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What are your best photos?

I think your best photos are the ones being used. The photos in your albums, on your website or in Photobooks. What point is a ‘best photo’ that is sitting in a hard drive unused? Since the recent revolution in digital photography people are taking 10 times as many photos as they did with film – just because it’s free – or so they think. It actually cost quite a lot to keep buying new computers, new printers, more ink cartridges and update your software. It is false to think of it as free and what’s more it takes a lot of time to sort through those 10 times as many photos to find the best ones and then get them printed. Most people do not bother, it’s just too hard so Hard drives end up with tens of thousands of images floating around and the best ones are never retrieved and used.

Take less photos – file them in a sensible set of folders and use your best photos. If you are unsure how to do this then you can find out by joining one of the Digital Photography for Beginners six week classes run by Brian Miller each year in Dunedin and Mosgiel.


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About Photobooks

The most long lasting way to share your photos is using Photobooks and this is one of the most exciting developments in the new Digital Age. There are many different companies competing for a slice of the new Photobook cake and you need to check several out before deciding what suits you best in terms of ease of making the book, quality and price. You may be able to make photobooks in your local town and you should first ask around to see what is on offer and look at sample Photobooks.

One of the main decisions is do you want to make the book online or do you want to download software and make the book on your own computer. Making a book online means you have to be online as you make it and that has it’s limitations. Making the book on your own computer in your own time is usually easier and then at the end you upload the book for printing.

Here is a list of the best quality online Photobook systems

Blurb – ONLINE or DOWNLOAD – One of the leading Photobook companies in the world with a wide range of services up to professional level.

You can use the Blurb Bookify system to create your book online, or download on to your computer Blurb BookSmart or Blurb for Professionals. You can even create your book in Indesign then eport it to Blurb in PDF format. You can create books and sell them online via the Blurb marketing system and even create books to run on an iPone or iPad platform. If you are planning to seriously extend into the world of Photobooks, check Blurb out carefully.

Frogprints – ONLINE or DOWNLOAD – Easy to use with lots of creative options but a limited number of book types.

Photobox – ONLINE system only – Europe’s leading online digital photo service with over 11 million members. Very high quality books with a wide range of formats.

Snapfish – ONLINE or DOWNLOAD – Easy to use system good for beginners. Has a wide range of book types. Cheap prices

Photobook – ONLINE or DOWNLOAD – NZ made software that is easy to use but limited in creativity.  Cheap prices.


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Uploading to Picasa with a Mac and the iPhoto plugin

– Upload using a Mac Computer and Picasa iPhoto Plugin

Select the photos you want to use and drag them into an iPhoto Album.

Click File > Export and then click Picasa Web Albums in the dialogue box.

Add a name for the Album, fill in the description and decide if the photos are for public viewing or not. Decide if you want Better Quality photos or Faster Upload or Actual Size

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Organising and filing digital images

There are many ways to file images and many software programs to help you, however I think it is best to  make up your own hierarchical folders using a range of topics that suit your photography and lifestyle.

If you use one particular software to organise your photos it can be very hard to extract your photos from that software system at a later date. Picasa is a popular editing / filing system however it tends to take over your computer and over sort your photos in ways that make it difficult to find them. I recommend you take Picasa off your system, make your own image folders and use Photoshop Elements for editing.

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The Power of Google+ Circles

When sharing photos with family and friends you have to set up  email groups so that when you click SHARE you can send an email to each person with a link to your album.

If you join Google+ you can then develop networks (called circles) of friends, family of any other group you decide to setup. Then when you want to share your photos you just click on an album in Picasaweb, click on the SHARE button, add a comment, click on ‘+add more people’ and then click the groups or ‘Circles’ of friends that you want to send the photos to.

This is a much quicker way to contact people HOWEVER at this stage you may not have many friends who have joined Google+. Perhaps you could encourage your family to join Google+ and your family circle to speed up the transfer of photos. Just one word of warning – Google+ does make your photos a lot more public since they can be resent by your family or friends to other circles. Read this article

click here to join Google+

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How to setup Picasa web albums

1 – GOOGE ACCOUNT – Picasa Web Albums is owned by Google so to setup you need to first have a Google account. Go to If you need help setting up your account got to  To set up your account you need to select a google name. Choose your own common name or if that is not available choose a close variation so that people who search for you will recognize the name.

Google Profile.

– Gmail – Once you have a Google Account you will e provided with a gmail name which allows you to send emails via the online Google email system. Gmail is very useful as you can access your emails from any computer anywhere in the world and also set up gmail GROUPS which can automatically inform the group of friends or family selected when you have added new photos to your Picasaweb.

