You’ve made your memes, GIFs, and illustrations and you’ve created your Pinterest and Flickr accounts. Now you’re ready to dig into digital photo editing. My final article this month will discuss some websites where you can download free high-res stock photos as well as websites that will allow you to edit your digital photos. Once you have a set of beautifully edited photos, you can share them with the world via any social media platform you choose to use.
Free High Resolution Photo Websites:
There are many websites available that let you use free, high resolution stock imagery. Why not just use Google Images? The first reason is because Google images are often low-resolution unless you set your search parameters to only search large file sizes. But more importantly, it’s because Google sources images from all over the internet and we have no idea what the copyright restrictions are on many of these. Chances are, you can use these images and no one would ever know or even care. But why bother potentially infringing on someone else’s copyright when there are better photo options out there? Below is a list of websites where users upload high res photos specifically in the hopes that someone will be able to find them useful. All websites offer free photos and ask for nothing in return except the very occasional photo credit.
This is one of two websites I personally use all the time to get stock photos. You’ll need to create a free account to download high-res images. Once you have an account, you’re all set. One thing to note, most photos are free to use as is, though a handful of photographers have posted special instructions for the use of their photos (i.e. – notification of use ahead of time or a photo credit).
This is the other website I use most frequently to get high resolution stock images. There is no account needed- just search and download. This website has some incredible images to use. Just browse through the free photos section for inspiration. Also, for those of you looking to take up amateur photography in your free time, Morguefile has some excellent photography tutorials: http://www.morguefile.com/classroom
Wikimedia Commons: www.commons.wikimedia.org
Wikimedia Commons is an entire online community dedicated to sharing public domain images, video, and sound clips. All content is free to use, even in a commercial capacity, and anyone is free to upload content as long as it is considered having educational value. Wikimedia Commons is easy to search and is full of excellent media to use.
If you’re looking for vintage photos, this is the place to go. This website hosts high-res vintage imagery for free use. Anyone can search and download images (though the search tool is very broad) and users can create a free account and log-in and share. Have vintage photos of your library you would like to share with the world? Share them here.
I just learned about Compfight recently and, so far, it looks pretty amazing. There are tons interesting, high res photos for users to download. The only catch is the mix of free and for purchase images available. Luckily, there is an easy way to single out the free images. On the left hand side there are search limiters and if you click on ‘Creative Commons’ and ‘Only Originals,’ only free images will display. Each image comes with HTML code that you can copy and paste unto your website to give a photo credit.
PicMonkey is a very easy to use photo editing website that requires no downloading. Basic editing is free and provides more than enough tools for you to use including cropping, resizing, color adjustment, text options, and more. There are more bells and whistles if you choose to upgrade (which is a steal at $33/year). The upgrade includes more advanced features like cloning, texture overlay, and advanced touch-ups. PicMonkey Collage is a great tool that lets users create great looking photo collages easily with uploaded photos. Unlike other web editing tools, I found that the interface and icons that PicMonkey uses are more intuitive and may be easier for users less familiar with photo editing.
PicMonkey Help: http://www.picmonkey.com/help
So far, Pixlr is my favorite photo editing website. It’s easy to use and is entirely free. There are three levels: Pixlr Express, which offers most of your basic editing tools such as auto adjustment, resizing, cropping, text, and borders. The Pixlr Editor level looks quite a bit like the Photoshop interface and offers many of the same tools. For a free web tool, this is incredibly advanced and requires no software download. The Pixlr-O-Matic reminds me a bit of Instagram in that all you really do is upload a picture, add a series of filters and borders, and download or share it.
An indepth Pixlr tutorial by Chris Hooper on YouTube:
Gimp is essentially the downloadable freeware version of Adobe Photoshop. It is a very powerful program that can handle many of the same complex edits as its professional counterpart…and did I mention it’s free? It takes a little bit more time to learn, but once you get the hang of it, it’s an incredibly powerful tool.
Picasa is Google’s free downloadable photo editing software. It’s much simpler than Gimp with just your basics. It provides an easy, intuitive interface with simple tools and commands. It’s a very good, basic photo editing program. One very cool feature: since it is downloaded to your computer, it automatically links to the photos folder on your hard drive, similar to iPhoto and Windows Photo Gallery. However, it’s also linked right to your Google account, so uploading and storing your photos online after editing them is very easy.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about visual social media, meme generators, digital photo editing or sharing. Thank you!
Children's Services Supervisor
Madison Public Library
39 Keep Street
Madison, NJ 07940
973-377-0722 ext. 3
emily.weisenstein [at] mainlib.org