What the bleep is Photoscape!

Please not this post is a first impression of the software being used not a review.

One of the biggest issues for someone wanting to make picture better is editing them. All images need some editing even basic capture sharpening. Most people see Photoshop and Adobe’s platforms as the temple at the top of the mountain, where the creative worship and have brilliant images spilled out. There are of course other editing software programs. The one most often crowed to me is GIMP. Personally I hate GIMP; it is a sloppy system that has no power. This is of course what an editing software needs power. The power to edit and change your images while fuelling your creativity and skill. Learning editing software takes time and I always find new things all the time.

Photoscape I had not heard of until a few weeks back when Heather mentioned it to me and I thought I would take a look.

On reading the blurb on the website I was quite hopeful. Although I am a worshipper at Photoshop’s temple, I have students, friends and family who are always looking for a cheap viable alternative. Why was I hopeful? Photoscape has a Raw converter. Oh I was happy as I always tell people to shoot raw.

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The opening screen on Photoscape is a simple wheel design so in my opinion, Grandma proof. All the programs options are there so depending on what you want to do you can jump straight in.

Raw Converter

I did jump in, by going straight to the camera raw converter and I was wholly disappointed.
For me a camera Raw converter needs to allow you to take advantage of that format. Adjusting the exposure at least, as well as controlling saturation. This converter is a converter, but nothing more than what a camera does to convert your shot jpeg format.

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 Converted I could now edit and my learning curve began.

Editing

The editing screen has four tabs at the bottom; Home, Object, Crop and Tool.

Home has you basic image adjustment tools; you can resize, make adjustments to the brightness and contrast as well as saturation. This is also the point where you can convert the image to black and white, sepia or invert the image to negative. I was also surprised to see a frame option as well.

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I decided I would process my image as much as I could using my normal work flow.

The first thing I notice is there are two ways to make adjustments. One is to click the centre of the button where it will change the image using an auto setting or you can click the arrow which will give you more options. In the case of auto levels where I wanted to go first the options are High Medium and Low. Not so much controlled then, but by clicking on bright colour I found I could have some control.

Without knowing a little photography lingo this may be confusing. In this feature the Exposure adjusts the overall brightness of the image, the gamma is the midtones. Brightness also brightens the image. At the top are three more options; Deepen, Brighten and Darken. Deepen seems to be a midtone contrast adjustment, brighten and deepen are shadow and highlight detail.

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In my image at this point the tone is ok but the colour is awful.

The program does have an interesting filter menu with photography type filters at the top including faux film toning. When you come to the bottom of the list they become more artistic and in my opinion fun.

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Since I can’t find a way to balance the colours I decided on using a cross processing effect. Also using the bloom option, which seems to be similar to duplicating a layer in Photoshop burring it and setting it to overlay, gives an interesting additional contrast effect with an glow to it. Something a lot of people use on their images. This effect can be set for an area of the image, that is an interesting touch.

Back light seems an interesting tool but I can’t find a use for it. It lightens an image as if lit from behind. Why? Well it is there.

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The sharpening tool is very familiar to me. It works on the same principle as unsharp mask. You set the radius of pixels and the strength. I would normally recommend to sharpen by 3px at 100% but sharpening is a massive are of debate, and there are different methods. Since my image has had no capture sharpening I raised the amount to 6px. I would suggest anyone using the tool, to not use; the low, medium, high settings and do it manually because all images are different.

I am not going to be using the object tab since I won’t be adding anything to my image but at least a shape tool is there.

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The crop tab allows you to crop freely there are also presets of different ratios.

Since I don’t mind the cropping of the image at the moment I moved on to the tools.

This is a place that like the filters option has quite a few different avenues for the creative photographer.
Featuring tools like redeye reduction for those moments when flash is your enemy, clone tool to remove unseemly marks and a mole removal tool! Never seen that before. What I like the most is the effect brush.

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green baul baul photoscape.The effect brush allows you paint on effects to an image like selective greyscale, sepia and jitter, which pixelates areas of the image.
What I like the most is a tool that I would use a lot. This allows an image to be darkened, deepened and brightened. In other words a local adjustment tool for, midtone contrast, dodging and burning. Using the mouse wheel you can control the brush size (there are only three) and holding shift while applying the adjustment gives the effect a lower opacity.

I used the grey scale on the twig to reduce the magenta and it looks ok.

All there is left to do is save.

Rename

Well that says what it does on the tin. It renames files in a batch process. Good if you have a lot of files and you want them to be easily identifiable for example, “Holiday 2013 Gdansk 1”. Personally I like to do this when images are for the same job and it does save time when scanning images for one you want.

Viewer

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Viewer; is a file viewer that lets you preview thumbnails of your images and then preview them full screen or view them as a slide show.

Batch Editor

ps11Batch Editor is a nice feature where you can process images with the same settings. This is good for when you have taken a lot of photos in the same environment and want quick basic editing. I would recommend this setting for only basic adjustments and then preview the files and make more local adjustments to the images. Nice features which will save you time.

Page

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I used this feature not long ago on my post Evolution of an Instagrammer. It is a nice feature where you can select images and place them in the page template to create a photo album collage.pageThis can be used as you can see with my picture of Big Ben quite creatively. I would not overlook this tool because it has many creative possibilities, especially when you want to combine a lot of images together.

Combine

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This is very similar to page but you create the layout using the options this as well could be creative though would need a bit more time to experiment with.

