Because I am not the photographer I want to be, don't have the photography equipment I would like to have, and don't have mad photoshop skills, I am forced to rely on programs found on the web to make my pictures better than they actually are. I thought I'd share some of my favorite "photo manipulation for dummies" sites out there on the big bad world wide web.
let's start off with a favorite picture of mine straight off of the camera:
All in all, an adorable picture of my middle man. However, it could use a little work. I may not have photoshop, but photoshop has a free basic photo editor available online. I play with the white balance, up the saturation, and use their touch-up feature to remove the perpetual dar circles under Ian's eyes and I get this:
Nice, huh? It's pretty easy to use and you can store your pics there as well. Not too shabby for a free program.
But maybe I want more "oomph." I want to make more of a statement. Say I want to do one of those fancy color pops on a B&W background. Then, I can turn to Color Select Studio's site. Yes, you do actually have to pay for this one, but it's pretty darn cheap and you can use forever. No messing with layers and flattening and all that business in photoshop, this does it all for you. So easy *I* can use it. And this is what it looks like:
You can select anything to highlight in color. I could have just popped the pumpkin, but I wanted to keep Ian the focal point.
Speaking of focal points...I stumbled across this little site. This feature is called "tilt-shift" and it's intended purpose is to turn landscapes into pictures that look like miniatures, but it worked for this purpose too--blurring the background behind Ian.
Now, I would only reccommend this for portraits where the subject takes up the entire height or width of the picture, and it only will edit horizontally, so if you have a vertical subject (like I do) you will need to rotate your pic before uploading it. But I like the effect.
And "effects" nicely segues us to this site: Be Funky. I found this site coutesy of Emily Falconbridge's blog and spent half a morning playing with pictures. Seriously, it was addicting. Not only does the site offer the standard effects like sketch and ink and such, but it takes it a step further with textured backgrounds and frames and just more.
I really have fun here. So much fun, I'm giving you another version with a different effect.
It is just a ton of fun.
Lastly, I bring you pikfix. This site offers much of what can be found on any basic editing site, but I find photoshop online easier to use. The reason I bring this site up is pretty much one reason, and one reason only. That reason can be summed up in one, now sadly defunct, word: POLAROID!
You can do a grungy polaroid, slightly smudged, plain, etc. Just be sure to edit your picture to a square first because it is, after all, only a border feature and the site does not stick to the standard polaroid shape.
They have other neato-skeeto options as well. The montage feature is cool:
As are the filmstrip, grunge borders, etc. A fun place to play.
Lastly, I can't give you all of these great sites without closing with my favorite place to get them printed: ScrapbookPictures.com. There are quite a few reasons I *heart* this site. 1.) the price is right and shipping is not exorborant. In fact, they charge the same for shipping one picture or 200 (and I've ordered 200 at a time before!) and the shipping is QUICK! Once your order is printed, expect them in a matter of days, not weeks. 2.) Sizes--besides the standard 4x6, 5x7, 8x10 they have 6x6, 4x12, 12x12...so many combinations!, 3.) photo paper: you can order in glossy, matte, or metallic. how cool is that? try it on a b&w and be amazed at the depth, or a vibrant color scene and thrill at the richness of the color!, 4.) Extras: they have borders of all kinds that toatally fake going all digital with photoshop. You can layer two on top of each other, change the colors, it's such a great feature! And these aren't cheesy either!, 5.) HUMANS process the pictures. They don't just upload to a machine and hit print. They look over your shots a make color corrections to ensure you get skin tones that actually look like skin tone and not ruddy or sallow., and lastly, 6.) Service. They actually have SERVICE! Got a question about your order? Fire off an email, you WILL get an answer! Have an issue? They will correct it! I had an issue once where I had actually fiddled with my pictures to washout the subject. It was totally on purpose and for a good reason. Well, I had forgotten about the Human eyes looking at my pictures, and they corrected it back for me. There were only four or five pictures that were affected this way, but when I brought it up, they reprinted my ENTIRE order for me and I had it within three days. (For the record, they have an option where you tell them "I have this the way I want it, don't make any corrections") That is service!
So there you have it. Some of the fun timewasters I use to make me look like a better photographer/photo editor than I am.
Now go have fun!