Blogging with Windows Live Writer 2011. 5. A closer look at photos.

Picture Tools

Once you have inserted a photo into your blog post, there are a plethora of choices open to you. You can precisely place your photo in your text, resize it, crop it, add effects and an assortment of other features and additions.  So this post, I’m going to concentrate on these photo features.

1. Once your photo is inserted into your post, click on top of it in order to open the PICTURE TOOLS ribbon. As you can see, this contains a vast array of choices and we’ll work our way through them one by one. Reading from the left of the PICTURE TOOLS ribbon is Crop.

Picture Tools ribbon

2. Clicking on the Crop icon will open a window containing your photo with a white square inside the photo that can be resized or reshaped by left clicking on one of the small squares and holding down the left hand mouse button, then dragging the lined square until you have cropped out the area of the photo that you don’t want to show. There are also some custom sizes for you to choose from via the drop down list, and you can also show a grid over your chosen area. Click on OK once you are happy with your Crop or click on Remove Crop.

Doing a crop in Writer 

3. Next to Crop on the PICTURE TOOLS ribbon is the Resize area. Here you can customise your sizes for future use so that once set, when you click on Small, Medium or Large your photos are set to a size that you prefer to use inside your posts. To change the Custom size, click on the size box, a drop down list will be available, and you can select the last choice of Set Default Sizes.

Setting your default sizes of photos

4. Another window will open and you can then select the width and height for your default sizes of your inserted photos. Once set, in the future all you need to do is select Small, Medium or Large and your photos will be at your own custom size.

5. Next we come to Rotate. This feature allows you to rotate your inserted photo from Landscape to Portrait or visa versa, or you can Tilt the photo inside your text which gives a very attractive result.  Try it out to see how it looks.  You adjust the angle of tilt by sliding the slider either further to the right or left and once you are happy with your tilted photo, click on OK.

The Last Rose

6. Next area along the PICTURE TOOLS ribbon is Picture Styles. This allows you to add different surroundings, effects and shapes to your inserted photo. Choices are as follows: Inherent from Blog, None, Drop shadow, Instant Photo, Photopaper, Reflection, Rounded corners, solid 1pxl and solid 3 pixels. Try them all out by clicking on each one to see how it effects your inserted photo.

7.  Picture Effects are next in the Ribbon, so click on the Picture Effects icon in order to access the choices available. These are Recolour, Sharpen, Blur and Emboss. If you click on Recolour another windows opens containing other icons for you to select and you simply click onto each one to choose. Try them out on your photo to see which one looks best.

8. Clicking on Sharpen gives you the choice of a sharpen icon, Blur gives you no Blur or Gaussian Blur and Emboss allows you to Emboss your photo. Again, try them all out to see the effect. You can always change the effect back if you don’t like it.

9. Under the Picture Effects area is Contrast and this choice is adjusted by  altering the two sliders for Brightness and Contrast either left or right. Click on OK once your happy with your photo.

10. Lastly under Picture Styles we have Watermark. This allows you to watermark any inserted photos so that your name is placed on it for the purposes of copyright. Click on the Watermark icon and a window will open where you can choose your text such as your name, which font you would like to use for your watermark, the size and finally its position on your photo. Click on OK once you have set up your watermark and it will be added to the photo. (See above.)

11. In the Properties area of the PICTURE TOOLS ribbon, you can choose where to link to when your readers click on top of the photo, either the source picture or a web address, the options for the size of the source picture, and any alternate text you would like to display when the photo is clicked on.

12. Under the Settings area of the PICTURE TOOLS ribbon, you can set to revert to the original version of the picture before any effects etc were added, or set the current picture style, alignment, properties etc as the default for all other pictures.

f042dc0d-faec-4fbb-8fef-d2c2c440d34613.  Next in line on the PICTURE TOOLS ribbon is the Alignment area, and this basically allows you to place your photo to the left hand side of your text, to the centre, to the right hand side. Just choose the placement by clicking on one of the icons. You can then resize your picture if you wish to accommodate any text that you wish to have at the side.  Its also a good idea to set up a margin around your picture so that your text does not butt right up to the edge of your photo and look unsightly.

14. To alter the margin next to your picture and separate your photo from your text, simply click inside the box next to the relevant margin and increase the pixels. In my case, I have increased the pixels to 12 to the right hand margin, so that now my text is separate from the photo. You can adjust the spacing around your photo at the top, bottom, left and right, so that it all looks neat and is easy to read.

Next post, we’ll cover the Blog Account ribbon, and also adding Categories to our posts, setting our post date, updating the theme, and posting the same post to different blog platforms.



From Spaces to Wordpress step by step. Give yourself a new header.

