OneDrive Improved Again

OneDrive links now go right to light box view

Storing images for pictures in blog posts in OneDrive makes it easy to link back to the source album. In my blogs Gallery Ludwig and Silver Canvas I have been doing that for many years. Microsoft has made a lot of changes in that time. The Microsoft “cloud” depository started with Live Spaces, became SkyDrive and more recently OneDrive. In that time links in blog posts to photos remained intact. Even when the folders were moved around and reorganized. A very nice feature and very considerate and useful service by the Microsoft team.

How the images were displayed has changed many times too. Sometimes these changes were for the better, at other times not so much. In the past year links to photos would look something like this:

OneDrive-PictureView-07

The surround was a pleasant black, there was an information panel at the right and a line of thumbnails of other pictures in the album at the bottom. You could click the image to present it in a nice “light box” view – just the image, nice and large.

Today that changed. Now you are taken directly to a light box view. The panel on the right is gone, but the information can be brought up as an overlay. Try it here:

Click the image to be taken to my OneDrive album “Silver Canvas” with this image in a large light box view.

When you move the pointer into the window, links and other information will surround the image. In the lower right corner there is an “i-link” – see the red arrow in the illustration here.

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Click the “information” icon and the data for the picture will be displayed.

OneDrive-PictureView-10

Slide shows go full screen, not just full browser window, but full monitor. That is very nice. NOTE: The images in my blog posts are scaled to 1024px so you will not get the full effect on a high resolution monitor.

This change affects not only this and new posts, but works just as beautifully for all earlier posts. You can see the whole album by clicking “View folder” in the top menu bar. The pictures are nicely arranged in their correct proportions.

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But Wait, there’s more! Hold down the Ctrl key and roll your mouse wheel. The display scales as you would expect in a browser window, but here the thumbnails are scaled and rearranged to fit the browser window. Really, really nice!

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One very nice improvement in the development of OneDrive.

Thank you friends at Microsoft!

.:.

© 2015 Ludwig Keck

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Managing a SkyDrive Photo Blog

As many of my readers know I like sourcing photos from SkyDrive. This article explains some of the details of how I manage my SkyDrive albums and my photo blog, Gallery Ludwig.

The SkyDrive Desktop App makes the SkyDrive look pretty much like any other folder on the computer. Updating a SkyDrive album is just a matter of dragging the photo or pictures to the folder. That can be done just as easily using SkyDrive in the browser, but with the Desktop folder not just files but folders – albums – can be copied to SkyDrive.

Copy pictures to SkyDrive folder

Of course, any subfolder can be the destination, just like copying or moving stuff around on your computer.

Like other files on a computer, the order of files inside a folder cannot be customized when using the SkyDrive desktop folder. However, using the SkyDrive in a browser provides the Rearrange option – a drag-and-drop feature.

Rearrange SkyDrive photos

You can arrange your SkyDrive photo gallery just the way you want, with the individual photos in just the order you like. As a “front end” or “lobby” to your gallery you need another site. I like using a photo blog for this. You can build some nice pages and have a blog post page showing the latest additions and any stories you would like to tell.

The photo blog is, of course, managed using Windows Live Writer. There is no better blogging tool. The Insert > Photo album feature can place nice link arrangements on a blog page or post. Just take a look at Silver Canvas – Gallery EXP 2. But even a single photo with a hyperlink to your album will be a fine “front end”. Let me explain that a bit more.

I use an album called Gallery EXP as one of my SkyDrive prime galleries. Inside this album are albums, folders for various topics. When a visitor gets to this album the tiles for the sub-folders show little slide shows of the contents. I think this is pretty neat. Here is a still photo of my gallery. Click the image to go to the live one.

Gallery EXP

Getting the link for the albums and photos is just a little bit complicated. For the prime gallery, sign in to your SkyDrive using the browser version. Navigate to your “prime gallery” folder. Click the little image“details” icon to open the information pane on the right side. Click Sharing then click Share folder. In the next dialog click Get a link. Then click Make public. You will now see a somewhat long URL in the address box. Copy this URL and file it so you can use it in the future to provide links to your gallery. You can click the Shorten link to get a short URL. You can see my short URL for Gallery EXP when you move the pointer over the image above. You can similarly obtain URLs for any folders in your gallery.

