There are certain programs that are pervasive in the photography world. For the most part, they're the standard because they're extremely good at what they do. But, there's a a lot of photogrpahy software out there, and some of it is totally free. Apart from iPhoto (which you've probably already heard of), there are apps aimed at everyone from people who never take their cameras off auto, all the way up to those who only trust to shoot in RAW, and everywhere in between. In no particular order, these are some of our favorites.
What it can do: A simple, everyday photo editor for consumers, WindowsPhoto Gallery packs a bundle of easy to use features. It has facial recognition for tagging, geo-tagging, blemish removal, red-eye removal, and basic editing tools like cropping, rotating, exposure and color adjustment and the like. It’s also a remarkably competent photo stitcher, and the “photo fuse” tool lets you combine similar images with the best part of each.
Why we like it: Windows Photo Gallery is Microsoft’s shot at the likes of iPhoto and Picasa, but with some very nice tools courtesy of the folks at Redmond. It’s incredibly easy to use, set up well for sharing with popular services, and as of 2011 supports RAW files. The photo stitcher tool in particular is great — there’s even a mobile version called Photosynth for iOS if you like it.
What it can do: Just about everything. GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is widely regarded as the best free and open source alternative to Photoshop, and while it might not have all of Photoshop’s insane, bleeding edge tools, it does alright for itself. While many can debate its merits at a professional level, there are very few things you need that it can’t do (notably CMYK), and plenty of times other parties will add that functionality through a plugin.
Why we like it:
It’s astonishingly powerful, it’s free, and it’s open source. It had content aware fill before Photoshop did
. While transitioning from Photoshop to GIMP can be tricky due to differences in interface, it’ll do many of the same tricks. And since it’s open source, there are plenty of offshoot projects, like Seashore, which uses a friendlier UI on top of GIMP to make a simple, Mac image editor.
What it can do: Basic image organization and editing. Tagging images, facial recognition, color enhancement, red-eye reduction, cropping, geo-tagging, and photo filters. Since it’s made by Google, it interfaces seamlessly with Google+, as well as a number of online printing services. It has an excellent search engine (unsurprisingly), and can support RAW files.
Why we like it: Google+ has become a very popular place for photographers thanks to its views on intellectual proprty, and Picasa manages to meld seamlessly with it. Since it’s Google, they keep adding great little features — until they decide to kill off a service completely. Features like side by side editing are a great addition, RAW editing is incredibly useful, and being able to live search through all your images is fantastic. Unfortunately, Google occasionally will unceremoniously drop an application completely (see: Piknik), and Picasa seems to be bleeding into Google+ more and more, but we’re hoping it hangs around for a while.