Organizing your Digital PicturesPosted: July 31, 2014
First of all, you need good photo-editing software, such as iPhoto, Picasa orAdobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 (see below). Then follow some basic rules of photo management…
Don’t use your camera as a long-term storage device. Instead, download photos to your computer each day that the camera is used or as close to this as possible. If you have more than one computer, the one with the most storage space is the best choice—unless you do a lot of traveling. In that case, the laptop that travels with you could be appropriate for storing photos, as long as you also have a backup storage device at home. When you download photos on each picture-taking day, you ensure that most or all of the pictures in each batch of images downloaded will be of a single event or location, allowing you to assign helpful names to the folders that you can create to store them.
Examples: A folder might be called “May 24, 2014—Nick’s Graduation” or “June 12, 2014—Brussels, Belgium.”
Daily downloads also make it easier to add searchable keywords to photos (called “tags” in some digital photo-management software). Simply use your photo-editing software’s “Batch Edit” or “Select All” feature to add keywords to every photo all at once. Because most or all of the photos in the folder are of the same event or location, many of the same keywords should apply. Adding keywords allows you to later use the software’s search feature to find pictures.
Example: In the photo-editing software Picasa (the Google image organizer), hold down the “control” key and hit “A” to select all of the images in a folder, then select “Tags” from the “View” menu to add keywords.
If there are a few unrelated images in the batch of photos, it won’t take long to adjust the keywords for these images.
When you cannot download pictures from your camera to your computer between events, swap out the camera’s memory card. Memory cards are not expensive, especially when you buy low-capacity cards (rather than loading up high-capacity cards with thousands of photos). By swapping out cards, you will have only one event on each card when it is downloaded. Attach a small note with tape or a rubber band to any card that you remove from your camera, explaining what its pictures are of and when they were taken.
Also go back and add keywords and descriptive folder names to the old digital photos already loaded onto your computer. If you didn’t previously download your photos every day, this might not be as simple as batch editing entire folders, but there are ways to do it efficiently and effectively…
Add keywords to groups of related photos. Most photo-management programs let you select a series of photos by clicking on the first photo in a series, then holding down the “shift” key and clicking on the last photo in the series. This saves you the trouble of adding searchable keywords shot by shot.
Create new, descriptively named folders for old photos. Copy and paste relevant photos into these.
Use facial-recognition technology. The latest versions of many photo-management programs, including iPhoto and Picasa, can figure out who is in your pictures for you, once you have identified these people a few times. This doesn’t work perfectly, and you have to verify the software’s IDs, but it saves you the trouble of searching through all of your pictures for specific people. If you have photos stored on many different devices, consider uploading them all to a single backup storage device so that you have to search for photos in only one place.
FILM AND SLIDES
Old-fashioned film prints (as well as old negatives, slides, 8-mm or 16-mm home movies, videotapes and other out-of-date image formats) can be scanned and added to your digital photo collection. It isn’t worth doing this yourself—it’s a time-consuming chore, photo scanners that do it well are expensive, and digitalizing slides, negatives and home movies can be a particular challenge.
Instead, pay a service to digitalize old film and video formats for you. You ship a box of your prints, slides and other media to the service, and it ships them back with a DVD or memory card containing your images and movies in digital form. Two services that do this very reliably for a reasonable price…
FotoBridge.com will digitalize 250 prints for $54.95…250 slides for $99.95…250 negatives for $109.95…or 250 feet of home movies for $69.95. Lower per-picture rates are available for larger quantities. Prints are digitalized at a resolution of 300 dots per inch (dpi) unless the “platinum” 600-dpi option is selected. (It typically costs 25% to 35% more.) The standard 300 dpi should be fine for viewing these shots at their original snapshot size, but 600 dpi is preferable if you blow them up. FotoBridge typically gets customers’ photos back to them in less than two weeks.
ScanCafe.com charges 33 cents per photo, negative or slide or 25 cents per foot for home movies (slightly lower prices are available for larger quantities). It automatically provides 600-dpi resolution on prints, and unlike FotoBridge, it doesn’t have preset quantities such as 250 or 500 photos—you pay only for the number of photos you send. ScanCafe’s processing is done in India, however, so unless you pay extra for “USA Express Scanning,” turnaround times can be four to six weeks.
3 SOFTWARE OPTIONS
Three digital photo-editing and organizing software options…
iPhoto, which comes preinstalled on Apple computers, is an effective photo-management option for Apple users. It’s easy to use and has fairly effective facial-recognition capabilities. Its photo-editing tools are limited, however—it can be difficult or impossible to make major adjustments, such as removing elements of the shot. ($14.99 to download the most recent version if it isn’t already preinstalled on your computer. (Apple.com/mac/iphoto)
Picasa, Google’s popular photo-management program, is the best choice if you use a PC and don’t want to pay for software. It’s intuitive and has facial-recognition capabilities such as iPhoto—but also like iPhoto, its photo-editing tools are fairly limited. (Free, Picasa.Google.com)
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 has very advanced photo-editing tools and is the best option if you want to use your computer to improve your photos, not just save them. For example, Lightroom‘s “Advanced Healing Brush” easily removes unwanted objects from images—eliminate those power lines from your otherwise beautiful landscape shot, for example. (PC or Mac, $149 list price but often available for around $120 (Adobe.com/Lightroom)
Source: Mike Hagen, a professional photographer and photo workshop leader in Gig Harbor, Washington. He is author of Thousands of Images, Now What? Painlessly Organize, Save, and Back Up Your Digital Photos (Wiley). VisAdventures.com
BEST APPS FOR ORGANIZING SMARTPHONE PHOTOS
Smartphones usually come with a photo-management app installed-but these apps are rarely very good. Two add-on photo-management apps are available for Android and iOS phones that do a better job organizing images…
Flickr automatically uploads smartphone photos to a “cloud-based” Flickr account, so you can access them from your computer or tablet, not just your phone. Flickr offers one terabyte of free cloud storage, enough for upward of 500,000 digital images. You later can download photos saved on Flickr to your computer if you like. You can add tags and titles to photos so that you can use a keyword search to find them later. The app and the storage are free, and images are stored at full resolution, with no compression. You even can arrange your photos into “collections” or “sets” on Flickr to keep them organized. Flickr.com
Picturelife doesn’t just automatically upload your smartphone photos to the cloud, it also uploads photos from your computer and social-media pages, consolidating all of your digital images in one place. Only the first 1,700 or so of your photos are stored for free, however. To store up to 34,000 photos costs $7 per month…up to 100,000 costs $15 per month. Uploaded images are saved at full resolution and can be sorted into albums, and you can add keywords (“tags”) to them. Picturelife.com
Source: Sharon Profis, senior associate editor at CNET, a leading consumer technology website. She is author of Mastering the Galaxy S4 (CBS Interactive).