Picture Snob

April 3, 2008

Photo Software Series: Programs for Hobbyists

In PictureSnob's Photo Software Series, we're taking a look at a range of current photo software. Let us know your experiences and if there's another photo software that you'd like to recommend.

The Hobbyist Stuff
With this batch of programs you're going to find more customized editing capabilities but still some automatic editing options. Still need to go pro if you're pixel paranoid, but these are some excellent programs that are adequate for most.
software_hobbyist.jpgAdobe Photoshop Elements (Amazon $63.49)
Consider this "Photoshop Light."
While pros could find Elements limiting, the tools here are all that most folks would need or want to be bothered with. Some highlights include compositing tools that allow you to combine photos (like swapping heads to get the best group shot) and a healing brush for airbrushing wrinkles and skin tone. There's also step-by-step assistance and templates for making cards, photo books, CD/DVD labels and such. Easily creates slideshows and facilitates uploading to web site or email. Another great feature is organizing photos with tags (basically a key word you associate with an image that allows for efficient searching) as well as the standard ability to create albums. Note that this software does often come free with some cameras and printers.

Apple iLife (Amazon $69.49)
A fantastic and fun suite of creative products.
Mac only. This is a great suite of products for WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) design. While iPhoto comes free with all Mac operating systems, you may eventually want to purchase iLife to get the latest versions of the entire product suite. So we'll focus on iPhoto here, but remember one of the great features of iPhoto is its integration with iWeb (design your web site), iMovie/iDVD (make movies) and .Mac (sharing and storage). You can organize and search thousands of photos by event, rating, keyword, date, albums--you name it. The editing tools are quality (although if you mind your pixels, edit in pro software) with many options for coloring, red eye correction and exposure adjustment. iPhoto directly connects to Apple's printing services (prints, books, calendars, cards) and offers a good amount of customization ability in their templates.

Corel Paint Shop Pro Photo (Amazon $73.99)
A great, low-cost alternative to Photoshop.
Windows only. There's a depth of functionality here that will grow with you. Express Lab is a streamlined mode where you can quickly edit photos in an automated way. If you really want to get into it, you can apply layer styles to create drop shadows, reflections and glows, perfect faces with retouching tools and explore hundreds of special effects. Perhaps the best feature is the integrated Learning Center that offers tutorials on editing tricks.

Roxio Easy Media Creator Suite (Amazon $54.99)
A multimedia approach with endless potential.
Windows only. The glory of this software is projects that combine photos, music and video. There's a lot of press on how Roxio has tuned its program to the Vista platform. We're thinking teenagers for this one... some highlights include setting slideshows and video to "real" soundtracks (no looping) and integration with iPods and mobile phones. You'll be storing music, image and video files in one media library, which is pretty cool and smart. Burn high-definition and Blu-ray DVDs and includes dozens of movie, music and photo project themes.

Tune in tomorrow for Photo Software Series: Programs for Pros.

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Posted by Susan Moriarty at April 3, 2008 7:34 AM
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