After Hours

Five tools to tame your photo management chaos

StudioLine Photo Basic

StudioLine Photo Basic offers some unusual features, including Geo Caching, image editing, descriptions, archiving, and online albums. It also offers dual monitor support and a built-in auto-update function.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

37 comments
nance the dance
nance the dance

I use Pro Show Gold by Photodex - unlimited photos and video with cool transitions, motion effects, ability to add (music with simple editing capability) and themes for creating shows fast and publishing to UTube or .EXE, DVD, etc. You need a robust system. Gold is the middle version between the simpler Pro Show and Producer. You get free upgrades for a year with the purchase.

bjluedeke
bjluedeke

Any suggestions for being able to quickly create a slideshow that contains pictures and video? I just want to be able to randomly select some of each and play them back. Unless you actually want to create a "movie" out of them, it seems that so many players draw a hard delineation between them. I finally got wmp to have the right codecs to playback my .mov files, but i can't get it to add them to the library so i can't create a playlist with my jpegs and .movs. i'm running xp home with wmp 11. i found a guy on-line who couldn't prevent wmp from adding .movs to his library. i wish i had that problem. any recommendations?

RustyTheGeek
RustyTheGeek

I've used all of the Windows tools in this article and they all work well and should be installed on your "photo" PC. However, after years of struggling with various ways to organize and have an efficient workflow, I finally settled on Adobe Lightroom years ago. Bottom line, if you shoot a lot of pictures, Lightroom is the only way to go. All of the tools mentioned in this article are essentially relegated to fast JPG viewers for me now. (FastStone renders full screen JPGs very quickly.) If you use Lightroom correctly, you'll be able to find all the pictures in the last few years that relate to "Niagra Falls" or some other key word or subject tag and you can create collections, publish to many different online services, etc. It has a very powerful "Develop" editing module, can make books, slideshows, etc. (I use ProShow for serious slideshows however.) Give the trial version a shot and get the Scott Kelby book on it if you buy it.

hans
hans

A very welcome article, but not much information. Recently, I again searched the web for my 'ideal photo-management-tool', and tried a dozen 'trial-versions', only to find they're all more-or-less the same and nothing comes even close to being satisfactory. I think one of the problems is that most programs get carried away in their ambition to change (crop, enhance, correct) the pics, while while paying far too little attention to the basic task of ordering pictures. I'm not saying that some edititing options are not welcome (although many will, like me, prefer a specialised program like Photoshop for that task), but I'm desperate to find something which can fulfill even the most basic tasks I need to create some order into the chaos of my pictures and video's. What I found so far (and I've recently tried a dozen or so trial versions of newcomers) I would rate as 'primitive' at best. I long for a 'list of requirements', followed by ratings or comments for specific programs on each of these requirements. The worst aspect of my 'search' was that the information given about the points I most care about, was none or scant, so I had to try everything - and was disappointed every time. Here are just a few examples of what I sorely missed: - Based on public standards, so I can hope that my grandchildren can still profit from the information I add to my pictures. (So: the basic ordering should respect the folders of the OS's file system; titles and descriptions should be easy to add and should, even when an overlying DB is used for speed, be written into the picture-file itself whenever possibl,e e.g. .jpg, in order to make them comply with standards. This is also a requirement to make the ordering structure visible for a UPnP media server.) - Making 'presentations' which show a choice of pics. These should be saved in such a way that everything can be moved from one HD to another storage space. - Sorting the pics initially according to the exif-date, while offering the option to sort them in a presentation freely, and visually, like I did when they were printed. I'd expect a screen, taking full advantage of the size of my monitor, with thumbnails (of adjustable size) I could drag & drop with with my mouse to put them in the desired order for some presentation, which then would be saved in an ascii file. These are just 3 of my 'very basic' requirements, but amazingly I don't know any program which can fulfill all three. - I have a fourth very basic one, though: I should be able to mix picture and video in any order I like. (With every camera or phone being able to make movies, and every movie-camera being able to make good stills, I think this Great Divide between photographs and movies is typical for the somewhat autistic world-view of techies.) And this is just for starters. Can anyone point me to a discussion/website which takes these things serious? Hans

AmericanDigitalPC
AmericanDigitalPC

I have all of my pictures stored on my server and use Picasa to manage them. The way to get around it not allowing UNC paths is to remap to location of you Pictures folder (which it auto-detects pictures from). Here's how to do this: 1. Close Picasa 2. Click on your Start Menu 3. Click you "user folder" 4. Right-click on Pictures (or My Pictures) & select Properties 5. Click the Location tab 6. Click "Move..." 7. Navigate to the network location, click on the folder & click "Select Folder" 8. Click OK on the properties 9. Click Yes when prompted to move all files 10. Open Picasa & rescan the libraries I have this done for all the computers in my house so that no matter where pictures are uploaded from, they all end up in the same location (I've also done this for Music & Videos). Alternatively, you can map a network drive to the pictures storage location and add it to the Picasa libraries. Hope this helps!

