Focal Black & White

The focal B&W tool is great, but wouldn't it be nice to be able to choose more than one coloured focal point in an image?

Well, here's a great technique by "Mushroom and Gadgets" that may be able to resolve that:

  1. Choose a suitable image
  2. Go to the "Effects" tab and select "Focal B&W"
  3. Choose the area you want to remain in colour and click "Apply"
  4. Export the changed image to a new folder on your desktop
  5. Go back to the original image and select a new focal point, then export this as before.
  6. When you have done all the focal points you want to do, find the exported images folder in Picasa
  7. Select all the individual images and click the "Collage" button at the bottom of Picasa
  8. Choose the "Multi-Exposure" option and you should see all the images combined with various focal points still in colour
This doesnt work with all images and you will need to see what's best by trial and error.

Full Screen Image Preview

If you want to quickly see a selected image in full screen mode (without any toolbars, etc) then simply press and hold the "Alt Gr" key on your keyboard.
It's normally the key to the immediate right of your space bar.

Additionaly, if you are in Folder View (folders on the left and thumbnails on the right) you can use the arrow keys on the keyboard or scroll wheel on your mouse (while pressing Alt Gr) to scroll through the images in the folder.

Perfecting White Balance

No matter how much you prepare, sometimes the white balance in an image just isn't right.
Luckily, Picasa has a great tool for adjusting this and it's quick and easy to do.

Here we go:
  • Select an image
  • Click the "Tuning" tab
  • You will see an option to use a "Neutral Colour Picker" (aka White Balance)
  • Click the eye dropper to start
  • Click on the image where it should be white (or 50% grey)
  • You will see the colours change (if you are happy with this then you are finished)
  • The eye dropper will close
A hidden method is to click and drag the eye dropper around on the image, as this gives you more option to get it right first time. Once happy with the new colours release the mouse and the eye dropper will close.

Search by Colour

You're probably used to searching for an image by using text...

...but Picasa has a trick in store! You can search for an image by it's colour instead.

To do this simply:
  1. Click on "Tools"
  2. Click on "Experimental"
  3. Click on "Search for..."
  4. Then choose your colour
Picasa will then show you all your images that are mainly or totally that colour.
Cool huh?

You can experiment yourself and see what colours you can use by typing colour names and codes after the "color:" search text.

Square Crop

Ever wanted to know how to make a square crop in Picasa?
It's easy peasy!

Simply do this:
  1. Select the "Basic Fixes" tab
  2. Click the "crop" button
  3. Select the "manual" option
  4. Hold down the "shift" key on your keyboard and
  5. Drag your mouse over the image
Hey Presto, a nice square cropped image!

Here's a sample:

Filtered Black & White

The filtered B&W conversion is one of Picasa's greatest tools.
Essentially it allows you to convert a color image to black and white, simulating the use of a coloured filter in front of the lens.
The filters can be thought of in extremes:
  • Red - softens and lightens skin tones
  • Green - darkens skin tones, enhances skin pigmentation
The colours in between these two extremes will give you a more subtle effect.

To apply the Filtered B&W tool, simply click the "Effects" tab and choose "Filtered B&W". You can either use the preset colours available or use the colour box to select an individual colour.

Why choose this instead of the normal "B&W" tool?
Well, the standard B&W conversion can leave you with a flat, grayscale image - whereas the Filtered conversion can give you an image with more depth and clarity.

Here's one of my favourite images that I used the red filter for:
Handle With Care