Digital Photo Image Management
If you take a lot of digital photos, it is vital to organize and catalog them properly. That takes a bit of work when you transfer photo image files from your camera to a hard drive or other mass storage medium. But it only needs to be done once, and with the right software tools digital image file management is much easier...
Photo Management Software
Most digital cameras come with software to help you transfer photos from the camera to your computer. Typically, these programs will also help you organize your photos and do some basic editing, such as color adjustment, cropping, red-eye removal. But all the ones I've used from the camera manufacturers are a bit clunky, especially when it comes to email or sharing your photos online.
No matter what software you decide to use to manage your photo collection, the single best tip I can give is to plan in advance. Create a filing system of folders, file naming standards, and tags (searchable keywords associated with the image files). You choose what type of classification scheme makes sense to you. Sort and file your photos by date, by event, subject matter or based on who appears in the photos. A well-defined system makes filing images go faster and finding them again easier.
Don't just dump hundreds of images into the same folder! If you do, it will take the computer a long time to rebuild the thumbnail index every time you open that overcrowded folder. Instead, create top-level folders for each year's worth of photos, with monthly subfolders under each year. Within each monthly folder, you can optionally create a day subfolder only when you have photos from that day.
How you name image files is up to you, but automatically generated names like DSC000234.jpg are not very helpful. Related photos should start with the same characters so they can be grouped easily, i. e., Easter_2010*.jpg. Remember that Windows file names can be up to 128 characters long.
Create a set of general tags to embed in related photos: "Family", "Grandchildren", "Dog", "Landscape", etc. Adding a general tag or two to a photo can help you narrow the search when you can't quite recall the tags you invented at the time the photo was taken. Keep this list of tags someplace handy.
Free Image Management Software
If you're not happy with the photo manager program that came with your camera, there are some excellent free and shareware image management programs that can help you organize, edit and share your photos with ease. Here are some you can try:
Windows has a built-in Image Management Wizard but it's rudimentary compared to the free and shareware apps out there.
Google's Picasa software is a favorite of many users. Picasa will scan your hard drive for photos and group similarly named photos into virtual folders. It also has a cool face recognition feature that helps to automatically tag and organize photos. Editing features include crop, resize, color, contrast and brightness adjustment, and red-eye reduction. Picasa can make slideshows, and interfaces well with online photo printing and sharing services.
The free version of Cam2PC is customizable to create datestamp folders; ask for captions/tags; and even automatically rotate images. The shareware version (30 day trial; $15 to $20) includes batch processing of image name changes, resizing, and other adjustments; a Print Wizard that can help you get sharp, high-fidelity photo prints; and album, slideshow, or Web site gallery creation.
Online photo management is one way to keep your hard drive uncluttered and your computer secure while sharing photos with distant family and friends over the Internet. Windows Live Gallery is a free plugin for Windows Media Player that catalogs, tags, uploads, and shares your images via Facebook and other social media. Photobucket, Twitpic (for Twitter users), and many other photo-sharing Web sites are all free, but most lack good editing features.
For Mac users, the Apple iPhoto app is very popular. It does much more than the organization chores described above. It can make slideshows; email photos; posts them to Facebook, helps you create printable albums and cards, and more.
Do you have a favorite image management program? Post your comment or question below…
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 23 Dec 2010
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Digital Photo Image Management (Posted: 23 Dec 2010)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved