Photo editing and processing are almost as old as photography itself. Since the birth of photography, photographers have always tried to improve their photos by developing at home, coloring, toning, and cropping their images to make a great photo. In the days when all photography was shot on film, the ability to edit and process photos was practically limited to professionals and enthusiasts with a lot of time and patience.
These days, however, the development of the digital camera has meant that you no longer need your darkroom to enhance your photos. With a fairly standard PC and digital image editing software, you’re good to go. There’s certainly a lot to learn if you want to create the kind of creative artwork produced by the likes of Justin M Maller or Calvin Ho, but if you’re just looking to enhance and correct your photos, digital editing is surprisingly quick to learn. It can be a bit overwhelming if you’ve never done it before, but with a little practice it will quickly become second nature.
If you’ve already started to weigh your options, the first thing you’ll notice is that it seems like every man, woman, child, and hamster with a degree in programming seems to have tried to design an image editing package. Maybe not, but there are literally hundreds of packages on the market. Simply choosing a software package to start with can be a task in itself. When looking at the available options, you will also notice a large variation in prices, ranging from completely free (we like those) to packages that cost more than a cheap flight around the world.
Free Image Editing Software
The first are the free software packages. Free stuff means more money to spend elsewhere, so for many people this may be the preferred option. Below are the most commonly used free image editing packages:
Picasa is a downloadable image organizer from Google that also offers some basic photo editing options. There are a variety of quick correction options available, such as adjusting contrast and color, as well as the ability to remove red-eye and crop images. In particular, it also offers the ability to adjust the shadows and highlights of an image, a feature that many of the cheaper paid packages lack. Best of all, it’s completely free, so check out Google for Picasa if you’re interested in a simple editor and organizer.
If you don’t find Picasa to your liking, there are plenty of other free options.
PhotoPlus, for example, offers many of the creative tools you would normally expect to find in professional editing software, such as layer effects and cloning, blurring, and erasing tools.