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For serious photo editing or special effects you're going to need a powerful photo editor such as Adobe Photoshop. Photoshop is expensive, but you can get started with Photoshop Elements for $80 or so. Then get a good book such as those by Scott Kelby. GIMP is a free alternative, but it has a very steep learned curve.

That said, I use Adobe Photoshop Lightroom for the vast majority of my photo editing. It can't do serious retouching, but for common tasks (organizing, cropping, rotating, color corrections, exposure adjustments, B&W conversions, etc) it's so much faster and easier than editing one photo at a time with Photoshop. There's also Apple's Aperature which is similar to Lightroom.
 
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