Originally published in Outpost Magazine
If you’re like many travellers, one of the first things you do after returning from a trip is regale friends with tales of your misadventures while marveling at your amazing photos. What? They’re not amazing? Crooked horizon lines, dull colours and red-eye weren’t supposed to be part of the picture. But taking time to correct them can often turn a mediocre photo into one that proudly hangs on your wall. What you need is a second chance at taking that great shot without the cost of another plane ticket. Thankfully, there are numerous editing options available to help you get that “wow” factor.
The best solution, and one that will put a $1000 CDN hole in your pocket, is the goliath of image editing software, Adobe’s Photoshop. It’s the graphic designer’s mainstay, but also the curse of many who struggle to use this complex program for simple photo manipulation. Alternatively you could purchase a cheaper version called Photoshop Elements for $100 CAN, which doesn’t have as nearly as many features, but may suit typical photo manipulation. If that’s too steep or intimidating, you could settle on whatever image software that came standard with your computer. usually allowing you to rotate, re-size and crop, but not much else. And if that’s too basic, there’s now a third and excellent solution – editing photos online. Add to this the comfort that even Photoshop will soon have their own online version, and you can rest assured these online tools are only going to get better.
Five years ago this wouldn’t have been possible, but today a pool of web-based editing programs have sprung up that are becoming increasingly popular and evermore sophisticated. They don’t challenge the likes of Photoshop…yet, but they are slowly upping the ante, going from simple rotation, re-sizing and cropping to more complex actions like enhancing colour tone, optimizing brightness and contrast, blurring, sharpening, and adding special effects that will give your photo that lomo effect.
If that’s not enough, they also give you the ability to edit photos from any computer, the luxury of having regularly upgraded software at your finger tips, and the bonus of being able to transfer the photos instantly to online photo developers, web-based photo managers and services such as the hugely popular Flickr. Oh, and one more thing, they’re free.
Here are a few that might help you win that next photo contest:
The virtual glossy wrapper is barely off, as this was released to the masses only last month. It seems as if they took all the tools from their competitors editing programs, chopped out the heavy-tech stuff and left the rest, making it fast, simple and intuitive. All the basic tools are there, including features ranging from converting colour photo to sepia or black and white, creating rounded corners, using tints and an auto-fixing tool that corrects exposure inconsistencies with the click of a button.
There’s no sign-up needed to try Picnik, just start loading and editing pictures. Once done, you can save the images to your computer, print them, e-mail to friends or send directly to Windows Live Spaces, Kodak EasyShare or Flickr. There is no file size limit, so you can quickly upload a 3 MB photo without a problem. Plus, if you find yourself editing images from some remote corner of the world, and your internet connection happens to conk out, you can keep on editing without interruption.
Though the largest image Fauxto supports is 1000 x1000 pixels and it doesn’t come close to Picnik’s functional diversity (sending by email, for example), Fauxto makes up for these limitations in available features. It’s a bit like a free, online alternative version of Photoshop with 16 different editing tools and the ability to open JPEG, GIF or TIFF files from your computer or by simply pasting the URL of a photo that already exists online. This means you can edit any picture on the web without the hassle of downloading and then re-uploading. Other options consist of blending and layering photos, adding text, erasing parts of photos, sharpening images, pumping up the saturation, contrast or brightness. Until Photoshop hits cyberspace in the near future, Fauxto is the most advanced online image editor.
The more middle-of-the-road photo editor, PXN8 (pronounced “pixenate”), offers more tools than Picnik and more image-sharing options than Fauxto, but can’t compete with either of them in their respective fortes. Where it wins out is in its simplicity. It has a great interface with the main features highlighted by big bold icons.
Besides the regular functions, it has some neat effects such as Lomo which creates a dark halo effect and saturates colours in the middle of the image, Snow, which creates a wintry feel and ‘Oil Paint,’ so you can transform your photos into a masterpiece. As with Picnik, edited photos can be transferred to Flickr or similar services. One handy feature is the ability to go to any web page with images on it, import those images using the ‘Import to Pixenate’ button and edit them at your leisure.
This entry was posted on Sunday, April 29th, 2007 at 12:10 pm and is filed under Technology. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a comment, or trackback from your own site. Add to del.icio.us.