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Thread: Is GIMP a viable PP program for photography?

  1. #41
    ajohnw's Avatar
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    Re: Is GIMP a viable PP program for photography?

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    At the end of the day, I really don't care what people run with, but I'll be darned if I'm just going to sit back and watch the rot go unchallenged when people are coming up with rubbish that's - frankly - rubbish.

    If they want to argue against it on some rational grounds then that's fine, but arguments like "too complex" - "too expensive" - "tied to Adobe's PSD format" are about as valid as my daughter's excuses for not tidying her room - they're just a cop-out. It's not too complex - it's not too expensive - it doesn't tie people in to Adobe's PSD format. For the most part it appears to be more a case of "I don't like change and these are the best-sounding excuses I could come up with to justify my irrational position".
    Really Colin you are highlighting what for you is only a personal thing - why an earth should anyone do it any other way than I do type approach. You most certainly haven't ever tried having fun in a CV8 so how can you comment. It's ever so easy to get close to the edge with one of those and the edge occurs at much higher rate of knots than you might be inclined to think. My interest stemmed from bumming round Europe in a car sleeping where ever. Two average sized people can even sleep decently in them and the roof folds down. What more could some one want. Depends on what they want to do in it. It's was pretty versatile in that respect as well. Too small for me otherwise I might have actually bought one.

    John

  2. #42

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    Re: Is GIMP a viable PP program for photography?

    I give up. I invest a LOT of time here to pass on knowledge as someone who "walks the walk" and not just "talks the talk" and frankly when the only response to my input is a lot of talk from those I've yet to see walk the walk, it's both tiring and depressing. It's "doing my head in", so I'm going to take a break and do something enjoyable for a while.

  3. #43
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    Re: Is GIMP a viable PP program for photography?

    Colin I would like to say thank you.

    As someone who only this week switched from the stand alone CS6 to Adobe CC I'm with you all the way. It took me a while to be convinced it was the right way to go (to some extent your positive attitude has helped) but now I have Photoshop CC 2014 - and Lightroom 5.5 - and Lightroom Mobile (on the iPad and iPhone) and a few other apps I am 100% certain it is the perfect software model.

    The cost is so small (8.79 per month in the UK) as to be insignificant to my outgoings but the power now available to my photography is priceless.

    As the saying goes "Illegitimi non carborundum"

  4. #44
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    Re: Is GIMP a viable PP program for photography?

    Going back to the OP perspective, I would say people often get fixated on arguing the toss about PS / CS without considering the biggest cost.

    I am highly computer literate. I am an amateur photographer. I run a fairly large business and the reason I make this point is by far and away my biggest constraint is time. Time to learn things and time to implement things. The difference between 10 a month and free is irrelevant to me (and probably most people). What makes all the difference is how accessible are the programme features to help me do what I want, and how reliably will the programme give me access to my digital archive over the next few years.

    Om my desk I have a new maxed out current spec iMac and a similar spec Windows 8 PC. The Mac v PC v Linux argument is also a bit pointless, but most people can't be bothered with the learning curve limitations of Linux.

    In a similar vein I used Aperture for a few years. It has advantages but the main reason I gave it up is that Apple continually screwed up the ability to access my historical archive without forcing software upgrades across my multiple Apple machines. These were often buggy and it was clear that Apple do not support Aperture properly and they want everyone to use iPhoto and stream it. So my advice is forget Aperture.

    We then moved onto Lightroom 5. It is easy to learn (with a couple of tutorials) and you can cheese whether or not to use the library feature. Runs fine on Mac and PC. For a keen amateur, unless you want to be very creative with image processing, LR5 is an absolutely excellent and cheap as chips tool to give excellent post processing. The embedded album features are also cool. My wife can't be bothered to learn anything more complex that LR 5 and she gets great results.

