Editing photos, as easy as pie at Picnik

Picnik is part of a new class of Web-based photo editing tools that’s making sprucing up photos easy and fun. Picnik does a lot of the things that desktop photo editors do, but with a lot less work. The basics are all there: cropping, resizing, red-eye reduction. There are numerous effects that can be used to enhance great pictures, rescue bad ones or just to be silly.

Pictures can be pulled in from fickr, Picasa, Facebook, a Web search, URL or uploaded from a computer. It’s easier to select pictures using Picnik than it is on a desktop — unlike Windows, Picnik uses all of the meta data stored with the picture. Type “Venice” and see all of the pictures tagged Venice, instead of having to hunt through the file system.

Here’s a picture from Venice:


What caught my eye that day were the colors of the umbrella. I wanted to highlight them. I added the focal B&W effect. (This really should be called focal color.) I also wanted to convey the sense of gloominess from the high water in the piazza. The vignette effect darkened the edges.

Piazza San Marco

I wanted to highlight the reflection of the umbrella, too, but the focal B&W effect can only be applied once.

Picnik currently offers 19 effects, including sepia, rounded edges, tint, duo-tone. 11 of the 19 are marked “plus,” indicating that Picnik plans to make them part of a premium offering. A cute frog picture next to each effect shows what it does. Each offers an explanation of what it does, plus suggestions of what types of photos to use it on. I’d like to see them illustrate the suggestions with pictures that show off the best uses.

Picnik’s unlimited undo makes it relatively painless to experiment. Right now, this is linear – keep hitting undo to get back to where you were. The undo feature would be enhanced by letting you see the list of changes and undoing ones that you select.

Here’s another picture I wanted to edit:

Josh and Diane Wii box

I cropped it, added some text and doodled on it.

Josh and Diane Wii box

When you’re done editing you can save the picture back to flickr, Facebook, etc. or download it to your PC. The whole process is intuitive and just works.

The hardest part is remembering how to spell Picnik.


About Rakesh Agrawal

Rakesh Agrawal is Senior Director of product at Amazon (Audible). Previously, he launched local and mobile products for Microsoft and AOL. He tweets at @rakeshlobster.
This entry was posted in facebook, flickr, photography, web 2, web 2.0. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Editing photos, as easy as pie at Picnik

  1. caroline langford says:

    I was wondering if you knew how to delete a picture which someone has sent to you, by tagging, on facebook? I cannot seem to delete pictues which people have tagged me in on! please help!

  2. In Facebook, you can delete the tag that identifies you. Underneath the picture, you will see your name and a link that says “Remove tag”.

    That will remove your name from the picture so that people can’t search based on it.

    It won’t remove the image though. If you didn’t upload it, you can’t remove it. Your best bet is to ask the person who uploaded it to remove it.

  3. Janitor Mann says:

    That’s really a stupid site. People can put pictures of you on there THAT YOU NEVER SEE and YOU CAN’T DELETE THEM.
    If YOU upload a photo as a suggestion for a friend’s profile picture YOU nor THEY can delete it. In the Facebook contract, all these photos BECOME PROPERTY OF FACEBOOK.
    I recommend NOT USING this site AT ALL. It’s also full of unchecked viruses, worms, and other nasties, and there is no way to control it due to its cross-site and cross-domain scripting and linking. BAD BAD BAD.

  4. Great post very informative! i should be careful in uploading my pictures in facebook.

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