Friday, December 28, 2007

Top Web Tools of 2007 - Number 2

Picnik quickly became my web-based photo editor of choice this year. I first tried it on February 1 and found it to be very useful and very user-friendly. In March they added more functionality and they have continued to do so since then.

Picnik would not be the best photo editor for some people, such as professional photographers and the handful of power Photoshop users that are out there. However, for the other 98% of the people out there who take digital photos it is an excellent option (among hundreds of photo editing options) for doing all of the basic things as well as some advanced editing techniques. To illustrate some of the different tools, I created the slideshow below in my free Picnik account using photos stored in my Flickr account. In each case you will see the original unedited photo and then one or more edited versions of that original.

As you can tell from the slideshow above, some of the basic functions available include crop, straighten, resize, rotate, color enhancement, red-eye removal, exposure and contrast control, and a fairly useful Auto-fix option. Some of the tools you'll find under the Create tab that are not available in all editing programs include effects such as sepia, black-and-white, soften, boost, vignette, matte, and doodle (write with mouse or PC pen). You can add text of different fonts, colors, and sizes. You can add many different pre-drawn shapes including text bubbles, thought bubbles, copyright symbols (including Creative Commons), and you can add frames or borders to your photos, wither single or double borders and of any color and width you choose, with or without rounded corners.

All of the items listed above can be done with a free account - in fact you can do these things without any account at all. Anyone can upload a photo and edit it and save it back to their computer. I found it to be a much better option to create my own account so that Picnik integrates better with my Flickr account. In addition to Flickr, Picnik integrates nicely with Photobucket, Picasa, Webshots, and Facebook, and probably more that I haven't even noticed yet.

Picnik also offers a premium service level for $24.95 per year. So far I have not felt the need to pay for the premium service since I can do pretty much everything I need to do with the basic tools. Even though I don't "need" the premium services, I am much more likely to pay the twenty-five bucks a year just because I love what they're doing over there and certainly don't want them to go away any time soon. So far the only premium account that I have paid for is for Flickr, and this will likely be the second one.

One of the things I liked best about Picnik when I first started with it was that it hooked up with my Flickr account and I could edit any of my stored photos and then replace the old one or keep the old one and save a new one as well. Managing my Flickr photos from inside Picnik worked very well for me. In early December, the relationship between the two services became more formal and more functional when Flick added editing services using the Picnik interface.

As a final testimonial, here is a basic photo ...

... and here it is again after it has been on a picnik.

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