12. Adding a Custom Header.

One of the features often requested on Windows Live Spaces was the ability to add your own header to your Space. On WordPress, most of the available themes allow you to do just that, so this how-to takes you through how to add your own header to your blog. To illustrate how to add a header, I’m going to use my testing blog on here which at the moment is using the Elegant Grunge theme.  To tie in with that theme, I am going to add a Grungy type header so first of all, I need to grab a free background that is both darkish and grungy. I do this by simply doing a search using either Bing or Google to find that type of background to use for my header.

Read more of this post

From Spaces to Wordpress step by step. A Theme with a Menu.

6. Choosing a Theme with a Menu.

1. In this post, we’ll change our theme again to another one, this time stipulating different features namely the inclusion of a Tabbed Menu for our readers to be able to access across the top of our Header. Firstly we’ll be uploading our own header into our theme and changing the background with our own. choice. So we need a theme that contains, Custom Menus, Header and Background. These are the features by which to conduct our theme search. From your WordPress Navibar, click on My Blogs, then select Dashboard as before and then Appearance, Themes.

Read more of this post

From Spaces to Wordpress step by step. General Settings.

4. Changing those General Settings.

In later posts, we will continue to tweak our new theme by giving it a header and a background, but for the next few posts, I intend to take you through adjusting the basic settings that you may need to change in your WordPress Dashboard. I feel that the Dashboard is one of the best there is, but it contains so many areas to tweak and set up, that it can be a daunting task to anyone who is new to It would take far too many posts for me to cover every single choice and area covered by the Dashboard, so I intend to only cover those areas that I feel are the most likely to need changing by most new users. So, let’s make a start shall we?

Read more of this post

Blogging with Windows Live Writer. 3

Let’s try some picture effects!

Now that we have tried positioning our pictures into our post let’s take a look at some other cool things that we can also do in Live Writer with our pictures that we insert.  It’s all about making a post look attractive to our readers and giving it that certain something that encourages our readers to return  again and again.  Maybe you are posting about a holiday that you have just taken, a wedding, a night out, a birthday celebration, or maybe you just want to illustrate your post with pictures to accentuate its content. For whatever reason, with Writer there is no need to just insert a picture and that’s the end of it, you can do so much more.


 Here is a gorgeous picture of a black and white kitten.  It’s ideal for illustrating what you can do with the picture effects in Live Writer.  First of all, I shall place it to the left of this text and then I am going to apply Tilt to it, give it some contrast and crop it all from the Advanced tab in the Photo Menu.



Firstly I give it a Photopaper border. It now looks like a snap.  I also give it a Margin of 10 to the left hand side so that my text doesn’t butt right up to it. Next I click on the Advanced tab in the Picture menu which becomes available in Writer every time you click on a photo or picture, and then I shall  enlarge the picture to 350 Width.


 Next I am going to give my picture some Contrast so that it really stands out by clicking on  Contrast and then adjust the sliders to 20+ for contrast and –5 for brightness followed by clicking on OK. Following that,  I will  add a watermark to the picture. I click on @Watermark from the Advanced tab. In the topmost box I type in my Watermark ‘Black and White Cat.’ followed by choosing my font Kristen ITC. Hmm.  It is hard to see at the moment as by default its positioned at the bottom right hand side of the photo. So by  moving it to the top left hand corner I can make my Watermark easier to see.  


Black_and_white_cat The other choices in this Advanced tab are Rotate, Crop  and Tilt. Let’s try the Tilt one. This feature  allows you to tilt your photo either to the left or right in varying degrees. It looks very attractive if you do this when you have a line of photos in your post as well.  I will tilt my picture to the left by 5. Note how your text moves over to the side as you tilt your picture if you have text wrap. Next we will try some cropping of our picture and ‘home in’ on the cat’s face.


Cropping can be really useful if you have a photo or picture but it contains background information that you don’t want to include, or perhaps you just want to focus on a particular aspect of that photo. What you probably will notice as you drag the cropping lines around your photo is how the ‘ratio’ of the photo changes. However, you can keep the same ratio of the original  by choosing ‘original’ from the drop down box at the top left of the cropping window, or alternatively you can choose your own size from the drop down list if you wish. Note as well that you can always reverse any cropping by simply  choosing ‘Remove Crop’ at the bottom.


Completed Cropped picture in WriterNext let’s  move onto the third tab in the picture menu, the Effects tab.  When clicked on it shows an empty box with a green plus sign and a red minus sign.  By clicking on the green plus sign, you will be presented with a list of effects to try out on your picture. These are as follows; Black and White, Sepia Tone, Adjust Temperature, Colour Pop, Sharpen,Gaussian Blur and Emboss.  Why not try them all out to see what effect suits your picture best?  You can always remove any of the effects if you are not happy with any of them by clicking on the minus sign.  So that you can see all each of the effects, I am showing my Black and White Cat picture below with each of the different effects applied.