bjluedeke
bjluedeke

Just like many others out there, I was on a quest to find a solution for managing my digital photos (and videos). I ran across a website that I felt was rather helpful in explaining the basics and how to manage your photos. The site is called All About Digital Photos and can be found at: http://www.rideau-info.com/photos/index.html. Plan some time because there is quite a bit to read.

ciscokid
ciscokid

Two words: Adobe Lightroom

pulpkult
pulpkult

Having tried those editors you mentioned, I have to say Faststone is quite good. So long as you do not need to do anything too different. I was surprised you didn't mention Zoner 14 (Free version). It is very close to the full photo studio/editor a pro may find useful. I have used Zoner for ages and the Upload and Zonerama additions are very helpful for swaps and transfers. It plays well with Picasa too. Which is rare.

ypsrudy
ypsrudy

I also use picasa and really would like to see it compared to your five. Also would you please rate them as good, better, best or something like that. I'd like to see who comes out on top. Thanks... Mr D

wmstrome
wmstrome

While available only in LINUX, this has some terrific organization features. A few that I especially like: If you decide to save a bunch of photos onto a CD or DVD, then delete them from your Hard-Drive, KPA will keep all the information about the photos in your Data Base. You can annotate those photos to say where you have put the DVD physically. The thumbnails will have a corner cut off to indicate that those photos are no longer on your hard drive. You can have hierarchical structure for the annotation of images. For example, you could have a "People" category. You could then have sub-categories of "Family" and "Friends". Under "Family" you could have things like "Ancestors of Grand Parents", then under that, "Grandparents, their siblings and spouses", under that "Parents, aunts and uncles", under that "Siblings and Spouses", then under that ... down to individual names; you can get the idea. You can have the same kind of hierarchical structure for such things as "places", "events", "scenery" "flowers", "animals" -- ad infinitum. Yet another feature is that you can "stack" images in the thumbnail view. This is especially useful when you have RAW images that you then edit to create JPEG or TIFF versions of the same image (possibly adjusted). You can choose to show only the final, adjusted image as the one to use in the thumbnail viewer, but the rest are all still there and you can expand the stack to show the individual ones whenever you wish. You can invoke any image editor (e.g. the GIMP) from within the program. Other than that, in my opinion, Picasa is probably the easiest, most intuitive organization software. It is also available for LINUX. On a Mac, I would probably just stick with iPhoto. Picasa's image editing is very good for most things (and VERY intuitive). I sometimes use it first, and if I need something more complex or sophisticated, I will use something else. Another fantastic feature of Picasa (unfortunately not in the last LINUX I tried) is its facial recognition feature. It finds similar faces and lets you tag them with names very easily.

Wirelessdude
Wirelessdude

Read the article. Since I am also using Picasa, I was hoping for a better organizational method. Now I'm simply confused. There were so many terms I do not understand, I would need to spend the next 30 minutes or more just looking them up. Who is your audience? I think most of us are confused by this article. The last program? Darktable? Am I to assume it is not Windows compatible? Confusing, undefined Terms without looking hard: EXIF information paint option embedded print profile support GNOME 3-based and Ubuntu Unity systems many more, but you get the idea.

ckelly
ckelly

I have about 75,000 photo files to manage. I got zip out of this "article".

fishcad
fishcad

Another product from FastStone is Photo Resizer which has one feature that Image Viewer apparently does not - a photo renamer. There are many free file renamer programs available, but the renamer in Photo Resizer is simple and flexible. I like the ability to have the date and time the photo was taken added to the file name automatically.

LocoLobo
LocoLobo

I like it. The interface is simple, fairly fast, easy to tag, describe, title and rate photos. There are problems with it though. The first problem is the update appears to be Windows Live Photo Gallery. I don't want Windows Live. I don't need it to share the few photos I wish to put online. Second, tags are stored in the keyword file property. I didn't realize that was a problem until I tried picasa. In picasa tags are stored in the EXIF part of the file. So none of my tags showed up. I know; write a simple program to copy the info over. Well, I didn't see any real advantages to picasa to make it worth the time and picasa was very intrusive (IMO) wanting to take over my photo options. So picasa went. I've looked at Irfanview. I'll look again. It seems it wasn't easy to tag multiple photos. Maybe I'm wrong.

chrisg
chrisg

My ideal photo management app should include a way to move and organize them as if you were doing it on table with printed ones. Being able to dynamically move photos around in a sequence helps me to create the story. I like Picasa because I can edit, manage, upload to G+ and my tablet, plus create movies and collages all for FREE.

mchapman
mchapman

Why no Picasa in the list? It's comparable to most of the others you name, is free, provides for web albums, basic edits, tagging, keywords, auto update, fast searching, etc.

