In undergrad at DAAP I had all the graphics programs one could wish for, all at cheap student pricing. I have many of these programs on my work computer now (I work at a law firm but we often use them for graphics for trial and other hearing exhibits), but I do not have them on my mac at home. Even without the likes of Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, AutoCAD, and 3D Studio Max at my fingertips (at least not for a few thousand dollars), a lot of free or almost free programs have popped up on the internet in recent years.
I sometimes use my mac iPhoto software for photo editing, but its capabilities are extremely limited. I also use Snagit for some layouts, but again, compared to Adobe Illustrator, it is very limited. I have tried Gimp, an Adobe Photoshop-like counterpart you can download for free – it has gotten some decent reviews from people as well, but so far I have been slow to catch on to it. So far my favorite photo editing software I have found online is Google Picnik. You run the program by signing in from your web browser, and like Flickr, you can keep a library of your photos on the site. It is a bit slow if you have slow internet since it is a website rather than an application on your hard drive, but overall, I think it’s pretty good. You can get limited capabilities for free, or if you want the full program it’s about $25 for a year.
I admit, I am a sucker for all the filters on Photoshop and Picnik. I suppose in the absence of a really great camera, spicing things up with some fun effects is about as good as it’ll get for me at the moment. Hopefully I’ll snag a decent digital SLR this year some time – these point and shoot compact digital cameras just aren’t the same.
I have recruited my buddy Enzo the sun conure to show you some of the effects – he is very colorful, so I always have fun with photographs of him on Picnik. What about you? Do you have any free or almost free graphics programs that you use often?