Tuesday, April 3, 2007

sharing photos over the internet

Now that so many of us have digital cameras, it's only natural that we want to share our digital photos with friends and colleagues. It should be as easy as emailing the photo from our computer that we took with our camera. Right? Wrong!

Most digital cameras (even cheap old ones like my Fuji FinePix) take pretty detailed photos. The raw photo files are generally in the multi MB range. They're pretty big. If this is a photo of your new grand child that you're sharing with family, who will no doubt want to print it out and keep a copy, that may be okay, they'll probably be willing to sit and wait and WAIT for the photo to download on their 56K dialup. However, if it's the umpteenth photo of your kitchen remodel, this might start getting a bit old. And this is even more of a concern, when you're emailing photos to email lists where you don't even know many of the hundreds of potential recipients.

So, what are your options for sharing great photographs? Online photo sharing sites are always a good. There's lots of them out there. Some require registration to even view the photos, which I find VERY annoying. Probably the most popular one around now which doesn't require registration to view and has a lot of great sharing options is Flickr. Flickr is free for the first 100 MB of uploads per month. You can also pay a fee and get even more uploads. Once you have your photo on Flickr, you can add tags, and mapping information. You can post it to groups. You can send the URL out to friends. They can download copies of the photo in various sizes.

Another option is to do some quick photo editing before you send it by email. If you have Microsoft Office Photo Editor (that came up as the default program when I clicked on this photo on my work computer), there's a compress option where you can compress a photo for email. It creates a thumbnail of the original photo and the size drops from 1.7 MB to 5.65 KB. The resulting thumbnail is bit small but people can get the idea of the photo which is probably all you need, especially if you're sending it out to hundreds over an email list.

A free photo editing program that's easy to use is Picasa. Once you open your photo in Picasa, one of the options is to email it, it will automatically resize your photo and attach it to an email message using the email program of your choice. The resized photo is perfectly viewable and only 45.2 KB.

Bruce pointed out that Picasa does not presently work on Macs. But no worry, Macs come with their own photo editing software iPhoto that will enable you to resize and/or compress your photos.

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