If you are an image professional, there is one essential piece of software that you need to make sure your images look your best. Photoshop by Adobe is the industry standard for imaging professionals, specifically professional photographers. If you do more than photography, you probably have Adobe’s Creative Suite, which includes Illustrator and InDesign.
All this amazing-ness comes at a price. CS6 Design Standard—the latest version—retails for $1299.
Clearly, this software is not for everyone.
Adobe does also offer Photoshop Elements 10. It retails for only $99 and is incredibly powerful and my recommendation for hobby photographers, advanced amateurs and aspiring/beginning pros.
But what do you do if you just need to edit the occasional picture or create one of those nifty little graphics that are so popular right now? Even $99 seems like a steep price for an occasional image edit?
There is a solution. Several, in fact.
Here are three free image editing programs that you can use for your blog and Facebook posts and possibly even for preparing photos for printing. While I am a dedicated Photoshop user, my friends and clients who use these programs assure me that they are more than up for the job. I have tested them briefly and believe they would work well for basic image adjustments.
Gimp is a free program that you must download to your computer. It is probably the most well-documented of all the programs with an downloadable user manual, online tutorials and several instruction books that are available for purchase.
Gimp has tools for painting, retouching, exposure adjustments and color balancing, and for digital manipulation. In addition, you can use Gimp to resize images and to add and edit text.
Gimp supports bmp, gif, jpg, tif, pdf, png and psd files as well as other image formats.
Irfanview bills itself as more of an image viewer than an image editor, but it still has some useful features. It is a free download and must be installed on your computer to use it.
Irfanview’s primary features are to optimize images and create online slideshows. You can also crop images, add text or rotate images and it has a paint option for adding lines and shapes to your images.
Like the other programs Irfanview supports most of the popular image formats including jpg, bmp, gif, png, psd, pdf and tif.
Picasa is a bit of a hybrid program, being both an image editor and an online image storage site. If you use Google+ or Blogger, your uploaded images are being stored in Picasa albums. Picasa is a free program and needs to be downloaded to your computer. Picasa wants to be your image storage program of choice, so when you download it, it will ask to catalogue all of the images on your computer. This is just something you want to be aware of; whether you want to use it or not is up to you.
Picasa does have simple to navigate online documentation. You’ll find a link at the bottom of Picasa’s home page. Picasa offers cropping, redeye reduction, exposure and color adjustment and retouching. It also offers a number of different image effects for your photos. And you can add text.
Because Picasa also bills itself as an image cataloguing program, you can add text tags to make it easier to search for photos. It does not actually move any photos on your computer, it just finds and displays them.
Picasa supports many image formats including jpeg, .tif, .bmp, gif, psd, png and selected RAW formats.
Pixlr is a flash-based image editor. You use this online and must be running flash on your computer for it to work. The basic software is free, but it also has some features that must be purchased. The site has a support forum and a blog, but no readily accessible tutorials or instruction manuals that I could find.
Pixlr can be used for painting, retouching, exposure adjustments, image manipulation, resizing images and adding text.
Pixlr supports most image formats including bmp, gif, jpg, tif, pdf and psd.
Do you have a favorite image-editing software? Do you have questions about image editing or using images on your blog? Feel free to ask below or leave me your questions on our Facebook page.