So now that you’ve found an affordable camera how are you going to make the photos on your blog really pop? Adobe Photoshop CS5 is an expensive program and it’s a real gorilla too; after years of adding new features it’s become borderline incoherent, especially to the uninitiated. I’ve been using Adobe Lightroom since it launched (and if you can afford it I highly suggest investing in it, there is simply no better photo editing/organizing tool on the market), but it too is expensive and can definitely take some time to really master. Luckily there are plenty of free options to be found out there on the internet. Here are some Pros and Cons for some of the better free programs I’ve found:
One more thing: I use a Macbook Pro and thus all of these programs are compatible with Mac OSX; there are, however, several free programs (such as paint.net) that have gotten solid reviews but are only compatible with Windows and so I won’t be discussing them here.
Oh wait, one more one more thing (and much more importantly): all of these programs use destructive editing tools. This means that when you make changes to the image you are actually changing the data within the image file and really truly altering the image’s original pixels. Be absolutely certain, before you start editing a photo, that you’ve saved a backup copy of the original someplace safe, just in case you do something hideously unwanted to your pics.
Okay, here goes:
- Surprisingly powerful editing tools, just about as good as a slimmed down (but older version) of Adobe Photoshop.
- Can handle RAW image files. One day I plan to do a post on the benefits of shooting RAW over JPEG images, but for now I’ll simply say that shooting RAW gives you infinitely greater flexibility when you edit your images, meaning that if you totally overexpose or totally underexpose a shot you’ll probably still be able to save it, which is impossible to do with a compressed file format like JPEG.
- A whole ton of free tutorials can be found on their website, so it might seem intimidatingly confusing at first, but not for long.
- Really no direct benefits for bloggers: no particularly easy way to get your photos online, no good copyrighting tools, and no social media integration.
- Definitely not for the uninitiated and it can seem pretty daunting at first.
- No clear way to organize the photos you’ve edited.
- These two programs are very well integrated with each other: use Picasa to organize your photos and Picnik to edit and share them with your friends.
- You can easily make neat collages and presentations for your blogs and you can easily add text and title lettering to pictures.
- Can handle RAW files.
- Scans for faces and people in your pictures so it’s super easy to tag your friends for Facebook.
- With Picnik it is very easy to get your photos online and linked to all of your preferred social networks (and Picasa is hyper-integrated with Blogger too) .
- Easy to understand editing tools, especially for the uninitiated.
- Pretty crude editing tools once you move out of the RAW processor.
- If you’re a more advanced user these programs will seem pretty disorganized, with no clear indication as to the most efficient workflow.
- It’s free.
- Can’t handle RAW files.
- Incredibly lame editing tools that have bizarrely subjective and/or vague titles (like “Beautify,” no idea what that’s supposed to mean) that make the program a total disaster to navigate.
- Pretty much has the same photo effects as Picnik (so just download that one).
- The only useful tools (like tone curve adjustments) are under a tab labeled “Geek,” which is both nonsensically titled and just plain demeaning to photo nerds like me.
All of these programs are relatively easy to use with some practice and, in the case of Gimp and certain parts of Picnik, I was pretty astonished to find that they’re offering such powerful tools for free. Download one of them, play around with it, see what you can make your photos look like; if you’re feeling adventurous, paste a link to the photos you’ve played with in the comments section, I’d love to see what you guys can come up with.