NetMgr
NetMgr

Jack, Is Darktable the only tool that allows the user to tag the photographs? I would like to find a tool that would allow me to search my photographs based upon tags that I have given the photos. From your writeup Darktable has this feature. Do any of the other software applications have this capability? While I can work with Windows or Ubuntu, my wife is more comfortable with Windows and Darktable is only available in the Unix world.

johnnaras
johnnaras

I prefer Irfanview. It's free, simple and fast. That's a very nice bicycle setup on the pictures by the way(MTB with internal transmission!).

djschaef42
djschaef42

Checkout PIE, probably the best shareware app I've ever purchased.

rforzano
rforzano

I though I was going to get some selection of Photo Management tools not photo touch up.

gcookman
gcookman

This was Microsoft's Expression Media which was formerly i-view pro. It is hands down the best media organizer on the planet. Phase One had a stuble when they first released it, but they have corrected the problems. http://www.phaseone.com/

d.s.williams
d.s.williams

With Picasa you only get 1 GB of space, which is a bit limited nowadays, and although it is possible to log in to multiple Google accounts at once, that doesn't bundle multiple Picasa accounts. Also, the albums are now hi-jacked as Google+ photo albums by default, making them fiddly to work with, although I do use Picasa and like the fact it is possible to geotag photos more easily than in Panoramio and then transfer them directly from Picasa to Panoramio. The old quibble about Google inhomogeniety still exists though, even though the integration of Picasa into Google+ was presumably an effort to address this.

Middle England
Middle England

The article title suggested you were going to give some advice on how to sort ourselves out. As far as I am concerned you showed us some good screenshots of some tools I had never heard of but gave me no pluses and minuses for different situations. I also use Picasa by the way - so a comparison with that app would have been useful. An article setting how to manage photo's coming in from iPad / iPhone would be really useful.

hug.login
hug.login

Hey guys! Picasa is my choice for years now and never let me down. It's easy, fast and tons of functionality. Work on Windows and iOS.

leo
leo

works for me, easy upload to various services, good tweaking and gets better

d.s.williams
d.s.williams

VistaSux, you might find Windows Live Photo Gallery is the kind of tool you are looking for. It offers facial recognition, geotagging, powerful image editing functions including lots of correction tools and panorama stitching as well as adavnced cloud/online album functionality (with 25 GB SkyDrive for free with a Live account), just to name a few of its features.

VistaSux
VistaSux

Do you know of anything which is Picaso like but allows for the photos stored on a server? The way home PCs are being used with wireless and ethernet becoming common and the cloud growing, it makes sense to store photos on one computer and sharing between the others. I haven't seen a program which can have face recognition etc. and runs from a server.

wmstrome
wmstrome

I think KPhotoAlbum (available only in LINUX as far as I know) can meet most of your basic requirements, if I understand them correctly. The documentation is not as clear as for some of the commercial Windows software options. The basic organization is by EXIF date (if you choose this option), but you can organize it by folders, or by "tags" (e.g. you can look at all the photos in which "Fred" appears in photos taken in "Italy", etc.). Of course the big job in any such package is to properly organize the folders containing the photos and to enter the information about the subject, the people or objects contained, the locations, etc. In KPhotoAlbum (KPA), the terminology is "Annotate" which is similar to "Tag" in other software but more powerful. KPA does NOT do any editing of photos itself. It does not change the photos on disk, but allows you to invoke external photo editors to modify the actual photo. You can mix photos and video clips with no problem. You can also view as slide shows, etc. and create web pages although I have not done much of that, and I think the html output is a bit primitive compared to something like JAlbum. Murray

michael.smith
michael.smith

I must start using a photo organiser, 75,000+pics. Do you think lightroom is better than Photo Director (if you have any knowledge of that program of course). Have just seen a few reviews rating it as #1

michael.smith
michael.smith

Dito my friend. I have about the same amount and am about to start this mamouth organisational task. Seems most like Picasa, However I've seen quite a few reviews for "Photo Director" which they rate as #1. Decisions, Decisions, Good Luck.

d.s.williams
d.s.williams

Is also possible in Windows Live Photo Gallery, which I mentioned yesterday. I should add that I'm not a MS-ophile, but despite that, I do find WLPG a really good piece of software!

ITvet
ITvet

Searching Google for PIE brings up a few good recipes for pies of all types! :)

wmstrome
wmstrome

I only use the Picasa account for sharing. Picasa as an organization and simple editing tool does not require any space on the Google/Picasa account. Everything is just done on your own HD

bjluedeke
bjluedeke

I ran across Picassa and really liked the face recognition capability, but, like many others, was frustrated by the fact that Picassa does not support storing files on a network drive. Pouring through their help blog, I ran across a link to a program called Picassa Starter. This program bridges this gap and allows you store your files on a network. I have installed Picassa Starter, but have not moved my photos to my network drive, so I don't have any personal experience with it, yet. If you'd like to check it out for youself, the site for Picassa Starter is: https://sites.google.com/site/picasastartersite/ One problem with Picassa solved. Now, if only Picassa would imbed the face tags / names info in the IPTC/XMP data so that it would go with the photo. Without that capability, I really hesitate spending hours of my time labeling the individuals in the photos since the information is only useful inside Picassa. Can somebody prove me wrong?

wellcraft19
wellcraft19

That solution seems pretty new and promising. Bookmarked and will play with when I have some time. There are also other ways to "trick" Picasa to work with images stored on a NAS. Sole restriction is really that you cannot access and modify same images from different computers at the same time as the picasa database does not have multi user support I have the links stored somewhere (cannot find them now) but do a search on "how to use picasa with a nas" and it should lead you right (although I think the "starter" is a better solution, although with the same restictions.