    I also use photoshop as part of Creative Suite, mainly because the guy I employed to teach me about photography (learning curve acceleration) made me! The user interface is a bit different to LR and the learning curve is quite steep and time consuming. It is only marginally worth it for me as really all I want most of the time is to optimise my RAW image and maybe crop it a bit. Since most of my photography arises from holidays, my processing is sporadic, so I want a system that is easy to remember. Most of us are not pros and so we may have weeks between processing episodes.

    I looked at GIMP quiet carefully. It seemed like many free programmes, somewhat thrown together with a lot of solutions to problems I don't have. It is a powerful tool, but I don't necessarily see open source as an advantage as many others do. It can lead to cluttered and illogical software structure, and a tendency for useful development to be very slow. Commercial organisations like Adobe are incentivised to deliver excellence. I say this through gritted teeth as Adobe really annoy me with their PDF programmes (both consumer and pro).

    The learning curve / upgrade path from Lightroom to Photoshop is achievable but LR doesn't require much investment in learning the software. My wife can attest to this. If I were the OP and cost constrained, I would start with Lightroom 5. This is just based on personal experience.

    Adrian
    Last edited by Adrian; 22nd June 2014 at 10:04 AM.

  5. #45
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    Re: Is GIMP a viable PP program for photography?

    Also going back to the OP, I agree with Adrian's view.

    If someone were starting out, I would certainly suggest Lightroom. Having tackled both PSE and Lightroom, for me at least Lightroom was far more easily accessible. For a newcomer to pp, being able to get results early is a very valuable incentive, and there is a lot of depth in Lightroom as one's skills develop. A further bonus is that many start out shooting jpeg and later switch to RAW, and with Lightroom there is only ever one interface to learn.

    Of course Colin is right too: Photoshop IS the gold standard for capability - hard to see why anyone would want to argue with that. As and when a photographer needs to add capability to Lightroom I think there are a couple of routes
    - add an external editor such as the Nik suite, OnOne suite, or PSE (or the full Photoshop, if you go down the CC route), for example.
    - bite the (learning curve) bullet, invest in Photoshop and cut over.

    Which is the right course will depend on the individual: not worth trying to detail the pros and cons.
    I also know that some photographers, I understand quite a few professionals, use both products for different purposes, but I think that is a specialised case.

    I too am constantly amazed how folks will spend hundreds, even thousands, of dollars on bodies, lenses and other gear, and yet go scrabbling around for free software. Makes no sense.

    Dave

    P.S. Colin, please don't take your bat and ball home. Most of us greatly value your contributions.

  6. #46

    Re: Is GIMP a viable PP program for photography?

    Quote Originally Posted by davidedric View Post
    P.S. Colin, please don't take your bat and ball home. Most of us greatly value your contributions.
    Dave, I fully agree. Colin, I certainly value and learn from your contributions

  7. #47
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    Re: Is GIMP a viable PP program for photography?

    I would like to add that Colin has helped me a lot. I now feel that I can worry more about taking photo's rather than PP.

    As to the rest - free open source, I try to just say it as it is not as some would think it is. Also that people will make choices what ever some one else might think.

    This thread started off by asking if the GIMP is viable for PP. I pointed one important aspect of choosing the Adobe route right at the beginning. I also pointed out a problem with it for some later. I then started mentioning other OS packages which in real terms means that no in some respect the GIMP on it's own isn't viable. Adrian hit another aspect which he put over more bluntly. Lots of things that some one who is only interested in PP just wont want and will just add to the clutter. It's a problem with open source software. It often evolves for the simple reason that some one wants to do something specific. There isn't any control on what goes in on most of it or even in the GIMP's case which menu it's stuck in. There is a standard but some don't stick to it. There have been several attempts at maintaining a purely photographic GIMP but all fall by the way side. The latest add on is G'MIC which adds some very useful PP facilities but also a measure of the other "things" so this aspect may never change.