To inform my visitors of new photos in the gallery, I like to include the picture in an update post in the blog portion of my photo blog – my “landing page” for visitors. Here is how to go about that:

Navigate to the newly added photo in SkyDrive (not in the desktop folder, this requires the browser version).

Get image URL

Insert web image in Live WriterClick View original in the top taskbar. This gets you a view of the photo on a separate page. The address in the browser address field is the URL for this photo. It is rather long. Copy it and file it away. When you insert a photo in Live Writer – Insert > Picture > From the web…  this URL will allow you to source your actual photo and show it in your post.

Here is what such a post looks like:

Azalea Blossoms postOf course, you can see it better by clicking the image to go to that post. Be sure to click Latest in the menu bar to see the most recent posts. And don’t be shy about clicking the Gallery EXP link, it gets you to my gallery.

.:.

© 2012 Ludwig Keck

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Combining WordPress and Live Writer photo gallery features

WordPress recently announced updates to the way media is managed from the blog dashboard (Manage Slideshows and Galleries — All in One Place). This makes using slideshows and inserting galleries in blog posts and pages much easier.

galleryEXP-32For preparing posts and pages in a fast and easy WYSIWYG (what-you-see-is-what-you-get) manner, nothing beats using Windows Live Writer. Live Writer also offers neat gallery access via SkyDrive photo albums.

So can both be used together?

Yes, indeed – sort-of.

Unfortunately, Writer doesn’t know about WordPress slideshows or galleries and has some editing quirks. The WordPress editor doesn’t understand the intricacies of the Live Writer “Photo Album” and tries to “optimize” the code. So between the two of them it is a delicate operation to get them to play together.

You can see that WordPress slideshows and galleries can be combined with Live Writer photo albums on my Gallery EXP page at Silver Canvas.

True, in the kitchen you should never use all the spices at once, and this is probably true in building a photo gallery blog as well. But my page is an exception, of course, as I am testing the gallery features of both WordPress and Live Writer.

The pitfalls and problems

Live Writer will not find a page created in the WordPress dashboard (most of the time), so to use Live Writer with a page, the page should be started in Live Writer. Besides that, Live Writer makes a mess of the gallery code generated by the WordPress editor. Example: The WordPress code for a gallery might be:

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Live Writer will replace the quote marks and the “corrected” code will be like this:

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You can imagine that when WordPress again gets a hold of this, the gallery won’t look the same.

Now the WordPress editor also attempts to correct and optimize code. When it gets a hold of the large set that defines the images and links of a Live Writer “Photo Album” insertion sometimes strange, and not necessarily beautiful things happen.

Especially insertions with individual thumbnails and links, like the one here, get mangled pretty badly. They get progressively more damaged on repeated use of the WordPress editor.

The strategy for getting an acceptable page or post is this: Plan ahead, minimize the use of the WordPress editor, and don’t make revisions.

Strategy and procedure

To get a post or page that combines Live Writer “Photo albums” with WordPress galleries proceed as follows:

1)  Plan ahead – Sketch out your post or page, note what photo albums and galleries you wish to include. Organize the photos for the albums and galleries.

2) Upload your SkyDrive albums – Set up the SkyDrive photo albums that you wish to include in the root of your SkyDrive. Live Writer cannot find sub-folders.

image3)  Start in Live Writer – Start the page or post in Live Writer. Include all elements and text, and any simple insertions. Insert the SkyDrive photo albums and pick the album styles and other features.

Live Writer provides a nice selection of thumbnail layouts, “Album styles”.

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4)  Publish to blog – If you are working on a page go ahead and publish it. Since it is new it will not be included in a customized menu. If you are working on a post, select “Post draft to blog” so it will not be published immediately.

