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Photo Editing Made Easy (and mostly free)

by Fadra Nally on March 28, 2012

Have you ever used Picnik.com? It’s a free picture editing software available through the web. It’s free. Did I mention that?

When I first started blogging a few years ago, I gave it a try at a friend’s insistence. I loved how she was able to create stylized photos with rounded edges and watermarks. I wanted to do that too. But I had Photoshop. I didn’t need some simple little web program that had intolerably slow performance.

Then I remembered that Photoshop requires a lot of knowledge and while I’m good at getting by, I wasn’t good enough to have it do what I needed it to do in a timely manner. So I started using Picnik here and there. And I actually started to like it. And I actually decided to pay for the premium features.

That was a big decision for a do-it-yourself blogger like myself that hates to pay for anything unnecessarily. And then a few short weeks later, I was notified that Picnik was going away. For good.

Through what I am sure was a random Twitter stream, I found out about the impending launch of PicMonkey.com, a supposed alternative to Picnik, and I signed up to be notified when it launched.

That day finally came and I even had the good fortune to interview the brains behind the monkey over at ShePosts.

But what good would a photo editing service be if it didn’t meet or exceeds the needs of its users?

I decided to put some of its photo features to the test. I took three original photos from three different mediums: my iPhone, my webcam, and my DSLR. Then I created modified versions in both Picnik and PicMonkey.

Whether your concern is to be able to duplicate the features found in Picnik or to simply have a rad photo editing tool, PicMonkey seems to make it’s case.

Photo #1: The Webcam

I started with a picture of myself taken with my webcam. It’s not the greatest picture. No hairstyling. No makeup. No contact lenses. And my age was showing. I knew my picture could use a little help.

The Original

Since I wanted to put features to the test, I went ahead and changed my eyes to green, put on my favorite shade of purple lipstick, applied a spray tan, and reduce just a few of those wrinkles. I then completed my look with a lovely orange flower in my hair and a Polaroid-style frame.

The PicMonkey Version

The Picnik Version

Is your opinion the same as mine? Yes. Spray tans are awful and purple doesn’t belong on lips.

Photo #2: The iPhone

I wanted to play around with the features a little more and decided to switch to a nature shot. Namely, a recently bloomed Camellia in my yard. As bloggers, we use a lot of mobile photography and making shots like these look good is important.

The Original

Normally, I wouldn’t do any sort of photo editing to a shot like this except to maybe make the colors a bit more brilliant and add a little clarity to the image. I did exactly that but had a little fun with some additional features.

The PicMonkey Version

The Picnik Version

Conclusions on this one? The functionality is great but sometimes nature is best left alone.

Photo #3: The DSLR

If you’re serious about photography, especially for your blog, you’ve probably invested in a DSLR for some of your photos. I had an amazing photo I took at the North Carolina Zoo when the elder chimpanzees decided to come and sit right next to the glass. The only problem was the glass. It made a reflection in an otherwise great photo. So I decided to do a little clean up.

The Original

For a shot like this, I was hoping to balance out the color, contrast, and exposure to minimize the look of the glass in the lighter grays post of the photo. I also wanted to watermark it, or simply add text.

The PicMonkey Version

The Picnik Version

I got the font wrong in the Picnik version and I don’t think I made exactly the same edits but I got pretty close. And that monkey looks pretty darn handsome.

Now with all things being equal, which do I prefer?

I’m familiar with Picnik but I’ve always thought it lacked an intuitive flow. From a usability standpoint, I like and prefer PicMonkey. From a feature standpoint, I’m still missing a few things on PicMonkey (like collages) but I’m assured they are coming and will rock my world.

Now it’s your turn to weigh in. Do you use photo editing software? Have you or will you give PicMonkey a shot?

For more information on how PicMonkey relates to Picnik, read my interview with them over at ShePosts.

  • http://www.carriewithchildren.com Carrie with Children

    I am loving PicMonkey!  It’s quick and easy – I love the simplicity of it.  

  • http://twitter.com/Stellaaa Stella Dacuma Schour

    i havent had the chance to use PicMonkey – i only use web based photo editing software if the photo is already uploaded (have used picnik before). i run out of patience looking at the status bar. LOL

  • http://www.sewcarolinaknits.blogspot.com/ Carolina

    Love PicMonkey!  It so easy to use.  I can’t wait to see what else they add.

  • Ingrid King

    I had never heard of PicMonkey – it’s awesome! I’ve been using three different online photo editors, depending on what I wanted to do. Now I can do it all with PicMonkey.

    Thank you so much for this post!

  • http://wildlifeinthewoods.blogspot.com/ Susan in the Boonies

    It’s reassuring to see that PicMonkey is going to be able to pick up the ball that Picnik has dropped.

  • http://opcatchat.blogspot.com/ caren

    I soooo wish I knew you and were sitting with you RIGHT NOW! YOU ARE A LIFE SAVER AND I LOVE YOU!!!

    I had found Picnik a few months ago and absolutely ADORE IT! Can I tell you how beside myself I was when I heard Picnik will be no more as of April 19? I take photos from my Android (sorry, but I do) and Picnik was the PERFECT solution for a novice like me to improve upon my photographs for my blog.

    I have been beside myself wondering what I was going to do! Hopefully you solved that problem for me, i am heading over to PicMonkey right now!

    I hope they have all of those cute speech bubbles, etc, that Picnik had.
    Picnik was “da bomb” though and they will be HUGELY MISSED!

    THANK YOU!

  • http://www.craftwhack.com/ Craftwhack

    I love this! I’ve been using Pixlr, and this is so much more fun, so I will be using it from now on. Yay! For! You!

  • Good Girl Gone Green

    I just discovered PicMonkey this week on a blog. I actually like it better than Picnik. They have more options! By the way you rock those purples lips….

  • http://www.prestonjohnbabyblog.weebly.com/ Clknedick

    I, too, am sad about Picnik disappearing.  I mostly use it for basic edits for my job, and losing it was going to be a big loss for me.  So thank you for introducing PicMonkey.  I’m going to check it out now!

  • Pingback: Picnik.com Closing | CS Eagles

  • photo editing

    Hello hello, I think picmonkey is quite cool but my problem is there are some functions missing!
    I found a cool website http://pimpyou.net and it seems quite cool what they do!

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