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I don’t know about you, but I was totally bummed out when Picnik decided to close up shop.  I used their photo editing website all the time, and even though I didn’t subscribe and pay for the extra features, I found it very useful and fun.  I’m not sure who recommended it to me, but I recently found PicMonkey: another free, online photo-editing option.   Not that I get much computer time these days, but I have happily been editing photos here since I tried it out.

Here are some before and after pictures that I edited on PicMonkey:

You can do a little editing or a lot of editing:

They have some fun features like the focal zoom you see above.  I had a little fun creating a collage of some pictures of Norah.  The only drawback is that you first have to save the collage to your computer before you can edit it.  No biggie, just an extra step.  The first picture are the originals in a collage, which was super easy to make.  Took me less than 5 minutes.

Now for some fun!

Overall, I really like PicMonkey.  In fact, I may like it even more than Picnic!  It is just as easy to use (perhaps easier-I love the photo drag and drop from my files when I want to edit).  It basically has all the presets Picnic had, plus a couple more.  The only drawback I currently see is that you can only have one photo open to edit at a time.  Also, it appears there are “Royale” features, which are free for now, but I wonder if they will charge later on.  (I may end up subscribing because there are some good ones!)  Here are a couple more photos, just because it literally took me about 20 seconds to edit these photos and who doesn’t like looking at babies?!! (These are for you, Grandparents.)

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Picture 2

Here’s something I’ve been thinking about lately:

A few weeks ago I posted Picture 2 on my facebook page and got lots of compliments: “What a great picture!”, etc, etc.  I offhandedly mentioned to a friend that I actually edited the original (picture 1) in Picnik, my favorite photo-editing site, and they said, “You shouldn’t tell people that!”  I was a little puzzled, thinking, why does it matter?  I mean, an artist is someone who takes one thing and makes it interesting, thought-provoking, or beautiful, right?  Why shouldn’t people know I made a good photo look better?

When I was a teenager, people would tell me not to look at the models in the magazines because they are “fake” anyways-retouched, sized down, changed completely.  I (and other girls) should protect my view of women and appreciate women-and myself- for what we were really like-curves, bumps, and all.  I guess I agreed with them, that I should not try to be someone I’m not.  And who am I kidding?  Those images do affect us (me).  Studies show that when something is “desirable”, we try to be, or do, or have that thing.  I’ve heard quite a bit of criticism of pictures of models, but I’ve done my share of criticizing, too.

Picture 1

That said, why don’t I feel bad about editing my photo?  I changed a few things-brightened the color, sharpened some parts, softened others; I think I even may have whitened my teeth a bit.  Yes, I did change the photo.  Yes, I do look better in picture 2.  Am I trying to be something I’m not?  I don’t think so, but where is the line?  How much editing is too much?  I know artists who edit photos all the time to give them a certain look, appeal, or even an emotion, perhaps.  That’s probably why I edit-for the emotion.  I want to remember having Caleb as special, beautiful, magical, wonderful.  Are there difficult times that I’d rather not have pictures of?  Times when he will be ugly and I will wish someone else had to deal with him?  Times when the truth of life speaks louder than the fantasy we wish it was?  Yes, of course, to all of these things.  But good memories of the past move us forward.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve felt happy when I look back at old photos of my grandmother.

I am certainly not excusing all photo-editing, given all of the negative images out there.  I’m not even saying it is okay for people to make money by making models look better.  I think we need to be wise when viewing and idolizing certain images, for sure.  However, it is hard to deny that when we criticize others for distorting reality, we’re actually doing  it too.

PS. If you want some really great tutorials about photo-editing and how to use Picnik, go here.

Before Picnik

After Picnik