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The Online Mom provides internet technology advice and information to help parents protect their kids, encourage responsible behavior and safely harness the power of technology in the new digital world. Social networking, photo sharing, video games, IM & texting, internet security, cyberbullying, educational resources, the latest on tech hardware, gadgets and software for kids 3-8, tweens and teens, and more.

Website of the Week: 6/1/2009


Ever taken a photo that’s almost great? One where the color is just a little bit off, or where you would like to change the focus a little, or where you wish you could smooth out a wrinkle or two? Well, it’s time to check out the photo-editing tools at Picnik.

At Picnik you can pretty much do anything to a photo. You can fix the usual issues of exposure, poor color, and red-eye, as well as rotate, crop, resize, and sharpen. A lot of the tools are one-click fixes. It was amazing what one click of the auto-fix option did to an already good quality, professionally-taken picture!

The real fun starts when you choose the Create tab. Choose “effects” and you can turn your photo into anything from a heat map to a pencil sketch to a sepia image straight out of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid! You can also add text, choose from dozens of fun stickers, add a frame, or select a different corner finish. The always-welcome “touch-up” feature allows you to hide that blemish, whiten those teeth a bit, or even change your eye-color if you want to startle Mom!

Picnik also has some advanced tools for professionals and a “Sandbox” section, which allows photographers to completely manipulate photos using the ominously-named “pixel bender” technology!

With Picnik, you can pull in photos from almost anywhere. Your hard drive, of course, plus Flickr, Picasa, Facebook, Photobucket, etc. You can even enter the url for any web site, (your blog, MySpace page, etc.) and Picnik can pull photos from there too!

Dozens of the regular edit and touch-up tools are free, as are many of the frames, fonts, and effects. There is an option to upgrade to Picnik Premium for $24.95 a year, which basically gives you more of everything and some of those additional tools for the pros. Both the free and Premium options will allow you to save and store photos, e-mail them to friends, or send them back out to other sharing sites like Flickr.

The Picnik applications can run on a PC or a Mac, provided your browser is relatively recent – IE 6.0, Firefox 2.0, Safari 2 or higher. You will also need to download Flash 9 if not already installed. Picnik itself runs out of the browser and requires no other downloads.

It’s true, there are lots of photo-editing sites out there – FotoFlexer, Photobucket, and Photoshop, to name just three – but none of them are as easy-to-use and as friendly as Picnik. Test drive it with any old photo from your hard drive. You will be amazed at what you can do!       

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