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Choosing photo editing software

Depending on what you do with your photos, you may not need a lot of the bells and whistles when it comes to photo editing. Explore your options and find out which software is best for you.

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» Are basic photo-editing features enough for me?
» What photo-editing techniques go beyond the basics?
» What would a professional photographer use?
» Recommended products


Before deciding on a type of photo-editing software, think about what you want to do with your digital photos. If you're a beginner, you may be happy with a package that offers all the basics, like cropping and red-eye removal. Or, perhaps you need something with more creative effects. Here's a breakdown of editing tasks along with suggestions about which software can meet your needs.

Are basic photo-editing features enough for me?

Here are some of the most common edits people make to their photos:

  • Resizing and cropping
    Many of today's digital cameras are capable of taking huge photos. It helps to be able to cut them down to size, or just use portions of a large photo.

  • Removing red-eye
    This is a very common problem in photos of people and pets. Luckily, it's really easy to fix with the right software.

  • Printing
    Printing your photos right the first time saves time and money (think of the ink and paper wasted on drafts). It should be simple to pick the size you want, hit print, and be on your way.

Here are some of the most common edits people make to their photos:
The HP Photosmart Essential is a photo-editing suite that allows you to handle all of these common editing functions and more. It also helps to organize and share your photos-and it's available free from HP.

  • Organize
    HP Photosmart Essential lets you organize your photos for easy retrieval later. Sort by date, tag, or folder-whatever works best for you. It also features a personalized start page that displays your most recently viewed photos.

  HP Photosmart Essential the ideal solution for the casual digital photographer, and you can download it for free.

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What photo editing techniques go beyond the basics?

Creative editing like burning (above) and dodging (below) can add a fine-art feel to your photos.

Adobe Photoshop Elements 7
The following are techniques that take your photo editing skills to the intermediate level. These functions may interest you if you shoot fine-art photos or just want to add more creative effects to your images.

  • Layers
    Think of cutting out your subject and placing it against a completely different background, or stacking several images over one another. Layering allows for limitless creative possibilities.

  • Burning and dodging
    These are terms left over from the darkroom days. These tools allow you to brighten or darken specific areas of your photo to add drama.

  • Filters
    Filters are special effects you can apply to your photos, such as charcoal drawing, blur, embossing, and many more.

Editing suites with these features generally cost around $100. Adobe Photoshop Elements is easily the most popular, and you can also use Photoshop Elements for slideshows, sharing, and emailing photos. HP customers are also eligible for a FREE 30-day trial.

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What would a professional photographer use?

For the ultimate in pixel-pushing power, you may consider investing in a professional editing suite like Adobe Photoshop Creative Suite 3. A huge step up from Photoshop Elements, this is Adobe's professional, full-featured photo-editing package. Be warned though, software like this is going to cost you. Versions of Photoshop Creative Suite 3 start at around $650 and go up from there.

Adobe Photoshop has become the industry standard among professional photographers everywhere. It allows functions like level adjustment, advanced compositing, and RAW image processing. These terms won't mean anything to the everyday photographer, but you can always take free HP classes to learn more about editing like the pros.

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Recommended products

Get great tips on how to scan your photos, or to purchase an HP Scanjet photo scanner, explore the HP photo scanner buying guide.

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