5) Edit in WordPress dashboard – Once the page or post has been uploaded the next step is to add the WordPress features – slideshows and galleries – that are not available in Live Writer.

The WordPress Media Library is one huge shoebox with all your images. The new features that make it much more user friendly really do not yet go far enough. imageSelecting the photos for a gallery or slide show is easy in principle, but messy in practice. Here is why:

When you click “Add Media” you are taken to a beautiful page like this:

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Pretty nice. Click a thumbnail to select it. Only problem is the identification of the thumbnails. You can’t tell which image you are dealing with until you click it. imageThe pane on the right gives the details. Since the Media Library will be filled with many thumbnails and full images, the selection process is a bit cumbersome and time-consuming.

The procedure to get a gallery onto the page requires Create Gallery > Update Gallery > Update (page). The options for the type of gallery, Default, Tiles, Square Tiles, Circles, Slideshow, is a bit temperamental, galleryEXP-27and the interaction between columns and type – it it exists at all – is not obvious.

Re-arranging the pictures within a gallery is a quick drag-and-drop.

Still, WordPress galleries are nice. The slideshow works but the window size is not adjustable. The neatest gallery arrangement is “Tiles”. There is no control over the arrangement, but it is always pleasant.

For all galleries (but not Slideshow), clicking leads to a black-framed large image. A good way to view the pictures.

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Updating the Mixed Gallery

Updating the mixed gallery can get tricky. If Live Writer is used the WordPress Galleries are messed up. If the WordPress editor is used the photo albums inserted by Live Writer may get spoiled.

Editing in WordPress editor

The WordPress galleries can be easily maintained and modified in the WordPress editor.

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Clicking the Edit Gallery link in the gallery placeholder opens the Edit Gallery page which allows re-arranging, deleting or adding to the gallery, as well as changing gallery parameters. “Add to Gallery” can be done from the Media Library or by uploading. Uploading would be the preferred method – it is also a drag-and-drop process and avoids the confusion posed by the Media Library.

The only downside is that Live Writer Photo Albums might get mangled.

Updating Live Writer Photo Albums

Maintenance on the Live Writer Photo Albums is a matter of updating the corresponding SkyDrive album. That is a snap, especially when using the SkyDrive Desktop App. Just manage the folder like any other folder on the PC and let the app do the updating. Even relocating the album will not affect the operation of the blog post or page – it will continue to work just fine.

If you don’t mind the occasional update headache, combining the features offered in Windows Live Writer and the WordPress online editor can lead to some gorgeous looking photo galleries.

.:.

© 2012 Ludwig Keck

LiveWriter-credit-360

Managing Windows Phone Photos

 

Smartphone Photos

 

Smartphones are certainly more capable than desktop computers when it comes to photos. There is a built in camera and apps for sharing via email or “in the cloud”. Enhancing and editing can be done right in the phone. The whole thing fits into a pocket and is unobtrusive in use.

Here are some thoughts on using a Windows Phone, in my case a Nokia Lumia 900.

LJK_5608-P (479x800)Most built-in smartphone cameras are quite powerful and comparable in features and performance to many point-and-shoot digital cameras. Once you have taken a photo, you have a number of options for managing and sharing the picture.

LJK_5599-P (479x800)In the case of the Windows Phone, the camera stores the photos in a folder in the phone called camera roll. A tile on the phone, Pictures, gets you to the photos stored on the phone as well as to the pictures on your SkyDrive. The SkyDrive pictures can be found under albums.

You can keep and enjoy your photos on your phone, of course, but you may want to share them or move them to your computer and manage and enhance them there.

As with all things electronic these days, there are several ways to accomplish any task. Moving, copying, or sharing Windows Phone photos is no exception.

Share to SkyDrive

The option to share on SkyDrive can even be set up to work automatically for every photo. The image is copied to a SkyDrive folder named Mobile uploads. If you don’t have a folder by that name, it will be created. Pictures copied to SkyDrive with this command are scaled to 718 by 518 pixels. That is less than 0.4 Mpx, less than 5% of the 8 Mpx my camera records. Bummer? Not really.

