So now you’ve taken your digital pictures! What next? Last week we talked about the mechanics and artistry of taking pictures. Oh, didn’t I mention the art of? Well there is an art to taking good pics, but this week we’ll focus on what to do with the pics once the images are captured in your camera.
First you’ll want to sort the pics and delete those that are of no value. If your eyes are keen enough and your LCD viewer is large enough, you can do this while the pics are still in the camera. I recommend you first move or copy your pictures to your PC. There are a couple of ways to do this and multiple variations therein. Your pics are stored as digital files on your camera’s storage disc.
You can remove the disc from your camera and connect it directly to your PC via a card reader (some camera disc readers are separate devices that connect via USB to your PC and some are built in to your PC, depending mostly on how old your PC is). Or you can connect your camera (with storage disc inside) directly to your PC via the USB transfer cable that came with your camera and use some download software to move or copy the photo files to your PC hard drive.
If you are a newbie, I recommend you try the direct transfer method first and let your system software walk you through the stages of copying to your my pictures folder.
Now choose a viewer/organizer. You have at least one built into any Windows OS. For example, XP comes with “Windows Picture and Fax Viewer”, Win 7 comes with “Windows Photo Viewer”. Right click on any picture in the My Pictures folder and then click “Open With”; you’ll see a list of the programs that your PC has available to open and view pics. Your camera and your printer may also have installed viewing/organizing/editing software on your PC. While you are learning, I strongly recommend you pick one software till you learn it, before branching out.
There are many free viewer/ editors available, but the one I recommend is Picasa, now in Version 3.6. You can download it free from FileHippo or directly from the Picasa Website. I like it because it is continually being improved, it has most of the features that amateurs need, it helps avoid deleting originals and the user interface is friendly (did I mention it’s free?). By the way if you are using an older version of Picasa, download the new one and enjoy its new features like face recognition.
Whatever display/editing software you use, remember to protect your originals and always back up your photos to another location, my first choice, a thumb drive. Sort your pics first and then backup just the good ones. Also rename your pics after the sorting so that they don’t have names like img105637.jpg, but rather something more descriptive like
“Aunt Minnie-Thanksgivung2006”. Some people also include a date code in picture names, but you’ll want to decide your own naming system.
Next week I‘ll address “Show and Tell” for your pics.