Picasa Series [#12] Watermarking Photos

Education & Training with Tech Training for You!

If you have been following my Picasa Series, you'll know by now what an amazing all-around photo app that Picasa is (and free too!). This class will be about watermarking your photos. Watermarking is the overlaying of text onto your photo to dissuade others from using your work without your permission. Any photo on the internet can easily be saved by others and used in their own pages. Even if you were to go to the effort of programming and disabling the right-click/save-as option, there is still screen capture command that is all too simple to do.

Watermarking then is simply a deterrent to somebody who may be thinking about taking your work. If they take your photo, they also take the text that says it is your photo. Watermarking can be done by putting very visible text with your name and copyright text on the photo (usually in the bottom right corner). This pretty much says "hands off of my work AND I take it seriously." However this corner text is easily cropped off if somebody wanted to remove your reference. So a secondary option that you have is to overlay subtle (transparent) text on top of the main portion of the photo. This therefore is not removable by the crop command. In the sample photo on the right, I put both kinds of watermarks on the same photo.

If you are using transparent text as a watermark, consider the position of the text. I chose one of the corners of the photo so it isn't quite as detracting as right in the center of the frame. If you use large enough letters, it covers a big enough zone that you have severely limited a crop. Depending on if you are overlaying the text onto a light or dark area, you will want to use text that is correspondingly dark or light for proper contrast.

Can't somebody just photoshop out my watermark letters? Yes, of course they can. But it is going to take time for them to do it. If you strategically put your letters on more complex textures (instead of, say an area of solid fill color) this is harder to brush out and make it not obvious the photo was altered. Remember this is not going to prevent somebody snatching your photo, this is just going to seriously deter them from wanting to.

Now for the quick how-to instructions. Open your photo in Picasa and click the Text tool (on the left-hand tool palette under the "Basic Fixes" heading). Click somewhere in your photo approximately where you want your text (you can easily move it). Type in the text that you want to use. I would suggest either initials or a single word (in my case I put a space between each letter which I think helps visually soften the distraction of the watermark). Watermarking would otherwise be rather distracting from the true subject material that you are presenting. (I used ZMX which is part of my website branding call sign of TechZMX - BTW you can use that to follow me on Twitter!). Text objects in Picasa are easily moved (drag the object) and sized. To resize, click to select the text and drag the orange handle - right to enlarge, left to shrink. On the left-hand palette you can pick your Font and Color. Also, you will want to adjust the transparency factor. Slide the adjustment handle so the text fades out enough to be subtle but not too much that you can't see it!

In this sample, notice how the properties would be set for a light text on dark background option. I have set the text to white. Also, the transparency slider is on the high side of the middle mark whereas in the previous case is was on the low side of the middle marker.

If you have been taking my Picasa classes, you'll know by now but I need to make mention for those who don't know. Edits in Picasa are non-destructive (meaning the original JPGs are left unaltered). You need to do the Export command (bottom toolbar) to get a copy of your file that you will use. The Export command also lets you resize the graphic to be the optimal size (e.g. for web/blog).

Something else the Export command optionally does, is place watermark stamp text for you in the lower right corner of the image. This would especially be helpful if you needed to watermark a larger batch of files as it would do it automatically on each file. In my sample image, I'm using both kinds of watermarks (larger transparent text and the more descriptive stamp text in the lower corner) You can see what this looks like in the enlargement below.

So there you have some ideas about watermarking! The above techniques for adding text are also good for adding captions into your photos as well. If you want to learn more about Picasa, check out my Picasa Series. That link will list the other articles.

I'm also currently in the midst of a Video Series of articles on creating video presentations. Follow that link if you want to learn more. And as always, consider subscribing to my blog to keep up to date with the future articles that I post. I hope you learned something today in Craig's Classroom!

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Denise Roberts
New Colony Properties, LLC - Pinehurst, NC
e-PRO, REALTOR - Specializing in Pinehurst, NC Area

Craig - I've added the copyright mark to some of my photos, but not all of them.  I never thought about a watermark....I really like that idea.  Thank you!

Feb 08, 2011 11:01 AM #15
Cindy Westfall
Premiere Property Group,LLC Portland Metro & Suburbs Oregon - Tualatin, OR
ABR,GRI Your Tualatin & Portland Metro Real Estate

Hi Craig, now I'm going to have to check out Picassa and then follow your series. This looks very cool. Thanks for putting this together!

Feb 08, 2011 01:12 PM #16
Debra Davis
Keller Williams Realty Atlanta Partners - Snellville, GA
Realtor - Atlanta, Decatur, Snellville, Loganville

This has been a great series of tutorials. Thanks for sharing this info.

Feb 08, 2011 02:20 PM #17
Jane Peters
Home Jane Realty - Los Angeles, CA
Los Angeles real estate concierge services

And I went and bought Photoshop Elements that I have no clue how to use.  There is all this free stuff.  Darn!!!

