Getting started with Digital Photography (revisited) – Organising your pictures

This post re-visits a subject I looked at back in 2017, and developed last year when I looked at how Google Photos could be used for simple editing. The links to these posts are here …
First two posts which set out how I go about learning about photography and the decisions I made on which software to use …
Getting started with Digital Photography: Part 1
Getting started with Digital Photography: Part 2
Then three posts about using Google Photos …
Getting to grips with Google Photos
More Google Photos – some simple image manipulation
Sharing an image (or album) from Google Photos
… I haven’t checked that all the links are still “active”, so if you come across any that are not working, don’t despair, just let me know and I’ll sort it!
What this posts addresses is something much more fundamental
Tidying-up your photos and getting ready to import/process them
This is not a trivial task; for too many years your photo collection (and mine) has been allowed to grow unchecked and uncared for. The downside of digital photography is that you have no hard copy to sort into boxes, or albums, and no cases to put 35mm slides/transparencies into either!!
Taking a photo has become the end in itself, and because it’s so easy to do and it doesn’t cost much to take multiple pictures of the same scene/person, that’s what you do.
You know all this. I don’t need to tell you, and yet you keep on putting off the evil day when you have to do something about it and get to grips with sorting all those pictures out, labelling (tagging) them and putting them into some form when you can actually find the one you want, or the place/holiday/person you want without scrolling through loads of images whilst the person you want to show the picture(s) to politely (or perhaps not) waits for you to find (not always) the picture(s).
So now’s the time to sort your digital photo collection out. Get some order into them. Get rid of duplicates, and make a new year resolution to not let them get on top of you again. Read this article to see what you might need to do, and make a list of the things you might wish to do.
Let’s assume however that you’re starting from scratch, what would be a good set of practices …

  1.  Store all your pictures in one place on your computer – eg Google Photos on a Google Drive – and create a folder structure that helps you find them
  2. Tag them (to describe what/where/who is in them) and title them – img2634.jpg doesn’t tell you much!
  3. Back them up, consider using cloud storage for this as well – eg Google Drive, iCloud, Dropbox, OneDrive etc.
  4. Consider using an automatic way of backing-up the photos to the cloud so that they can be shared as well as preserved – eg Google Backup and Sync

… again you probably know all of that, but just in case!
Here’s an article that suggests a few tools to help you start the clean-up and another one from The Guardian.
So what’s my recommendation? Only one approach of many, but here it is … shoot it down!

  1. If you don’t want to pay out anything to organise your Photos and you don’t have an Apple Mac – let Google do it for you (and this is the solution I’ll describe below).
  2. If you do have a Mac, use the Photos app on your iPhone or iPad and the Photos application on your Mac desktop or MacBook [a couple of provisos for this however based on sharing with non-Apple users, or using in a non-Apple environment].
  3. Create a Google Account, if you haven’t got one already, and get 15Gb of free Google Drive (cloud) storage and unlimited storage if you choose to store the photos in High Quality (rather than Original Quality)
    It’s a good idea in any case to have a Google Account as it allows you to create another eMail address – I’m a strong advocate for having more than one eMail address anyway. Go to Google Accounts to setup your Google ID – you can use your existing eMail address if you want to. Then with your account set up you can go to this page. I would suggest you download the Backup and Sync application for your desktop at the same time. Installing the application on your Windows PC, or your Apple Mac, will then create a Google Drive Folder in which you can store information and which then will then be backed-up to your Google Drive “in the cloud”. Voila – you have peace of mind that your precious information has been saved. Any changes you make to the information will be synchronised with the version saved on your cloud storage.
  4. Set Google Photos up as a folder in your Google Drive.
  5. Allow Backup and Sync to copy photos from your phone/tablet to Google Photos (in your Google Drive).
  6. Only Import photos from your camera to your computer into a Google Photos folder using a structure such as [Year]>[Month & Date]
  7. Change the name of your photos in the folder to something a bit more meaningful.
  8. Get ready for some processing and sharing.


