DON'S FREEWARE CORNER -- APR 2014
FREEWARE FOR PHOTO EDITING:  WINDOWS LIVE PHOTO GALLERY, PART I

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DON'S FREEWARE CORNER  2014-04
FREEWARE FOR PHOTO EDITING:  WINDOWS LIVE PHOTO GALLERY, PART I

2014 Donald R. Snow

These notes are published in our Utah Valley Technology and Genealogy Group (UVTAGG) monthly newsletter TAGGology and are then posted here on 
http://uvtagg.org/classes/dons/dons-classes.html  where there may be some corrections or additions.

Included in Windows XP, 7, and 8 is a freeware MicroSoft program called Windows Live Photo Gallery or just Photo Gallery, for short.  To find it click on the Start button (globe in Windows 7) > All Programs > Windows Live Photo Gallery.  This is a powerful photo editing program that most of us already have on our computers and don't know it.  If you can't find it on your computer, you can download it from  http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-live/photo-gallery#photogallery=overview .  That page also has links to several brief tutorials, e.g. see  http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-8/editing-photos .  Another website with a Photo Gallery tutorial is  http://digitalunite.com/guides/digital-photography/how-to-use-windows-live-photo-gallery .  You can put an icon on your desktop to get to Photo Gallery directly by right-clicking on it in the All Programs windows and dragging a shortcut to  your desktop.

When running Photo Gallery, you first set it to bring in the folders of photos you want and it organizes them by name and date taken.  In the left panel you see the dates and clicking on a date there brings up thumbnails in the main panel of all photos on that date.  Select a photo to edit by double-clicking on it.  Or, to select more than one, hold down the Ctrl key while clicking the others.  The standard Windows feature of selecting everything between two files works by clicking the first, then holding down the Shift key while clicking the last.  Selecting more than one photo allows you to do the editing on the entire batch at the same time.  Movies in the folders have thumbnails with sprocket holes on the sides so they look like pieces of film.  At the bottom right of the main panel is a slider that makes the thumbnails larger or smaller.  With small thumbnails hovering the cursor over a photo brings up a larger copy of it.  With large thumbnails hovering brings up the file name with date and time the photo was taken.

Double-clicking a thumbnail opens it ready to edit and shows several buttons of editing features across the top. There is a Make a Copy button (near the left side) so you can make a copyto work on, keeping the original to start from again.  If you make a copy, it is placed at the end of the thumbnails for that group and has the name "[old name] (2)".  Further copies are named "[old name] (3)", etc..  By pressing F5 to refresh the screen the copies are moved to be next to the original photo, whether the copies are edited or not.  The edits are made on the photo itself without making a duplicate first.  However, the program keeps track of all the edits and there is a Revert to Original button (top right) to remove all the changes you made and start over.  This Revert button works, even months after you have edited the photo, so any time later you can get back to the original, if you ever want to.  But doing so removes all the changes you made, so you might want to make a copy first and only edit that.  Then you have your original and the edited version.  The Fine Tuning button comes up when you first double-click on a photo and lists several editing items in the right panel.  These are Adjust Exposure, Adjust Color, Straighten Photo, and Adjust Detail.  The Straighten Photo button places a grid over the photo and opens a slider which allows you to tilt the photo to align it the way you want.  Then clicking on the photo again or on one of the other items turns off the grid leaving the photo straightened.  In Adjust Exposure you see several sliders which allow you to change Brightness, Contrast, Shadows, and Highlights.  There is a Histogram showing the shading the photo has and as you move the sliders you see the histogram change, so if you know how to read a histogram you can set the sliders using that.  Most of us would just watch the photo change as we move the sliders until it looks the way we want it.  The Shadows slider makes things in the shadows brighten up.  The Exposure slider shows the photo as if it had been taken with different exposures.  

There are several other buttons at the top, including an Auto Adjust button to have the program make the changes it thinks are needed.  It you don't like the automatic changes, you can manually change them or just click on Revert to Original and start over.  There is a Crop button to select a part of the picture and this allows you to select the aspect ratio you want for the final picture such as 4x6, 5x7, or 8x10.  The crop tool rectangle stays in the ratio you select so the final picture looks proportional.  There is a Red Eye button to correct the red photos have in people's eyes coming from the flash reflecting on the person's retinas.  Next is a Retouch button to allow you to remove slight blemishes by placing a small rectangle around the spot and clicking so it looks like the rest of the background there.  The Noise Reduction button removes graininess where it can, and there are buttons to bring in different effects such as change to sepia tones, change color to black-and-white, and other effects.  Double-clicking on the photo or clicking on Close File saves the edited photo, but as pointed out above, you can revert back to the original anytime you want, even months later.  However, as I mentioned above, the Revert feature wipes out all the edits you made, so you might want to make a copy of the original before you start editing.  If you make a copy of an edited photo, I think that it still remembers all the edits so the Revert feature even works on copies, but I'm not sure about that, so don't count on it without experimenting first.

Photo Gallery has several advanced features such as Panorama which stitches together several overlapping photos to make a single one.  These can be overlapping on any side and the program figures out where the overlaps are regardless of side.  You select the photos you want to stitch together by holding down the Control key while clicking.  Then click the Create button (top) and select Panorama.  It analyzes the photos, finds the overlaps, and produces the composite photo.  You can crop the final picture since the edges will probably be jagged from the different photos used.  This tool can be used to make a picture of a large group of people from several overlapping pictures or to make a copy of a large map or picture on a wall, for example, by photographing it in pieces.  I haven't tried it, but perhaps it could be used to make a composite image of a computer screen with vertical and horizontal scrolling windows by making overlapping screenshots.  

Another advanced feature is Fuse which allows you to replace parts of one photo with parts from others, but the pictures need to be taken at approximately the same place and time with the images approximately the same size so they can be aligned.  For example, if you have three pictures of a group taken from the same place and time, you can select the photo you like best.  Then, for people who aren't smiling, put a rectangle around one and the program finds that area in the other pictures and asks which one you want to "fuse" in.  When you select one, it replaces the rectangle in the main photo.  When finished you can save the main photo with a new name.  The Photo Fuse feature is on the Create button (top left).

There are other features of Photo Gallery including creating slideshows, name tagging, geotagging, and facial recognitions which we will discuss another time, but the features discussed here are enough to show you the power of this free program and may be everything you need for editing your own pictures.  Good luck.

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