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Editing Software for Beginner

Discussion in 'Digital Image Editing & Printing' started by Oldboybob, Jul 26, 2021.

  1. Oldboybob

    Oldboybob Member

    Hi there,

    I have recently started photography and was wondering if any of you could recommend editing software that is good for a beginner getting started? I am taking a photography course at college in September but would like to get myself started early.

    Any advice gratefully received.

  2. EightBitTony

    EightBitTony Well-Known Member

    What kind of editing do you want to achieve?

    Modification of the image pixels and content (i.e. removing things, adding things, moving things around) or 'digital development' (i.e. changing white balance, contrast, shadows, etc.)?

    GIMP is free and can do the former (Photoshop is the best known paid product.
    Darktable is free and can do the latter (non-destructive RAW image processing) (Lightroom is probably the best known paid product).

    Depending on which camera you have it may also come with free RAW image processing software (like Canon's DPP).

    There's general overlap in this space as well with some products doing both jobs (more or less well)
    Oldboybob likes this.
  3. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    Hi and welcome. I’d guess that your college will use a specific program if editing is part of the course so check the course prospectus. That said, most programs do the same things - but not identically. I started with the free software that came with my camera and I only moved to commercial software later when I needed not just to edit but organise my pictures.

    As Tony said there are two aspects of editing.

    1) Getting the information captured by your camera into an image format (raw processing)
    2) Manipulating that image in a creative way which can involve adding and removing objects, combining more than one photograph together, etc.

    By default the camera does 1) for you. That is why you get a jpg file out of it. The camera has lots of settings you can adjust to influence this and it does a very good job. If time allows (no good if you take thousands of pics a day) doing the raw processing yourself gives some considerable flexibility and you can revisit and make multiple versions of the image from “go” as it were.

    The standout feature of editing tools for 2) is the use of layers: building a final image from a stack of slices.

    I use Canon and Fuji cameras. I started with Canon free software (DPP) and moved to Adobe Lightroom which is a raw processor that combines a file organiser. (Digital Asset Management). It also lets me treat Canon and Fuji images in one place. I process raw files because I don’t take many pics. I started about two months after buying the camera because I wanted to swap at will between the camera standard and landscape picture styles and see what looked best. It was easier to toggle the option on and off on the computer than take two pictures and compare them later. Raw processors do basic editing like cropping and dust removal.

    I also use On1 software. It is a combined raw processor and editor. I use it mostly to edit jpgs people place in Appraisal here for comment. It has a not bad “removal tool” for deleting unwanted objects which is probably the most used advanced editing tool applied to finished images.

    Check out your camera free software - you can learn on it. Find out what the college will use. If it is Adobe they may have a student licence for it.
    Oldboybob likes this.
  4. Geren

    Geren Well-Known Member

    I use Photopea with my classes as it's free and available online. It has a lot of the same functionality as Photoshop.
    Oldboybob and MJB like this.
  5. Chester AP

    Chester AP Well-Known Member

    I would certainly find out what software the college uses and try to use that. Learning something might be confusing (we could all offer different recommendations) if you later have to use their preferred one.

    The alternative is to not worry about software yet, and concentrate instead on learning how to consistently get the best possible results 'straight from the camera'. Then, when the other students are trying to correct image faults by using software, you should have much less to do because you have reduced your reliance on that software - your stuff should need less 'post processing' work (if any).
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2021
  6. IvorETower

    IvorETower Little Buttercup

    I still find that "Picture Manager" that comes with older versions of Microsoft Office is a great free program for "basic" editing.
    How much are you expecting to be able to edit? What camera system do you have, and does the manufacturer offer any free editing software?
    Oldboybob likes this.
  7. EightBitTony

    EightBitTony Well-Known Member

    I'm sure that were going for Photo-pia in pronunciation, but I can only see Photo-pee
    Zou, Oldboybob and RogerMac like this.
  8. Geren

    Geren Well-Known Member

    Yeah, I'm not sure what their intent was there. The logo is a green square with a black swirl in it that kind of looks like a peashoot so I had assume they were referring to the pea that comes in a pod but I have no idea what the relevance is.
    Oldboybob likes this.
  9. Geren

    Geren Well-Known Member

    Actually I'd agree with this. My experience of college was that aside from the Digital Editing units that we covered we weren't allowed to use any editing software. Tasks such as lighting a shoe on a white background for a catalogue all had to be achieved by learning to use the studio lights and our camera settings. Any photo-editing that was done was for specific tasks only such as spot/dust removal or conversion to black and white.

    That said, there's no harm in having a bit of a play around but I reckon any college course worth its salt will be teaching you how to get the best results in camera and not let students rely too much on fixing things later.
    Brian, Learning and Oldboybob like this.
  10. Oldboybob

    Oldboybob Member

    Thanks everyone for your replies. Mainly I am looking to enhance colours , hide background in portraits etc.
    Like I said I am totally new to DSLR photography but learning as fast as I can. The camera I have is a Canon EOS 70D with a selection of lenses etc, so just trying to take the best pictures I can and will be mainly doing landscapes etc when we visit places but would like to be able to take perfect portraits too of family and friends.

    Thank You
  11. Learning

    Learning Ethelred the Ill-Named

    For now I would use Canon DPP. That will allow you to process Canon raw files accurately.
    I agree with other members that it is best to use what the college uses. Don't rush into buying it. As has been mentioned earlier you may be get a concessionary price through the college.
    Oldboybob likes this.
  12. Chester AP

    Chester AP Well-Known Member

    re. 'enhance colours' - your DSLR body may have various options for the processing of JPG files, so have a look at its menus or user manual. Beware unnatural 'overdone' results, unless this is what you really want.

    re. 'hide background in portraits' - if you mean have then blurred (out of focus), find out more about the use of lens apertures and 'depth of field'. Again, the user manual may help. If you have any control about where you take the shot, try looking for somewhere where the background is dark or in shadow but the subject is not, but be careful to use an exposure that is correct for the subject's face.

    There is an US website (mostly written in English) that other members have recommended in the past, and this is the page about depth of field. Since toy are new to DSLR photography, you may find that exploring this website answers more of your questions, and there are some tutorials too.


    Have fun, take lots of pictures and experiment.
    Oldboybob likes this.

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