There is a reason for the reduced resolution photos being uploaded to SkyDrive. If you are not in Wi-Fi range the upload goes over the cell phone network. This tends to be costly and slow. It does get it up there right away, so if your Mobile uploads folder is shared with friends, they can see your photos right away. Note: By default the Mobile uploads folder is not shared, so if you want your friends to see that album, you must share it with them first.

Share in Email

Attaching photos to emails is the way photos have been shared by all of us for a long time. This is also pretty straightforward with the Windows Phone. Here again the pictures are scaled to a lower resolution. This has been the custom for email sharing for a long time. My Windows Phone reduces the images to 1632 by 1224 pixels, that is about 2 Mpx, about a quarter of what my camera produces. Not bad, but still not the full glory of my Nokia phone camera images.

Using the SkyDrive app

LJK_5596-P (499x800)If you want to copy your photos in their full, original resolution, the SkyDrive app (a free download) is the way to go.

Without the SkyDrive app you can see your SkyDrive albums on your Windows Phone, but with the app you have full control, just like you have from your computer. Touch SkyDrive and touch an album, or a folder, and it opens and shows the contents. The circled-plus symbol opens the “add file” window and you can select a photo from any phone folder or even another SkyDrive folder.

The actual upload to your SkyDrive will take place when you are connecting with Wi-Fi. If you are not connected, the upload will be delayed. This saves you cellphone network usage, at the price of possibly having to wait until you have connection with a hotspot.

You can select only one photo at a time, and the maximum number of photos set to upload to SkyDrive is five at any one time. As soon as one or more is uploaded you add another.

Gotcha Warning!

In none of these procedures do you have the opportunity to specify a file name. It is all done for you. The SkyDrive app assigns file names in this format: WP_yyyymmdd n, the “WP_” part is always the same, the “yyyy” is the current year, the “mm” the month and “dd” the day. There is a space which is followed by a sequential number (shown in the format here by the “n”) if more than one image is uploaded in a day. This is the upload date, not the date the photo was taken. If the images are removed from the folder the phone just starts over with the numbers at the next upload. This can cause duplicate file names. Also, if you upload to more than one folder, this numbering can lead to duplicated file names. Be very careful so that you don’t loose images because of file name duplication!

Direct connection – phone to computer

You can, of course, connect you phone directly to you computer. Windows Phone requires the Zune program to be installed to handle the communication with the phone. The sync option creates a folder called “From phone name” in your My Pictures folder. This is the default location, the folder name will contain the phone name that you have set up after the “From ”. Zune creates subfolders in this folder for each folder on your phone. These are named the same as on the phone, so there will be a folder named Camera roll and all the photos in the camera roll folder on the phone will be copied to this folder.

The images in the Camera roll folder will be full resolution copies. The naming convention here is WP_00nnnn.jpg with a six-digit, zero-padded sequential number starting with 000000.

While this file naming scheme is the same as photos uploaded to SkyDrive with the Share on SkyDrive option, the file names are not the same in the two locations! A specific photo will most likely have two different names! This can be more than confusing. My advice is to move your photos to conventional folders and rename the images in a more consistent manner.

Once you have your cell phone photos on your computer you can manage them just like other photos.


Simulcast

In the days of yore, the term “Simulcast” was used to indicate that a program was being broadcast simultaneously on different media like a television channel and a radio station. Here I just want to indicate that this article is posted on two blogs, This ‘n That and Café Ludwig. This “multipost” is part of an experiment which I will report on upon completion.

.:.

© 2012 Ludwig Keck

LiveWriter-credit-360

A peek into the “café art” atelier

Atelier – a studio or workshop, esp. one used by an artist” – Artist? Oh, well, I will use the term anyway.

Here is an actual glimpse of my “atelier”, of course, LJK_5255-Pthe real workplace is inside that black box on the right, my computer. And my tools are a collection of software programs. In this article I will tell you a little about how I import, manage, and organize photos, a bit about “café art” post-processing and some of the tools, and lastly about presentation and sharing of the images.

