Up for Discussion – Alternative Editing Software
Omar from the blog, My Photoblog, has written a post for us today on editing software, or rather introducing us to a new one, well it is new to me. It is one that is open source, or free. Many of you know that I love Linux and have been using Ubuntu on my computer at home for many years, and have used open source editing software. Omar suggested writing a post on it here for all of us.
Basic Photography tools with Open Source
In todays IT industry, Linux has gained a lot of ground in the server rooms, but it is also a great alternative to Windows, and Mac OS X on the desktops/laptops at home. I administer linux servers for a living, and I’ve been using it at home since 2005. I have to admit, it can be a little rough around the edges, with upgrades breaking a system, but I’ve never had a problem that I couldn’t find a solution for online. I also love photography, as a hobby, so I had to find tools to get organized, edit, and develop RAW images, I would like to introduce digiKam for photographers. It’s an advanced digital photo management application for Linux, Windows, and Mac-OSX, so you can also try it if you are using one of those operating systems.
- Workflow using digiKam
- Downloading Images
- Selecting Keepers
- Rating, sorting
- Basic Editing
- Batch processing
Downloading images, either using digiKam, or a simple file manager such as krusader or GNOME Kommander, or File Explorer on windows, or the Finder on OS X.
Selecting keepers: you can use the regular preview mode, or if you have multiple images of say the same subject.
Using the light table is a great way to compare 2 images next to each other.
This is the Light table view, where you can compare two similar images. Clearly the second one is a keeper, where the first will be deleted.
Using keyboard shortcuts, you can easily assign labels, Alt+1: Rejected, Alt+2: pending, and ALT+3: Accepted. I usually also assign it a rating, 1 to 5 stars, using the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+<number>. This comes in handy in the next steps.
Once you finish going through the images, you can go to the filters, and select all the images that are rejected, or with a less than 3 star rating, and simply delete them.
Once the selection is done, and the keepers are rated, you can start tagging. digiKam creates XMP sidecard files, using the same filename with an xmp extension, which is a standard used so that other applications can read them as well.
I usually add tags to my images, like Camera I used, location, if there are people in the pictures then I usually add their names, so I can easily search for them in the future. Here you can see the tagging/caption filtering screen:
You can also use digiKam’s built in image editor for basic image manipulation. It has many useful, but basic features. You can always right click on an image, and open it in another application such as GIMP. Another great feature of digiKam, that you can do non-destructive editing. Since I mostly work with jpg files, I open the image in the editor and then save the final image in a new version which is usually the same filename with an _v1 at the end of the file name. This way you still have the original, if you wish to do further editing to it in the future.
Once you add all your tags, and Copyright information, you can use the built in tools to export your images to many online services, such as flickr, SmugMug, Facebook, and many more.
Another great feature of digiKam, is the batch processing. Where you can select multiple files, and apply settings, resize, save in a different format, add watermark, if you want or even batch edit exif information of images.
You simply select the change you want to apply, add it to the assigned tools, and then run the batch. I use this frequently to export re-sized images, and rename the files as well.
Sharing is made simple as well, and there are many services that can be shared to like facebook, SmugMug, Picasa Web (photo’s on google), and Flickr to name a few. It’s pretty convenient, since you can resize the image on the fly, so you won’t have multiple sizes, hanging around your hard drive.
digiKam, can also open/view RAW files, and the basic settings work fine for me, but for RAW images I like to use a separate application called Darktable. I am still learning it so I can’t call myself an expert, but it fits my needs, for white balance correction, some sharpening, contrast, saturation, and exposure correction. It can do more powerful processing such as masking, that I am still learning to use.
A few before and After images using digiKam, basic editing tools on .jpg images:
Since edits are non-destructive, you can also check on what you did with the image in the Versioning screen:
As you can see, I used the Auto Levels, and Noise Reduction filter to get the final image
In the end if you are into photography, and are using Linux, you shouldn’t worry about not having applications that can handle your RAW images, or do basic Tagging, and organizing. Paid software such as lightroom, and photoshop will probably always be top notch, and be used in the professional world, but for the rest of us, there are Open Source alternatives, that can achieve similar results.etc
My Contact information:
Blog: My Photoblog
Thank you Omar, it is something new for me too, am I write in saying it seems a lot like Lightroom, so for people who can’t afford Lightroom, this is something alternative they could use. Great idea. I am going to put Omar’s images into a gallery so you can see bigger versions of them, make it easier to see all the small details.