I know many of you are shocked by the recent news that Picnik is going offline on April 19, 2012. I'm not happy about it either. I am a HUGE fan of the free google photo app called Picasa.... however, there were a few tools and features that it was just easier or better in Picnik (not many things, but a few).
Recently Google released version 3.9 of Picasa (download page, FREE app). In it there were quite a few significant enhancements. I noticed many of the Picnik tools making their way over (since Google owns both products, this made sense). Moreover, Google is in a big push to see its Google+ platform take off. Photos are a big part of the platform. When you are looking at any of your photos in Google+, there is now a button at the top called "Creative Kit" that takes you to many of the Picnik style editing tools (many, but NOT all).
I have a feeling (just makes sense) that version 4.0 of Picasa is going to come out between now and the cut off of Picnik. One button they for sure have to remove is "edit in Picnik!". I have a feeling when they remove that button, they are going to appease us by putting in the major elements still missing (either that or add them to the google+ "creative kit" set).
Below you can see the "Creative Kit" button in as you will see when you are looking at one of your photos in Google+.
Anyhow, the rest of this post I wanted to show you several compositions that I did this morning using Picasa v3.9. I'll have to blog soon with more "how-to" information, but for now let me just give you some ideas of what it is capable of!
You can now do drop shadows on your photos, like this one. Plus, I also overlaid the text caption using the Picasa Text Tool.
Picnik was very good at doing collages like the one you see below. I duplicated a Picnik-style collage using Picasa to create the one below. It took a little more work (Picnik was easier!) but it is possible. What I discovered in the process is that I ended up with a little more crop control after all, kind of like that! Now that I have a good procedure in my head, watch for that blog post coming soon!
Picasa 3.9 now includes the borders option (outer and inner, including rounded corners). It also has a "caption" property so the bottom border space is larger for you to put your text in like I did below on this sunset photo.
The photo below shows the new Museum Matte option in Picasa 3.9. You can see it is similar to the above borders, but it adds the extra drop shadow cool effect.
Picasa has long been my favorite for ease of use in basic photo tuning. This snippet below is from a post I wrote a while back Tuning Your Listing Photos. You can get lots more information like that in my Picasa Photo Series
(updated/added this section after original post) One of the things possible in Picnik was to create embeddable slideshows. According to this FAQ page, those will likely go blank after the cut off date. I had not used it til today, but I remembered about the Picasa Movie from slides tool in Picasa and decided to test it. It worked very easily and in a matter of minutes I was able to create a VIDEO slideshow from the photos in one of my albums. I have posted it to YouTube so you can see. These types of shows would have much more permanence for you. They will build up your YouTube Channel and are much more useful for SEO.
Graphics for Bloggers 101
My long-overdue, but imminently-to-be-released virtual classroom titled Graphics for Bloggers 101 talks quite a bit about Picasa in some of the 10 modules of the class. Graphics in our blog posts is essential, that's why the Picnik news is creating quite the ripple! I will be posting more specific info on Picasa features and perhaps even create some online recordings to take you on a comprehensive tour of "Using Picasa". If you are interested in the GB101 course already created there is a detailed outline and a sign-up form to get notification when it is released (ETA within a week).