Photo editing goes hand in hand with photography in this generation. Many criticize about taking away the main essence of photography by processing. Editing an image to improve its quality is not such a ‘new-gen’ thing, really. It existed even during the film photography times, where professionals adjusted the black and white colors, contrasts and light in their dark studios/laboratories. Its only much more digital now.When your whole world is going digital and improving, then why not your photography?
Editing an image w.r.t photography means only one thing – enhancing its quality.
This is NOT about graphic designing where things are removed/added to the frame, turned into a cartoon, etc. If you are looking for turning your portrait into an avatar, then read no further.
Having said this, the following is my top #5 picks for the free and open source picture editing software. (for Windows)
#5 – Picknik.
This is an online s/w. No sign-up and download required. Helpful with the most basic features w.r.t. image editing, like crop, rotate, adjust brightness and other things. Got popular on flickr as it is inbuilt & integrated with it.
#4 – Picasa.
No surprises here! This Google’s application is extremely simple and easy to use. Apart from managing all your photos, editing features includes cropping, tone and brightness adjustments, many more. Picasa, however, does not allow you to do pixel-level editing. You may feel very limited once you start looking for more features.
#3 – Paint.NET.
Brought to you by Microsoft, convenient in terms of tools and options. Has layers features as well. Just 2/3 levels below Adobe Photoshop. The application, in fact, has the look of PS. Nothing more to add here. If you are a MS fan (cough-cough), go for it.
#2 – Photoscape.
An amazing picture editor! Extremely simple and user friendly. Options include combining images, batch processing, color picker and the latest addition – RAW converter. Coming to the editor, Photoscape is pretty neat when it comes to adjusting levels, contrast and colors. Has everything in simple, layman terms and is very well organized. Good options for filters as well. It is jam-packed with features, while remaining very easy to use.
#1 – GIMP.
The “poor man’s Photoshop”. The carbon copy of PS in terms of interface, tools, layers, filters, curves, etc. You can use this easily if you are well versed with the options of PS. I mean, you have to individually know what tool means/does what. GIMP was originally developed for Unix/Linux users. Stability with Windows has been improved by now, with an increasing number of users.
A very important thing to note is that almost all photo editing s/w will have the same features and stuff. You must know HOW to use them. It’s not about turning a good photograph into a graphic poster by using artistic filters. No.
It is about making your photograph visually appealing.
Not everyone looks for the same features in a photo program to edit their photos. You must know what you want to improve and how to do it. This will be developed over a period of time when you’re more aware of every option/tool that there is. You can even edit your images within seconds!
Another important thing is to stick to one editor. At a max, 2. Using more editors is just insane and makes no sense. Learn & get the most out of one platform.
Other s/w that I haven’t mentioned in this article are – Pixia, ImageForge, etc, simply because I have never used them.
Having talked so much ’bout FOSS, it is a known fact that you may still want to end up with the much hyped Adobe Photoshop!
If you are bent upon it, I reckon you go for Adobe Photoshop Lightroom instead, for photograph editing. The version 3 just got released with the most helpful features like noise reduction and lens correction capabilities! You can try out the trial version to get the feel of it. Lightroom [ http://www.adobe.com/products/photoshoplightroom/ ] is exclusively developed for photograph editing, unlike Photoshop, and is getting increasingly popular.
Feel free to add/comment/say anything. Happy editing!