Image Editing Software for Blogging: PicMonkey vs. Lightroom
As a blogger, visual representation of your story is a vital aspect of your brand. Luckily, there are resources available to you to help you achieve professional results without having to hire a professional designer. A small investment in some basic editing software and creativity are all you need to get started. Which one is best for you?
Canva is a free-use graphic design software that I highly recommend. Templates are offered in a wide array of designs, including blogging and e-books. Each template is organized by:
- Layout: Complete pre-made background, sized for design
- Elements: Grids, frames, shapes, lines, illustrations, icons, charts
- Text: Fonts and formatted logos
- Background: Color and texture
If you are looking for more, Canva also has a Canva for Work option that gives you access to over 300,000 templates, magic resizing of images for social media, and more for $12.95/month.
PicMonkey is an affordable, entry-level online photo editor that costs $0 – $8 per month to use. The free version is fairly bare-bones, and most bloggers who use this program regularly upgrade to the paid version. This includes:
- Basic Edits: Crop, rotate, sharpen, resize, change the exposure
- Special Effects: Apply a filter or texture to the entire picture or brush on to parts of the picture
- Portrait Retouching: Touch-up portraits with features such as remove blemish fix, whiten teeth, add, spray tan, weight loss, etc.
- Overlays:Add text, graphics, or frames to the image
PicMonkey is an easy-to-use all around option. However, talk to any photo editor and she’ll quickly redirect you to Adobe Lightroom. Why? This intermediate-level online and offline image management program and editor gives bloggers much more control over edits. Each editing feature is on a slider, allowing for specific and targeted changes. Changes can be made to the entire photo or only to parts of the photo. In a nutshell, Lightroom is like PicMonkey on steroids. And it’s the gold-standard among photo editors.
As an intermediate-level image editor, Lightroom does take some instruction, but luckily, that’s where I come into play! With these guidelines, you’ll be up and running with this program in no time.
Adobe Lightroom software may be purchased outright for $143 (latest version is 6) or via month-to-month subscription (Creative Cloud/CC) for $9.99/mo. The subscription comes with both Lightroom and Photoshop (bonus!), along with automatic software updates (released about every 3-4 months) and mobile workflows. The outright purchase comes with Lightroom only. With the subscription, you don’t need to be online to use the product and access to your work continues if your subscription ends.
Import a photo to edit
Lightroom has several different modes. To import a photo, start in the Library mode. Select this mode by clicking on the Library tab, located in the upper, right-hand corner of your screen.
Once the Import tab is selected, a new menu will appear on the left-hand side that allows you to search files on your computer. First, select the folder where your picture is saved. In the below example, my picture was in the file labeled Pictures. Second, uncheck the All Photos tab. When this tab is checked, all photos in the selected file folder are imported. In this example, we only want to import specific photos from within the selected file folder. Third, check the box associated with the picture you would like to import. Forth, select the Import tab, located in the lower right-hand corner. At the top of the screen, the copy option will be automatically selected. This selection simply means that when Lightroom grabs the picture from the file folder where it was stored, it makes a copy of it. Your original photo remains in the file folder.
Once you’ve clicked the Import tab, you’ll be taken to a different screen with your imported picture. Once at this new screen, you’ll want to change to Develop mode to edit your picture. To do this, click on the Develop mode tab.
Edit your picture
Once in Develop mode, you can begin editing your picture.
On the right-hand side, Lightroom has numerous drop-down menus with sliders and optional changes. Photo editors can spend hours tweaking each slider. To save time, most professionals use presets, which are predefined slider settings designed to achieve certain looks. The preset menu is located on the left-hand side of the screen.
With this photo, I wanted to recreate the look of old Polaroid film, so I selected the Polaroid Film preset from the Brixton Film Essentials Collection, located on the left-hand side of the screen in the preset menu. With the click of the button, this preset changed 41 slider settings to recreate this specific look. In comparison, PicMonkey would have made only about 5-10 changes with their filters.
Next, I wanted to introduce light into the image and freshen his look, so that I could use the photo for another purpose. I also wanted to protect the skin tone of my subject, so I used a portrait-specific preset from the Luxe Portrait Collection: Freshen. Since the changes were subtler, I zoomed in on the photo to get a better look. Using this preset saved me 21 editing steps, by changing multiple sliders all at the same time, with the click of a button.
Export your edited picture
Once you’ve finished editing your photo, you’re ready to export the file out of Lightroom. To do this, go to the drop-down menu located at the top of your screen. Select File, then select Export from the drop-down menu.
Once export is selected, you’ll be taken to the following screen:
Under Export Location, choose to export to a specific folder. In this example, the location selected is the Google Drive. Within Google Drive, it will be placed in a folder called Edited Lightroom Photos. Under File Naming, click the drop-down menu and select edit to rename the file.
The Video section does not need altering. The File Settings section lets you choose which type of file you’d like to save your image as and the color spectrum. Unless you have specific needs, leave these at default settings. Image sizing should be set at the maximum allowed by your posting venue (i.e. Facebook shared images should be 1200px x 630px), but greater than the original size of the photo. To ensure this, check the don’t enlarge box. Set Output Sharpening for screen or paper. We recommend Standard or High settings. Finally, click the Export tab and your file will be exported to the appropriate location previously specified.
Well, it’s no secret that we recommend Lightroom software and Canva over PicMonkey. Lightroom can simply do more, which results in a high-quality image and product. Obviously Lightroom can do soooooo much more than what I’ve summarized here, but this guide gives you all the basics that you need to get started.