    I've mentioned several applications that are purely photographic and stick to it. They lack in one area and that is the degree of local work they offer. It's generally left to the GIMP. That means that work flow is some what different to an "Adobe" one. In order to make good use of the GIMP I feel it needs a photographic work horse to go with it. It can then be used when needed - layers and selective work mainly. Some times shots best go into the GIMP first. More often the work horse is the one to choose. I make use of several of those at times mainly to see what they can do but each offer different things. This can mean saving and reloading rather large files. Not everybody's cup of tea. On the other hand there are people about that do just use the GIMP.

    On Adrian's point I don't exactly see using Open Source as an advantage. It's just an option and does offer some interesting alternatives. People naturally seem to feel it's the free aspect that is the main reason some people use them. That basically isn't true. I also doubt if anyone can take an overview of the GIMP in a sensible time scale to do something like that adequately.

    Results of various packages are easy to find. Just like any other workflow they range from great to indifferent.

    The GIMP. The 16bit question causes me some amusement.

    https://www.flickr.com/groups/gimpusers/

    Rawtherapee - in my view currently the best OS workhorse for most people..

    https://www.flickr.com/groups/rawtherapee/

    Darktable - trying hard but ........ and Mac / Linux only. It would take me more time than I have to fully explore it's capabilities. Again there are more users than the numbers here suggest.

    https://www.flickr.com/groups/darktable/

    Photivo - not every bodies cup of tea. People come up with new processing algorithms from time to time and many finish up in this. They are one of the few that realise people may want to use it, go to the GIMP and then make more use of it without saving files. In the right hands it's a very capable package.

    https://www.flickr.com/groups/photivo/

    My main workhorse. LOL it does have a lot of users but is Linux only. Not a pretty application but maintained by some who feels the GIMP shouldn't be needed for 99% of photo's. It will do all sorts of things including local retouching. It will also use other complete applications as plugins. My only beef with it is that it uses Ufraw transparently for raw files so I often do that with something else when needed and save a tiff. Some aspects of using it are rather different but if direct LAB, vibrance or etc are needed it's easy to use one of the other applications as a plug in. On it's own it's really intended for producing what might be called straight photo's. It a very sane package. Say a curve is being brushed on - doesn't look right - manipulate the curve and the brushed area changes in sync with that. Sharpening - hit the button - not the right settings - change and hit it again. It removes the previous and applies the new. It's very PP orientated in this general area. It will literally do the majority of things PP is expected to do to a "normal" shots. Things can even be dropped into them from other shots. It also has a couple of colour shifting tools that I haven't made much use of for departing from the "normal".

    There now is a facility to use Ufraw directly but I have fell out with it anyway down to camera support. It's also getting generally past it's sell by date.

    https://www.flickr.com/groups/2069494@N21/

    I sometimes mention that people can try Linux if they want to have a look without installing it. I'd suggest a stable OpenSuse or Ubuntu. Ubuntu is probably the best option really. I use the other one. There are ways of running both Linux and Windows on the same machine. In real terms there is no longer a real need to deal with Linux itself but that can crop up at times. Extremely infrequently these days. Applications can be installed with a click. Windows seemingly have copied the repo approach - a site for installing an application. In Ubuntu's case I believe that is built into it's "Windows". Some go this way as it's free - many others do for other reasons. Sensible update rates, security and other factors. Faster running software is no longer a significant factor unless some one wants just an email / web machine etc. The biggest drawback really is peripheral support. Printers for instance can be a problem. Some like Samsung support Linux, I believe HP do too now. How well, I don't know.

    John
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  8. #48
    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: Is GIMP a viable PP program for photography?

    So John; my conclusion with all the various responses is that yes, Gimp is indeed a viable option because after all, you can edit images with it; especially if you use the free RAW converters out there.

    The flip side is a question why would anyone bother, other than that they want to avoid using Adobe products. This is the old MS Office versus OpenOffice argument; one is free and one is mainstream. Why is MS Office so much more popular that OpenOffice, given the cost advantage of free?

    I would submit this is the same reason I would suggest the Photoshop over Gimp discussion. Unless one does not want to send any of their hard earned money to Adobe or one likes messing around with non-standard software, there simply is no good reason to use GIMP, given the very low cost of the PS subscription. I quite agree with Colin; at $10/month, very few people have a legitimate argument these days for not using it.

