If you shoot pictures with a digital still camera, you likely find that between 50 and 80% of the photographs you take aren’t quite ready for primetime. Oh, sure, this is probably also true when you photograph using your standard film-based camera as well, but the big difference between the two is that for the second, you not only have to pay for developing, you also must depend on technicians to make corrections to your work that may not always yield the results you want.
Yet one of the true beauties of digital photography – and there really are so many – is that software can often take the place of what even a decent photo technician can do in terms of turning your so-so images into stunning work you are proud to share with others. This is a big advantage when you consider that you probably know how you want your result to look better than a technician who does not know you and can only guess what is important to you in any particular picture.
You may see that many pro-expert articles on digital photography recommend one of the many Corel-published products, including the big granddaddy of them all, Corel Photoshop, to edit your work. But there are drawbacks here. For one, Corel Photoshop is rather expensive; for this reason, many who do not do photography for their work often avoid its purchase. But a prime reason that Corel Photoshop is not the best choice for everyone is that it can be difficult for relative newcomers to image editing to master. The package is feature rich and whenever you have a dynamic, feature rich product, the learning curve gets steeper.
At the same time, you may have gotten free software that came with your digital camera to do such edits. Unfortunately, all too frequently, these software add-ins are limited in features, a little too simple in terms of what they can do, and may force you into doing proprietary style functions that are unique to that product alone. This means that you can’t always take the skills you learn in with the freebie camera software to more sophisticated products you move up to later in your camera life.
While Windows provides some basic image editing features like Windows Picture and Fax Viewer, as well as additional tools that get added to Windows if you install Microsoft Word or Microsoft Office suite, these too can be limited in what they can do. For example, you can rotate an image clockwise or counter clockwise, crop, or resize the image, but can do little else.
If you’re seeking a middle-of-the-road photo editing solution that is affordable, with a satisfactory number of features that do not require you to be an expert or near expert to work with, consider Microsoft Digital Image or the Microsoft Digital Image Suite 2006. If you avoid the latter (the suite), you can buy the slightly older version – plain Digital Image – at a bargain price, often $40-50. Yet even this version packs with enough of what you need to turn your so-so images into much better photographs worthy of printing, sharing, and posting proudly on your Web site or blog.
With Microsoft Digital Image, you can perform all types of digital image correction, such as red-eye reduction, adjustments to the brightness and contrast, and cropping. With it, you can add various special effects and mattes, create collages that combine various pictures into one, and edit your images for best results when published on the Web. Just a few clicks allow you to bring more color and brightness into the foreground, rotate the image for interesting effects, change the image size, and more. Plus you can correct for multiple problems, like the aforementioned red eye, clean up smaller focus issues, and similar deficiencies that plague lesser skilled photographers.
Even better, especially when you reach the point where you’ve taken so many images you find it difficult to deal with and keep track of them all, Microsoft Digital Image lets you begin to address the very necessary task of organizing and archiving your images into collections that you can readily locate and pull up at a later time.
While you don’t need to be a photo genius to get the most out of Microsoft Digital Image, you’ll find that there is enough meat to the product that it can continue to be your product of choice as your skills begin to grow in digital editing. This means you won’t quickly need to move to a more sophisticated package because you’ve already exhausted what you can get from Microsoft Digital Image.
Yet there is enough standardization within this product that what you learn using Microsoft Digital Image will serve you well once you do make the leap to a bigger, better package like Corel Photoshop. You won’t have to re-learn everything because you’ve already mastered the basics. In today’s world of ever changing software, that is not a bad idea at all.