JW, what software do some of u photog's have to edit your pix? If it is free, let me know. I have Irfanview and some editing software that came with my camera. I also have a free trial of Photoshop that I'm trying to learn...Thanks guys.
Photoshop is the industry standard. I use a combination of CS and CS3 which bundles Photoshop with Acrobat authoring software, Illustrator, and InDesign. Yes, it's expensive, but well worth it. Noteworthy is the fact that Adobe and others are offering pre-sales pricing for soon to be released version 4. If you happen to be a full time student, Adobe offers sizable ''Education Discounts'' for both students and schools. Check out http://www.creationengine.com. Adobe's Creative Suite can be had for 1/3 the cost of full price, but you have to provide proof of student status or school association to get that pricing. See, there's a real advantage to still being in school, eh? Oh, and once you buy the first time, they typically offer new release upgrades to existing customers at a sizable reduction in price.
High School students and college students and teachers alike have access to this pricing. It's Adobe's way of establishing brand loyalty. Better yet, if you are directly associated with a school as a teacher (listen up OBlove) Adobe offers a ''gifts in kind'' program that will ship you a single computer copy for the cost of processing the order- roughly $165 I believe. Again, you need to provide proof that you are a school via a letter on official letterhead. It's a proverbial gift horse if you don't mind doing the documentation. If you're looking for less expensive alternatives, there are several, most notably Apple's Aperture, but of course it's not made for a PC. You can check http://www.apple.com/education/store for their education pricing on Apple products. The best thing about Apple is you can order one day, and it will be there the next if you follow the protocol, and shipping is free as well as tax exempt as a school.
Oh yeah, don't try to get over on them; this is their business and they don't take fraud lightly. If you're serious about pursuing photography as a career, you'll need Photoshop and it can be written off on your taxes as a business expense, even at full cost. If you were a pro surfer/bodyboarder, you wouldn't scrimp on your equipment would you? If you really study and get proficient with Photoshop, then you can become a certified Adobe Photoshop Instructor and get not only free software and upgrades, they'll pay you on top of that. Hobbies are not tax deductible.
I forgot about Maya. Maya is a full 3D designing suite. Fully professional and no real personal use... that I can think of, but its a pretty intense program. My school uses it, and I was fooling around in it, its pretty damn hard. Costs about $5,000... so unless you are a well known graphics designer, I say stick to photoshop...