– You Tube – is also owned by Google and so your google account also allows you to set up You Tube and upload movie

– Google for Weddings is another service you can use from your Google account so set up your own Wedding website and contact service.



Picasa is a software system that you can download using your Google account and use to organize and edit all the photos on your computer. I recommend you do NOT download or use this system. After running camera classes for years I have people in every class who have problems with Picasa. It tends to take over you photos and orgaise them to much with the result that images and copies are hard to control and locate. I RECOMMEND you set up your own manual photo files independent of any software and add keywords.

Picasa Web Albums is separate from Picasa itself and is the online system for sharing photos.

3 – Go to  to sign up for your Picasa Web Album account. Using your Google name and password, follow the instructions to set up the account.

Once you have your own Picasa Web Album you are given your own URL name such as –

This is the link to give to friends who you would like to view your photos. Place a bookmark in your favourites so you can access your page quickly without having to type in the lengthy URL each time.

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How to use Picasa web albums

UPLOAD PHOTOS _________________________

Select copies of the photos you want to upload put them into a folder. Resize them to make upload quicker. by dragging the photo into Photoshop Elements – click image > Resize > Image size. Then click resample and change the resolution to 72 and the width to about 600 pixels. Click ok Then click File > save as,  into a second folder selecting medium quality. Or Click file > save for web and select a medium quality file size.

This will reduce the size of the image making it quicker to upload while still providing a suitable image on the screen. If you have many photos to upload you can resize a batch of photos. See page 57 in the book Digital Cameras the easy way for this technique.

Click into your Picasa Web Albums using your URL


Click ‘Upload’ – Then EITHER ‘Create a new Album by giving it a name OR ‘add to an existing album. Then click ‘Select Photos from your computer’ and select the appropriate folder of photos. Wait for them to upload then give them individual captions if you wish.

UPLOAD PLUGINS ________________________

You can make the process of uploading much quicker by searching for and downloading a plugin to upload photos directly from iPhoto (Mac) or from Windows Live Photo Gallery to Picasa Web Albums. The plugin allows you to make albums on your computer and upload them directly and quickly to Picasa Web Albums.


Click on your Picasaweb name to open your Albums


ADJUST COVER PHOTO _____________________

Click Home> Click on the album, Click Actions > Album Cover – Then Click on one of your best photos, that is representative of the album and it will become the Album cover.

ORGANIZE YOUR ALBUM ____________________

Click on the album then click Organize and you can then rearrange the sequence of the photos.

SHARE _________________________________

Click on an album and click the SHARE button.  If you belong to Google+ you can then add the circles of friends that you would like to share the photos with. If you want to share by email click the Share via Email only link at the base of the box.

When you share by email click the TO: link and then the Most Contacted drop down menu to bring up your lists of groups. These groups are lists of friends emails that you have made within your Gmail system. How to make Gmail groups.


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About Picasa web albums

There are many online systems to share photos. You can put photos on Facebook but that is more of a social network system and if you really just want to share photos and not get tied up with having to ‘Facebook’ then you need a dedicated photo sharing system. The two most popular systems are Flickr and Picasaweb, and both are free unless you want to increase your storage and pay a small annual fee.

Picasa has more flexible storage options should you wish to increase the capacity and hold many hundreds of photos and because Picasa Web is owned by Google is has easier ways of sharing with friends.


1 – Set up a Google Account – Picasaweb is owed by Google and you need  a google name (Account) before you can set up Picasaweb.

2 – A google account enables you to use Gmail and also allows you to set up groups of friends and family and send an automatic email to selected groups when you add new photos.

3 – Do NOT confuse Picasa and Picasa Web Albums. Picasa is the editing software which you download on to your computer (and I recommend you do NOT use that) while Picasa Web Albums is the online sharing system.

4 – Go to  to sign up for your Picasa Web Album account. Using your Google name and password, follow the instructions to set up the account.

5 – Select photos to upload to Picasa and put them in a folder

6 – Open your Picasa Web Album using your URL


7 – Click ‘Upload’ photos. Then navigate to your folder of photos.

8 – Click ‘Home’ and click the new album to view the photos or run a slideshow

9 – Send a group email to friends or family with a link to your new album

Detailed instructions for setting up Picasa Web Albums

How to use Picasa Web Albums

Google+ circles

View Brian’s Picasa Web Albums

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Inspirational Photographs

Brian Millers photo link

Click below for links to  various photographers work ….

Magnum Photos

Henri Cartier-Bresson

Top World Press photos

13 photos that changed the world

National Geographic Photos

Top Underwater photos is a large site with photographic images from many of the world’s leading photographers. This is a site to extend your mind and give you real inspiration on looking for images. It contains high class images, biographies, audio clips, video clips and more.