European Starling – Pencil Sketch of a Bird on a Cactus

So, I’ve stirred things up in my little corner of the world by buying a new laptop computer running on Windows 8. (updated to Windows 10). I’m skimming off a layer of ‘scum’ by choosing NOT to install some programs that were necessary on my old computer.

First on the chopping block is anything put out by Adobe. The Adobe PDF Reader is easily replaced by less bloated, less exploited software. Windows 8.1 has an App called ‘Reader’, which will likely serve my needs.

Adobe Photoshop Elements – that proved tougher to find a replacement for. I would have had to upgrade to the latest version (high resolution display issues), and while the price to do that was not a significant factor, I didn’t want to continue to contribute to their ‘our way or the highway’ attitude.

The most intriguing alternative for photo processing and editing is GIMP. It has all the tools I need (including layers) and lots of features I haven’t got a clue how to use yet (which is where I was at with Photoshop Elements too…)


GIMP is overkill sometimes, which is why I also use a program called FastStone Image Viewer. I like it because it displays my image folders and files exactly as they are on my computer. No importing, no proprietary databases. I use this program to add my Copyright and resize the images before I upload them.

Windows 8.1 has an App called ‘Sketch’ which quickly turns any photo into a sketch. There are over 30 options for the type of sketch you can make. Here are just a few of them:


saguaro cactus bird

Society is like a stew. If you don’t stir it up every once in a while then a layer of scum floats to the top.
– Edward Abbey –

How have you stirred things up lately? Skimmed off any scum?

16 thoughts on “European Starling – Pencil Sketch of a Bird on a Cactus

  1. I am constantly searching for some photo editing software that is fairly easy to use and doesn’t cost the price of my first (and only) born child. I am a novice shutterbug so all of the bells and whistles of Photo Shop are too much for me. What would you suggest?


    1. Google Picasa is free and quite easy, they say, though I’ve never tried it. FastStone is free too, and appears to have more features than Picasa. Photoshop Elements would likely be next in line for a novice, but has many more features than the first two. GIMP and Photo Shop are probably very similar, and equal in difficulty. GIMP is free, though donations are encouraged.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I use Picasa, but they took away some very minimal photo editing tools. I might just have to take a class on Photo Shop Elements… Thanks!


  2. I’ve had such a hard time getting into Windows 8.1. Basically, I spent time just making it as close to the 7 experience as I could get it. I don’t know that I could give up Elements too…….I’m no good with change at all and Windows 8.1 still confounds me despite all my efforts to get it back to an understandable level!


    1. I know what you mean!
      I’m starting to get more comfortable with 8.1 and don’t miss Windows 7 much any more! Only… if I could just find a suitable replacement for my Windows 7 calendar gadget…


  3. Choosing what image-editing software to use is difficult as there are so many options. I’ve tried Canon’s own processing software and found that whilst good it’s not particularly intuitive. So I have been using Photoshop Elements for all my processing with the exception of HDR where I use Photomatix. However, recently I have moved over to Adobe’s other offering – Lightroom. I find that really much more intuitive for my normal work and it has probably halved the amount of time it takes me to work through a batch of photos from a football match. I hope GIMP does indeed prove to be your ideal editor – I do know a few people that use GIMP and they seem very pleased with it.


    1. I had used GIMP before, and didn’t like it much. But the newest version is more intuitive (for me) and the transition from PSE has been quite easy.
      I read somewhere that “Lightroom is where professional photographers do 90% of their work, and only bring the photo into Photoshop (or PSE or GIMP) for the deep surgery.”
      Seems like Lightroom is a good choice for you!


  4. I couldn’t afford PhotoShop and was amazed to find something as comprehensive as GIMP for free. I used it for several years and never came close to learning all it has to offer. Eventually I devolved to doing only simple things and GIMP was extreme overkill. But it’s still on my computer, just in case …


  5. I completely jumped on the Adobe wagon when they made Photoshop so inexpensive. For just $9.99 a month I get the worldwide industry standard with billions of tutorials, and it’s a lot of fun.


    1. Adobe isn’t the only software that has moved to a subscription model. I wouldn’t mind that for software that I used frequently, but I’d balk at it if it was for software I didn’t use very often!


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