Picasa Photo App Series [Part 8] Tuning Listing Photos

Education & Training with Tech Training for You!

This is part 8 of the series where I'm teaching you how to use the Free Photo Organizing and Editing App called Picasa. If you need to catch up, check out my Picasa Series recap listing here and you will see the previous articles. Today we're going to be looking at Tuning Listing Photos.

I don't need to tell you that people are going to be looking online to find the next house that they want to buy. As a listing agent, you need to do all you can to create the best virtual presentation which will bring interest to the home. Picasa helps you to take photos of your listing and get the most out of them with some very easy to use Tuning Tools. You will notice when you are viewing a photo the left palette has three tabs. We will be looking at the Tuning tab.

Picasa shows a histogram that tells a story of the light spectrum in a particular photo. Where you have peaks in the mountains on the histogram tells a bit of a story that you can pick the editing tools by.

In the kitchen "before" photo below you can see there are lots of mountains on the darker side of the spectrum but you can also see a little peak over on the right of the chart. This is the bright windows in the scene and many RE photos have shots toward windows, so this is common to see. The Fill Light slider will take the darker areas and brighten them while leaving the brighter spots less adjusted. So in this photo, the fill slider can get used to good effect. The Highlights slider will take the brighter areas and add more brightness and the Shadows slider will darken the dark areas. These latter two can be used to add more contrast into a dull photo. So in the photo below, highlights and shadows can be used slightly to help out... but just not too much highlights in this case for the windows would be way over-exposed.

In the bottom photo, I can use a little more on the highlights slider since there is not much direct light coming in the window. You can see on the "before" histogram that the right of the chart is pretty flat. So I usually start with fill light and bring it up until it is better. Then I slide up the highlights and usually just a little shadow to help the contrast.

It is important to understand that Picasa works in what we call "non-destructive" mode. In other words, you can undo all edits at any time. Picasa merely records your changes such as tuning and cropping and displays your photo with the edits overlaid. What this means is that if you want to see and use the JPG outside of the context of Picasa, you will need to take an extra step. If you do the export command or the upload command, the edits will be incorporated into the resultant photos (previous tutorials on those topics are linked for your reference). So if you are uploading to the MLS, you will want to use the export command (which also lets you create a smaller resolution photo that will upload faster.) You can also lock in your edits with the Save command, but I generally don't do that so I know I can always go back to the original and start over.

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Melissa McKinney
McKinney Realty Group - Fayetteville, NC
Realtor, www.LivingFayetteville.com

Craig~ This is some great information! I cant believe how different the photos looked after you changed the lighting, they looked like something from a magazine! I just singed up for Picnic do you know if you can do the same there?  If not what is the charge to use Picasa.  You know I think I was where you can import from Picasa so maybe they are used for tow totally different aspects... There I go thinking out loud again!

P.S. OK you said FREE right in the first line, HELLO! I went to check this out and it is amazing how easy it is to do the same with your pic as you did.  So everyone follow his directions and you will have NO problem.  I am re doing all my listing photos now!! Thanks Again and I just HAD to 'suggest" this one!

Oct 03, 2010 10:41 AM #8
Shar Sitter
Rooms With Style - Minneapolis, MN
Home Staging and Redesign Minneapolis/ St. Paul, M

Believe it or not Craig this is the first post of yours where I had used that feature before. Aren't you proud of me? :) I did not know to look at the histogram though so I still learned something as I always do on your posts. My problem is that sometimes I am in a hurry and forget to adjust the lightness, etc...... not good.

Oct 03, 2010 01:31 PM #9
Craig Daniels
Tech Training for You! - Staten Island, NY
Technology Instructor/Project Consultant

Melissa - terrific, so glad to hear you are happy to find this out - Picnik is similar to Picasa in many ways. In fact they are related. The big benefit for me in Picasa is there is no uploading of photos to start the process of editing. The files are just on your computer already and Picasa will see them. Picnik has a few more special effects perhaps (paid version) but for the day to day edits Picasa really is outstanding and as you discovered surprisingly easy!

Shar - you can edit without watching the histogram but I feel like my edits are better when I spend a few seconds to understand the photo better because of that graph - and as you slide the controls you can see the histogram shift and adjust - e.g. on the bottom end only for fill light - proud of you? of course! I love to hear good reports like that...

Oct 03, 2010 01:52 PM #10
Gabe Sanders
Real Estate of Florida specializing in Martin County Residential Homes, Condos and Land Sales - Stuart, FL
Stuart Florida Real Estate

Great tips Craig.  Easy to understand and this showcases some of the power of Picasa.

Oct 04, 2010 12:30 AM #11
Michele Miller ~ REALTOR®, LMC, HSE, CHS, SRES, CMRS
ERA Key Realty~Worcester County Realty Group - Worcester, MA
'Helping You Make the Best Move"

Thanks again for all the information you have brought to Activerain Craig.

Did you see I finally put up my signature, thanks to you!

Have a good week!

Oct 04, 2010 01:20 AM #12
Shar Sitter
Rooms With Style - Minneapolis, MN
Home Staging and Redesign Minneapolis/ St. Paul, M

How did Michele do that?? Did I miss a post somewhere that taught that?

