I was talking on the phone today with my west coast Mac360 counterpart and Macophile friend, Bambi Brannan, who suggested I try a new Mac utility to enhance digital photographs. I’m a long time Photoshop user who hates the expense and complexity of Adobe’s flagship product as well as the time required to produce creative digital effects on photographs. So, I was all ears. And eyes. Her list of Mac utilities had a couple of gems; one I love, one I wonder about.
Love & Hate
I have a love hate relationship with Photoshop. Sure, it does everything you can image to a digital photo; effects, filters, styles, automated actions. And, yes, it’s expensive. It’s the world’s digital tool to make women look beautiful. However, Photoshop is crazy complex in a world full of point and click fanatics like me.
The former is a true digital photograph utility for the point and click crowd who want instant gratification. The latter does something unique. It makes good digital photographs look like old faded, scratched, and abused photographs.
Funtastic Photos is just that. It’s fun to use. It’s point and click simple. You won’t need a degree in Photoshop to use and yet the results rival that of the more expensive standard.
This is an all-in-one utility that seems to do more than you can imagine can actually be done. This is no one trick pony. It’s the whole damned circus of effects, filters, edges, and sharing capability built in.
Pull photos direct from iPhoto and have no fear of damage. Funtastic Photos is non-destructive. Make dozens of changes to a photo but never change the original; it’s all ‘non-permanent and easily reversible.’
What do you get? Instant effects and filters. Dozens of borders to frame your photo. Different photo layouts for an instant montage. Dozens of single click styles and dozens more effects. Even better, whatever you do to a photo can be un-done, or changed and tweaked.
What’s not to like? Funtastic Photos opened all my JPEG photo files, and all my RAW image files, and even Photoshop PSD files. Reflections are all the rage and a click away. And everything can be shared with a couple of clicks (email, Flickr, Picasa, MobileMe, FaceBook).
If there’s a single Mac utility you need to create special effects on photos, this is it.
One Trick Pony
At first, I was turned completely off by PhotoStyler. When compared to Funtastic Photos is just seemed anemic. I hesitate to use the term one trick pony but it’s appropriate when compared to the huge list of features in Funtastic Photos.
Worse, I had to contend with what I thought was a glaringly obvious contradiction; a disparity in usefulness, an anachronism. Photo Styler’s raison_d’être seems to be to make good digital photographs look awfully bad. And that it does.
This elegant little utility, truly a one trick pony, will take your colorful, attractive, digital Kodachomatic-looking photograph and make it look old, weathered, scratched, tattered, torn, aged, faded, antiqued, and sepia toned to death.
“Why?,” I thought. “Why do this to otherwise very decent photographs?” As anyone know who has a creative muscle between the ears, the reason is that art is everywhere; even in the antiques. That’s what PhotoStyle does. It makes photos look old. On purpose.
With a click or two a photo looks like it’s one hundred years old, complete with washed out areas, a black and white look, scratches that look real, even those faded areas and frames reminiscent of old photo albums.
Why would you want to do that to a photo? Because you can. And because, in the right place—whether artwork, a photo montage, a web page, a gallery or whatever—the effects are priceless. A color photo looks good but is one of many. A photo that looks old and weathered is suddenly priceless in the right setting.
I have no doubt that if you simply compare features on a list, Funtastic Photos will be the value leader. There is nothing to not like.
PhotoStyler, which admittedly took me some time to find the value, warms my heart, and creates a priceless window to the past using technology of today. My mother and grandmother loved what I could do to photos that were just blobs of color.
Yes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as is value. Sometimes the one trick pony does just what you need. Nothing more. Nothing less.