Printing at home: Finding the right photo editing software for you

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To start off on your journey to printing at home you are going to want to get a hold of the right photo editing software.

In this post, we will try to explain why you should edit your photos before you print, and then outline some of the various photo editing software suites that are currently available.

You don’t take a photograph, you make it.” – Ansel Adams

Why You Should Edit Your Photos (for print or otherwise)

There are a number of reasons why you should take the time to edit your photos (also known as post production work) properly, but the biggest reason, to put it quite simply, is that they will look more professional and appealing to the people viewing them whether it be online or in a printed form.

Simple edits such as straightening (if the image is crooked), adjusting contrast and brightness levels or cropping the image (to eliminate objects that distract the viewer from the main subject) can make a huge difference and can be done using even the most basic editing software.

In fact, if you’ve ever posted an image on Instagram, you’ve probably already done these types of basic edits to your photos.

However, when it comes to editing your images for print, the process becomes a little more involved as you can see in the video by Michael Woloszynowicz below.


Printing and Print Preparation with Adobe Photoshop

Michael Woloszynowicz

Video Description – In this tutorial I’ll cover the basics of ICC profiles as well as preparing your image for print at a printing press or to your own printer in Photoshop.


Photo Editing Software

If you have a strong understanding of how you want to edit your photos and which tools you’ll use the most, you’ll want to look for those when choosing the photo editing software best suited to your needs. All of the editing software options we present below can handle basic edits, but if you are looking for more complex and specific techniques, you might have to stick with the more robust options.

While the more advanced level Photoshop and Lightroom from Adobe and the more recent Capture One RAW image editing software seem to be the most popular options, but they aren’t the only players in town.

Below, we will give a brief introduction to these, but also show you some other lesser known editing suites that might meet your needs just as well.

1 – Adobe Photoshop

Photoshop LogoThe granddaddy of them all, Adobe Photoshop has been around since 1990 and is viewed by most as the industry standard photo editing software.

More than just a photo editing tool, there isn’t much you can’t do in Photoshop. Known for its robust features, for photographers, digital artists, illustrators and designers all around the world, Photoshop is an essential tool in getting the job done.

Designed for professionals or advanced amateurs, Photoshop is probably the only editing tool you’ll ever need.

Features:

  • Advanced touch-up and retouching features
  • Extensive filters and brushes
  • Multi-layer editing
  • Pro editing tools

Cons:

  • Premium price
  • Steep learning curve
2 – Adobe Lightroom

Adobe Lightroom LogoAdobe Lightroom isn’t as full featured as Photoshop, but it does allow you to edit your images in a pretty straightforward way using a fairly easy to navigate interface and is perfect for basic photo editing.

It also goes beyond photo editing by offering extensive image cataloguing features that make the importing and exporting of images, creating image collections, organizing images by their metadata, and adding ratings to them a breeze.

It allows for what is known as “non-destructive” editing of images by saving the original image and the edits applied to it separately and important feature for those just learning how to edit.

There is also a smartphone app that offers a lot of the features found on the desktop version, giving you the flexibility to edit on the go.

Features:

  • Face detection for photo organization
  • Camera and lens-based corrections
  • Brush and gradient adjustments
  • Fixing and blurring tools
  • Presets and professional filters
  • Customizable sliders
  • Multiple device support and sync
  • Non-destructive editing of images

Cons:

  • Not as full featured as Photoshop
  • Premium Price (but free mobile app)
3 – Capture One

Capture One LogoCapture One is a little different in terms of Photoshop and Lightroom as it is a RAW image editor and requires that you have another program (such as Photoshop) to import to and then edit the final image.

That being said, there is a lot that of editing you can do to within Capture One itself before importing the files into your day to day photo editing program.

Features:

  • Offers non-destructive layers
  • Advanced colour editing
  • Layer masks
  • Cropping tools
  • Noise reduction
  • High-Dynamic Range tools
  • Image organization
  • Tethered Shooting

Cons:

  • Premium Price
  • Steep learning curve
4 – Skylum Luminar

Luminar_Software LogoLuminar is a pretty much a one-stop shop for photo editing that can be used as a stand-alone program or as a plugin within Lightroom, Photoshop and other popular photo editing suites.

One of the outstanding features of Luminar is its AI slider, which takes the guesswork out of editing by applying an automatic quick fix for everything from brightening, clarifying, toning and other basic adjustments.

While this may not appeal to purists, it’s a very helpful feature for those just starting out.

Features:

  • AI Editor/Slider
  • Exclusive filters:
    • Sunrays filter (which lets you add realistic looking sun rays to your images)
    • Top and bottom lighting filter
    • Orton filter (made famous by the Lord of the Rings and blurs parts of the image while focusing in on others)
  • Adjustment Layers
  • Image Layers
  • Dedicated presets for DJI drone photos
  • One time fee

Cons:

  • Unlike the subscription fee model (Adobe products and Capture One), that allows you to upgrade to new releases for free, you will have to pay to upgrade everytime a new release comes out
5 – GIMP

GIMP LogoGIMP is a free open source, cross-platform (GNU/Linux, OS X, Windows) image editor that provides you with sophisticated editing tools and works with images of all formats.

It also allows users to further enhance their productivity by providing many customization options or 3rd party plugins.

Features:

  • Photo enhancements like corrective mode and vignette
  • File management and optimization modes
  • Digital Retouching
  • Clone and touch-up tools
  • Support for multiple plugins

Don’t Forget to check out our other Printing at Home posts to learn some more helpful tips and tricks!

Printing at home: Basic Photo Editing and Retouching Tutorials

Printing at home: How to choose the right printer for your needs

Printing at home: How to choose the right paper for your print


Cover image photo credit – João Silas on Unsplash 


Also published on Medium.

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