Digital cameras are now as common and affordable to the average family as the Polaroid of the ’60s.
Best thing about ’em You don’t even have to take your film in to the corner drugstore to get developed — because digital cameras don’t rely on film to make their pictures “stick.” Thanks to technology, the entire process, from clicking the shutter to printing the pictures, is now entirely within the power of the consumer. Maybe you’ve taken a picture that’s just not as perfect as you’d like it to be. Instead of being at the mercy of a darkroom-shackled photo lackey to improve upon it, you’ve got more tools than ever to take it upon yourself to edit, store, organize, and share your images with the world. Here’s a roundup of 10 free, and mostly free, online tools for the budding digital photographer: 1. Picnik — Summed up from the site: “Picnik makes your photos fabulous with easy to use yet powerful editing tools. Tweak to your heart’s content, then get creative with oodles of effects, fonts, shapes, and frames.” If you already use Flickr for your photos (here’s what I do with mine), you’re only a click away from taking a Picnik. That’s how I discovered it, and it’s worked fairly well for me to this point.
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2. Splashup– Splashup “is a powerful editing tool and photo manager. With all the features professionals use and novices want, it’s easy to use, works in real-time, and allows you to edit many images at once.” You’d wonder how something this extensive could be free – and it all runs within the browser. 3. FotoFlexer — FotoFlexer bills itself as “the world’s most advanced online image editor.” With it, you can edit photos from Photobucket, MySpace, Facebook, Flickr, Picasa, and “more places.” I’m not quite sure what “more places” means, but last I checked, this does not include a phone booth. 4. Pixlr — “Pixlr is a free online photo editor; jump in and start: edit, adjust, filter. It’s just what you imagine!” Alexa says it’s the “fastest growing photo editor online.” If these resources are starting to look similar to your eye, remember you don’t have to use all of them – just pick the one that works best for your needs. 5. flauntR– flauntR is a suite that includes the ability to edit images, add effects, add text, and print the results on everything from mugs to posters. You might be overwhelmed with the options here, but… isn’t that better than being underwhelmed 6. Photoshop Express– Adobe’s Photoshop was really the first image editor of its kind to herald in the age of digital photography, though it was designed for professionals and its endless options could be daunting (and bank- breakingly expensive) for the layman. Now, Photoshop.com is on the Web to help that very same layman — for free or plus levels of membership — edit, store, and share his photos. Lots of helpful tutorials promise to guide the casual user through editing pickles. 7. PiZap– PiZap’s tagline is “fun with photos made easy.” It’s another flavor of photo editor/storage center that, like flauntR, allows you to print the results to mugs, bags, and t-shirts. PiZap invites developers to check out its API for more personalization options (which is usually a good thing). 8. Aviary– Aviary lets you: “edit images, create mind-blowing effects, design logos, find colors, collaborate, and more. All you need is a Web browser.” This particular brand looks to be the one to beat, as they have several different tools in development. I’m guessing that within five years, this one is going to be at the top of every person’s list of Web-based image editors. 9. DrPic– DrPic says it’s “the easiest free online picture editor” and that it has “processed over five million pictures.” I say they’re easy enough, but not necessarily THE easiest. Everything’s relative, no 10. Cameroid — Cameroid lets you “take crazy (or not) snaps with your webcam straight from your browser.” I featured this one in a CNN.com live video a while ago, and it certainly deserves to be mentioned again. If you’re looking for something else to do with your webcam, give it a cameroid (which isn’t as painful as it might sound). As you can see, there are plenty of options for photo editing, storing, and sharing out there. Some are going to fit your personal workflow more neatly than others, so it’s worth it to try a few and see what works best for your needs. Or maybe you swear by something that I totally missed Don’t be a miser – share it with the rest of the class! We’d love to know about it.