I’m beginning a series on free tools that are designed to edit photographs in the cloud.  There is a surprisingly vast collection of free photo-ending applications in the cloud and I will cover many of them in the next several posts.  These applications range from some very simple ones with limited features to one that is so sophisticated that it can, for many users replace Photoshop and the interface even looks like Photoshop.  Also there is an application called Photoshop.com from Adobe that has a lot to nice features including a generous amount of free space to store your photographs.

One of the first cloud photo applications was Picnik.  Picnik gives you two free options.  You can create an account with user ID and password and then you can store a limited number of jpegs on their website.  Or you can select jpegs from your computer, work on them with Picnik and then save the results to your computer.  This second alternative is not a true cloud computing solution since the files are not stored in the cloud, so if you want the complete benefits of the cloud, create an account and store your pictures online.  You can also edit pictures that you have stored on Flickr, Facebook, or Picasa.

The screenshot shows some of the things you can do with Picnik.  Besides “Autofix”, you can rotate, crop, and resize an image.  Among the image editing options are a fairly sophisticated exposure adjustment with some advanced features including a histogram display that can help you judge the proper exposure. 

You can adjust the colors in three ways: by letting Picnik guess the correct colors, by using a “neutral picker”, and by adjusting the color temperature and saturation.  If the subject has “red-eye” from a flash that is close to the subject’s eye level, they you can fix the red-eye with the red-eye adjustment.

The create tab has many useful and fun capabilities.  You can superimpose text in your choice of colors over the image.  Your can transform the image by applying filters, such as black and White, Sepia, “Gritty”, etc.  You can attach stickers and add one of several frames. 

There are some Touch-up tools that require a paid premium account.  The premium account also lets you use the “Advanced” tab, with tools such as levels, curves, burning, dodging and cloning.

If your requirements in a photo editor are fairly straight forward, take a look at Picnik.