  9. #49
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    Re: Is GIMP a viable PP program for photography?

    I fail to understand why people assume free has anything to do with the use of OS but may as well just accept it. It's very similar to Colin's well it's cheep so rent it. There are a lot of reasons people use it. As far as free goes you chose a very unfortunate example and this is the Apache version ex LibreOffice and isn't the one I use.

    https://wiki.openoffice.org/wiki/Market_Share_Analysis

    This info is way out of date. The user base is huge. Actually I sometimes wonder if there is some sort of conspiracy in this area. LibreOffice was the most capable of the lot and all of a sudden it gets branded commercially after a fashion and also drops back performance wise. Another one. Suse began to get a serious foot hold in the US some years ago. Gets taken over by Novel becomes less stable and the foot hold shrinks and OpenSuse comes to the fore. Suse was built and maintained at suse.de. You will notice that usage of the above varies with country. There are Microsoft prejudices related to that aspect. Bit like there are to McDonalds. A Canadian may understand that. Some people in Europe too. I'm open minded about that aspect some aren't.

    Out of interest I suspect most use this one. Might be another. Mine came with my distro.
    http://www.openoffice.us.com/

    Apache bought the lot including the old web address so it has to use a new one. I loaded the Apache one up for my wife. It went within 1/2hr and my son knew where to get the correct one from.

    One thing people do not seem to realise is that a lot of the operating system and the usual must haves have a serious commercial base. It's possible to buy much of it. Google even pumps money in. The companies use people like me to do all sorts of levels of debugging, This is why stable versions exist. Some people like to run the latest greatest as soon as it becomes available bugs and all. There may well be more people like that than people like me. Periodically we are forced to upgrade as the stable versions cease to be supported after a certain period of time. The equivalent of dll's fall behind what the latest packages use as well.

    I wonder how many people on here use Firefox or other free browsers? That may give people an inkling why some people might choose to run Linux/KDE, Linux/Gnome, Linux/Several others one photo app or another. Perhaps it's just because the like it or like working that way. Perhaps they like the challenge. There are a whole host of possible reasons and in many areas free has nothing what so ever to do with it Actually I don't use Firefox. While it should cope with my colour management it wouldn't on any operating system.

    My view of windows in many respects comes from having delved rather deeply into it. I haven't fired up Visual Studio in anger at work for years but having seen others use much more recent offerings it doesn't look like much has changed to me. That had little to do with my switch to Linux. There were many other reasons for that. One aspect of that is despite certain problems at times I found I liked it. As far as PP goes the limitation is me not the packages. At least I do realise that and am getting fairly proficient at using them.

    Novel - Suse? They probably bought it because of the user base growth. It sad that KDE a rather popular well polished desktop for Linux went awol in some ways shortly after. I'm using it now many iterations latter and as far as speed goes it still isn't back were it was. However i would still feel it's better than my wife's win 7 maybe 8 now laptop and one hell of a lot better than an XP laptop I use when I am away from home. Suppose I should stick linux in it really. I've seen one that has these amazing graphics when apps are maximised and minimised. On the other hand it does what I need and I don't mind a dead workspace coming up and waiting some time before it really does work etc etc Or that it slows more as more and more updates are added.

    John
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  10. #50

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    Re: Is GIMP a viable PP program for photography?

    I too am constantly amazed how folks will spend hundreds, even thousands, of dollars on bodies, lenses and other gear, and yet go scrabbling around for free software. Makes no sense.
    I agree that not being able to afford $10/month is ludicrous but...
    the obscenely long learning curve is something else again.

  11. #51
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    Re: Is GIMP a viable PP program for photography?

    Quote Originally Posted by chauncey View Post
    I agree that not being able to afford $10/month is ludicrous but...
    the obscenely long learning curve is something else again.
    You get the learning curve what ever is used.

