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Review: Adobe Photoshop goes online with Photoshop Express

Photoshop Express featured Adobe has finally opened up the beta of Photoshop Express, the long-awaited online version of Adobe Photoshop. I’ve just finished running it through it’s paces and I am impressed.

Photoshop express requires registration to use. You get access to the online editing tool and a relatively meager 2 GB of space for photos at a custom URL which you can organize into a slick public gallery and slideshows. It won’t replace dedicated photo sharing like Flickr (no comments, limited interaction) but for casual users just being able to share a few albums and slideshows may be enough. By default, photos you upload to the service are private until you move them into your public gallery.

Photoshop Express

The interface should be immediately familiar to anyone who has used Adobe Lightroom. The default view of your photos mimics Lightroom’s browse mode and even includes the ability to rate and caption your uploads. Unfortunately it does not support RAW editing. That would have been killer.

Editing is also very much like Lightroom. Unlike Photoshop, it does not support layers, masking, or really any of the features that make Photoshop, well, Photoshop. It does provide easy, one-click access to the most used functions for everyday usage: cropping, red-eye removal, saturation, white balance, sharpening, etc. It also provides a version of the healing brush and highlight and fill light correction. Effects include black and white conversion, cutouts, color adjustments, sketch filter, and distortion.

Undo works similarly to Picasa where you can undo a specific effect or action. As you make changes, checkboxes appear next to the tool you used that allow you to toggle the change on or off. It’s not quite “undo” but it works well enough.

Photoshop Express edit screen

Adding photos to the service is easy. You can upload from your own computer or pull photos from your Facebook, Photobucket, or Picasa account. Flickr was conspicuously missing. Only JPG photos are supported.

Overall, Photoshop Express is an impressive and polished service. It is positioned to become the “gateway drug” to the entire family of Photoshop products. It won’t replace Photoshop, and it would have been more appropriate to name it Lightroom Express, but it does most things that casual users need. Only time will tell if it can succeed against competitors like Picnik and Picasa.

Related: Review of Picnik

Take our poll. Do you use an online photo editor?

Site redesign

I’ve just pushed out a new layout and design for the site that I think you’re going to like. It’s much more than just a cosmetic change. (You RSS readers especially should definitely click through and check it out.)

The entire site has been reorganized to make it easier to find the content you are looking for and to highlight the great content we’ve always had but you may not have known about. For starters, the home page now showcases a few featured articles. These are the “meat” of Photodoto. Highlighting them like this prevents them from getting lost among less meaty posts (news, announcements, etc.).

Homepage

Immediately below the featured posts is a new section of “Top Posts.” These are some of the most popular posts we’ve published. The center column contains regular blog posts. You’ll also notice that each post is categorized. You can even click on any category title to see all of the posts within that category. All of our content has been broken down into 10 categories but the major ones are listed at the top of every page: Photography 101; Tips, Tutorials, Hacks; Reviews; News; Reader Photos; and Essays.

Clicking Photography 101, for example, brings you to a page where you can begin reading through all of our instructional content. (Which I’m pretty proud of, by the way.) The archive page has also been completely reorganized and stuffed with useful links. You can now browse our archives by date, category, what’s popular, tags, or search.

Archives

The right side of the page is left over for subscription options, miscellaneous pages, the lens database, links, and advertisements.

I hope these changes help you get more out of Photodoto.com. I’ll probably be making minor tweaks and adjustments over the next couple of days. Please let me know if you’re experiencing any problems using the site or have any suggestions.

Selecting foregrounds in the GIMP (video)

This video is a quick demonstration of the foreground selection tool in the GIMP, a powerful and free image editing application. The foreground selection tool gives photographers a quick and easy way to isolate portions of a photograph for masking or other effects.

Music by sunbyrn.

Flickr for Good—A Joint Project

flickrtechsoup.jpgFlickr has caught on not only with individuals, but also with certain organizations. They have discovered that flickr can bring attention to their causes, their members, their goals, and their achievements. Recently, flickr and TechSoup, which helps nonprofits share and learn about technology, began a new program called Flickr for Good.

Flickr for Good will provide 10,000 almost-free pro memberships to registered nonprofit organizations and certain libraries in the United States and Canada. I say “almost-free” because while the memberships themselves are free, there is a small administrative fee of $3 per account.

Many groups have already taken advantage of this offer. For example, The Nature Conservancy has a flickr site that ran a digital photography contest that received more than 11,000 entries. Interplast, a group that provides free reconstructive surgery to children in underdeveloped areas, shows before and after photos of patients, as well as images of their own workers. Oxfam sponsored a Starbucks photo petition showing images of people holding signs that said “I support Ethiopian Coffee Farmers.”

Organizations can use flickr to publicize themselves and their work, and also to share information internally. Some groups have posted online photo tutorials, while others have shared photos of potential venues, building materials, or meetings.

To see if your organization qualifies for one of these accounts, check out TechSoup’s NonProfit Eligibility Requirements and Donor Partner Restrictions.

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