I’m sure anyone who’s editing photos already has their favorite photo editor. Personally, I can’t live without Adobe Element’s healing brush so that’s it for me. I can walk right past an unwashed person on the sidewalk, but if I see a scratch on an old photograph I have to stop and fix it.
I’m not an expert in this field by any means and Adobe Elements has gotten me through many nights and many thousands of photographs. So, Adobe Element‘s still my mainstay but when I was in the thick of it for a couple of years I looked around at other options … just because I didn’t want to be missing anything.
The editing functions in Picasa are all one-click automatic, commonly elsewhere and Adobe Elements has some of those too, so everyone can do something. After that the trick is to either find someone to teach you a lot of stuff really fast so you can get on with your life, or prepare to spend time reading manuals and figuring it out for yourself. Cousin Sam was thrilled when she got red-eye removal down pat, and then decided to quit while she was ahead. Sam, Sam, Sam ….
I’ve had other photo editors and drawing and painting programs on board at one time or another but, every time I have to reinstall my OS, programs fall off the end of the list for lack of time. One that I keep bringing back is PhotoFiltre. This is nicely laid out and it’s a quick place to get in and out of for small jobs. It’s straight-forward and most people will be comfortable with it. Besides the usual basic contrast and brightness fixes that seem to come with all photo editors nowadays, it has some nice filters and frames and an icon creator. Also the usual tools including a clone stamp. PhotoFiltre is the free version. A larger range of choices, including layers and animated GIFs, called PhotoFiltre Studio costs 25 euros (about 32 USD).
Another worthy free contender is Paint.Net. It’s all the basics, including layers, in a clean and simple way and it might be just the thing you’re looking for.
I have the Gimp because I can. I haven’t been there in awhile but it’s so deep and wide with options when I have the time I like to dive in and stay for days. It can do simple things too, although you might get lost trying to find them. This is generally compared to Adobe Photoshop (the big one). I once had “the big one” for a 30 day trial and these two programs are so differently designed I didn’t see the comparison. For one thing the Gimp does not have a comparable browser. The browser in Photoshop is a multi-faceted treat and I was sorry to see it go. I would say the similarity is in their broad editing and creative potential.
If you’d like to try something a little different there’s Pixia from Japan. This can be a photo editor or just a place to lose your mind in the bizarre.
One fun thing you can do here is paint pictures with pictures. If you get tired of the serious business of record-keeping and need a change, paint your ancestors. You can do the same thing elsewhere if you create patterns with full-size or parts of photos, and then paint with them.
Pixia “thinks” differently than your common-a-garden photo editor. If you take some time to look around you’ll find some of the functions you recognize from elsewhere and then other things that will have you scratching your head. I’ve floundered around quite a bit in here without the instruction manual and some instruction would help.
If there’s a place in your genealogy projects for original artwork, and you want still more, there’s Inkscape.
This is a classy program capable of top-notch productions. You can add your own ideas to an existing photograph or start something from scratch.
If you’re not a “from scratch” sort of person, ArtRage could make you want to be.
So many places to play, so little time.