With good cameras getting ever more affordable and even some pretty high-end hardware starting to show up in phones, digital photography is booming. Many of us are taking pictures every day, and that brings a new set of issues: How to store, sort and present the pictures we take so that they mean something to us, our friends, and family, now and years down the line. It’s not just arranging a single photo album anymore, either. Software like Photo Station for QNAP NAS systems makes it easy to take a huge collection of photos and mix and match them into multiple albums for different audiences.
The first step is to make sure you’ve got Photo Station installed on your QNAP. It’s part of the default setup, but if you don’t have it, you can down load it from the App Center, where you’ll find it filed under QTS Essentials.
Clicking the Photo Station icon on the QTS desktop launches the software and gives you a quick tour of capabilities and where on the screen you can find specific tools.
When you complete the introductory tour, you’ll be left at a photo browser screen where you can see the images currently on your QNAP. If you’ve already imported any, you’ll see those, as well as 10 sample pictures that come with the software. For our purposes here, I’ve cleared out everything, so we can start with a clean slate.
Importing and Viewing Your Photos
To get some photos of my own into the QNAP to work with, I click Import (the upward pointing arrow above the browser), and navigate to the current storage location where I have the photos. Click Open, and the images begin syncing to the QNAP. The sync icon next to Shared Photos will spin and you can check progress by floating your cursor over it.
Thumbnails are generated automatically as the images import. The QNAP will read the metadata attached to your photos and automatically sort them for you according to when they were taken. The Dates column to the left of the images allows you to see all photos or just those from a particular month.
There’s also the option of importing to the Private Collection area, so you can decide which photos you want to share and which you don’t. You can either import directly into Private Collection by using the import button to the right of that label, or you can drag and drop from the shared area. Accessing the Private Collection will require entering your password even though you are already logged into QTS, although you can set a preference to not prompt for password in the future.
You can add tags and description to each of your pictures, as well as giving them a color code and one to five star rating by using the “i” tab on the frame to the right of the image browser window. Tags can help you organize related images together for an album. Just remember to hit the Save button at the bottom of the frame when you’re finished filling in data for each image.
Creating an Album
The Photo Station software organizes photos you’d like to view together as virtual albums. That means you don’t have to physically group the files together. They can be stored anywhere across your QNAP and be gathered together in an album without moving them. This is not only a great time saver, but also makes it easy to put the same images in multiple albums, or create similar albums with slightly different cont. Have one group of relatives in your family who can’t stand another group, but they were all at the same wedding? There you go – personalized albums so they don’t have to see each other.
To create a new album, select Album from the frame at the left of the browser and click the “+” button that appears next to it. You’ll be presented with a dialogue box labeled “Create an Album”. There you give the Album a name, designate whether it will be shared with the public (and displayed on the web login screen of your QNAP), and determine how long a period the sharing will be valid. Clicking “Create” gives us an empty album ready to be filled.
To add photos, you can either find the ones you want in one of the location options available (Shared Photos, Private Collection, Qsync, or Recently), or you can right-click on individual images or a selected group, and choose the “Copy to Album” menu item, then select the name of the destination album, and click “Save”.
Creating a Smart Album
So that’s a regular album, but the capabilities don’t end there. You can create a Smart Album that will keep updating as new images are added. Search criteria can be “Today in history” where any images taken on the same date (but any year) will be displayed (there is also an option for defining a specific date – good if you’re trying to round up holiday or birthday photos); “Random” which will just display a selected number of random pictures from your collection; “Tag” which allows you to go by color code, number of stars, or a specific written tag you’ve assigned to pictures (there’s a drop down list so you don’t have to remember what exact tags were); or “All Files” which will get you everything on your QNAP, although you can narrow this (or any of the others) be defining a specific source path). So we can select a subgroup of the Geek Beat images that feature producer Dave Curlee in them, making a nice album for the Dave Curlee Fan Club.
More to Come
There’s a lot more to photo handling with QNAP than we have room to cover in this article. Look for another, more advanced article in a few weeks where I’ll discuss social media and email sharing, editing images, and more.