This month, I’d like to spend some time on programs that can be used to edit your photos after they have been taken. If you have a SmartPhone, some basic editing software comes with your phone. If you have a “real” camera, the manufacturer may include an editing program either on a CD, or as a downloadable program for use on your desktop or laptop computer. However, there are many more editing apps out there.

“But wait,” you may ask, “Do I need to edit my photos at all? Every photo turns out just the way I wanted it to look.” Ok, but some of us take photographs that don’t always look “perfect.” Common reasons for editing include lightening or darkening your photo, illuminating shadow areas, straightening and cropping, and removing the evil “red-eye” from people’s or pet’s eyes. Some programs offer fun features such as providing “frames,” making collages and adding type to your photos.

If you are using a SmartPhone, I generally don’t recommend doing your editing on the phone itself. The small screen makes it difficult to accurately use the editing controls, and it can be more difficult to see the effects of your changes. So the editing software I’m discussing here is intended for use on a Desktop or Laptop and, in some cases, on Tablet computers.

In doing research for this column, I ran across PC Magazine’s recent review of 10 popular editing programs. Here is the link to their recommendations:,2817,2369237,00.asp I know this is a long URL address but if you are reading this article on the website, you can simply click on the link.

Of the10 recommended editing software products shown, I am familiar with five of them. Two freebies are included with Windows 10 (Microsoft Photos) for PC users and MacOS (Photos) for Apple Mac users. Depending on your computer platform, either app will provide a respectable introduction to the photo editing process.

At the top end of PC Magazine’s recommendations are Adobe’s “PhotoShop” and “Lightroom.” They are, for all practical purposes, industry standards for commercial users. They are both great products, but, in my opinion, Photoshop especially has a pretty steep learning curve. They are also expensive. The $9.99 price shown in the PC mag article is a monthly subscription fee.

After you’ve used the “freebie” software supplied with your computer for a while and, if you are still interested in expanding your editing skills, the program I recommend from personal experience over several years is Adobe’s “PhotoShop Elements 19,” currently priced at $69.99 through Amazon.

“Elements” is very capable and easy-to-use for beginners, and offers lots of room to grow. It’s also chock-full of automated routines for easily adding type, frames, collages and corrective effects. Adobe offers a free 30-day trial and that should give you enough time to see if it’s worth the cost to you.

Adobe’s video training is generally excellent and due to the popularity of “Elements” there is an abundance of material on YouTube to help the learning process along. Make no mistake, there is a learning curve, but if you are really interested in stepping up, it will likely be fun as well. This may be the only editing program you will ever need, however, if you eventually want to move up to more advanced programs such PhotoShop and/or Lightroom, experience with PhotoShop Elements will make the transition easier.

Space constraints make it difficult to include detailed information in “Photography for Everyone.” More info is available for Adobe “Elements” at If you want more info on any of the topics covered in this column, have general questions or comments, or an idea for a future column, please send me an email at I want and need your feedback to make sure this column is relevant and worth reading in future issues of the Saddlebag Notes.

Jim has a Fine Arts degree with a major in Photography and over 50 years experience in a wide range of photographic disciplines.