Capture the beauty of this moment for tomorrow it will be different.~Norman J. Piluke (Image processed through Virtual Studio and polished with PhotoScape, both photo editing freewares. See Resources menu for download links)
I have written a series of full length articles published online at Triond and Wikinut titled Tried & Tested where I review, try out and test free softwares. I’d like to replicate them here in short form for the benefit of blogger friends especially those who use photo editing softwares. Let’s start off with Virtual Studio from optikVerve Labs. If you are like me who is into instant noodles and instant coffee, you’ll like Virtual Studio which is an instant editor. One click photo enhancements and you’re good to go. You just choose from 200 preset filters, effects and styles and it will be applied on your photo with a single click of the mouse. Quick and easy. And the process can be applied on batches of photos. No hours wasted on individual photo adjustments and tweaking with various tools. What might take your time is choosing from dozens upon dozens of styles and filters. For the photo above, I used the “Fall Colors” filter under the major category “Built-in”. It added a pinkish hue to an otherwise washed-out horizon in the original image. Other categories include “Color”, “Black and White” and “Extras”. Virtual Studio is packaged with Virtual Photographer and the download application size is just 3.52MB. The program runs on Vista 32-bit, Windows XP, Windows ME or ’98 operating systems. If you don’t find it to your liking, no problem, just discard it. It’s totally free anyway. (Photo location: Barobo town, Surigao del Sur)
Okay, so you took a picture of the setting sun, magnificent in its reddish hue with the sky almost on fire. You even reviewed the image in your camera’s tiny LCD screen and it seemed fine. Now you’re excited to go home to transfer the photos on your computer. Lo and behold, when you viewed the photo on your large PC monitor, the horizon was leaning to one side. Seems like the setting sun had gained weight and the picture was right-side heavy! Some digital cameras have line grids that can be seen when you peer through the viewfinder which is quite helpful especially when taking pictures of horizons. Other digicams don’t have this feature. But no worry. You can straighten slanted horizons during photo editing. The tool I use for this is PhotoScape. It is a free image editing software with tons of functions for basic and semi-advanced processing. I use it to enhance colors, provide back light, deepen tones, sharpen edges, add contrast and many other adjustments. One of its nifty features is a simple slider for leveling an uneven horizon. No more right or left-heavy photos from now on. You can download PhotoScape from its website. (Photo location: On a ship in the middle of the sea off the coast of Panay Island)
It will always be about the photographer. If you can afford the latest, greatest and most expensive camera, well and good for you. Just be sure you know how to use it to its full potential. Or you may use the cheapest point and shoot cam with limited features and options but create consummate images, then great for you. A camera is a tool; what goes into it and the image it produces is still very much dependent on the thought, creativity and vision of the one who clicks the shutter. The photo above was taken with a six-year old Canon point and shoot, and processed through PhotoScape.
I do not take perfect pictures, that is why I edit them. Professional and skilled photographers have mastered shooting techniques and camera settings for any given situations or subjects, enabling them to create excellent straight-out-of-the-camera (SOOC) images. An ordinary mortal like me is the kind who takes ten pictures, with seven of them fit to be deleted. So what do I do? I post-process images that have not found their way to the trash bin. I do basic or intermediate-level photo enhancements, putting in some “wow” factor in a picture. And I use free photo editing softwares. Lots of them are available on the Web. I wrote a series of articles called “Tried and Tested” that are published at Wikinut. This is where I try out and review some free softwares or Web services and come out with a Top 5 list. One of these reviews is titled Tried and Tested: Top 5 Free Photo Editing Softwares. The flower photo above was enhanced using PhotoScape, one of my mainstay photo editing tools and included in the Top 5 list. Learn of these free photo editing softwares tested by yours truly by reading the article here.