Google is replacing the multi-talented desktop-based Picasa (left) with the minimalist cloud-based Google Photos (right.)
Changes in technology come with breakneck speed. Some we embrace, some we don’t. At least when WordPress streamlined its format, it allowed us the opportunity to use the more beefy original administrator. (Thank you, WordPress.)
One change I’m dreading is the loss of the Picasa photo editing website. Google is retiring it in spring 2016. Google has every right to do so, especially since Picasa users pay nothing for its use, but it’s still a bitter blow. A lot of Picasa users don’t even know it’s going bye-bye yet, although apparently people knew it was coming a while ago. Google is focusing on Google Photos, which is quite different from Picasa and not as useful for my needs. Supposedly, we’ll still be able to use Picasa, if we already have it installed on our desktops, until it dies out from bugs and glitches. We’ll see.
Google Photos is a nice photo storage system, but not a good replacement as an editing and design tool. In Google Photos, you can upload all of your photos to the cloud for free in a small version, which is probably large enough for most uses, and pay if you need to upload large files when you exceed your large-size quota. I’m transferring all of my large-sized photos to external hard drives.
My son gave me the heads up on Friday night on Picasa’s impending demise, and I was shocked. I was working on my taxes, so I was already in a foul mood, and I quickly went into mourning. I taped a black ribbon to my monitor. I searched the web (using the damnable Google) to find an alternative. I use Photoshop a lot, but Picasa is just so darned easy and could do so much. It has lots of design and editing tools and is great for organizing my photos into files and albums. It will still be usable on your desktop, if you already have it, but won’t be getting any support from Google.
I used Picasa to edit this photograph that I took of Harvest, a cat that was available for adoption at Wayside Waifs in Kansas City, Missouri. Using Picasa, I could easy crop this photo to the pixel size and aspect required for uploading to the website. Also using Picasa, I could add my initials so that the shelter administrators would know who took the photo if they needed a larger size. Auto contrast, auto color, straightening and sharpening were Picasa tools I often used.
For more than five years, I’ve been using Picasa to edit the photographs I take of adoptable cats for an animal shelter’s website in Kansas City, Missouri. It makes it so easy to tag the photo with the cat’s name, attach a watermark and be able to find the photos later. As far as I can tell, you can’t tag photos in Google Photos. Face recognition will not work with cats. Because of the ease of use and because it was free, Picasa has been a godsend for other volunteer cat photographers who aren’t photo editors. Now, we’re scrambling to find an alternative.
Here’s a Hibiscus poster (below) that I created using Picasa. I used the posterize function to transform my hibiscus photograph, I used the add a border function to add the initial two-toned border, created a wider border with the collage tool, then added another two-tone border. I added the text of Hibiscus waimeae above the flower and added a band of an hibiscus font that I uploaded, which automatically transferred into Picasa when I downloaded it. Picasa allowed color matching so that I could match the greens and reds of the hibiscus photo to the font and background colors. Though there were many steps, it was easy. I don’t relish learning a new program to do these functions.
If you know of an easy, inexpensive alternative for downloading, editing and organizing photos, let me know in the comments. I’m checking into FastStone.org. Anyone have any experience with that program?