Free Tools for Photographers


There are some new and not so new programs to help photographers in various ways. We will look at several that you may find useful.

canva-100-100 Canva
Graphic Design Software: This program has been around for a while and is a little addictive. It is like a solution looking for a problem. It is an online program. You don't download it. Work on their website with your computer and an internet connection. You may go to the Canva website and login with your Google account. When you have finished your design, you may download it. Essentially, it lets you design a page with photos, graphics and text. You can do that in any Photoshop-like program but this is easy and gives a lot of suggestions, etc. Try it out. You will find a solution. Finding the problem may be harder.

adobe-spark-logo-100-100Adobe Spark
Adobe had a trio of programs known as Adobe Post, Adobe Slate and Adobe Voice. These have been redone and repackaged as Adobe Post, Adobe Page and Adobe Video. They are all contained within Adobe Spark. There are also apps available for IOS devices.

Let us look at them, one by one:

adobe-spark-post-100-100 Adobe Post
The Post part refers to posting to social media not a blog post. It is a tool to create header images and the like. If you already know Canva, you may choose to pass on this one. If Adobe Spark is already open and you have a need, go for it. If you do not use your creation in a post to social media, the program leaves an annoying logo on the art. You can remove it with Photoshop but that defeats the ease of use.

adobe-spark-page-100-100 Adobe Page
They say you create a webpage but you really create a long, scrolling page. This is a vehicle to hold a collection of photos and/or text in a nice looking design. You could definitely make a portfolio with this tool and link your JCC website gallery to it. It can be hosted by Adobe (no charge) or downloaded and stored in a cloud folder and linked from there. If you share the link with friends and then change the file by adding text and photos the link still works and your design is automatically updated. This tool could result is some interesting designs. See samples under the Adobe Spark link above.

adobe-spark-video-100-100 Adobe Video
The video part of this refers to the final product not the production part. It is a powerful' but slow, slideshow maker with only a video output possible. If that discourages you, it should not. This program has a couple of very neat aspects: Free background music and easy narration. You can put together the whole project—say a collection of 12 images with some text that tells a story with music and narration in just a few minutes.
You narrate each slide with a separate sound clip. Make a mistake and replace one. This is much easier than replacing the whole narration. This is wonderfully easy compared with other methods. Do try it. Again, you can link this to your website portfolio or gallery. To see a sample, go the the gallery on the website for Digital Contest, 2016, Q3, Backyard Birds theme. Click on "Critique V".

It is correctly written GIMP, pronounced like gimp. GIMP is an acronym. It stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program. GNU is itself a recursive acronym (GNU (GNU's Not Unix)). If you like rabbit holes follow this on Wikipedia. I already have a headache.
GIMP is an open source photo manipulation program a la Photoshop. It is free and has a large following. It has been maintained over many years and is updated regularly. It is recommended for getting your feet wet. In other words, trying the concept without being tied to a year-long commitment. If you do not see yourself becoming committed to spending the $10 per month for Lightroom/Photoshop. GIMP is not a bad option. The great, sometimes hidden, cost of all programs of this type is the hours and hours that need to be invested to become proficient.
It is not a online program. Download the program and run on your desktop.


Looking for a open source (read free) program to use in place of MS Publisher or Adobe's Indesign? That is the mission of Scribus. I have not used it. I assume it is not as elegant as Indesign and, I would hope, simpler. It too is not a online program. Download the program and run on your desktop.



Inkscape is a vector art drawing program. Think Adobe Illustrator. I have used Inkscape before but it has been a while. You use it to make drawings that will be saved as vector art as opposed to Photoshop which is (mostly) a pixel based program. Of course Photoshop ventures into vectors too—type, shapes and smart objects come to mind. Just remember vectors are mathematical formulas that describe shapes. They have no dimension so to see them you need a stroke or fill. I think you should download this program, become proficient and then you can volunteer to do all the vector art for the Club.

A Sharper Scaling
This free program does only one thing. It scales your images upward. That is it enlarges the size in pixels. Reportedly it does a better job than Photoshop. It can be downloaded from the link. Sorry it is only for the Windows operating system.



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