Oct 05, 2010 10:28 AM #13
Angela Wong
Ewing & Associates/Sotheby's International Realty - Calabasas, CA

Craig...thanks for being so resourceful and we all benefit from it.

Oct 05, 2010 04:59 PM #14
Ron Wood
HTR/Wood Realty Group, Inc - Benson, NC
Johnston, Harnett, Sampson & Wake

Craig...I have been using some other photo editors but I think I am going to give Picasa a try. I have learned some great things since signing up for your blog. Thanks for your contribution!!

Oct 06, 2010 04:30 AM #15
Debbie Walsh
Shahar Management - Middletown, NY
Hudson Valley NY Real Estate 845.283-3036

I love Picasa and have been using it for quite awhile but you can always learn something new.  Thanks for the tips Craig!

Oct 06, 2010 09:00 AM #16
Wendy Hayden
Photographer, Home Stager, ePRO - Richmond, VA
Chesterfield, Richmond & Powahatan

Love the fill light feature on Picasa Craig.  I use it all of the time.  I love that it will bring out the dark areas but doesn't blow out the windows!

Oct 12, 2010 02:42 PM #17
Becky Schertenleib, Nan Wimmers
Columbia Gorge Real Estate - The Dalles, OR
"sisters by chance, partners by choice"

OHHH!!! thanks for this i have been using a much older propgram that is not a simple or quick... thanks again for these posts.

Oct 20, 2010 04:23 AM #18
Lee & Pamela St. Peter
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices YSU Realty: (919) 645-2522 - Raleigh, NC
Making Connections to Success in Real Estate

Craig, this is great info on how to fix some of my photos!  Thanks!  I've bookmarked as I know I'll be back...

Oct 20, 2010 07:03 AM #19
Eric Lee
Realty Executives - Phoenix, AZ
e-PRO, SFR - Phoenix, AZ

Craig - I find the automatic "magic wand" next to the light sliders does a remarkably good job in correcting  the lighting. It's not perfect and one will probably want to adjust a little from there but it is remarkably good.

BTW, you can undo saved edits to photos afterwards and restore the photo to its original state. Simpler than the export function.

One other note on PIcasa - it WILL lop off some of the EXIF data if you edit or tag photos. It's usually esoteric info like which lens was used or picture control and so forth and it does leave behind all the basic exposure info but if one wants to save ALL the EXIF info, you need to keep a backup copy or use a different editor. This won't matter for 99% of users but it should be known and yes, I did find this out the hard way. . . .

Oct 29, 2010 06:35 AM #20
Craig Daniels
Tech Training for You! - Staten Island, NY
Technology Instructor/Project Consultant

Eric - thanks for sharing this info - I will keep that in mind when recommending Picasa to people as much in to photography as you are. I could see the "advanced" EXIF being important when you want to record everything about a shot so you can review later what worked (or didn't) and why. But as you say, 99% or so would have no idea what you are talking about :)

Oct 29, 2010 07:22 AM #21
Iran Watson
Georgia Elite Realty - Marietta, GA
Marietta Real Estate Agent - Photographer

I have found Picasa to be a fine piece of software for a lot of editing needs, especially since its practically free.  Getting your feet wet with a program like this is a good way to get acclimated to post processing in general.  Better yet is the fact that a lot of your suggestios will carry over to full blown editing suites like Photoshop.

Nov 18, 2010 12:15 PM #22
Eric Kodner
Wayzata Lakes Realty: Eric Kodner Sells Twin Cities Homes - Minnetonka, MN
Wayzata Lakes Realty: Twin Cities, Madeline Island

Picasa is a great tool for folks who are intimidated by the relatively long learning curve involved with Photoshop.  It's fast and user-friendly!

Nov 18, 2010 12:21 PM #23
Karen Mathers - Vero Beach FL
Keller Williams Vero Beach - Vero Beach, FL
When it Matters, Choose Mathers! 772-532-3221

I have always wondered what that histogram was all about.  You made it so easy to understand!

Jan 29, 2011 01:36 PM #24
Cindy Edwards
RE/MAX Checkmate - Johnson City, TN
CRS, GRI, PMN - Northeast Tennessee - 423-677-6677

This is my hardest part.  Maybe I'm just using really bad pictures, but I am having a hard time making my "light' correct.

Jan 30, 2011 02:26 AM #25
Craig Daniels
Tech Training for You! - Staten Island, NY
Technology Instructor/Project Consultant

Cindy - picasa CAN do a lot but it can only correct so much. Having a good photo for starters makes a big difference. Example: Photos towards windows are notorious for bad lighting. I suggest putting your camera into "flash always" when going towards the windows. Otherwise, the meter senses the window light and will not flash and you end up with some very bad contrast pictures. 

Jan 30, 2011 02:31 AM #26
Sylvie Stuart
Realty One Group Mountain Desert 928-600-2765 - Flagstaff, AZ
Home Buying, Home Selling and Investment - Flagsta

I bookmarked this for future use. Very applicable information, thank you so much for educating us on this!

Jan 24, 2012 12:46 AM #27
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