My first healthy obsession with online photography fun was Flickr. My current one is Picnik. As digital photography has entered the main stream in the last few years, the enjoyment of photos has become accessible to everyone. With it, the social media has enabled us to marvel at the amazing pool of photos taken by amateur photographers, ordinary people showing extraordinary talent through photography. Taking that perfect shot with the best camera, however, is not always possible. For those times, Picnik can be a powerful online photo editing tool, and one that has served me extremely well. Here in this post, I will share the most prominent ways that Picnik enables me to create beautiful photos.
I first started using Picnik’s free service along with several other similar applications. I was immediately drawn to the friendly and intuitive user-interface with Picnik and was soon exclusively using it to edit photos. This is not a replacement for Photoshop, a robust and commanding application from Adobe, but also one that you could devote countless hours to mastering. For me, Picnik has been the perfect medium for transforming my photos into unique works of art, with a very easy learning curve!
All these features and snapshots in this post are from pro-account Picnik view (at $25/year, which I gladly pay). Here are my top 8 reasons (from a much longer list!) which best sum up why Picnik rocks as a Photo Editing Application:
1. Highly Organized nature of Photos:
I upload and store all of my photos into Google’s Picasa. Picasa is great for storing and archiving of photos but not so great at all for edits. So I either (1) export photos into a local desktop folder and upload into Picnik or (2) upload to Flickr and edit directly using the Edit button (which sends it directly to Picnik). After editing in Picnik, I then choose to save it somewhere (PC, back to Flickr, social media, etc). When you go back into Picnik later under Library tab and view your History, you will find a complete archive of all your photos with dates, place last saved, and you can even undo your edits to the very last change, modify it all over again, and save a new version of the edit. (Click on screen shot for larger size).
Now if you wanted to see your unedited photos which you imported into Picnik, all you have to do is click on Manage your Uploads button from the Home tab.
2. Fast and efficient, all the time:
Let’s face it. Photoshop takes a long time, and online applications generally can drag at times. With Picnik, in the 3 years that I have been using it intensely, there was one anomaly where it was acting funny. Funny strange. The support staff was super gracious and quick to respond. Problem went away in an hour or so. The speed with which all of the application functions run and return results makes this a very practical tool to use. With the pro-account, ads disappear and the entire screen is dedicated to you, and makes the speed even more enjoyable. Picnik staff, thank you for not skimping in this area!!!
3. A superior “Edit” feature:
Relativity is a great thing in this world. I love Picasa, and the standard photo edits are generally very good, but with Picnik, it’s just better! You get the standard Auto-fix, Rotate, Crop, Resize, Exposure (More Shadow or Light), Colors, etc. The general feel and usability of the Picnik features is just superior to other similar applications, even if the functionality is quite similar. The little About box that pops up for each feature tells you quickly what you need to know, and you can x it out in a jiffy. Usually, my first step is to perform these basic edits on a photo and get a good foundation going, before getting creative with the next phase. (Click on screen shot for larger size)
4. A significant and expanding gallery of Special Effects:
With 41 available effects (most of which are captured below), you can instantly add a new texture, aura, and style to your photos. You can combine any of the effects together, play around with different moods that you can create for each photo. I spend a few minutes to think about the sensation that I want my photos to convey. The featured effects are the key ingredient for creating that. My favorites, although they vary, at this time are Orton-ish, CinemaScope, and Vignette. You may not think you will use some of these effects at all but you will be surprised when each special effect may fit a photo like a perfect glove. This is one of richest features of Picnik and it has been expanding with new great options. It’s the play box, no doubt. Enjoy it!
5.Versatile Options for writing Text on Photos:
I absolutely love being able to write on my photos. This feature in Picasa3 is unreliable and acts very strange at times. I use the fabulous fonts from Picnik exclusively. The sampling of my “artwork” below does not even encompass half of the selections available on the pro account. The fonts are superb; they have such an attitude, such curves and shapes and slants and slopes. Typography is not to be taken lightly. You can create the right mood with the perfect font (or the unintended mood with the poor choice), I think choosing that right font is an art. The artist needs options, nonetheless, and that you shall have plenty of at Picnik!
You can think of the sandbox as some rarely needed and highly drastic edits to give your photos a very special effect. You should think about the emotion you want to convey without words, the effect of a picture is worth a thousand words. It is best to identify which effects work best in what situations. Nature photos may yield better results say with Circle Splash, Ripple Blocks, Hex Cells. You can create humor using any of these effects. Books turn out nicely with the Smudge and Hypnotic Effects, and I think anything can be crystallized! These features create widely ranging results on photos, and are mostly experimental stages. Picnik makes enhancements to the Sandbox regularly.
7.Creating the ideal Frame matching the Photo:
The frames in Picnik are not just frames as you would think of them. They are the final protective touch you encircle your work of art with. The standard frames are more than sufficient for traditional look with many options, but I love the other options unique only to Picnik: Reflection, where you blurry backdrop that borders the photo, and you can adjust the blurriness of what appears outside those borders. The mirrored frame and rounded edges also come in handy. I admit, I wish that Picnik would add heaps more frame options here! Nonetheless, it is often a last stop before I finalize my edits and serves as a nice finishing touch.
Until recently, I was making few collages in Picasa, and actually like the new enhancements, but Picnik recently introduced all these fun shapes and colors, and the selection is sweet. Creating collages is really fun, and having not just the squares with all the fun options but also the vertical and horizontal strip, and all various sizes of each is more than I can ask for in my playground. Nice addition! It’s a keeper this baby!
In this post, I wanted to count the ways that I love Picnik, and how it continues to evolve and expand its horizons to better photo editing experience. There are some features that I did not touch on, such as Touch-up (no pun intended) and Advanced. I plan to play with them more. Touch-up aims to deliver some of the Photoshop editing features, and Advanced plays with color filters and levels. Both seem promising.
Consider this Part 1 of Picnik series posts. In Part 2, I will share some of the before-after photo edits, and take you through each editing step, and share the final sum of it all. The power of editing photos in Picnik is wickedly awesome!