Back in the arguably good old days, photographers like me took pictures, developed film and printed out the prints. That's a little over simplified, but that's basically all you had to do to make a nice print. If the subject had a hair out of place or a silly look on their face, that's the way it was and we accepted it.
Now in the digital world, we take pictures, import the images into our computers, spend as much time as necessary to edit, crop and enhance our images in the quest to make the perfect picture. We may print them out, but we may also do a wide variety of other things with our images. Even though the equipment has changed, the act of taking the picture is basically the same. The developing part is what has radically changed. We have gone from running a piece of film through chemicals to make a silver halide image to manipulating electronic code to do unbelievable things with our pictures.
This week I've been asked a few times about what software I use and recommend to process images. You have several options depending on how much money you are willing to spend and how much time and effort you are willing to expend on it. The industry standard for professional photographers is a software program called Adobe Photoshop.
Photoshop is really designed for photographers and graphic designers. It is very expensive and has a very steep learning curve. So what are your options if you don't want to give up your life savings and all your spare time?
The same company that makes Photoshop, Adobe, makes a nice program called Adobe Photoshop Elements. For around $100 it will do most of the basic image editing functions that most people would need and is not nearly as hard to use.
But what if that's still too much money to spend? You still have a few choices. Some other software companies make programs that will do many of the same functions as Photoshop at different price levels. A quick Internet search will find many options.
One of the least expensive software options comes in the box that came with your camera. Most cameras come with some type of manipulation software designed to work with the brand of camera you have chosen. Canon comes with a program called Digital Photo Professional (DPP) and Nikon has a program called Capture NX. My best recommendation would be to start with the free program and if you find it doesn't meet your needs, then move on to the next level. Whichever program you select, be prepared to spend time learning how they work. The more time you put into it, the better your pictures will look.
(Brent Kepner is the owner and photographer at Foto 1 Pro Photo in Elkins. He is a master photographer as well as a certified professional photographer.)