Friday, December 11, 2009

Creating a photo collage: Picasa on OS X (Intel)

My family does some things well, but family pictures are not among them. So for the Solstice this year I had to go the "collage" route.

iPhoto does many things well, but Collage creation is not among them. (Neither is Library merge, but don't get me started.) So for our Solstice collage I had to turn to Google's free Picasa 3.6 for OS X (Intel only). It worked very well.

If you do go this way, and you're not a Picasa expert, these install and setup tips might help:
  1. Download and install Picasa 3.6 for OS X Intel. It's a very straightforward drag and drop to Applications install.
  2. Launch. It will start reading in your photo library. You don't have all day, so you want to turn this off. Go to Tools:Folder Manager and remove everything.
  3. Go to Preferences and turn off face recognition. You don't need it and it will slow things down.
  4. From iPhoto export your images to a desktop folder. (Picasa can browse your iPhoto albums (not events) in a mixed year/name hierarchy, but it won't let monitor just one album/folder. It's all or nothing for iPhoto monitoring. So you have to export.)
  5. Using Tools:Folder Manager monitor the folder you just created to.
  6. Select what you want to work with, and choose Create:Collage.
I didn't fully investigate the Collage tools, but they're impressive. Right click on images to change their stacking order. Click and move the red dot to change size and orientation. There's a "Clips" view on the left side you can add from, but I didn't investigate it further.

From here you can create your collage as a JPG that can be edited and exported. Export and them move it back into iPhoto.

I might start using Picasa for Mac as a supplement to iPhoto. Among other things, it's a powerful tool for reviewing and managing Picasa Web Albums -- which Apple conspicuously fails to support. If I do I'll write more on that, and add a link to this post.

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