If there’s one annoying thing about some photo editing apps is that the filters applied to photos are destructive, in the sense that once you’ve applied them, there’s no way of getting the original back should you wish to make changes or start a new project. What used to scare us about editing photos is that everything we did to our images seemed so final, and can’t do it (for better) anymore. When we are using editors like Picasa or Windows Photo Viewer and whatever changes we made were made forever because the original file was overwritten. For example, If you cropped an image, then you will lost the data you cropped out. Or if you make the image to gray scale (black and white), so you will lost the color version.
I started feeling like this was a really dumb thing to do, so my next step was to simply make copies of every image I wanted to edit and then save the changes to the copy, leaving the original intact. But that takes up space and then you have two files of basically the same image floating around. Even though space is becoming less of an issue, I still knew there had to be a better way. So, what was my solution? It was an all-in-one image organizer and non-destructive editor.
What is Non-destructive Editor
There are so many things I love about using non-destructive editors, and one of them is their ability to let you make adjustments to your images without harming the original. It basically lets you go back at any time to the original file you downloaded from your camera without you needing to make an additional copy of the file. Programs like Lightroom and Aperture do just that. They simply store your adjustments in a database as a set of instructions to apply to the image if you ever need or want to save and use your images outside of the program.
You Can Always Go Back to the Original
In my scenario above, if I crop an image or tweak it in some way, the original photo is overwritten and whatever changes I make are now permanent. With a non-destructive editor, the same changes would all be reversible. You can essentially undo everything and start back at the beginning with your unedited image. Take this image, for example. It started out in color but say I wanted to try out black and white. I can make some adjustments in Lightroom and then see how it looks. All of my edits are displayed in the order I applied them as a stack in the “History” panel on the left (see image below).
Now let’s say I’m not liking the black and white conversion. I can simply click on the starting point in the History panel (left arrow below) and it will undo adjustments up to that point (in this case, the “Update to Current Process” is the beginning step). Or, alternatively, I can click on the “Reset” button (bottom right arrow below).
Now it’s as if I haven’t done any adjustments to my image and can start over new.
In Android 4.4., the built-in Photo will includes a non-destructive editing feature that will help users make changes on the photo without worrying about permanently losing the original version. The user interface has also been improved to support both smartphone and tablet screen sizes. It also gains a variety of new advanced tools such as graduated filters, per-channel saturation controls, local adjustments, and more. Developer Nicolas Roard has released a video showcasing the new photo editor which you can watch below.