Free and simple online photo publishing

Written by: Adam Christianson

Categories: News

If you are looking for free and simple ways of putting your photos on the web, here are a few tools that might come in handy. Let me start by saying I’m no expert in web design or coding pages. I’m really just past the beginner stage. I found the following programs a great way to start getting my photos online, they’re relatively easy to use and are all freeware.

If you have your own internet storage space already, Galerie is a fairly simple free program for creating photo galleries online. It works well and once you get the hang of it, you can create an online gallery, with thumbnail index, fairly quickly.

There are many templates to choose from (which you download) for the general look of your pages. To my eyes, many of these are on the tacky side, so when I did find one which I liked, the curiously-named “fashionably boring”, I stuck to it. Here are a couple of galleries I made earlier of yachts and cacti.

If you so choose, you can also vary parameters such as the size of thumbnails and photos, and the inclusion, or not, of title and comments from your original photo files. If you opt for a comments window, javascript linked to the developer’s home site will record visitors’ comments and email them to you. If you choose to make your site “public”, it will then also be included in a gallery of galleries on the developer’s site.

One great feature for non-English speakers is the ability to set your own translations for words that appear in your gallery. So instead of “next” you can have “suivant”, for example. This feature has made the program very popular among continental Europeans.

Although everything works just as it should, there are one or two quirks. I got slightly frustrated trying to make alterations to finished galleries. For example, changing a photo’s title or size. I found that the quickest way of making changes was often to simply start again from scratch. There are various possible shortcuts, such as “Modify existing gallery”, which is good for changing comments and adding, deleting or reordering photos, but if you’ve tinkered with the html after saving, Galerie is going to want to reestablish it’s defaults.

One odd feature is that your web page is created from the photos actually selected in iPhoto (or iView MediaPro or GraphicConverter), which has to be open. So if you forget to make a selection in iPhoto, you can unwittingly start creating a web gallery of your entire iPhoto library by hitting the “Generate” button! (If this happens, hit the “Stop” button!).

Once you’ve created your gallery you can publish it to your web server from within Galerie quite easily.

All things considered, I found Galerie very useful and a great compromise between the big-and-expensive Dreamweaver and GoLive and the free-but-limited Mozilla Composer html editor. I used Mozilla Composer to make a few minor changes to Galerie’s finished product with my very limited html knowledge and then I used the freeware RBrowserLite to upload my finished product to the web, although I could have done this just as easily from within Galerie or Mozilla.

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If you can’t be doing with all that make-your-own-web-page malarky but still want to post your photos, you’ve probably discovered Flickr. If you haven’t, check it out. Its main advantage over its rivals is that it’s free to upload an unlimited number of photos. It also has nice features like tags and groups which encourage users to browse strangers’ photos and leave comments. Because of the unlimited storage on offer and ease of use, its public photo library dwarfs that of Galerie.

You’re not obliged to make your photos public either, so it’s a good way of sharing photos within a family group. Paying a subscription is optional and unlocks some extra features such as sets and increases your upload bandwidth.

Until recently the main way to upload photos was by using the Flickr Uploader (beta), which can be downloaded from the Flickr site. You just drag your photos onto its desktop icon and follow the instructions. It works fine.

Now, Frasier Speirs has created an elegant iPhoto plugin, Flickr Export 1.2.6, to upload photos directly from within iPhoto. Once installed, just go to the Share menu in iPhoto, select Export and you will see the Flickr tab. The advantage of this over Flickr’s own Uploader is that it is integrated into iPhoto so you can alter tags and descriptions easily. Flickr’s online tools for batch manipulating tags and descriptions have recently improved, but, in my experience, can still be a bit buggy. The main drawback of this plugin is that it is slower than the alternatives, possibly because of the extra description data. It took about 6 minutes to upload 10 photos using Speirs’ Flickr Export plugin, compared to about 4 minutes with the Flickr Uploader. I still prefer the plugin, though, and used the extra downtime constructively to make a cup of tea. However, it’s not perfect either: once I returned to find authentication had failed and nothing had uploaded, I’m not sure why.

Finally, if you’re OK with uploading one photo at a time, there’s Flidget, a very neat widget for Flickr. You drag a photo onto it and can enter tags and specify if it’s public or not. Then hit upload – it’s quick and simple. It also works fine in OSX 10.3.9 with Amnesty.

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Software mentioned in this article:

Galerie 5.1.0: Create a photo gallery online (4 stars)
Developer: Myriad Software

Mozilla 1.7.8: Web browser with built in html editor (Composer)
Developer: The Mozilla Foundation

RBrowserLite 3.3.6: Transfer files to an online server
Developer: RBrowser

Flickr Export 1.2.6: A plugin for iPhoto to upload photos to your Flickr account
Developer: Fraser Speirs

Flickr Uploader beta: Flickr’s in-house uploader
Developer: Flickr

Flidget 1.0: Widget that uploads a photo to Flickr
Developers: Rob Mientjes and Anatoly Papirovsky

Amnesty 0.80b: Widget browser, usable under OSX 10.3.9
Developer: Mesa Dynamics

There are 2 comments on Free and simple online photo publishing:

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  1. Craig Patchett | Jun 21 2005 - 02:10

    Just out of curiosity, is there any reason you left iPhoto/.mac out of this article? While not free per se, quite a few Mac users already have iPhoto and .mac and should at least be aware that publishing a photo gallery online with the two is as simple as it gets!

  2. Gabe | Jun 21 2005 - 11:39

    I omitted .mac simply because the review focused on freeware tools. I omitted iPhoto’s “export to web page”, because it seemed pretty limited compared to Galerie. But fair point anyway. If anyone has any better solutions out there I guess this would be a good place to post them…