But this article being about “café art”, I must show this view this way:

atelier-5254-starGY

Importing, managing and organizing photos

My AutoPlay is set to start the import process when the camera is connected and turned on. imageOver time I have collected a ton of programs that, either as their prime task, or as an added feature, provide photo management operations. The program I settled on for that task is Windows Live Photo Gallery.

Photo Gallery is what I use to do the importing. blog-120629-01In fact, this is my go-to program for most photo organizing and managing tasks.

The default setting for most programs is to use “My Pictures” as the location and that is what I use. The import routine creates a new folder with the date when the photos were created as the name. That is already a giant step to keeping photos organized.

Right after import, Photo Gallery opens. I rename all the photos in the new folder to replace the “DSC_” prefix, that my camera insists on providing, with my initials. This is a two-second operation, see How do I replace the DSC prefix on my photo file names?

imageThen I select all the photos in the new folder, right-click, and open Properties. I add some “boiler-plate” tags, and fill in the Authors and Copyright fields.

Most of the specific tagging I do in Photo Gallery, as well as assigning titles, “Caption” as PG calls them.

My photos are now organized. In Photo Gallery I can find them by folder location – or by the date they were taken. But most importantly, I can find photos by tags.

imageSome photographers keep a careful system of tags, but I don’t make a project out of it. Occasionally I discover that I have assigned similar tags like “Athens” and “Athens GA”. I have not visited Greece, so it was easy to select all “Athens” photos, assign the “Athens GA” tag to them and then delete the “Athens” tag.

Finding photos by date or tag is easy. It does not matter where on my computer the photos are, and indeed they will be in different locations. To keep the “My Pictures” folder from getting too messy, I periodically move older folders to an “archive” location on another drive. There the folders are in tear and quarter sub-folders.

That’s pretty much it for organizing and managing, but I must add one note: Other photo managing programs see the same file structure, hence in Picasa, for instance, the organization looks exactly the same.

Editing – post-processing – creating the “art”

Editing or post-processing is what you do to the photos after they are taken. Some cameras provide editing tools. The only one such camera tool I use regularly is “delete”. I prefer to do the editing in my computer when I can see the images on a large screen. A bit of touch-up can benefit just about every photo. This article will not go into enhancing photos by adjusting the exposure, doing some judicious cropping, retouching and other “tweaks” to bring out the best in pictures. This is about “café art”.

It stands to reason that I should define “café art”, so here goes:

Café art – playful, pictorial, or decorative work derived from or based on photographs. Such images do not imply deep philosophical meanings or make profound statements, they are meant to simply provide a fleeting moment of visual pleasure

Actually there is a bit more to café art: It provides a lot of fun in manipulating photos and creating totally new images. Photos that otherwise are suitable only for the “recycle bin” are often my best sources or “substrates”. On occasion I will take some pictures with the specific intent of manipulating them in a specific way. I did so for this article.

Most photo editing programs, as well as some unexpected applications, provide some “art effects”. Windows Live Photo Gallery is somewhat of an exception, imageit only offers some recoloring effects, unless you count some of the color or exposure adjustments.

imagePicasa provides a richer selection. I often use the “Pencil Sketch”, “HDR-ish” and “Neon” tools.

These Picasa tools are simple to use and provide a nice range of the effects.

A neat set of tools is provided in several of the Microsoft Office 2010 programs. imageI often use Word 2010 for its “Artistic Effects” in the “Picture Tools” ribbon. There are some delightful tools. These programs are not intended as photo editors and getting the pictures in and out is not as easy as with the photo apps, but some effects are just not available elsewhere.

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Another tool I like is FastStone Image Viewer, it has a couple of nice effects that I use often, “Sketch” and “Oil Painting” and offers a rich selection of “Frame Masks”. You saw one of the masks at the beginning of this post.

There are many other art tools and I use several. Photo editors also include extensive manipulation tools. My long-time favorite is Corel PaintShop. This is a professional strength photo editor. Others are Adobe Photoshop and Gimp.

