You may well recognize the second shot in this post, because a slightly different version appeared on Urban Oasis just a few days ago. In fact, both these shots (from 5/06) have been "tinkered" with using photo editing software. They're my first experiments with the new software I was finally forced into downloading last night ... see, I got a trial period copy of Paint Shop Pro with my new computer last fall, and when it expired, there went a lot of the editing functions I used a lot.
So I checked out their upgrade offer, which is now called Corel Photo Album 6 (apparently PSP is no more?). I took a quick spin with some of the features on their website and I quickly concluded for $39 I could do much worse in terms of the features that really matter to me in working with my photos. So out came the credit card and I set down to work ... and work is just what it was in terms of a download! In one of the more complicated downloads I've done in a while, I had to first register an account at Corel, then choose the upgrade download, provide the usual purchase information and then wait for an email with further instructions on how to proceed ... about 15 minutes later the email arrived with my serial number/activation code in it. Then I had to go to another page for detailed step by step instructions on how to download and install it. Then I went to the next step, which involved downloading and installing three installation files ... once that was done, I was told that I had only downloaded a trial version with some features disabled, but in order to "activate it," I had to go to another web page (link provided), enter my activation code and submit it, which took all of about 30 seconds once I clicked the 'continue' button. Then I was informed that now I should launch the program, and it would prompt me (yet again) for the activation code so that it could verify with their website that it was a legit copy. Whew, once accomplished, I was finally able to begin using it! Now I'm sure this was all an anti-piracy method, and I really don't have much of a problem with most of those schemes, but jeez folks, there's got to be a less complicated way to go about it!
After playing with it a bit and getting all my photos catalogued, I discovered the enhancement editing features, which include adjusting for exposure, color, brightness, contrast and other useful functions. It even let me instantly compare what I was doing with the original, which is a nice touch I thought. So ... these are the first two crude experiments that came out of that little session with the new software ... I thought they turned out fairly well, considering I really didn't know entirely what I was doing, but I was happy with the results. Sure, it's no Photoshop, but honestly, that program is too expensive and still way beyond my basic editing skill set. I need something that I can use quickly to perform basic editing (resizing, cropping, etc.) so I can get them uploaded. Though the interface is a bit different from what I was used to in PSP, in terms of its intuitive feel, it's very similar ... so far I'm liking it! And when I can get my skill set upgraded, I'll probably try to do more complicated stuff in GIMP, once I can get used to and figure out how that beast operates ... the little I've done with it so far was very confusing, though in the open source world of software, it's reputed to be on the par with Photoshop. The worst thing for me in the trial run was the fact that you have to have multiple windows open to do anything and have to switch back and forth between them to accomplish even a basic task. Just resizing a photo was too much effort than what I was going to endure at that frustrating point, so I put it aside for a while. Fernymoss has used it for several years and likes it, and says that it's very powerful once you learn it. At this point though, that's for another day! He took a look at the new program I downloaded last night and thought it was pretty good overall. He was especially impressed with how easy it is to perform those enhancement functions I was talking about. Now, I'll just say that 99+% (at this point) of the photos I use here are basically untouched except for resizing and some cropping in certain cases. Call me a curmudgeon, but I still have a fair amount of resistance to drastically altered images for the most part, so if/when I do do something to a photo, I'll be sure to make a note of that. So, the majority of the photos you see here are reproduced au naturel.