\n\nWelcome to the winter Biannual Blogathon Bash!! \u00a0If you've never heard of this bash before, I encourage you to click the image above to find out what its all about. \u00a0Its full of eager-to-improve bloggers, and chances to win PRIZES! \u00a0What's not to love?? ;)\n\nSo for this Mini Challenge, I've compiled a list of free\/inexpensive photo editing tools and why they'll be a special addition to your blogging tools. \u00a0At the end of this post, you'll find your challenge instructions that you can choose to do in exchange for prize entries at the main Bash website!\n\nTo give a bit of a background on my photo editing\u00a0knowledge, its something that I went to college for. \u00a0I had my first taste of delicious SLR photo taking, and editing (with use of Adobe Photoshop), and I haven't ever looked back since. \u00a0In fact, out of the entire course, the main topic that I had loved and excelled at (imho) was photo reconstruction. \u00a0I just LOVED being able to take an old worn photo, with it cracks and tears, and turn it back into the picture it originally was. \u00a0But enough about my resume!\n\nEvery program listed will have the basic Image resize option, as well as some filtering options to improve photos. \u00a0Starting with my favourite first....\n#1 - Adobe Photoshop CS2\nYes, I did say at the beginning of this post that I'll be discussing the free and inexpensive tools available, and guess what? \u00a0Adobe's CS2 Creative Suite is actually available for free right now! \u00a0I'm not sure if there's a time limit for how long it will be live and I'm *crossing fingers* that we'll be able to get through this weekend with Photoshop still available for download. \u00a0If you go to Adobe.com, sign up for a free membership, and then go to this list page that has all that CS2 has to offer, you'll have a gorgeous tool to handle all of your photo needs.\n\nThe best thing about Adobe Photoshop, is not the program, tho having this user-friendly beauty on your computer is pretty sweet; what's best is all the tutorials available online on how to use this program. \u00a0If I'm stuck on a project, all I have to google is the issue and add "Photoshop Tutorial" at the end, and I'm given a wealth of information in return. \u00a0As bloggers editing our photos for use online, the tool that we would use most would be Image>Resize\n\n\nThe Pros:\n\n\tAvailable for both Windows and Mac OS.\n\tSavable Layers, meaning that you can add a watermark to a picture as a second layer, and if you don't like the position, you can open and re-position\u00a0the watermark layer if you've saved the .psd file.\n\tIntuitive Design, if its your first time opening the program, it may take a bit to get the hang of it, but it is layed out in a way that you should find the options you need with some ease.\n\tMinimize the file size without losing quality - not all photo editing tools save images in the same way, and Photoshop has mastered the capability of saving your image with the smallest file size possible.\n\tA massive collection of filters and brushes to colour correct any "imperfections" in your photos.\n\tBatch editing - meaning that you can resize a whole bunch of photos all at once, or even add a watermark to all photos without much hassle.\n\nThe Cons:\n\n\tThe edition I'm showcasing here is CS2, and this was built with Windows XP in mind. \u00a0If you're using Windows 7 or 8, technically CS2 isn't designed to work on those platforms. \u00a0The good news? \u00a0I've installed it both on Windows 7 and 8 and while its not a perfect install, it still works.\n\nImportant Notes:\n\n\tIf you choose to download the CS2 suite, especially if you're using Win 7 or 8, I would definitely recommend avoiding the Suite collection and just download the programs that you want individually. \u00a0I actually couldn't get Photoshop to work on Win 7 when I tried installing it through the Suite package.\n\tDon't register the product. \u00a0I actually registered the Illustrator program without any issue, but Photoshop wouldn't work on Win 7 after attempting to register it. \u00a0Luckily, I was able to uninstall, remove all the files and reinstall with it working again, but I wouldn't tempt fate by trying to register again.\n\n#2 - TechSmith's Snagit\nTechSmith's Snagit is an inexpensive choice ($50 US), with some bells and whistles that makes this photo editing tool highly valuable. \u00a0It's also: a desktop image capturing tool, so you can easily grab anything you see on your desktop\/browser; and a video capturing tool, so you can create videos of whatever you're seeing on your desktop (which is great if you're trying to teach internet\/software related topics.)