Windows Live Writer is a superb tool for preparing blog posts. It downloads the template from your blog site and uses it to present drafts in exactly the style and appearance as the post will appear when published. There may be some minor differences, but even those are overcome with the “Preview” tab that shows the post in the blog page. For many bloggers it is not even necessary to know that this is an HTML editor – although the “Source” tab lets you inspect, edit, or write the HTML code.
Of course, inserting pictures is nicely handled. Once a photo is inserted, and selected, there is a “Picture Tools” tab on the Ribbon to permit a variety of edit functions.
What functions are available depends on the source location of the picture. On inserting there are two source options: “From your computer…” and “From the web…”. When inserting a picture that is sourced somewhere on the web – in my case normally from my SkyDrive – only the edit options that are supported normally in the browser are provided. The size of the picture can be specified. The alignment, the position in the text, and margins around the image can be modified. All the other edit options are greyed out. The reason is that the other edit option have to modify the actual image, something that is obviously not possible when the image exists already on the web.
Images that you source from your computer can be edited locally. The modified picture is then uploaded to your blog site along with the post. This works very smoothly.
Let’s look at the edit options for manipulating an image.
Rotate and Tilt
Next to the “Size” field on the Ribbon is “Rotate”. The image can be flipped ninety degrees to the right or left. This can be repeated to turn the photo upside down. The really neat option in the “Rotate” field is “Tilt”. Clicking the “Tilt” command brings up a dialog with a slider to adjust the tilt from 20 degrees to the left to 20 degrees to the right. I am showing this dialog here with the tilt set to –10. This will actually produce a somewhat larger image with the titled picture inside. This image is then uploaded to the picture store on the blog site when the post is published. Some very nice effects can be achieved with this option.
The next group on the “Picture Tools” Ribbon is “Picture styles”. This includes the rest of the image editing tools. Most prominent is are the framing options. The options, illustrated at the right, include the frame setting inherited from the blog template (the first one), no frame, drop shadow to make it appear slightly lifted from the page (selected and used for this illustration), an “instant photo” (Polaroid) frame – the image is cropped to a square format for this, a white “photopaper” effect, a reflection on the bottom as if the picture was sitting on a shiny surface, framed with rounded corners, or a thin (1 pixel), solid line, and lastly framed with a 3 pixel black line.
The “Picture effects” option provides tools you might use somewhat less often. Photos that needed extensive enhancement were probable already edited using a picture editor or Windows Live Photo Gallery. However, when a picture is inserted and it looks like a bit of tweaking might help, the options are right at hand. The “Recolor” command provides just three “Color modes”: Turning the picture to a black-and-white or sepia image, or enhancing the colors, “Color pop”. The “Color temperature” offers two steps cooler or warmer.
are a couple versions of the same photo showing the sharpening tool (applied to the right photo).
Blur and Emboss
These two effects also offer just one setting each. Using the same photo, here are illustrations of the two effects, blurred on the left, the embossed image on the right:
The “Contrast” command brings up a dialog (shown here). There are two slider controls, “Brightness” and “Contrast”. These controls have a wider range than is common for such adjustments. Both go from –100 to 100. The setting shown in the windows can also be manually set by just typing in the value you want.
The watermark option allows you to embed a visible message in a picture. The command opens a dialog for specifying the text and the text attributes. On opening, the dialog shows “© 2011” (unless you saved your own default message). You can replace this with any text you like. There is a font selector. Here any font on your computer can be used since this will become an actual modification of the image which is then uploaded. The size is more limited but offers a range of 8 to 36 which is perfectly adequate.
The crop control is part of the “Size” group. This is not available for images sourced from the web, so I did not mention it before. This tool also modifies the image prior to uploading to the blog image store. The tool provides the normal cropping functions including specifying the proportions and setting the proportions for a horizontal or vertical picture (“Rotate frame”).
So here, a picture with a variety of the edit options applied. You can see that Windows Live Writer is a powerful and versatile tool.
Please also visit my blog on “things photographic”: Café Ludwig