If you are keen amateur photographer you probably like to edit your photographs using one of the many photo editing software offerings that are on the market. The top end photo editing software choices such as Photoshop demand a not insubstantial financial investment. Whilst Adobe Photoshop is expensive, it is aimed at image professionals – either photographers or graphic designers. There is no knocking Photoshop, it is a powerful and comprehensive editing tool that in my opinion trounces the competition and is probably therefore worth the money.
However, many of the top end features in Photoshop are just not necessary unless you are working in the professional arena. The next raft of software options include the cut down version of Photoshop – Photoshop Elements, Serif’s Photoplus and Corel’s Paintshop Pro to name a few. These offer many of the features found in Photoshop at a fraction of the price and are ideal for those on a budget who just don’t need the professional high end tools that Photoshop offers. These tools are however squeezed by the ever growing number of photo editing tools that are plain and simply free. There are two types of software, both available on-line, which quite simply will not cost you a penny. The first type is a downloadable program such as GIMP. GIMP is an open source program and is continually under development – it offers almost all of the core features that you are likely to find in the cheaper paid for products.
The second type of free software, is one that you don’t even need to download. A very good example of the this is Pixlr. You use this tool though your browser and don’t need to download a thing. Again, many of the useful core tools that you are likely to want to use such as colour adjustments, contrast adjustments, levels and curves are there. Pixlr also supports layers and layer masks which is a must for landscape photographers – allowing them to blend different exposures of the same image. Pixlr is by no means the only free on-line editing software available – others include Picnik which is the integrated software editing tool in Flickr, Lunapic and Fotoflexer.
These tools really do beg the question whether you need to spend money on photo editing software at all. With cloud technology increasingly coming to the fore in the business world with online business tools from the likes of Google, it is no surprise the amateur/hobby market is mirroring this pattern.