Monday, August 30, 2010

Post-Processing with Picnik and Picasa


I have been a huge fan of Picnik, the online post-processing application.  It's very user-friendly, has pretty good capabilities, and is reasonably priced (free for basic; $24.95/year for premium). I had previously been flustered by Photoshop and similar apps, and Picnik was the first app that allowed me to start actually learning post-processing because it was so intuitive.

One thing I didn't like about Picnik was that it was online only. It was convenient to use for photos that were already in my web albums, but was tedious to use for photos that were still on my computer (which required uploading them first). And I really disliked not having offline copies of edited photos (unless I patiently downloaded each photo into my PC).

For a while, I kept wishing that Picnik would create an offline version. That didn't materialize, so I just started learning Corel Paintshop Photo Pro. In the back of my mind, I fantasized that Google would try to beat Photoshop at its own game by integrating Picnik into Picasa (another product I like).

Wouldn't you know it, Google acquired Picnik. When that happened, I figured it was only a matter of time before Picnik became integrated into Picasa. That's why when my Picnik subscription expired, I chose not to renew it first, biding my time. :)

A few weeks ago, Picasa v.3.8 came out and it indeed integrated Picnik, at least partially. Now, there is a button in Picasa that lets you launch Picnik. But it's a bit more than that. The photo gets uploaded automatically to Picnik and then saved back to your computer when you're done. My gripe about offline photos therefore was partly addressed. I'm sure that eventually, Picnik will become offline through Picasa. I would bet Google's Picasa team is working on that integration and will release it as a major upgrade: Picasa v5 or something.

If I already have Corel PSP X3, Picasa, and Photoshop Elements 8 (I refuse to use pirated Photoshop btw), why would I subscribe to Picnik? The short answer is that I like Picnik's ease of use and speed. I also particularly like Picnik's ability to 'paint' some effects (like curves adjustments), similar to PSE's Smart Brush. (Corel should take a hint from that idea.) Combined with the reasonable price and the ease of saving photos into different web albums (Picasa, Flickr, Facebook, among others), I think Picnik is worth the subscription. Someday though, I still hope that Google will not only integrate Picnik as an offline application but also acquire Paintshop Photo Pro to provide a worthy challenger to the Photoshop monopoly. ;)