My last blog post began the run through of my personal "Top 10 Free Software Downloads for Digital Photographers" and now it's time to finish off by running through positions six to ten.
As well as the wealth of commercial software available, there are masses of applications which can be downloaded for free. Sometimes these are community efforts, other times these are released by suppliers of paid for software as a small example of the quality of their commercial work. The feeling is, that if you like the free offering you'll be more likely to pay for the same software houses "full" versions of the software.
As an enthusiastic photographer, you can use this to your advantage and with a little time to download and learn - a suite of really useful applications can be used to make your images better, safer and more engaging.
Here's part two of my runthrough:
6. PHOTOSHOP EXPRESS
Photoshop Express as the name suggests, is developed by Adobe – the people behind industry standard (and expensive) software like Photoshop CS5 and Lightroom. It’s fast, intuitive and offers 2GB free online storage. It runs online, so there’s no need to install any software on your PC. Amongst other things Photoshop Express allows you to crop, rotate, resize, adjust exposure, remove red-eye, touch-up, adjust saturation, white balance, highlights, fill light, sharpen or soften your images. It is designed to Adobe’s high standards with an almost obsessive attention to detail. It can “get you out of jail” if you are away from your main PC and need to do a bit of basic image editing. You can have a quick play with it by clicking here.
CleanSkinFX is a “one trick pony” but it performs that trick very well. It’s used for cleaning up & smoothing the skin in portrait shots. It retains detail such as hair, eyes and the background but beautifies your subjects with lovely smooth skin.
8 – MEDIACHANCE - FREE DIGITAL CAMERA ENHANCER http://www.mediachance.com/digicam/enhancer.htm
If you’re looking to try and rescue photographs that look a little off then this is a quick and easy way to do it. It corrects colour, shadows and tries to rescue photos that would have been great "if only the flash had fired".
PhotoFiltre is a basic, but capable image editor. It offers a simple, elegant user interface with a lot of one-click image adjustments, filters, and effects. It’s very good at helping you navigate your disks for image files, and once found has decent drawing, painting, retouching and selection tools. It can be used to batch enhance multiple images effectively.
Images taken in dark conditions often suffer from lots of digital noise...
... this dappling effect reduces the quality of pictures taken in such conditions. The Demo edition of Neat Image is free for private use. Don't be thrown by the name - it's fully featured. Professional editions are available costing up to $75 US. The way in which it removes the noise is identical to the expensive edition, but the free one limits you to removing noise one file at a time. The results can be extraordinary: all the noise - and only the noise - is filtered out, leaving the rest of the image sharp and clear. The really surprising result is that fine detail is retained, even when the detail is so small that it's apparently finer than the noise itself.
So, there you have it. Ten pieces of free software that can be used to help you get the best out of your existing and future photographs. In the weeks and months to come I’ll talk more about how to use some of these to get the best results possible. Keep checking back for details.
Until then – keep taking photographs!