The Software Dilema
You've worked hard and saved your money to the best of your ability. You have a nice camera and good lenses. But before you upload them to Dreamstime or even show them to your friends, you want to make some small corrections for color, contrast, cropping etc. But photo software can bust an already strained budget. What's the poor but dedicated photographer to do?
Photoshop, the incredibly powerful and useful software package, is really expensive and now, if you want it, you have to subscribe to it. It will cost you around $240US a year. And you may wind up with "upgrades" you don't want or like.
You can go with Corel software, lower in price and not quite as powerful as Photoshop, but useful none the less. There are some basic tools available in Picassa, but maybe not enough to get the job done or to really let you experiment.
You can get the Photoshop Elements packages for a much lower price and do almost everything you will need. But what if even these relatively reasonable packages are out of your reach? You're eating cereal two meals a day to save money as it is.
Is there any hope for the budding Ansel Adams?
Yes, there actually is.
If you use a Canon, you an get their software called Digital Photo Professional (4.0 version at this time) and do a whole slew of adjustments. Some will actually make you look like you know what you are doing!
If you a Nikon user, you are not left out. Just get Capture NX-D by Nikon and you are on your way.
The cost? They are both free. I've used the Canon software for about three days now and I am quite impressed at it's flexibility. It won't do absolutely everything the full blown packages will do, but what I wouldn't have given to have this software when I was starting out. I would have loved to have either of these tools available to me when I first got into digital.
And they both do movies also, but I haven't tried that part of the programs yet, so I can't vouch for their flexibility.
As I stated, they are not full blown, pro level packages, but if you are low on funds and still need the ability to convert from RAW to JPEG or TIFFs etc, and want to learn about gamma adjustments and the such, you can hardly go wrong for free.
Who knows, maybe you will sell one of your photos for enough to buy one of the really big programs.
In the meantime, you can get your feet wet and try editing your photos and videos for free.
That's hard to beat in my book.
Photo credits: Larry Spisak.