For some photographers, editing photos is a tedious task. Personally, I love editing because it allows me to add an extra layer of creativity and tweak photos so they look just like I imagined when I pressed the shutter button. Plus, I find it oddly relaxing.
We’d all like to shoot photos that look perfect straight out of the camera, but the reality is almost every photo needs a bit of touch up before it’s ready to surface for the world to see. For this reason, having a solid set of editing tools in your virtual camera bag is just as important as having quality cameras and lenses. You never know when you will need to brighten an underexposed photo or remove a stain from someone’s shirt.
I’ve used a number of photo editing tools, but there are a few that I always find myself going back to. Following is a list of photo-editing tools you can add to your arsenal.
Let’s start with my favorite photo editing software: Lightroom. Lightroom is my favorite because it’s simple enough to not overwhelm you, but it’s advanced enough to allow you to really dive in and drastically change your photos. If you’re a beginner just starting to enter the world of editing, you should be able to figure out basic adjustments by moving some sliders from side to side. Best of all, unlike other Adobe platforms that can be a little buggy, Lightroom hardly ever gives me problems.
Lightroom’s simplicity is due to its intuitive layout. Unlike other photo-editing tools, almost all of Lightroom’s adjustment sliders are always visible – this saves you from spending time painstakingly searching through menus trying to find the one setting you need to manipulate before coloring a project done.
Capture One is considered by many to be the more advanced alternative to Lightroom. Capture One really differentiates itself through its advanced color-correcting tools. The software offers more in-depth options when it comes to color correcting and sharpening, which can be a big selling point to photographers who need to completely change the colors in their photos. Lightroom offers great color-correcting, but Capture One takes it to a whole other level.
Another selling point for Capture One is it allows you to create your own customized workspace with all of the important tools you need for projects. You can add and remove any tools you wish, creating a dream workspace that will allow you to work more efficiently.
Photoshop is my second-favorite photo editing software, but only when I need tools that Lightroom doesn’t offer. In my opinion, Lightroom is made for basic adjustments, while Photoshop is made for more advanced image editing.
Photoshop allows you to totally transform your images – from removing and adding elements of a photo to retouching and combining images, you can almost do anything you could ever want with Photoshop. Need to remove person from one photo and place them on a different background? Photoshop is your answer. Need to add birds flying across the sky? It does that, too.
There is also a free Photoshop mobile application, which I will touch on later in the blog.
Pixlr is an online photo editor that runs through your web browser. Although there are paid versions, Pixlr features a free photo editor that is quite capable for basic adjustments. The free version features color, light and toning adjustments, filters, filters, retouching tools and more. Out of all of the free editors I’ve tried, Pixlr offers the widest variety of tools. The one downside, however, is you can’t use Pixlr if you aren’t connected to the internet.
VSCO is only available as a mobile app, but it’s my go-to if I ever need to quickly edit a photo I took with my iPhone. It’s the simplest platform on this list, but it’s still a better platform than your phone’s built-in editor. You can make simple color and lighting adjustment to your photos, but my favorite part of VSCO are the filters. VSCO’s filters are great for making your photos a bit more visually interesting with the click of a button. You can go from subtle to artsy and everything in between.
Photoshop Express is Photoshop’s younger brother; it looks and feels the same, but it doesn’t offer all of the healing tools the desktop version does. You can make color and lighting adjustments, but the mobile version doesn’t excel at removing elements from your photos. What it does offer, however, are themes and overlays that you can use to make a snappy graphic for social media. There are dozens of themes for food, birthdays, anniversaries and much more. It’s not as simple as VSCO, but it’s a more powerful tool if you want to spend the extra time to tweak.
I hope you will explore some of these options the next time you edit your photos. What are some of your favorite photo-editing tools?