Animated Gif

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I would not use this tool but for someone who wants a bit of movement in their images if would be for you. Using multiple images you can create a short animation. Think photos in “harry potter” when they look alive for example, in the “Daily Prophet”. It is easy to use and I created the one below in in a matter of 30 sec. Good for presentations and web design.

anigif

Print

Print is where you can print.

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Oh, it is so much more it is where you can print multiple images on a sheet, creating a contact print (the lost process in recent versions of Photoshop unless you purchase the extended edition). The options are plentiful and with a bit of trial and error you will find the best settings for your printer. This I like a lot. I have found that a lot of the features in print are what I would use and are not overly complicated so it only takes a few clicks and you are there.

Splitter

Ok, what is this?

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Well after a tiny bit of confusion this does seem an interesting feature. You can split an image up. OK, why?

Well this is good if you are printing a big image and don’t have a large format printer. Print images in parts and piece together later, also good for making puzzles.

I think I have people Christmas presents for next year sorted.

Colour picker and Screen Capture

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Once again more features that do what they say on the tin tool and good inclusions.

Impressions

Photoscape comes into a software market where there are good, bad, dreadful and excellent options. Usually when you have excellent you are paying for it. It would be unfair to compare Photoscape directly with Photoshop because they are two different beasts. In saying that, this seems to me more like Lightroom without the non-destructible editing.
Photoscape is a simple one window photo editor, where you can make simple adjustments that look good.
I like the fact that most adjustments are both simple A B C options or if you want a more in depth slider option. This means that for someone new they can start with baby steps and then move on when they need to. The software is in my opinion not aimed for a professional but an amateur or average joe, who wants more than just quick generic filter based options. The Raw converter for me is a big let-down and I hope this is an area worked on in the future as well as a colour balance option. I love the Page and Print options and for that Photoscape will stay installed just for those options alone.

On the mountain to the temple I would place this above Picasa and well above Gimp. I would say that once a user has out grown the program, which will happen in time they would have a good understanding of how they can edit their pictures and be ready for something meatier.

Perfect for a beginner.

If you are interested in Photoscape you can download it for free here  and if you want a more precise guide to features it can be found here.

If you have any comments about the post, either positive or negative please use the comment box below.

6 thoughts on “What the bleep is Photoscape!

  1. great post, very informative…I couldn’t agree with you more…it is strictly for amateurs such as myself who want a software that can do the basics…I may have mentioned I tried GIMP before I downloaded PhotoScape and found the learning curve way to steep for my liking…I do agree there will come a day when I feel confidant enough to purchase Photoshop, but that day is in the distance…I honestly don’t know what most of the settings in PhotoScape do for the photos at this point, I’m experimenting with the program to see what I come up with…once I’m confidant with using what PhotoScape has to offer Photoshop will probably begin to look more appealing to me…

    I was actually told this afternoon I should have my camera set to shoot raw…I’d never heard of it before so didn’t really understand…I guess shooting raw now won’t help if PhotoScape doesn’t have the tools to work with the photo?

    Thank you for taking the time to review this program…for as a total amateur it does all that I require for the time being…when I know more I’ll want to learn more…

    • I am glad you found the post useful. It think this program is small but has alot of potential for an amateur.

      Raw format is a file format that contains the raw data from a camera. Normally when you take a picture in jpeg, the file starts life as a raw file and then the camera makes automatic adjustments to the image and saves it as a jpeg. A raw file does not go through this process. Raw is sometimes likened to film. With a raw converter you can make changes to the exposure, contrast brightness etc to your taste. Since Photoscape does not offer these types of adjustments in the converter i would say that the format is obsolete for the program.

      If you have any questions about how to do something let me know and i will try to find the answer.

      • thank you for clarifying the raw format for me…it was suggested I take photos raw, but as you say if PhotoScape doesn’t offer the adjustments it isn’t necessary until I move on to something like Photoshop…also…thank you for your offer of help it is very kind of you!

        I do have one question…in your opinion, is the Nikon d3000 a descent camera for a amateur/beginner like myself? please don’t take the time to go into great detail as I know you are busy but I can purchase a gently used Nikon d3000 for $200.00 but not sure about it?

      • THe D3000 is an entry level DSLR, this means that it is for a beginner or keen amateur photographer. The camera has all the feel of a DSLR. A good camera to start with.
        The only thing i would add is that the auto focus in these cameras are not in the body but in the lens. When you do buy new lenses you would need to keep this in mind.

        Lastly when you are thinking about buying such a camera i would ask if you could have a play first. All cameras are different in their set up and although the camera can be expensive you will invest into it with lenses and flashes ect. This means that you will be tied to this brand.
        I shoot Canon, because when i switched to digital Canon for me had a better feel. and now i have invested in lenses and everything going to Nikon would be a huge financial loss.

        Hope this helps.

      • Yes…this does help…thank you very much for taking the time to give me your thoughts…it is appreciated!!! Yes, I understand what you are saying about giving the camera a try before buying… I’m hoping to have the camera this coming weekend to try it for a few days to see what I think.

        right now I’m enjoying taking photos, I use my iPhone or a Sony Cyber Shot borrowed from my son…I manage fine but when the opportunity came my way to purchase the Nikon for $200.00 I began to wonder if it was something I should consider…having said that I don’t want something too technical at this point as I know it would discourage me…

        thank you again for you opinion…
        cheers

      • When i was transitioning from film to digital i used a cyber shot great cameras. Would always recommend those who just want a camera. You are right about not wanting anything too technical. I hope the trial with it works out fine.

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