How to Choose Photo-Editing Software for Your Blog

By Amy Lupold Bair, Susannah Gardner

When taking photos for your blog, you don’t just want to point, shoot, and upload. Editing your photos is an important part of the process in creating a great blog.

Many computers and digital cameras come with the software that you need to upload, organize, and sometimes even edit your photos. You may still choose to find additional software or online tools to edit and organize your images. You have loads of options, at all pricing levels. When you’re looking for image-editing software with the ultimate goal of getting your images online, consider these criteria:

  • File formats: You need to be able to create images in the right format for display on the web. These formats are JPG, GIF, and PNG. These formats also allow you to compress the file size of your images for the web.

  • Standard editing tools: At a minimum, you need image-editing software that allows you to resize, crop, rotate, and adjust brightness and contrast in your photos. These tools should be quick and easy to use.

  • Organizing tools: Look for software that helps you keep track of your images by using thumbnail previews, naming schemes, and search, especially if you take a lot of photos.

  • Photo sharing: You don’t need a program that integrates with the blogging tool that you use or with a photo-sharing service such as Flickr, but it can reduce the time it takes to post a photo online.

With these ideas in mind, don’t forget to think about whether you want an image editor that can do more than just get photos into shape for online publication. If you plan to print photographs, be sure to look for photo-editing software that has good tools for printing.

Here are some image-editing programs also work well for touching up and formatting photographs:

  • Adobe Photoshop Elements: Under $100; version 9 and higher support Windows and Mac (previous versions support only Windows). This program is suitable for users who have the patience to figure out how to use a full-featured program but don’t need professional features, such as the capability to produce color separations for high-end professional printers. Photoshop Elements is a great compromise between basic and high-end software.

  • Adobe Photoshop Lightroom: $149; Mac and Windows. This software is intended specifically for photography. Serious amateur photographers and professionals find this program valuable for managing large collections of photographs.

  • Adobe Photoshop: About $50 per month; Mac and Windows. For anyone who isn’t a designer or very serious photographer, Adobe Photoshop can be overkill. But this program can make your photos look especially great if you are willing to pay the premium price.

    Advanced editing tools and more control over the quality of the images you are using for your blog put this package heads and shoulders above the more basic toolset of Adobe Elements.

  • Adobe Fireworks: About $50 per month; Mac and Windows. Although you can use Fireworks to process photos, it’s really intended to be a web graphics production tool. If you have it already, use it, but if you’re looking over your options, some of the other products in this list are better for photo editing.

Picasa

Picasa, from Google, is free and works especially well for photographers who want to put photos online. It has highly developed organizational tools, allowing you to do everything from automatically importing and naming photos from your camera when you hook it up to your computer, to quickly labeling and tagging your photos, to rating good photos, to creating photo albums.

Picasa has good editing tools, but they sacrifice some fine control in favor of being easy to use. You can crop, straighten horizons, fix red-eye issues, adjust color and contrast, and make other edits to your photos easily.

However, the photo-sharing tools set Picasa apart. You can use tools to e-mail photos, get them onto the web, create online slideshows, and put photo collections onto other devices. You can also print photos quite easily and create slideshows with music and captions.

Picasa is available for PC, Linux, or Macintosh (Mac) computers.

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iPhoto

If you’re a Mac user, you have a great image-editing program in Apple’s iPhoto. It gives you all the basic tools for cropping, straightening, adjusting color and brightness, and resizing. Plus, you can dabble with fun effects, and increase or decrease highlights and shadows in your photos.

iPhoto also comes with excellent organizing tools: You can categorize, tag, caption, and title your photos quickly and easily, and the simple search interface helps you find old photos.

You can use iPhoto for more than publishing your photos on your own blog. Use iPhoto to publish to the MobileMe web service, put up slideshows and albums, and share your photos with groups of friends and family.

You can also use iPhoto to print a real photo album, calendar, cards, and individual prints. iPhoto frequently comes packaged on new Macintosh computers, but if you don’t have it, head to the Apple Store and buy a copy of iLife. It includes iPhoto and other digital applications.