Sharing an image (or album) from Google Photos

To finish off this series of posts on using Google Photos, this post complements the email that I sent out to the Cardiff U3A Computer Group which encouraged them to do some “homework” and share a photo stored in Google Photos with me.

This post uses a couple of photos which I took this week of some toadstools that had appeared in our garden after the heavy rains we’ve had this month and which Jenny was worried might be Honey Fungus. I took them to achieve an identification – which I hope I’ve got right!
From my  Google Photos desktop I can see this …


… I need to select Create, then Album and click on the photos I want to put in the Album …


… and click on Create and give the Album a name …


… in this case I’m calling the album “Common Inkcap” and then click on the Tick in the top left-hand corner of the screen.
Now I can Share the album using the ShareShare icon in the top right-hand corner of the screen, and clicking on Get link

… and after clicking on COPY I can email the link to the album to anyone, or if you’re a Google+, Facebook or Twitter user I can share a link to any of those social media sites.


At another time, you can change the Sharing options from the More options  Moremenu in the top right hand corner of the screen …


… and click on the slider to let others if they have the link to see the album, and you’ll see a screen like this …


… and you can choose how others will interact with your album, but that’s for another day.


In case you’re interested here’s a link to the album

More Google Photos – some simple image manipulation

Following up from my earlier post which covered uploading images from your mobile device, or camera, to Google Photos; this post picks up from the point where the images have been uploaded and gives you an idea of what simple editing you can do to your photos. This Google article  with separate tabs to follow for Computer (browser-based), Android and iOS (iPhone/iPad) sets out the scope of the things that you can do. For this post I’m only looking at what you can do on a Computer, from your browser.
What I’m going to do is to take the “featured” image from the earlier post and show a few screenshots of things that I have done to it, perhaps to improve it – although that might be rather difficult as it’s a rather boring subject. So here’s the original photo (unedited), taken with my Sony NEX-6 camera and stored onto its SD-card and then uploaded into Google Photos, using the SD-card reader on my computer.

Let’s crop it a bit to get rid of the spade handle. First I double-clicked on the image in my Google Photos pictures at and this menu appeared …

The first icon  Share allows you to Share the Image, the second icon  Edit to Edit the Image, the third to Enlarge (or Zoom) the Image, the fourth to get Info on the Image, the fifth to Delete the Image and the sixth  More gives you More Options. I clicked on Edit to Edit the Image.
Another window opens to show you this …

… you’re being offered a range of filters  Photo filters which you can apply to change the appearance of your image. I’m not going to use this option preferring to do it manually, but I’d encourage you to have a quick peak at what automatic enhancements can be made to an image from this selection of effects. For the moment I want to do a crop (change the viewing window of the image), so I’m going to click on the  Crop & rotate icon to Crop and Rotate.

On this screen, the first icon allows you to  select the Aspect ratio of the image you want (as shown above). Selecting one of these will apply an automatic crop. The second icon allows you to Rotate the Image. You can then drag the corners or edges of the image now to crop to exactly the form of the image that you want to keep. The third icon allows you to Reset your edits to start again, and Done is clicked when you’ve finished editing. So in this case, I want to keep the Original aspect ratio and just get rid of the spade handle manually …

… so I drag up from the bottom right-hand corner, and down from the top left-hand corner to get the cropped window on the image above. I can move the crop window around the image by clicking and dragging on it until I have it just the way I want it. I could also finely rotate the image if I thought I’d not got it completely straight by clicking and dragging on the slider on the right-hand side of the image. So, having done this, I have an image I want to work with so I click on Done and I get returned to the Edit window …

… you can see I have the choice of changing the Light, Colour and Pop (sharpness) of the image. By adjusting these sliders I could arrive at something like this …

… but even finer changes can be made by clicking on the arrow against each of these elements and adjusting individual components, so I could end up with changing the Light a little and adding a Vignette to the corners with some Warmth from the Colour slider to give me this …

Now I know I’m biased, but I think that this almost becomes a reasonable picture. All you need to do is to select Save Copy from the More Options  Moremenu, return to the Photos by pressing on the Return arrow in the top left-hand corner of the screen and you can see the new processed image next to the original.

What do you think?