Monday, April 7, 2008

Adobe Photoshop Express

Photoshop Now Online...Sort of
What if I told you that Adobe Photoshop was now available for free? Would you be interested? Would you be skeptical? After all, Adobe Photoshop Elements 6.0 costs around $99 in stores (slightly cheaper at Sam's Club), and the full-blown professional-level Photoshop CS3 costs over $600 retail. It is available for free? From what software bootlegger? I'm sure all of this is going through your mind. Well, it is free...sort of. Remember some years ago when Adobe was bundling a product called Photoshop Album for free with digital cameras and some scanners? Then it was replaced by Photoshop Elements, which now includes a new and improved photo organizer. All of this you have to pay for. Wouldn't it be nice to have some of these Adobe photo features for free on the Web? That is sort of the idea here. Adobe wants to compete with Google and Shutterfly, Kodak and Snapfish, flickr and picnik.com, all of which are Web-based services. You see, more and more software is becoming Web-based with the Web 2.0 boom, and Adobe wants to be a part of that market.

Adobe's hot new product is free, and it's called Photoshop Express: http://www.photoshop.com/express

Here is what it offers:
  • 2 GB of free online photo storage.
  • Nice basic features like cropping, rotating, red eye reduction and fill light.
  • They also have included six basic effects as well. One called Pop Color is fun to use, as well as Sketch, which turns your photo into a hand-sketched picture.
  • A cool online photo gallery where you can display your photos in a slideshow, in 3D or a grid.
  • One thing I particularly like is that when you click on the "Edit Pictures" button, and it brings up the editing buttons, most of the editing features of Photoshop Express give you various choices of what your photo will look like before you make your correction choice. You get little thumbnails that show how each change will affect your photo, and this is nice for less-than-advanced photo editors who don't want to take the time to play with sliders and brushes.
  • The ability to save photos from the Photoshop Express site to other locations, such as Facebook, your blog, your desktop computer, etc.
  • Although they do limit you to photos under 2 mb, you can load as many as you want.
  • Photoshop Express will allow you to connect directly to your other photo sites like Photobucket and Picasa.

Now, the Photoshop purists will probably thumb their noses at this online Photoshop offering, saying something like "this isn't Photoshop at all. It's merely Adobe trying to cash in on the large online photo sharing and photo storage market." Of course, they are right. These purists may also ask "Where are the channels, masks and advanced filters?" They are in the full-blown version of Photoshop, not here. But, even the purists may find something to like in this online Photoshop. The generous 2 gb of online storage is nothing to scoff at. Everyone could benefit from that kind of free online storage, and the photo editing features aren't that bad, especially if you're in a hurry. They're better than most of what you'll find online, and the convenience of the online photo slideshow, gallery et al. Well, I predict that one day there will only be 3 software companies in the world: Adobe, Google and Microsoft. For Adobe, this is a necessary step, and probably long overdue.

All you need to do now is set up a free account, and you're on your way to using Photoshop Express. Give it a try and let me know what you think. http://www.photoshop.com/express

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