For most photographers, Photoshop or Aperture are the tools of choice for post production. Others use different desktop software or a combination of several pieces of software. Traditionally, online photo editors have been slow and clunky and a tool of last resort. With time however, they're getting better. Several probably deserve a second look, so we decided to make a list of cool online photo editing tools that we think deserve some recognition.
Picnik – We use this one daily to crop the images for the front page of Light Stalking, because it is actually just as fast as opening any of our desktop software (and we usually already have a browser open). It has the gamut of basic changes that you would usually use from cropping to saturation and vignetting. It will also integrate with your Flickr account which can save a lot of time.
Aviary – This one was launched to a lot of hype and for the most part has lived up to it. Aviary has four different tools, but the one that will be of most interest to photographers is “Phoenix” – the photo editing tool. It has layers, blending modes, channels, levels, hue, saturation and all the other goodies that you would expect from a Photoshop like application. There is also the option to upgrade to a pro account for extra functionality and unlimited storage.
Splashup – If you're familiar with Photoshop, then you will probably like this one. Formerly Fauxto, this site is among the most complex of the bunch and offers a lot of options from lassos and layers to cropping and integration with other photo sharing websites. Due to a deal with Intel, this is actually an editor that will probably start appearing on a lot of mobile devices too. This is probably the site you will want to use if you're looking for slightly more complex post production techniques, but it isn't the easiest of the bunch to use.
Snipshot – Unlike the above editors, Snipshot is an Ajax based web application (the others are all Flash), which means you don't need any plugins for your browser for it to work. You can edit RAW files and save your images as GIF, JPG, PDF, or PNG. It has basic editing tools like crop, rotate, resize,contrast, brightness, saturation, sharpness and hue. Snipshot takes file sizes up to 10 MB, or 25 megapixels (5000×5000 pixels).
Adobe Photoshop Express – Considering that Adobe are the photography industry standard for desktop editing software, it stands to reason that they also have a fair presence among online editors too. Their online editor is a toned down version of their incredible software. They have a slightly different way of displaying potential changes to an image by letting you choose from several versions of the image with differing range of adjustments of the tool you are using, though you can still use the sliders as well. Maybe the only drawback to this online editor is that you need to sign up for an account with them to be able to use it.
When using these, remember that a few things are important, like a reliable and fast broadband connection. They're all great tool when you need a speedy and free fix to your images. For many amateurs, they may be all you ever need. When you start to become more serious about the corrections on your images, you will likely move to desktop software like Photoshop or LightRoom, but there may well always be a place in your bookmarks for tools like these for when you're in a pinch.