Like it or not, photo editing software is an integral part of most photography. Even if you aren’t a pro, it’s good to have photography editing software to learn so you can get the most from your photos, especially when you forget to carry your lens filters and wide angle lenses. If you’re getting ready to dive in, here are a few of the better free options to consider.
1. Adobe Creative Suite 2
This has to top the list because it gives you access to the premier photo editing tool, Photoshop, albeit a version that is almost a decade old. In 2013, Adobe decided maintaining servers for those who had purchased a license for old versions was too much trouble so they just released this free to everyone willing to sign up for a free Adobe account. It doesn’t have a lot of the newest tools, add-ons, and compatibilities, but it’s still going to familiarize you with the interface and style of this popular and powerful tool.
GIMP is usually considered the biggest freeware competitor to PS. It has a similarly steep learning curve and transitioning between the two is difficult. It can do nearly everything that Photoshop can, especially if you aren’t comparing to the newest Creative Suite, and often when you need it to do something not native to GIMP, you can find an add-on or plug-in to fix it. It’s also Mac and PC friendly, which is a plus.
Pixlr provides online Photoshop-like editing flash-mounted into a web browser. With interfaces ranging from an Instagram-like, super pared down interface for filters, up to a close approximation of Photoshop’s workflow, it offers something for nearly every photo editor away from their hardware. If you don’t want to deal with installing software on your computer and want access to the same power on the go, it’s a versatile option.
4. Windows Photo Gallery (and iPhoto)
This is the obligatory mention of branded free tools for your Windows or Apple OS. They are perfectly serviceable if you have minimal needs, and are especially useful for technophobes because they have a very simple interface to control their limited range of abilities. Windows Photo Gallery helps with tagging, blemish and red-eye removal, and basic cropping, exposure adjustment, and color tweaking. iPhoto delivers several photo organization options, as well as the same basic suite of color and exposure adjustments, plus cropping and some unique effects to create photo projects.
Just gaining the ability to effectively and efficiently crop your photos and balance them for color and exposure is a huge boon to your photographic productivity. And if you take the liberty of applying a few lens filters effects for fun, nobody will fault you.