I want to begin by saying that even though you can do many creative things with Photo Editing Software, these programs should not be used as a substitute for good wildlife photography.
Your goal should be to take photographs that are perfect for you in terms of exposure, colour, composition in camera.
You will progress much quicker and much further by learning photography basics and then using an image editing program as an occasional aid than depending on image editing to give you pleasing images.
You will also enjoy your photography more. We enjoy being out in the field shooting much more than sitting behind a computer editing hundreds of photographs!
We speak to many visitors to parks such as the Kruger, Kgalagadi, Etosha, Madikwe and Pilanesberg and ask them what they do with their photographs when they get back home.
Their answer is normally "we download them and beacuse they need editing we either cannot afford Photoshop or we are too busy, so the photos stay on the DVD or computer" - what a waste!
We currently use Adobe Lightroom 4.4 and Photoshop CS6 as our main editing programs but they are expensive and if you are not selling your photographs you will want a free program.
These are the Photo Editing Software programs that we tried that are free. You should download them and play around to find the one that is best for you...
We suggest shooting all your photographs as RAW files as these store the most information, are the highest quality and if you enter photo contests, and your image wins, the judges may ask for the RAW file to ensure you have not manipulated the image too much. You can always save the large file as JPG later (for emailing or web) but you cannot add quality to a small file!
Pixlr is a Photoshop 'clone' and mimics most Photoshop actions. Here is a comparison of the Pixlr and Photoshop tool bars...
Pixlr is free but you cannot download it - it has to be used online. It has most of the Photoshop actions with just a few, like the spot healing brush, missing. I did try the clone stamp tool and it works nicely!
Canva is one of the newest free programs and is one of the most simple and enjoyable to use.
It is completely web-based (online) and can also be accessed through any mobile phone web browser for smartphone accessibility.
The editor page has just six buttons at the top. These six buttons are all you really need for the basics - cropping, resizing, rotating, flipping, a few filter effects and adjusting brightness/contrast/saturation...
These photo editing software programs should be used in moderation and primarily for sharpening, slight color boosting, rotating and / or croppping, especially for nature and wildlife images as you want to show the subject as natural as possible.
We have seen some yellow leopards and blue elephants because photographers went overboard with saturation. Sharpening is another tool that tends to be overdone and the end result is a halo effect around the subject.
Less can be more especially with photo editing programs!
"It's 764 pages of the most amazing information. It consists of, well, everything really. Photography info...area info...hidden roads..special places....what they have seen almost road by road. Where to stay just outside the Park...camp information. It takes quite a lot to impress me but I really feel that this book, which was 7 years in the making, is exceptional." - Janey Coetzee, South Africa
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-Don Stilton, Florida, USA
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-Alastair Stewart, BC, Canada
"This eBook will be extremely useful for a wide spectrum of photography enthusiasts, from beginners to even professional photographers."
- Tobie Oosthuizen, Pretoria, South Africa