Picnik. I'm sure many of you have already heard about the closing, and I'm sure even more of you have been to this site at least once.
I was actually quite shocked by the announcement. This site was introduced to me a couple of years ago by a photography friend of mine. Although I didn't spend a whole lot of time on the site, I found many of their features...well...pretty awesome. For all of you Picnik users, I do have a bit of good news. From now until the shut down date on April 19th, Picnik is offering all of their features, even Picnik Premium, for free! So head over to Picnik.com and take advantage of those great features at no cost.
This announcement has led many people to wonder where to turn to now for some of those same photo editing options. Picnik had a variety of free features for all of us who cannot afford Photoshop. There are two main programs I use for my photo editing needs. Both are free and both are PC and Mac compatible (though older Mac users may need to check which operating system they are running and if it's still compatible). These programs are GIMP and Picasa. There are actually quite a few other free photo editing programs on the internet and I'll share those with you as well.
I started using GIMP a couple of years ago when I got into digital scrapbooking. I needed a program that was a lot like Photoshop and that would allow me to work in layers and I didn't have the money to spend on Photoshop. Then I found GIMP, a free software raster graphics editor. I absolutely love it! It lets me do pretty much everything Photoshop would let me do. It is a great image retouching and editing tool, however, the possibilities of the things you can do are endless. I also use it to create logos, digital scrapbook materials, watermarks and my blog header. You can download GIMP, here.
Picasa is an image organizer and viewer owned by Google. What I love about this program is that it offers simple photo editing features (fixing color, light, shadow, red-eye, etc.) at the touch of a button. It fixes it automatically to what it thinks the photo should look like. You can also do it manually if you are not happy with the results. It will also automatically import all of your image files from your computer for you if you wish, and it makes it really easy to share your photos anywhere. Even your blog! Check out downloading options for Picasa, here.
Back when I was searching for a good photo editing program and found GIMP, I heard that Adobe had come out with a free version of Photoshop called Photoshop Express. I was ecstatic but also a little wary. What was the catch? You can't tell me that I can get the same features that those who pay $100-$700 would. Of course I checked it out. While it seemed easy to use and offered the same basic photo editing features as all of the others, I was not comfortable with it. Like Picasa, you can use Photoshop Express to organize your photos. I remember feeling a bit overwhelmed and it also lacked all of the effects I was looking for. This was a couple of years ago. It might have changed since then and I was going to take another look as I was writing this post, but have since forgotten my login information and didn't find it worth creating a new account. However, I have heard some people talk about it as if it is the greatest free program they have ever seen so it just goes to show that everyone has their own opinion and everyone is going to have different preferences. There is no right or wrong...just whatever you are more comfortable with. In order to use Photoshop Express, you will have to create an account, which of course is free. Check out Photoshop Express for yourself here.
One of the great features that Picnik offered was it's wonderful image effects. You know, the effects where you can make your photo look old or vintage or cartoonish, etc. Picnik made it easy to apply these kinds of effects to your photo. You just clicked your mouse. So after hearing about them closing, I decided to check out some other free photo editing programs that offered the same thing. The first one I came across quickly became my favorite. Pixlr has to be at the top of my list. The photo editing is set up a lot like GIMP. Also, when you go visit the pixlr-o-matic page, the effects are endless! I absolutely love it! I could spend hours on it playing around with the different effects. They also have a helpful community where you can ask questions through their forum. Best of all, the upload time for a photo is quick. I'm very excited to work more with this program and really see what it's all about.
Finally, there is FotoFlexer. I remember this program from a few years ago. This is the program they used to edit photos within Photobucket. It seems to have come a long way since then, and now seems to be one of the more advanced as far as how much it offers. They have also added many more effects since I used it. It is definitely worth checking out!
Again, I can't really say if one program is better than another. Everyone has their own way of doing things and it's all going to come down to a matter of preference. Some people choose the ease of a program over what it offers. Some people just want to be able to do fun effects without all of the other editing. Either way, the above programs are all worthy of being mentioned. So you can check them all out and decide for yourself. If you know of any other programs that were not listed here and deserve to be mentioned, please leave a comment letting us know!
What is your favorite photo editing program to use?