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What Is Online Image Processing?

Nicole Etolen
Nicole Etolen

Online imaging processing is a service provided through various Internet websites that allows consumers to upload photographs for editing and other manipulations. Some companies will also print the finished product and ship it to consumers. Services range from do-it-yourself editing using the tools provided to complete restoration and editing packages performed by professionals. Processing can also be used for more advanced functions, such as photo restoration, assisting law enforcement professionals, or creating a richer interface for photo organizing programs.

There are many different types of online image processing websites. Some sites are completely free of charge for consumers, although they may feature a significant amount of advertising on the web page. Other sites offer free basic editing services, but charge a fee for more advanced options, such as adding borders or embellishments to the photograph. Websites that allow users to upload photographs and have a professional handle all of the processing are typically the most expensive.

Woman doing a handstand with a computer
Woman doing a handstand with a computer

Some of the most common basic online image processing includes resizing photographs, removing instances of red-eye, and cropping photos to remove excess space. Photos that are too bright or too dark can be processed to increase or decrease contrast and brightness levels. Blurry photos can be sharpened to enhance the image, although in some cases this can result in an unnatural-looking image. Old or damaged photographs can also be restored using online image processing, although this type of advanced work typically requires professional services.

While basic editing functions are the most common uses of online image processing for consumers, photographs can be processed in many other ways using different algorithms. Even the most basic online image processing functions rely on algorithms. These algorithms are the rules that tell the program what to do, and when to stop doing it. They work behind the scenes and are coded by software experts, so the average consumer does not need to understand how they work in order to use them, but they are one of the most important elements in image processing.

Algorithms are also used in more advanced online image processing procedures. For example, face recognition algorithms can be used to help law-enforcement agents discover the identity of a victim or suspect by comparing the features in the image against a database. Facial recognition software is also finding its way into the consumer level, with photo cataloging programs and social networks using it to help users more easily categorize their images. This particular use of the algorithm is controversial, as some Internet users feel it invades their privacy.

Discussion Comments


I do like using online image processors to do some of the small bits of editing when I'm uploading my photos, just because it's easier and they usually offer storage space as well.

But I wouldn't attempt to do much more than red-eye removal and maybe cropping. It always seems like it's more convenient but it never turns out the way I want it to, and it's almost as easy to use an image processor on my laptop.

There are several fairly good ones you can download for free. Gimp is the one I use, but I think there are others.

I'm not sure I would use it for professional work, although I know some people do, but it's miles ahead of most of the online services that I know of.


@pastanaga - Well, to be honest I wish that some people would let their old photos be. I can understand wanting to see your great grandmother's face more clearly, perhaps, but there is a charm to old photos that comes from the sepia tones and the fuzzy borders. If you completely "clean them up" then you might lose some of that charm.

I think just going to a simple online image processor and taking out any background stains or sharpening the image is fine though. And it's not like it's set in stone once the person has fiddled with it. As long as you're careful to save an original of any digital prints and keep the hard copies of old photos in a safe place, you can try as much as you like until you get it right.

It really is amazing how much can be done to improve old photos; I don't think most people realize how bad a photo looked until they see it improved. My father was a computer teacher about fifteen years ago, when personal computers were still becoming the necessity they are today and digital cameras weren't ubiquitous and I can remember him offering to fix up photos for people all the time.

It wasn't something people were familiar with back then, but in some ways that was a good thing. Now everyone thinks they can do it all and in some cases they really should let the professionals handle it. Removing red eyes is one thing, but someone who is trained in the art will be able to make sure your colors are right and your outline is crisp in a way that you won't be able to achieve by yourself.

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      Woman doing a handstand with a computer