    John
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  12. #52
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    Re: Is GIMP a viable PP program for photography?

    ~That is true John, but there is a point here about the transferability of the learning. In your longer post above, you referenced several pieces of software that disappeared or morphed into something else. The advantage of the Adobe products is that they are likely to be around for a long time and the chances of wasting the time spent on learning are therefore slight. This time cost, for many, far outweighs the trivial cost of a software subscription.

    I also agree with some of the sentiment about Windows that you express. However, we have to be realistic. I work in the financial services business. We are required, or necessity, to have electronic links with the stock exchange retail and institutional network, various banks, various clearance and settlement systems and so on. I need to be able to support this with an expert set of backup and recovery solutions, and in turn those solutions need replaceable staff. Frankly, there is only one choice and that is one or other variant of a Microsoft operating system. This unfortunately applies to many business. We do use Apple OS 10.9.3 and we also are familiar with Linus (mostly because we want to check how things perform when we are writing apps), but in practice MS rules in business and life is too short to push against the tide: we are better of doing what we do rather than worrying about the IR world.

    I am very pragmatic indeed about these things. I don't care what other people use or how much time they waste, but when people seek to avoid making mistakes it is reasonable to relate our different experiences. Some are passionately anti Adobe and some are fervently pro. I think its just a tool and I prefer to use a tool that is unlikely to break, that I can learn easily, that I can easily replace with tomorrows better model and that I can easily find someone else to operate if I get stuck. Adobe delivers that and I accept that the company is not perfect.

    I wish the OP luck with his choice. Adrian

  13. #53
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    Re: Is GIMP a viable PP program for photography?

    Yes indeed, Adrian. I'm sure that most of us here are not running a photography business, but for most businesses external communications are as important as internal. That means adopting de facto standards which in the commercial world means Microsoft. Suspect it is different in the graphic design world.

    With apologies to the OP for being way off topic.

    Dave

  14. #54
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    Re: Is GIMP a viable PP program for photography?

    Colin raised an interesting point in this area not all that long ago. Pretty sure it was Colin sorry if not.

    Just why don't people use Adobe Raw?

    The comment caused me to take a look at a video on it. I even had a half hearted look for a pirate version just to see what it could do - if I could run it. Looks to me that it could handle many things that crop up. Is it because it's beneath people? Pride? It's there for a quick easy start by Adobe's own admission.

    The one I wonder about is Elements. Does it seem to be too difficult to master so up pops PS only to find later that the Elements techniques are needed eventually? I noticed the comment 12 months with Elements might allow people to make a rational decision. Sounds about right to me. Maybe longer. PP can be a tough thing to pick up past the easy stages.

    Another - Is lightroom adequate? As an outsider it seems not to me from comments that have cropped up. It has been described as a cataloguing facility that can also do a few simple adjustments. Probably an over the top comment.

    This thread started as is the GIMP etc and in real terms has degenerated to mostly an it's free debate / you must be joking largely by people who have never spent any serious amount of time with it. Ok fine say buy/rent this or that but which and why and when will somebody who is new to all of this be able to use it effectively. What are it's limitations? The answer is circular - the more advanced things get allowing more things to be done the longer it will take to make effective use of it. Picking up the GIMP immediately is also a bad joke. Some aspects are easy. Some aren't..Just like anything else.That is one reason some of the workhorses are about - people can need them - it's an easier route.

    PS to me from video's looks like one click wonderland. No doubt on selected shots where this will work. Fine but as some one put it relating to a which software question - Elements as there is a need to get to grips with the techniques in that eventually anyway.

    John
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  15. #55

    Re: Is GIMP a viable PP program for photography?

    Adobe Camera Raw is ONLY available as part of a subscription, and not as a standalone option.
    ACR is, I understand, more or less the same as Lightroom's Develop module.