Black_and_white_cat Black_and_white_catBlack_and_white_cat  Black_and_white_cat Black_and_white_catBlack_and_white_cat

Black_and_white_cat  Black_and_white_cat

Next post we’ll take a look at including a full photo album into your post (if you also have Windows Live Photo Gallery installed as well as Live Writer) and inserting a Map into your post in order to show the place that you have visited or are blogging about.


[tweetmeme only_single=”false”]

Live Photo Gallery v Google Picasa round 3.

More extensive editing in Picasa.

In this post I intend to take a look at the more intensive editing features contained in both of these two free desktop photo  editing programs. . Looking at Picasa first, it’s editing sidebar which is placed on the left hand side of the photo screen  is divided into three separate areas or tabs. These consist of Basic Fixes, Tuning and Effects.

Picasa's Basic FixesBasic Fixes contains clickable icons for Crop, Straighten, Redeye, I’m Feeling Lucky (auto fix) Auto Contrast, Auto Colour, Retouch, Text and Fill Light. Only Fill Light has a adjustable slider. The Redeye feature in Picasa is particularly impressive because even if the person who is affected by the redeye is some distance away in the photograph, Picasa can still enable Redeye correction and it automatically draws a green square around each affected eye so that all the user has to do is to click on Apply.

Fix red eye in PIcasaTwo features which are included in this category that are not available in Photo Gallery are Retouch and Text. As the name implies, Retouch allows the user to touch up someone’s face in order to cover up any  blemishes for example by brushing it out. You can choose which size of brush you wish to use and then by clicking the circle above the blemish you can cover it, and then click on Apply. You are able to ‘undo’ the patch or cover if you are not happy.

The text feature allows you to place some text into the photograph. You can choose which font and size of font to use and also its alignment and its transparency.

Placing text on a photo The middle tab Tuning consists of four separate sliders for Fill Light, Highlights, Shadows and Colour Temperature to enable you to ‘fine tune’ the photograph.  All can be reversed with Undo Retouches. The last tab Effects features all the different Effects that you can apply to your photo  shown as small icons consisting of that  particular photo so that you can easily see just how each effect will look when applied to the photograph. So Picasa contains some  quite extensive editing features considering that it comes entirely free to use.

PIcasa shows you its effects.

More extensive editing in Photo Gallery.

In direct contrast, the editing column in Photo Gallery is placed on the right hand side of the photo editing screen. It’s editing tools make far more  use  of sliders in order to adjust each feature. They consist of the following, Auto Adjust, Adjust Exposure, Adjust Colour, Straighten Photo, Crop Photo, Adjust Detail, Fix Red eye and Black and White Effects. With the adjust exposure feature as well as sliders for Brightness, Contrast, Shadows and Highlights, you also have  a Histogram so that you can see how your adjustments look.

The Adjust colour also makes use of sliders for Colour Temperature, Tint and Saturation.

Photo Gallery's finer adjustmentsWhen you click on Straighten photo, a grid is overlaid on top of the photograph to assist with lining up any vertical or horizontal lines in that photo. Crop photo allows you to crop out any areas that are superficial to the photo and both of these features also work exactly the same  in Picasa.

The Adjust detail feature is relatively new  to Photo Gallery and was added during the last updates. It allows you to Sharpen up your photo by using a slider. Firstly as soon as you select Adjust detail, the photo is ‘zoomed in’ so that you are more able to see the close up affects of your sharpening, then because applying any sharpening usually introduces ‘noise’ into the photo, you can click on the Analyze button to reduce the noise that may have been introduced during the sharpening procedure.  I have found that this feature works quite well.

Adjusting detail in Photo GalleryThe Fix red eye in Photo Gallery does not work in the same way as the same feature  in Picasa.  Instead, the user  has to manually drag the mouse pointer around the effected eye instead of the program automatically drawing a rectangle for you, and so whilst it is fairly easy to do if the affected person was fairly close to the camera when the photo was taken, it is not as useful if the person was stood quite a distance away.  However, one could argue that its harder to spot the incidence of Redeye if someone is a further away. 

Fix red eye in Photo galleryThe Black and white effects in Photo Gallery also are shown as small icons displaying their effects, but not of  that particular photo, so the only way to see just how they look when applied to your photo is to click on them and try them out.   All adjustments made to any photograph can easily be undone by clicking on the Undo button at the very bottom of the Edit column.

Black and White effects in PG In the next round between these two programs,  I intend to focus on any extras that either program provides such as the Panoramic feature incorporated into Photo Gallery and  the Collage feature and the Geotagging that is available in Picasa.