- Perform basic photo editing to spruce up your images.
- Edit RAW files.
- Organize your photos to more easily manage your images.
So you've gotten to the point where you can take a good photo in camera.
Now comes the process of editing photos after the fact.
The question is, what program should you use to make those edits?
There's a lot of post-processing options out there - many of which you can find online for free.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of those free programs come with a ton of caveats, namely, that they lack many of the best features for processing your images or require you to pay for those features to use them.
As a result, most photographers rely instead on old standards like Photoshop and Lightroom. There's a new player, too - Plotagraph - that has totally changed how photos are edited.
Let's look at these programs in a little more detail.
The newest player of the bunch to the post-processing game is Plotagraph, and it's unlike any of its predecessors.
Plotagraph resides in the cloud, so you have easy access to all the editing tools it offers.
Its claim to fame is the fact that you can add dynamic, looping content to a single image to create mind-blowing movement.
The process is dead-simple too...
Just upload a JPG or PNG to Plotagraph, use the platform to edit the image as you see fit, and add engaging motion to the shot too.
Using tools that allow you to crop, brush, erase, feather, zoom, layer, and, of course, animate, you can create your looping content with ease.
From there Plotagraph takes over, using special algorithms to create motion-filled images that can be exported as an MP4, MOV, GIF, JPG, or PNG for quick sharing.
But Plotagraph isn't just about creating eye-catching images - it's also a community where you and other photographers can help one another create incredible Plotagraphs, share your work, and be inspired by one another.
As a member of the Plotagraph community, you get to enjoy a host of features, including a library of instructional videos for using the platform, cloud storage, a community chat area, and you can even sell your Plotagraphs as stock images, right there in the platform.
In other words, if you're looking for a way to create more interesting photos in an environment that can help you learn and grow as a photographer, Plotagraph is it!
Get an overview of Plotagraph's latest features in the video above.
As I mentioned earlier, most of the free editing programs available these days are not good.
GIMP is an exception, though.
It's basically a free version of Photoshop that you can download whether you use Windows, Mac OS, Linux, or GNU.
It has a customizable interface so you can have access to the tools you use the most while hiding the ones you don't need.
You can do virtually everything in GIMP that you can do in Photoshop, too.
That includes working in layers, correcting lens and barrel distortion, channel mixing, and any number of retouching tools like cloning, and healing. And there's a lot more where that came from.
I don't know that GIMP is necessarily the best choice if you're a professional photographer, but if you're an amateur that just needs a bit of retouching capabilities here and there, GIMP is a great choice.
Get a good overview of GIMP's capabilities in the video above by TechGumbo.
Photoshop has a long-standing reputation as the go-to editor for making traditional changes to your photos.
By that I mean you get lots of powerful tools to do everything from cropping and adding photo filters to creating adjustment layers and making selections.
At its core, Photoshop allows you to manipulate your images on the pixel level. That means it helps you create incredibly precise edits to your images.
Part of what makes that possible is the use of layers...
That gives you the ability to add effects to your images or mask certain areas, all by creating layers and masks that you can turn on and off with the click of a button.
There are other benefits too:
Blend images together for an improved final product. For example, you can focus stack to get a tack-sharp final image.
Advanced selection techniques allow you to remove features from a photo, like your ex-girlfriend.
And that's just the tip of the iceberg...
For a quick tour of Photoshop, check out the video above by Terry White.
Lightroom is closely related to Photoshop in that it’s also made by Adobe and offers a host of editing tools.
However, where Photoshop is intended for robust editing, Lightroom is not.
Instead of being just a photo editing suite, Lightroom gives you the ability to import and organize your photos in a manner that makes it a nice, smooth process.
That makes Lightroom a little more user-friendly than Photoshop, simply because Lightroom is an all-in-one program that you can use from start to finish.
What’s more, Lightroom has fewer controls, making it a little easier to learn.
Beyond that, you can use Lightroom to create collections of keyworded photos.
That makes finding images in your collection vastly easier. Just search for an image based on the date, the subject, the event, and so on, and you’re ready to go.
Lightroom also gives you the ability to create editing presets which you can then save. That means that you can work on creating your specific editing workflow and never have to worry about trying to repeat the same process again. Just load the preset, and it will be applied to the image.
Beyond that, with Lightroom you can:
For a more detailed overview of Lightroom, have a look at the video above by Photos in Color.
In the end, the program you choose to edit your photos will depend on your needs as a photographer.
If you want to create dynamic, eye-catching, motion-filled images, Plotagraph is certainly the way to go.
If you’re on a budget, GIMP is tough to beat.
If you want a wide-ranging set of tools to manipulate your images, go with Photoshop.
And if you want something easy to use that will help you organize your photos, Lightroom is a great choice.
Of course, no one ever said you can’t use more than one program!