A special someone asked me about photo-editing tools, and I decided to make a post about it. It’s way too long for a comment box, after all! This one’s for all the photo enthusiasts amongst and within us.
I don’t like using online editing tools, such as Picnic and similar, because I think you’ll generally be at the mercy of your internet connection speed. Unless you’re on a super-fast internet connection, you’ll be spending a lot of time waiting for the tool to do it’s thing. So, the best thing do is turn to offline tools. If your computer is a bit older, some offline tools will still make you do a little bit of waiting, but that will generally be limited to when the application starts up. I’ve noticed both PhotoShop and Picasa can take up to 4 minutes to load. I can enjoy a lovely cup of icy chocolate milkshake in that time-frame, which is a lot nicer than having 10 cups waiting for Picnic to upload, edit, & save my pictures. So, the offline tools will generally be better for your blood pressure, your cholesterol levels, and your calorie count!
What tools are there that you can download as stand-alone applications? You can use PhotoShop, Picasa, Paint.NET, or pretty much anything that CNET recommends. I’ll quickly go through the pros and cons of each of these three software suites I’ve used or still do use; any more detail than this and you’ll probably fall asleep. Also, the best way to get a feel for an application is to use it, if at all possible.
PhotoShop: This is the Queen of photo editing software. As such, it’s royally expensive, too. This is a significant drawback. In addition to that, it can be a bit overwhelming to use. However, the learning curve is definitely worth suffering through. If one can get a copy of the Middle East version, then you’ll find adding Arabic text over your pictures a breeze. I love PhotoShop, although there was a time when I refused to use it for photo-editing and only stuck to making web graphics with it. Right now, I don’t have it on my current PC.
Picasa: This is probably the Fresh Prince of photo-editing software. So saying, it’s free to download and use. It fixes up your pictures very easily and quickly, and it’s quite good at organizing your pictures. When you launch it for the first time, it will pick out all the image files on your computer, and present it to you in an Explorer pane. Pretty cool, although it might take a while to complete this particular task, depending on how many pics you have and how scattered they are. The only significant drawback to Picasa is that you cannot (or I have not seen any way to) add a watermark to your pictures from the application directly. If you don’t care about that, then no big deal. If you do care about using a watermark, and are also set on using Picasa, then you could create and add the watermark with Microsoft Paint (standard in most PCs).
Paint.NET: I just downloaded this, and was very pleasantly surprised. I suspect that this is a great competition to PhotoShop, making it really the Crown Princess of photo editing software. Considering that it is free to download and quite easy to use, this should be really great news to the consumer who does not have spare cash lying around. As far as I can see so far, it can do everything that PhotoShop can do. It seems to have half (ok, maybe quarter) the amount of filters for special effects that PhotoShop does. So, if you tend to use filters a whole bunch, then this might be a drawback. I am not seeing a way to adjust the Exposure on pictures, so that makes me a bit unhappy. However, there is this inexplicable feature called Levels which seems to be doing the same thing for me as messing with Exposures in PhotoShop would. Consequently, I’m probably not going to bother installing PhotoShop on my computer for a while, if ever, as Paint.NET is satisfying the majority of my needs.
Here is a picture I touched up in Paint.NET, before and after, and a screenshot of the Paint.NET environment as I was working in it. ( Looking at the history box, you can see the things I like to do with a typical shot.)
What do you think about any or all of these software packages? Have you tried any other photo-editing suites? Any that you liked better?
Note: This was not a paid advertisement for any of the reviewed software. This is completely unscientific, and based purely on my own experiences and needs. And this is not exhaustively comprehensive in scope at all! 😀