Spring into Action: Free Photo Editing & Collage Sites

By Apr 4, 2011January 24th, 201954 Comments

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Photo editing gets a bad reputation. Some may try to convince you that a true photographer would never edit their photos. What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear someone say, “That picture is obviously Photoshopped”! Probably not anything good.

The truth is nothing will turn a bad photo into a good one. If it’s too dark or too bright, there’s not enough information to salvage. If your subject’s not in focus, no amount of sharpening afterward will change that.

A big part of photo editing is choosing to let it go. Hit delete. Sure you may have 10 great pictures of your Aunt Sally’s new dress, but the internet only needs to see one, maybe two unless they’re all from different perspectives.

Editing a photo via software is little different than developing your own film except the software makes it easy. Posting photos straight out of the camera is fine, but chances are your photos may benefit from exposure or color correction, straightening and/or cropping.

Hover over (or click on) the example below to see how minor corrections can impact the final result. I straightened it out, cropped it and corrected the underexposure.

03-23-11 - Cranes at a School

Free Online Editing Tools

Even if you have editing software installed on your computer, using an online editor can be handy, especially when you’re composing blog posts or sharing photographs when you’re away from home.

There are a number of fabulous, free photo editing tools available for you to try! The list below includes the more popular ones along with links to basic editing tutorials for the tool.

If you’re using computer software to edit your photos, there are likely dozens of books, websites and video tutorials dedicated to help teach you how to use it. For a clean edit, you’ll want to learn where in the software or tool you can tweak the exposure, contrast/brightness, color (hue/tint/saturation) and sharpness.

Google is a great place to find what you’re looking for. If you need any help, leave a comment indicating the software you’re using and I’ll reply with some links to basic image editing tutorials for that tool.

Blog Boards and Collages

“How did you create that photo collage!?” I see this question posted almost as much as I see collages. Photo collages or “blog boards” made with software or online tools are a quick way to share several photos arranged appealingly. It’s really not some big, technical secret that only the in-crowd get to enjoy.

ANYONE can create a photo collage in minutes.

Free Online Collage Makers

  • Big Huge Labs’ Mosaic Maker. Though inappropriately named, this is perhaps the most popular and easiest to use free online collage maker. You can choose from seven layout designs and customize the look before selecting the images you want to use. Not all layouts work well with all images, but I’ve had pretty good results overall. Here are a couple examples:Humane Society of North Texas - 12/30/06Pics From 03/05/06
  • Photovisi. This is a free tool, though you need to register to unlock some of the features. They offer about 80 different collage layouts, most of which resemble a digital scrapbooking page.
  • Picture 2 Life.This tool will also allow you to edit your photos and add some effects to them. They have a collection of about 200 collage layouts to choose from.

Free Photoshop Templates

There’s a thing in Photoshop Elements called Clipping Masks, which make it easy to save and distribute collage templates for use. The CoffeeShop Blog contains a plethora of goodies for the software, including a whole section on Storyboard Templates. Rita at CoffeShop details how to use clipping masks to work with the templates.

You may also be interested in learning How to Create Your Own Storyboard Template.

There are lots of free resources. You can find them by Googling the name of the software plus “blog boards”, “storyboards” or “collage templates”.