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Photography used to be all about the camera, the film and the photographer. You could work some darkroom magic (which a few people became amazing at), but you could only really work with what the film had already captured.

Technology has brought an entirely new section of what the Art of Photography really includes. And that is Digital Photo Editing.

Check out our picks below for some of the best editing apps for computers and phones.

Computer

Paid: Photoshop (and Lightroom)

 

Adobe Photoshop has been one of the leaders in editing software for a while now and can help you edit and retouch photos down to the last pixel. Lightroom (now available on iPads and iPhones and also from Adobe) can help you enhance and organize photos easily. For the price of $9.99 a month, you can get these two programs as a part of Adobe’s Creative Cloud photography bundle.

Paid: Pixelmator

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If you’re a little wary of a subscription-based photo editor, but still want the robust Photoshop experience enough to pay for it, then Pixelmator is perfect for you. Although it is only available for Mac currently, if you have one, expect some fantastic capabilities packed in a gorgeous UI. We were a little hesitant to try it, but the longer we’ve used it, the more we’ve enjoyed using it. It costs $29.99 and is available in the Mac App Store.

Free: GIMP

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For those who would like to benefit from the features Photoshop has to offer, without paying the price, we suggest using GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program). GIMP is completely customizable since it’s open source (meaning it can support Windows, OS X and Linux devices) and accepts multiple plug-ins and tools while offering assistance in the form of help files, user manuals and online forums.

Smartphone

Paid: Afterlight

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Afterlight is a great app for quick and efficient photo editing on a phone. It comes with a variety of filters, tools and frames. With Afterlight, you can edit your photo and crop it to Instagram size standards – all in one app.

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The app also includes neat textures and light leaks. The app will be coming this week to Google Play and it costs 99 cents for iOS; but considering all the time you will save and what it can do, it’s a steal.

Free: VSCO Cam

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VSCO Cam offers a vast collection of filters (some free, some not) that are more advanced than those included in Instagram. Other editing tools VSCO Cam offers includes brightness, contrast, saturation, shadows, highlights and more.

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The tools may take a while to remember since they are mostly icons (triangle for sharpness, etc.) and the filters have names, such as X1, but once you get the hang of it, editing will be a breeze.

Free: Photo Editor by Aviary

 

Another great, free app available for iOS and Android devices is Photo Editor by Aviary.  This app includes features that allow you to enhance photos with settings  such as illuminate and hi-def. You can also easily touch up photos with the red eye, blemish removal and teeth whitening tools.

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You can also add text, create memes and add drawings to your images with this app.

Free: Adobe Photoshop Express

 

Photoshop also has a mobile app for both iOS and Android devices called the Adobe Photoshop Express app. This app includes basic photo editing features, such as the ability to crop, straighten, rotate and flip photos but also includes specific color controls for clarity, contrast, exposure and more. The app also includes borders and other in-app paid extras, such as a DeFog feature and Noise Reduction.

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You can also remove blemishes, red eye and PET EYE with this app. How cool is that?!

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We know, we just threw over half a dozen options your way. Don’t worry!  It’s more important to pick an app and start practicing than it is to nail down the ABSOLUTE BEST one right now. And the more you get comfortable with a photo editor, the more you will learn what you like and dislike about it to help you find the  best one for you. The ones we talked about  are only a few of the many apps out there. There are way more options, paid AND free, that are available. 

Are there any sweet photo editing apps you think should be added to our list? Let us know on Twitter!

Photo by riekhavoc

 

Comments

3 Comments

  1. August 16, 2014 at 11:07 am

    i still end up using picasa a lot (i know, right?) because i like the organizational piece and all i really want to do with the pictures is crop, straighten, and basic color and contrast corrections. the picasa filters are mostly boring and all overdone, but judicious use of the fade bar makes it usable. still, i wouldn’t recommend it, apart from making it simple to organize your photos. what i would recommend, but really only for someone who just wants light tweaks before posting to instagram or tumblr, is snapseed. it’s free. it works. i dig it…. but i’ll be trying afterlight and vsco cam after gencon, tomorrow.

  2. August 30, 2014 at 10:28 am

    Another highly reviewed, inexpensive Mac photo editor is Acorn: http://www.flyingmeat.com/acorn/

  3. Christi Northam
    September 11, 2014 at 6:05 am

    I love Snapseed for my phone and tablet (android). The HDR Scape is a great filter if you want to add dramatic effect to your photo or just a little nudge. it is easy to use and provides several useful editing tools. Best of all: IT’S FREE!