\n\n\nThe Pros:\n\n\tAvailable for both Windows and Mac OS.\n\tSnagit has an easy to use watermarking tool (in fact I have a video tutorial that I made with Snagit showing just how to use this tool!)\n\tWhile it doesn't specifically have layers for an image, it does allow object moving within the image before you save it.\n\tSnagit has an\u00a0intriguing\u00a0photo filter called Histo-contrast that does a REALLY great job of brightening an image without losing definition.\n\nThe Cons:\n\n\tNo true layers. While you can save a file with a .snag file format to reopen a file for editing, it's hard to keep tabs with any and all layers available in that edited photo. \u00a0If two \u00a0layers looks like part of a seamless picture, you won't necessarily see the two layers unless you click around the photo to see what's what.\n\n#3 - SumoPaint\nSumoPaint is essentially Photoshop online, and its free. \u00a0Its an online app that has a look and feel that reminds me of an earlier version of Adobe Photoshop. \u00a0To be honest, I use this app when I have something quick to edit while I'm away from my work computers (Ie. the computers that don't already have #1 and\/or #2 above.)\n\n\nThe Pros:\n\n\tLike the program its emulating, layers are available, and you can save your project as a .sumo file. \u00a0This means you can work on it some more at a later date before turning it into a .jpg or .png once you feel its ready to post.\n\tIntuitive design, which makes simple tasks like resizing images easy to do.\n\tIf you have a limited amount of hard drive space left (I would totally suggest investing in an external drive,) or if you have any issues that would make installing a program next to impossible (reformat your computer NOW if that's the case,) this program is not going to take up any more space, 'cause you don't have to download anything to use it.\n\nThe Cons:\n\n\tAs I've mentioned, it's online. \u00a0This means that you may be limited to your internet speed and bandwidth (I'm actually not sure how it can effect bandwidth truly, but at some point you'll be downloading\/saving your files from Sumo onto your computer and that will take a minimal amount of bandwidth, but some nonetheless.)\n\tIf your browser is prone to crashing, you could possibly lose all of your hard work if you didn't save it during regular intervals.\n\n#4 - Paint.Net\nPaint.Net is again, much like the big contender that is Adobe Photoshop. \u00a0It has all that you can possibly need and more to edit your images for your blog. \u00a0In fact, this is the one that the Hubs swears by. \u00a0I can't give it a Pros\/Cons because I personally have never used it. \u00a0And that's only because I hadn't the need, what with my tools above. \u00a0Paint.Net does have a huge following and has been listed on both LifeHacker and PC World as awesome apps. \u00a0They also have a great list of tutorials available to help make you a pro in no time!\n\n"Why isn't Windows Paint on this list?" you hopefully are not thinking, but just in case you are, that program is useless and if you've been using it to fix your photos, please stop. \u00a0It can't even resize an image\u00a0properly\u00a0without giving you a potential ulcer.\nHonorable Mentions\nHere's a few more photo editing programs that I have not tried, but looks like they work well:\n\n\tPixlr.com\u00a0- similar to SumoPaint, also has a mobile app available\n\tGimp 2.0\n\tFotoFlexer.com - seems to be able to edit photos from online repositories, such as Photobucket or Flickr.\n\nTime for a Mini Challenge\nThe challenge may be a little too easy, but hey, something needs to be quick and easy for you this weekend, right? \u00a0;)\n\nMy challenge to you is to download or bookmark one of the photo editing tools listed above (any of them, even one of the Honorable Mentions if that's what works for you), and use that program to resize\/filter\/watermark an image that you will be using in a blog post this weekend!\n\nOR, comment below if you already use one of these programs or are using a different one that you think does the job beautifully for you for your blogging already. \u00a0The list above is by no means complete, so I'm definitely looking forward to your thoughts on your favourite photo editor.\n\nOnce you've published that blog post, please leave a comment with a link to it and what program you used (mainly so we can verify that you've completed this challenge for prizing!)\nHappy Blogathoning!!