Dev Niyogi is the State climatologist for Indiana and an assistant professor at Purdue University in the US. As part of his research and teaching experience, he spends a significant number of hours compiling, documenting and adapting graphics in his presentations that show the changes in the land surface, trees, and weather phenomena such as clouds and thunderstorms.
Add to that a three-year-old whose growing up is exhaustively documented (photographically) and you can guess that Niyogi’s personal computer is loaded with literally thousands of photos. Often, we don’t sort pictures as soon as we copy them from our camera or phone. What we have is the photographic equivalent of a flood.
Most people live similar lives, at least in terms of digital media usage and consumption. Even mid-range mobile phones today come with cameras. And with falling prices and increasing capacities of storage, it has become easier than ever to shoot and store and shoot and store! The emergence of digital cameras has transformed usually conservative photographers into trigger-happy profligates. So, how does one manage a surfeit of photographs and videos?
Software has the answer. There are several utilities that can help, some resident on the desktop, others on the Web, some free and others that cost a bit. The most popular, and the best in my opinion, is Google’s Picasa, a desktop tool, which is free. All a user has to do is download it from www.picasa.google.com and install it. Picasa then scans the computer for all images and sorts them by date. It also has a folder view that can identify the folder in the computer in which the photograph resides. Furthermore, one can also assign ‘tags’ that work like folders to further sort them.
Picasa can remove red-eyes (a common problem in most photographs by amateurs where the subjects’ eyes are bloodshot), align photographs, even change brightness, colour and contrast. It allows users to set a screensaver from the entire photo library.
Better still, photographs can be burnt on to a CD or DVD straight from Picasa. Adobe Picture Bridge can do most of the things Picasa does but it’s available only along with licenced copies of Adobe Photoshop CS2 that costs roughly Rs6,500 per licence.
Webshots desktop (www.webshots.com) is another application that does just about everything Picasa does. It also offers online storage where users can store up to 3,400 photographs; they can use the desktop tool to access and share them. However, unlike Picasa it doesn’t automatically detect all pictures on a computer. Users have to physically access the pictures in various folders and add them to Webshots. There are two versions of the Webshots service: free and paid. Some advantages of the paid service include an upload limit of 5,000 photos, access to ‘pro’ photos and access to the highest resolution photos on Webshots (community photos included).
Users wishing to share their pictures with the world will not, arguably, find a better utility than Flickr (www.flickr.com). Uploading photographs on Flickr is as easy as attaching them to a mail; sharing them, as simple as sending out a link (every user is assigned a url, www.flickr.com/nameofyourchoice ).
Flickr allows users to label photographs (Holiday in Vietnam, say, or Bunty’s birthday 2006).
When users click on the label, all photographs with this tag will show up. It even offers an option for users to drag-and-drop photographs on to a map of the world, to the country or place where they were shot.
Photographs from Flickr can be burnt on a CD or DVD and users in some countries (where Flickr has a paid service option too) can log onto their accounts and order prints or CDs that will then be delivered home.
The key to using any of these utilities is proper nomenclature. Users need to follow a naming convention that they can sustain and remember over time.
The folders could be names of events or people; the sub-folders could be dates.
Picasa, Flickr and Webshots are just the start. There are more complex and in some cases, comprehensive software that can help organize photos.
The most important thing is to come up with a personalized system of classification and the software will always seem to work better than expected. And then the software can step in to execute the logic.
Niyogi now finds his photos more easily and he uses Picasa. So go on and organize those memories. And feel free to share some with us too.