Save your media or photos you want to edit in a place you will be able to access them easily, either on your desktop or in a new folder created just for this purpose. The online photo editor allows you to open multiple images at the same time.

Step 2: Find the free image program you wish to use. There are several programs available. Within these editors you will see many of the same functions as standard photo editing programs, such as removing red eye, cropping and resizing. As well as special effects, like retro and vintage. You do not need to download the software; all editing can be done within your browser.

Step 3: Select the first image to edit from your folder. If you want to open several images the program will tell you which keys to hit for multiple selections. You can have as many images open as you like and easily switch from one to the other rather than just working on one before starting on another.

Step 4: The toolbar gives you different tools to use. Additional menus offer more choices to help you create the effects you want to add to your images. By creating a new layer, you are able to experiment with various effects. If you do not like the effects on the new layer, you can delete it without changing the original image. You can continue to experiment with new layers as many times as you wish.

Step 5: Once you are happy with the changes you click the done button and save your images with a new name. You can choose the file extension you would like to use to save your image.

Most websites with the free software include a video tutorial with a live demonstration to show you how the product works and how to create a simple, free, fun effect for your photo.