Photography is a hobby that millions of people partake in every day. For many people, including me, it started out when they were a kid snapping pretend photos with their dad’s empty camera.
Now, with digital SLRs readily available and even the world’s first ever 3D camera now on the scene, the hobby (and indeed profession for many) keeps growing and growing in an era where still images and print was predicted to be obsolete.
The web is the greatest place for photographers to share photos and socialise, with Flickr undoubtedly being the biggest site for photographers to show off their snaps. But how about when it comes to editing their snaps or indeed just getting solid advice?
I have whittled down a list of many photography websites that I found into the five best sites for the amateur and semi-pro photographer.
This is a web app owned and run by the well-known Photoshop company – Adobe. It is a watered down version of their software and it allows the user to make basic editing to their photographs online before sharing them.
It’s really easy to use. Down the left hand side of the editing screen you have your basic tools such as “˜Auto-Correct’, “˜Crop’, “˜Touch up’, and “˜Remove Redeye‘. These can all be used by clicking and dragging the mouse, which your average PC user, who has used MS Paint once or twice, should have no trouble with.
The list continues with some more advanced tools such as “˜Colour Saturation’, “˜Highlighting’, “˜Tint’ and “˜Focus‘. All of these can transform a good shot into something memorable where the eye washes over the picture numerous times taking in all the attention to detail.
Across the top there are some upload tools and a link to your gallery. Photoshop Express lets you have up to 2GB of online storage – more than enough to upload a days worth of photographs waiting to be given a tweak here and there.
You also get you own gallery page under the Photoshop domain, for example, Mygallerypage.photoshop.com.
For more on Photoshop Express visit the MakeUseOf Directory.
Pic Resize is a photography website that does pretty much what it says on the domain; it resizes pictures. This is an easy to use tool with some extra features thrown in.
When you get to the home page simply select the file you want by clicking “˜Browse‘ and upload it. This will bring you to section two as seen in the screenshot. Here you can crop your picture, select what size you want to make it and add special affects such as “˜Sharpen’, “˜Greyscale’, “˜Rotate’ and “˜Blur‘. You can do one or all of these options. Then click “˜Resize‘ at the end of the page.
The final page gives you four options to choose from. You can preview the image, save it, publish it to the web or use the “˜Advanced Edit‘ tool.
The advanced edit tool doesn’t give much more options but it is good for just giving it that final touch-up after the resize. You can crop, add text, blur, explode, and add a frame along with a few other small options.
Golden Hour is a web app that tells you the best times to go out on the hunt for a mean shot in a certain area. Any photographer will tell you that they always go snapping at the “˜Golden Hour’ (or “˜Magic Hour’ as it’s sometimes known) because the sun is at the right angle of elevation relevant to the particular landmass selected.
All you have to do is click on where it is on the map that you plan on shooting and the app will tell you what times are the best to go. The hour is highlighted on a chart below the map and when you roll over it gives you some information as to why this is the golden hour for this location. The app will also tell you when there is a full moon coming up for those who want some good night time pictures.
So after spending the day snapping like crazy, the photographer comes up against a new problem – copyright. As a freelance writer, I discovered my work stolen by two websites on two separate occasions when playing with CopyScape. The feeling of anger and to be honest, helplessness is awful.
What can you do? It’s the internet and tracking down someone is like looking for a needle in a haystack. However, with photographs the creators can protect them by adding in a watermark that will stop people from stealing their work.
A great (and free) online tool I found that can do this is a photography website called Watermark. This has a good free account option with the ability to upgrade to the premium account if you so wish. The free account does all you would really need. You can mark multiple photos at once and you can customise the watermark with different text, colours, size and effects as seen in the screenshot.
The only bad parts to the free account that you would notice is that a picture cannot be any larger than 0.5Mb which shouldn’t obstruct you much if you’re only posting them online. Also, it doesn’t save your watermark for when you come back later.
Both Karl and Jim have discussed watermarking alternatives here.
Finally when the photograph has been taken, edited, resized and protected there comes the time to publish it. Sure, one could indeed use Flickr or perhaps a personal blog but for me, Fotopedia stands out from the rest.
With Fotopedia, photographs are organised and even voted upon by users as one of the main features to determine which ones should represent each category. Many of the photographs actually come from other web services such as Flickr as seen under them in the photographer’s credit area. You’re assured that you’re getting the best of the best however, as irrelevant or low quality photos are removed from the categories via the user vote system.
Fellow MakeUseOf writer Jim Henderson has done lots of photography-related articles here on MakeUseOf. To see what he has done so far, check out his MakeUseOf writers page.
So what web tools and services do MakeUseOf readers use for their photographs?