Photography is an art beyond fancy equipment. While having appropriate tools will ensure amazing picture quality, using the correct combination of framing and lenses is the fine line that separates photographs from memories. As cameras and lenses are becoming more affordable, everyone these days seems to own a DSLR with at least two kit lenses. Most novice users click pictures with the objective of creating social envy; however they barely consider settings apart from the auto mode. Although it does garner you hundreds of likes, hearts and wows, it can be risky if such amateurs consider going pro. While it’s no crime to take up the hobby as a profession, you need to gear up your arsenal with some tricks that will make up for the lack of funds or camera expertise.
Post processing of photographs is an easy but often neglected exercise. There are several tools that can help you with the basics like cropping, and basic color correction. Paint.net is possibly the best software for such uses that internet can download. If you are the adventurous techie kinds, then you can also scour the net for interesting plugins that let you create fake tilt-shift (miniature) effect. However, as is common with most open source or freeware applications, this needs patience and practice.
One Step Ahead
If you are a few steps further in your photography adventures and are bold enough to go RAW, then Paint.net will not help you. You will have to look for more potent tools such as IrfanView. Similar to Paint.net, this application gives you access to basic fixes and a few fancy effects.
While many would argue why GIMP didn’t get an honorary mention here, it doesn’t really belong here. GIMP is possibly the best image manipulation tool in the open source space, the learning curve is too steep, if you are looking at only image enhancing. RawTherapee a much better application that offers the best end to this need. Although it doesn’t give you all the features that an expensive software like Adobe Lightroom would offer, it is a very strong tool, which is quite easy to use. Of all the applications available, it offers the best possible options to fix your images. Being open source, you can also scour for presets/profiles that enable you to add effects without too many hassles. The best part is it supports most popular camera models, although it may take time to add support for newer models.
Splurge, If You May
While all these free tools are great alternatives, Abode Lightroom and Photoshop still continue to be great applications to invest in. If you can fork out the steep price of the software, as a pro user, it is a worthwhile investment to make. The latest version of light room also lets you create panoramas and HDR effects. But if you already own a copy of the previous version and don’t want to spend any further, there are several free presets that do the job for you.
Although post processing may seem like a cumbersome activity, it is worth investing the time taken to understand the intricacies of your own clicks. You will most definitely learn a lot more about framing, colors, composition, lighting and settings. It will make you appreciate your own efforts. Give it a try, it wouldn’t cost you a dime!