Feb 08, 2011 03:00 PM #18
Lynda White
Bluegrass Homes & Farms Realty, Agent Know How - Louisville, KY
Admin. Mgr., Keller Williams Realty

I always wondered what watermarking meant! LOL! Thanks, Craig.

Feb 08, 2011 03:08 PM #19
Deb Jamail
HomeLife Southern Properties - Galveston, TX
Galveston County Real Estate


Your trainig posts are great and I have been learning alot.  I didn't realize Picasa had so much to offer and with your posts it makes me more confident to jump in and use them!



Feb 08, 2011 03:48 PM #20
Peter Pfann @ eXp Realty Pfanntastic Properties in Victoria, Since 1986.
eXp Realty, Victoria BC www.pfanntastic.com - Victoria, BC
Talk To or Text Peter 250-213-9490


Thanks for this very cool an simple tip, we have been frustrated about others stealing our stuff for  years, we will certainly use this


Feb 08, 2011 04:02 PM #21
Vickie Nagy
Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate - Palm Springs, CA
Vickie Jean the Palm Springs Condo Queen

I don't mean to sound challenging, but gee, do that many people really 'steal' photo? Guess I just expect others to be honest...

Feb 08, 2011 04:10 PM #22
Toronto, ON

Hi Craig - I currently use Picasa's automatic watermarking feature but I think I will also use the transparency method you discussed.  It looks very easy to do.

Feb 08, 2011 10:32 PM #23
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Great information as always Craig.  Picassa is something I don't think I will ever figure out.

Feb 08, 2011 11:49 PM #24
Michele Miller ~ REALTOR®, LMC, HSE, CHS, SRES, CMRS
ERA Key Realty~Worcester County Realty Group - Worcester, MA
'Helping You Make the Best Move"


What a wonderful idea!

I just GOOGLE and all that they have to offer.

Have a great day and thanks for your post!

Feb 09, 2011 01:31 AM #25
Connie Harvey
Pilkerton Realtors - Brentwood, TN
Realtor - Nashville TN Real Estate

Craig, I've been wondering how to do this.

Feb 09, 2011 06:10 AM #26
Connie Harvey
Pilkerton Realtors - Brentwood, TN
Realtor - Nashville TN Real Estate

Craig, I've been wondering how to do this.

Feb 09, 2011 06:10 AM #27
Karen L. Pietsch
Cary Property Pros - 4 Sale Realty, Inc. - Crystal Lake, IL
Cary Property Pros. Cary Property Pros Premier Real Estate

Haven't gotten out to take my pictures but I did try this out on a pic I had in my file.  I was pretty impressed with the way it came out.  The hardest part I had was figuring out how to get into Picasa to find the Edit part you were talking about.  With me, I had to basically start from scratch.  Find the program, Picasa, then enter it that way, login and then pull up the picture.  I was hoping I could get in using the google end of it but, if there is a way, I haven't figured it out yet.  :)

Feb 09, 2011 10:03 AM #28
Steve Scheer
Realty Oasis - Metro Brokers - Highlands Ranch, CO
Highlands Ranch Real Estate - Denver Real Estate

Bookmarked.  I have tried the photoshop and it was not as easy as I had hoped to do this, I am going to give this a try.

Feb 09, 2011 04:34 PM #29
Shar Sitter
Rooms With Style - Minneapolis, MN
Home Staging and Redesign Minneapolis/ St. Paul, M

This is the first of all your blogs that I actually already knew this. But it was only because you had taught it to me!! I would like to use the transparent text over the middle of the photo instead of the white letters in the lower corner so it can't be cropped out, but I find it so distracting.

Feb 10, 2011 11:24 AM #30
Craig Snead
Quality Home Investments, LLC / Dearborn Heights, MI - Dearborn Heights, MI
Real Estate Investor

Craig, I never really considered the need to copyright my own pictures. Maybe I should rethink this. Thanks for the easy to understand instructions.

Feb 10, 2011 01:03 PM #31
Marchel Peterson
Results Realty - Spring, TX
Spring TX Real Estate E-Pro

Craig, It is sad that we live in an age where this is a problem.  I thought I was immune; who would want my pcitures but then I went to add pictures to a group in Flickr and I'll be darn if one of my pictures was not on there by someone else.  It was an eye opening experience.  Since it was not another real estate agent I just let it go.

Feb 11, 2011 02:26 PM #32
Howard Wilson
Wilson Than Real Estate - Santa Monica, CA
Another great lesson, Craig. The way you've set the watermarks make them visible, but not obtrusive. I need more practice with my own photos and will use your steps and examples as a guide.
Mar 07, 2011 05:06 PM #33
Donna Foerster
HomeSmart Realty Group - Parker, CO
Metro Denver Real Estate Assistant

Hi Craig~ I ended up on this post because Karen Pietsch linked it in her Three Gold Stars challenge post.  I've often wondered about how folks copyrighting their photos and now I know the secret!  This is great information (wish I could re-blog it!)

Mar 21, 2011 10:59 AM #34
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