photo editing

What do you guys use to edit your photos? I'm no expert photo editor. I do what I can with what I have (all free programs). I'm contemplating on whether or not to take the plunge and invest in Photoshop and Lightroom. How do you guys feel about these images?

1.) This is the original image I snapped on Auto on a sunny day at the beach. No post editing.DSC_1096

2.) This is the same image that I edited in my Google+ account.  (Note: Your Google+ photo editor is what Picnik used to be! All the same actions/filters.... kazam!) I did a simple "Auto Fix" and then increased the sharpness by about

3.) And THIS was edited from the original image (numero 1). I found and downloaded Gimp, which is supposed to be an equivalent to Photoshop.  Do any of you guys use it/heard of it? I edited the colors by curves and got this result. I like the pastels it gave me (MUCH different from the Auto Fix from Google+ photo editor).DSC_1096b

What do you guys think, which is your favorite? Do you prefer no edit? The high contrast edit? Or the ethereal edit?

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