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Free Photo Editing Software Guide

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Every photographer will use photo editing software after that all important shoot. Even with the best cameras, often times you may need to make minor adjustments to lighting or even simple image cropping. You will have no doubt heard of Adobe Photoshop, the leading photo editing software on the market. It is definitely a fine piece of software, but will set you back a monthly subscription.

However, there are a growing number of very good and very useful free photo editing tools on the web. Here we take you through some of the best.

1) GIMP

GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation programme) has been going since 1996 and has a large community of users. It is updated regularly which makes it not only a very useful editing tool, but also one of the most powerful free pieces of software on the market. You’ll get most of the features available to you in premium apps, such as colour correct, edit contrast and brightness, remove re-eye, add lighting effects and even oil painting effects.

Just like premium tools, GIMP will take you a little while to master if you have never used photo editing software before. However there are a range of excellent tutorials available online, including Youtube.

In essence, GIMP is a free version of Photoshop but is not in any way associated with Adobe.

Available for Download for both PC & MAC (additional software required.

2) Picasa

The Google owned Picasa offers simple image editing and management on your desktop. The tools on offer are essentially a set of customisable filters which you control by adjusting sliders to achieve the desired effect. You also have basic control over brightness and contrast. If you’re looking for something a little more advanced then there is the option of the web based ‘Creative Kit’. However, this has been labelled as a little sluggish on even the most high speed broadband connections.

The plus sides for Picasa is how easily it integrates with Social Networks. Images can be easily exported to Google+, Facebook (via a third party plug-in) and Twitter. A simple interface screen makes this software perfect for the photo editing novice.. If you’re a little more advanced then you will be frustrated by the lack of controls on offer.

Available for Download on both PC & MAC

3) Paint.Net

Just like GIMP, Paint.Net is very much a Photoshop clone. Once installed you will even notice how similar the interface looks to Photoshop. Advanced tools are supported by layering so you will get expert control over your images.

However, Paint.NET hasn’t been updated in a while and many will argue that GIMP has a much neater interface. MAC users will also be frustrated to learn that this a Windows only application. Despite all of this though, Paint.NET has an active community of users and remains a great piece of software.

Available for Download on Windows

4) Photoshop Express

This web based software is a stripped down version of Photoshop, with a heavier focus on organising and sharing your images. You will need Flash installed and (obviously) a web connection. The time it takes to upload your images will depend on your connection speed, but once they are are there it is quite a speedy programme. There is a 2GB limit on the number of images that can be stored and only JPEG files are supported.

Photoshop Express offers a series of thumbnail windows which you can hover over to see changes made to your image (rather than you entering numerical information). You simply save changes to apply the desired effect. As well as the basic saturation exposure effects, there are other simple tools such as dodge and burn and limited special effects (distort, pixellate and clip art). Photoshop Express is a very simple photo editing tool and useful for very minor adjustments. Don’t let the name fool you though; its not on the same level as its premium namesake.

Available Online, Apple iOS (via App Store) and Android (via Android market)

5) Pixlr

Pixlr is another web based photo editing tool with an impressive set of features and a similar functionality to Photoshop. Offering layer support, image re-sizing, filters and much, much more; Pixlr is a decent piece of software.

As well as the basic editor, there are also additional one-click digital filter effects available through the Pixlr-o-matic and PixlrGrabber applications.

Available for PC & MAC (Flash required)

6) FotoFlexer

Fotoflexer is a web based programme just like Pixlr & Photoshop Express but with the ability to import directly from Facebook. The interface itself looks very poor compared to other programmes, but does offer a fair few features.

There is no layer support so edits will be basic, however the effects tab offers an impressive array of digital effects to play around with. This is definitely a programme for a complete beginner. I should also mention that the adverts displayed in the window can be quite annoying.

Available for PC, MAC & Web based

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