    Photoshop Elements is essentially an 8bit package; it can read 16bit image files but cannot handle layers in 16bit. So if you use PSE as your external editor within LR, unless you are only doing simple things you will be returned an 8bit file from PSE. Frankly, I've never tried to see if that makes a visible difference in the final image, but I don't like the idea of losing 16bit images so I tend to use PSE mainly for cloning and similar pixel-level editing.

  16. #56
    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: Is GIMP a viable PP program for photography?

    Quote Originally Posted by ajohnw View Post
    Just why don't people use Adobe Raw?
    Simply because it does not always give me results I like, especially with skin tones. DxO Optics does a better job on lens corrections and CA correction, and sometimes Nikon View NX2 simply gives me a more pleasing result.

    I use ACR primarily because it is convenient and integrated into Photoshop; so that it one significant advantage. It has a better workflow (in my view) than either of the other two RAW converters I use.

  17. #57
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    Re: Is GIMP a viable PP program for photography?

    Quote Originally Posted by LocalHero1953 View Post
    Adobe Camera Raw is ONLY available as part of a subscription, and not as a standalone option.
    ACR is, I understand, more or less the same as Lightroom's Develop module.

    Photoshop Elements is essentially an 8bit package; it can read 16bit image files but cannot handle layers in 16bit. So if you use PSE as your external editor within LR, unless you are only doing simple things you will be returned an 8bit file from PSE. Frankly, I've never tried to see if that makes a visible difference in the final image, but I don't like the idea of losing 16bit images so I tend to use PSE mainly for cloning and similar pixel-level editing.
    Interesting. I wasn't aware of that. What it means in practice is that more care needs to be taken moving from raw via ACR in this case I assume. I often process camera jpg's and they can be pushed rather a long way. The limitation is mostly recovering the dark end but the allowable degree can come as a bit of a surprise. You are using it in much the same way as people use the GIMP but going on that I'm not at all sure 8 bit or 16 bit on what might be called conventional layer work would make much difference. It's been 8 bit for a long time and seems to be 32bit floating point now which other than for certain rather extreme HDR work is way over the top. There is even a 64bit floating point standard for that. The main idea is the ability to stack a lot of images without data loss.

    John
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  18. #58
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    Re: Is GIMP a viable PP program for photography?

    Quote Originally Posted by GrumpyDiver View Post
    Simply because it does not always give me results I like, especially with skin tones. DxO Optics does a better job on lens corrections and CA correction, and sometimes Nikon View NX2 simply gives me a more pleasing result.

    I use ACR primarily because it is convenient and integrated into Photoshop; so that it one significant advantage. It has a better workflow (in my view) than either of the other two RAW converters I use.
    I know you make use of what you have Manfred. I was more interested in beginners as that seems to be one of the reasons it's provided - easy results. I only watched an Adobe video on it that I don't think fully covered it's capabilities. Even so it looks fairly capable in it's own right.

    I am all to aware of camera conversion files and the difference. I can use Adobe curves and can't say I'm impressed. I just tried Corel on a Nikon one which admittedly is a bit difficult. Close but not close enough but it did cope with the dynamic range - fully used at some daft high iso. Very similar to Adobe colour wise. I can run NX2 but can't save anything. Rather close as soon as the image is loaded. The d light slider is also impressive. Corel have a range control on the fill light - useful. Noise reduction not bad but could be better. At least detail level can be set but no scope for also cleaning large areas but it can give a decent started by the look of it. On the E-M5 I found a good conversion file that gave more or less perfect black and white gradation and good colours as soon as decent exposures are loaded. I haven't really needed raw on the E-M1 yet. All good fun.

    John
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  19. #59

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    Re: Is GIMP a viable PP program for photography?

    I hope we can eventually get away from telling people who choose not to sign up for PS CC & LR that their thinking is seriously wrong, illegitimate or whatever.
    Last edited by Mike Buckley; 22nd June 2014 at 10:46 PM.

  20. #60

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    Re: Is GIMP a viable PP program for photography?

    You get the learning curve what ever is used.
    I would differ, IMHO...no other PP software has the length of learning curve time,
    nor the capabilities of Photoshop.

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