Apropos of my comments on the last photo I posted, I need to find a good graphics editing application. I already have at least three of them on my hard drive (not including whatever graphics apps came as part of Windows XP or MS Office): Photoshop 7, ImageReady and Picasa. And of those three, none quite meets my needs.
Photoshop, is, of course, the gold standard when it comes to graphics manipulation applications. It can be made to do just about anything, if you know how to do it (and can stand waiting for the program to load — it takes forever, and I have a pretty good system here). And really, that’s the problem. Even after a number of years, I have no clue how to use 80% of what Photoshop has to offer. There are a lot of books and classes out there for Photoshop, so it’s not like I can’t fill in the gap. And I may end up doing that if I can’t find a better alternative. But still, using Photoshop for my personal photo editing feels like I’m using a Formula 1 race car to go buy the groceries. It’s nice to have all that power, but I’d really prefer to have a daily driver for just puttering around town.
I also have Adobe’s ImageReady program. It’s more or less a junior version of Photoshop, with some of the high-powered editing taken out and some new features added to make resizing photos for the Web easier. And you’d think that would be exactly what I was looking for, given my complaints about Photoshop? Well, it is, but it’s not. I hate the selection of filters that come in ImageReady. Adobe left all the cutesy filters — like the ones that will make your image look like a charcoal drawing or a mosaic — and took out the few Photoshop filters I actually knew how to use and liked using. I can crop and resize photos with ease, but editing them is still a hassle.
Finally, I have Picasa. And I don’t like it either. It’s reasonably intuitive to use, and does about 90% of what I need it to as far as photo editing goes, but unfortunately it also doubes as a photo management system. I’ve been keeping photos on my hard drive for a long time. I have a system in place for organizing them, and I really do not need Picasa trying to impose its own methodology onto my system. Even more annoying is the fact that you have to go through a series of steps and export photos into a new folder if you want to actually view the changes you have made to your photos in any application other than Picasa. More than anything else, this is a dealbreaker. It’s a huge pain in the butt. If I open a photo for editing, I want to keep the edits! I don’t want to have to export the editied photo to a new directory to have an edited version of my original photo. Finally, since Google owns Picasa, the interface is geared towards Gmail and Blogger, with no interface at all for Flickr.
On the OSS side of the house, I tried The Gimp on my Mac at work. Meh. It’s powerful but the UI was kind of a pain.
There are probably hundreds of alternative applications out there. Scott has already suggested a couple for me to try, and try them I shall. But I’d like to hear from you, too. What’s your favorite photo editor? If it’s Photoshop, how did you learn to get the most out of it?