Windows 7 : Managing Pictures with Windows Live Photo Gallery (part 10) - Resizing Photos,Creating Panoramic Photos , Editing with Other Applications

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7.1. Resizing Photos

While the crop functionality described previously works well for what it is, you often will want to resize a photo for specific needs. Perhaps you want to create something that correctly fits the resolution of your screen so it will make a good desktop wallpaper. Or maybe you want a version that is more appropriate for the small screen on your smart phone or other portable device. Whatever the reason, you can easily resize photos in Photo Gallery ... if you know the trick.

The thing is, Resize isn't an option that appears overtly anywhere in the Windows Live Photo Gallery user interface. Instead, you need to right-click on an individual photo thumbnail to find the Resize option. When you select this, you'll see the Resize dialog shown in Figure 41.

Figure 41. It's really well hidden, but once you find it, Resize works as well as can be expected.

To use Resize, select a size from the size drop-down, which includes various presets such as small, medium, and large. Or, input a pixel value into the Maximum Dimensions edit box. The value you enter here will be applied to the largest of the image's horizontal and vertical dimensions. For example, suppose you have a 3328 × 1872 image, which is a widescreen six-megapixel photo. If you set the Maximum Dimensions value to 1920 and click Resize and Save, the resulting photo will be resized to 1920 × 1080.

7.2. Creating Panoramic Photos

If you've ever vacationed in a scenic spot, you've probably engaged in an age-old ritual that's common to so many with a camera: you take a series of panoramic shots, moving from one side to the other, as you pan around to take in the entire view. The problem is, when you get home and copy those pictures to the computer, they're all disjointed, and it's not clear that they fit together at all. High-end photography tools like Photoshop have offered a way to stitch these photos back together again into a single very widescreen shot. And now Windows Live Photo Gallery offers this functionality as well.

The trick, of course, is to find two or more shots that can be visually connected in this fashion. Once you've done this, select them in Windows Live Photo Gallery, click the Make toolbar button, and choose Create Panoramic Photo from the drop-down menu that appears. Windows Live Photo Gallery will composite the photos and then prompt you to save the resulting combined image, using a standard Windows Save As dialog that's been renamed to Save panoramic stitch. Select a name and location for the resulting file and click the Save button to save the results.

At this point, Windows Live Photo Gallery will commit the newly stitched photo to disk, leaving the originals as-is, and display the new photo, as shown in Figure 42. As you can see, the stitching effect is usually seamless.

The one issue you'll have with stitched panoramic photos is that you will have to trim some excess black space in order to arrive at a normal, rectangular image. Just click the Fix toolbar button and then use the Crop photo tool in the Edit pane to do so.


Panoramic photos are usually too wide to make for good desktop wallpapers ... unless you have multiple monitors.

Figure 42. This panormaic cityscape was made by stitching four separate photos together.

7.3. Editing with Other Applications

Although the basic editing features in Photo Gallery should satisfy many people's needs, there are many other photo editing solutions out there, and you may want to use them to edit photos instead. A number of alternatives are available, including desktop applications like Adobe Photoshop Elements and Google Picasa, and you can access them directly from within Photo Gallery, which is pretty handy.

The key to doing so is the Open button on the Photo Gallery toolbar. If you don't have any third-party photo-editing applications installed, you will see Paint, Windows Live Photo Gallery, and Windows Photo Viewer listed in the resulting drop-down menu when you click this button. But if you installed a third-party application, it should appear in the list as well, as shown in Figure 43. This way, you can edit a photo in the application you like the most, while still using Photo Gallery's excellent management capabilities to perform other photo-related tasks.

Figure 12.57. You're not stuck with the useful but limited photo-editing features in Photo Gallery.

What if your application doesn't appear in the Open with drop-down menu? You can add it easily enough: simply select Choose program from the Open with drop-down menu and then click the Browse button to find it on your hard drive. When you've accessed a program in this fashion, it will be added to the drop-down list.

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