One of the effects that I love to use is what I call “plaster paint” and what PaintShop calls “Topography” (in “Artistic Effects”). In fact I specifically went out to get some photos to use for this article with this effect in mind. Here is one of them:

LJK_5393-C-P3-Cs

This is “Sunlight on Leaves 2012”. This gets me to my final section:

Presentation and Sharing of images

Photos, and especially “art”, is more satisfying when it is shared and presented to others for their pleasure. In this time of the Web, sharing is online. You are seeing these images on the Internet.

There are many photo sharing sites and many other places on the Web where pictures can be viewed. I use several, the menu at the top of this page takes you to most of them.

The sharing service I like the best is not even a good photo sharing site – although it was a couple of years ago: SkyDrive. Microsoft is trying to make SkyDrive the ubiquitous sharing tool for everything, everywhere, and everyone. For sharing photos it is not in the league of Flickr, Picasaweb, Shutterfly, and the many other sites specifically designed for sharing pictures. The reason is that it is much more private, it does not provide an  easy entry “front door”. It is more like a “private club” than a “public house”.

SkyDrive

Once you construct a “Grand Entrance” to your SkyDrive albums, you have a great way for sharing photos. I like to use blogs as the “front end”. You can see this at Gallery Ludwig, and specifically for “café art” at Silver Canvas.

SkyDrive is easy to use. Uploading to SkyDrive can be done right from Live Photo Gallery, directly in a browser, “skydrive.cm”, and most recently, with a SkyDrive desktop app.

Here are some quick demonstrations.

Uploading to SkyDrive from Photo Gallery

Since I use Live Photo Gallery for organizing and enhancing photos already, using it to upload to SkyDrive is just a click away. The process is simple enough: Select the photos you want to upload, click SkyDrive and the process is underway.

A dialog opens showing your SkyDrive albums along with an option to create a new album. One small downside: You cannot upload to sub-folders this way. But that is easily fixed by creating a temporary album, uploading, then moving the photos to the sub-folder where they should be.

atelier-CL-02

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Moving the photos is done at “skydrive.com”, that is, online using your browser. It is quick and easy as you can see in the two illustrations here.

One other note: By default the photos will be resized to 1600 pixels (max dimension). There are other options, 600 pixels and “Original”, whatever size the photos are.

Uploading to SkyDrive using the SkyDrive desktop app

atelier-CL-01The SkyDrive desktop app replicates your SkyDrive on your computer and automatically keeps the contents of SkyDrive in synch with the local folder. The local folder is just like any other folder and you manage it with Windows Explorer.

Using the desktop app is just a matter of dragging photos to the folder or sub-folder. The size and other properties of the files are not affected. Note of caution: Be careful that you copy the photos and not move them, unless that is where you wish to keep them.

Uploading to SkyDrive online

Almost as easy as the two methods discussed is uploading to SkyDrive when you are signed in using your browser. You navigate to the folder and click Add files.

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A window opens with a message “Drop files here…” (see illustration, you must have Silverlight installed for this option). Just drag the photos over into this window.

imageThe upload process starts right away. Of course, there is a catch. At the bottom of the dialog is a checkbox and the text “Resize photos to 2048 px”. The checkbox is checked indicating that your photos are already being resized. image

If you want the photos to be uploaded in their original size, click the checkbox to uncheck it. There will be another dialog that says “Change photo size”. Click the Yes button. The upload will be restarted and your photos will be uploaded in their full size.

A little bonus

Uploading by way of the online SkyDrive features was illustrated above with a file named “Triptych-5388.jpg”. This is indeed a rather large file and cannot be easily viewed in SkyDrive.

 SkyDrive-upload-07

You can see in the illustration that the size is 12000 x 2800 pixels. Larger than your monitor, I bet.

Here is  “Leaves – triptych” presented in a neat Microsoft service called Zoom.It, just click the image.

Leaves

.:.

© 2012 Ludwig Keck