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Sharing Digital Photographs : Exploring Online Photo-Editing Applications

9/13/2011 4:28:41 PM
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Let’s start with those web-based applications you can use to edit your digital photos. After all, not every picture you take is perfect; sometimes a quick fix can turn a bad photo into an acceptable one.

What can you do with an online photo-editing program? While you don’t have quite the number of options you do with most desktop photo editing software, you do get all the basics. You can crop and rotate your photos, color correct them, fix the red-eye problem, adjust contrast and brightness, and even combine multiple photos into a photo collage.

Most of these cloud applications work by having you upload your photo to the editing site first. You then make the edits you want, often by clicking a “quick fix” button of some sort. Your edited photo is then downloaded back to your computer for archiving.

Adobe Photoshop Express

The first web-based photo-editing application we’ll discuss is also arguably the best. Adobe Photoshop Express (www.photoshop.com/express/) has a stellar lineage, coming from the same company that brings you Photoshop CS, the number-one photo-editing program for serious photographers. As the name implies, Photoshop Express is kind of a quick-and-dirty version of the full-featured Photoshop CS, with all the basic editing controls you need to fix the most common photo problems. Best of all, it’s completely free.

You start using Photoshop Express by uploading those photos you want to edit. Your uploaded photos appear in the online library shown in Figure 1. To edit a photo, double-click that photo in the library.

Figure 1. Uploaded images in the Photoshop Express online library.

The Photoshop Express editing window, shown in Figure 2, offers a variety of different editing options, grouped as follows:

  • Basics. Crop, rotate, auto correct, exposure, red-eye removal, touchup (a blur effect to remove scratches and blemishes), and color saturation control

  • Tuning. White balance, highlight, fill light, sharpen, and soft focus

  • Effects. Pop color, change hue, black & white, tint, sketch, and distort

Figure 2. Editing an image with Photoshop Express.

This is far and away the largest collection of editing and enhancement options of any online photo editor. Suffice to say, just about anything that’s wrong with a photo, you can fix online with Photoshop Express.

Adobe lets you store up to 2GB of photos. And, like many other web-based photo editors, Photoshop Express is integrated with Flickr, so you can upload your edited photos to the Flickr site with a minimum of fuss and muss.

FotoFlexer

FotoFlexer (www.fotoflexer.com), like Photoshop Express, is completely free to use. It offers similar editing options as Photoshop Express, with even more interesting enhancement tools.

As you can see in Figure 3, the FotoFlexer editing window displays your currently uploaded photo in a tabbed interface. Each tab is designed for a particular editing/enhancement task, with its own row of option buttons along the top. For example, the Basic tab includes buttons for Auto Fix, Fix Red Eye, Crop, Resize, Rotate, Flip, Adjust (hue, saturation, and lightness), and Contrast. Other tabs let you apply special effects, decorations, animations, and distortions. The Layers tab even lets you use multiple layers for editing and effects.

Figure 3. FotoFlexer’s Basic editing tab.

Picnik

Picnik (www.picnik.com) is one of the easier-to-use web-based photo-editing applications. As you can see in Figure 4, the editing functions include the basics: auto-fix, rotate, crop, resize, exposure, colors, sharpen, and red-eye removal. Click any button to display the control for that particular option.

Figure 4. The basic editing functions in Picnik.

You can also apply a variety of special effects by clicking the Create tab. Here you can apply effects like black and white, sepia, night vision, pencil sketch, film grain, and the like. Just click a button to apply a given effect.

Picture2Life

As you can see in Figure 5, Picture2Life (www.picture2life.com) offers a combination of basic editing and special effects. The basic editing options include crop, resize, and rotate, as well as adjustments for brightness, contrast, color, and the like. The special effects include edge fades, Gaussian blur, emboss, pixelate, and the like. In addition, Picture2Life lets you create collages and animated GIF files from your photos.

Figure 5. Editing a photo with Picture2Life.

Pikifx

Pikifx (www.pikifx.com) is perhaps the simplest and easiest-to-use online photo editor I’ve found. As you can see in Figure 6, you have some very basic options at the top of the page; you can resize or crop your photo, or add borders, text, or various special effects. Applying an effect is as easy as clicking the thumbnail for that effect; there are no sliders or controls to adjust.

Figure 6. Applying effects with Pikifx.

Preloadr

Preloadr (www.preloadr.com) is interesting for two reasons. First, it’s tightly integrated with Flickr. In fact, you have to log in to your Flickr account to access the Preloadr editor. Second, Preloadr offers a variety of professional editing tools not found on other editing sites, such as layers, curves, histograms, and the like.

After you log in, you’re shown a list of all the photos you’ve previously uploaded to Flickr. You can then edit any of these photos, using either the basic interface or the advanced tools shown in Figure 7. After you’ve editing a photo, you can then replace the previous version on Flickr with the newly edited version.

Figure 7. Using Preloadr’s advanced editing tools.

Phixr

Phixr (www.phixr.com) is a free online photo editor with basic editing functions. As you can see in Figure 8, Phixr’s editing interface resembles that of Photoshop and other popular photo-editing programs; the basic editing options are available via the buttons to the left of the main picture.

Figure 8. Phixr’s Photoshop-like editing interface.

Phixr lets you rotate, crop, or flip a photo. You can also adjust color, make the photo black and white or sepia tone, add text or cartoon bubbles, and apply a variety of special effects.

Pixenate

Pixenate (www.pixenate.com) also offers a button-oriented editing interface. As you can see in Figure 9, you apply an effect by clicking the button to the left of the picture. Just the Undo button if you don’t like the results.

Figure 9. Click a button to apply an effect with Pixenate.

Snipshot

Snipshot (www.snipshot.com), formerly known as Pixoh, offers a snazzy editing interface. As you can see in Figure 10, when you click a button above your picture, the associated control appears onscreen. Click the Effects button, for example, and the Effects control pops up.

Figure 10. Snazzy photo editing with Snipshot.

You get all the basic editing controls (tint, exposure, contrast, saturation, hue, sharpness, crop, and resize) as well as a bevy of special effects. Unlike some other cloud services, Snipshot lets you edit really large images—up to 10MB in size, or 5000 × 5000 pixels.

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