Finally got around to using the photo editing site Picnik last night, and I must say, it was a very positive experience. Picnik is a free online service that acts as a scaled-down, free version of Photoshop-type applications. The site offers free and premium accounts, but premium features are currently free, while the site is still in beta testing. Essentially, users create an account (or not), then upload images to Picnik from their documents, or from Flickr or Picasa web albums. Facebook became compatible with Picnik on May 23, bringing 100,000 new users in a week! After uploading, photos are edited, then returned to either the desktop or online source (Picnik is not a photo storage/sharing site.).
The Picnik interface is very user-friendly, and it allows for a wide range of ability levels to use and appreciate the site. This simplicity and the fact that accounts are not required makes this a particularly inviting tool for classroom teachers.
Even young students can understand and make good use of tools such as rotate, resize, crop, and sharpen. More advanced users will like the ability to control brightness, contrast, white balance, color controls, etc. The Creative Tools tab reveals some familiar and unfamiliar filters that can be applied to pictures for exciting effects. The familiar include black-and-white, sepia, matte, softened, and borders. Some of the coolest effects are, as stated earlier, free for a limited time only, including, but not limited to: local contrast, unsharp mask, tint, infrared, focal b/w, doodle, and gooify.
Picnik is a promising tool for teachers looking for a way to allow students to creatively edit photos, but who lack anything beyond the basic tools that come with Windows, which is often the case (at least in our district). The easy interaction with Flickr and Picasa also make it a great tool for sharing photos or creating group albums.