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Thread: Is GIMP a viable PP program for photography?

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    Is GIMP a viable PP program for photography?

    Hello all,

    I am new to photography, and figure along with learning aperture/shutter/iso-composition, etc. I should get started with post processing.

    The thing is, photoshop is a pretty penny, and $ is tight right now. I downloaded GIMP a while back to do some graphic work, and found it to be useful for making graphics, like logos & banner ad type things. My understanding is that GIMP is an open source program that has similar capabilities to photoshop, though maybe not as advanced.

    Do any of you out there use this program to post process your photos? Do any of you that are experienced think that this program is viable, or is it not suitable?

    I may be able to acquire Aperture, or Lightroom, but since I already have GIMP, I'm wondering if I should delve into really learning it.

    Thanks!

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    Re: Is GIMP a viable PP program for photography?

    Quote Originally Posted by Southpaw View Post
    The thing is, photoshop is a pretty penny, and $ is tight right now.
    Great news - Photoshop has moved to a subscription basis, so you don't need to fork out hundreds of dollars to buy it and hundreds more each year to update it; you can subscribe to the Photographer package which gives you the latest version of Photoshop CC and Lightroom for USD $9.99 a month.

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    Re: Is GIMP a viable PP program for photography?

    Hello Shawn,
    A bit over a year ago I became seriously interested in photography. I have considerable computer experience and thought I would have a go at using gimp. Despite my previous programming and computer use experience I found gimp frustrating; I wanted a tool I could use quickly and get right to work with and gimp was just too convoluted for me. I know there are other folks that use gimp and it works very well for them. I ultimately purchased Lightroom 5 and found it handles the vast majority of my needs. While it does not allow the sophisticated layering and local curve adjustments of Photoshop or gimp it is still a very capable post processing program. The great plus with Lightroom is the great wealth of tutorials and instructive books and online videos.
    Andrew

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

    I had the same feelings when I first got into digital photography; frankly the Adobe suite, which has some other functions in addition to Photoshop itself was siginifcantly more expensive that the high-end prosumer camera and lens I bought.

    I tried GIMP (this was over 10 years ago, and GIMP has improved) and found the lack of training materials and support as the weakest part of the chain. I got frustrated after a few weeks of using it and dropped a large chunk of money on Creative Suite. It was probably the best move I ever made, because of personal needs and of course because of the huge (free and paid) support community.

    Photoshop Elements is the least expensive way to get started with the underlying technology, and the user interface is aimed at beginners (I don't use it, so can't comment). A lot of people find that Photoshop LIghtroom works for them (I know it reasonably well (especially the editing parts), but am not a fan, but it does expose you to one of the key parts of Photoshop, as the Develop Module and Adobe Camera RAW (a key component of Photoshop proper) are identical, except for the user interface.

    There are lots of other "free" and paid for alternatives to get you started, without having to dive into either GIMP (which has a learning curve that is quite long (about the same as Photoshop itself). You have many choices and each and every option has upsides and downsides.

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    Re: Is GIMP a viable PP program for photography?

    Hi Shawn,
    The Gimp open source software is a viable alternative to Photoshop.It does look convoluted at first but it's not.It's a lot easier to use than it looks but it's well worth it in the end.Just like Photoshop there are lots of tutorials and on line videos. Check out You Tube for how to videos with Gimp.You will be pleasantly surprised.

    John

  6. #6

    Re: Is GIMP a viable PP program for photography?

    PhotoLine is cheap and capable, very layer oriented. LightZone is free and easy to understand.

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    Re: Is GIMP a viable PP program for photography?

    Hmmm... Seems like there is no clearcut answer. But, like just about everything, everyone has an opinion. And they vary.

    Are there other free programs I should look into? LightZone was mentioned, I'll google that.

    I hate to sound like a cheapskate. And, since some time in the next 6 months or so, I'll be dropping probably over a grand on hardware for photography, maybe I shouldn't be so cheap when it comes to software. The thing is, since I'm so new to this, I'm at the point where when it comes to the post processing for photography, I don't know what I don't know yet. So I don't want to be too short sighted on this.

    My instinct at this point is I want to be able to use my camera gear correctly so I don't have to tinker with the photos too much, but I guess that only is possible to a point.

    Is it futile to resist learning an industry standard post processing software? Am I just wasting time trying to cheap out on this?

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    Re: Is GIMP a viable PP program for photography?

    The subscription cost of Adobe's Photographer's Package (Photoshop + Lightroom) is now fixed permanently at US $9.99 / mnth.

    http://www.canonrumors.com/2014/06/a...nt/#more-16741

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    Re: Is GIMP a viable PP program for photography?

    Current "state of the play" is that Photography is a two-part process; part one is the initial capture, and part two is the processing of that capture.

    Part one requires appropriate hardware - AND - an investment of time and money to learn how to use it

    Part two requires appropriate hardware and software - AND - an investment of time and money to learn how to use it.

    Many people invest disproportionately in some areas but not all - so we have people taking potentially good shots but not extracting the most from them in post-production - or - people with all kinds of techniques for post-production ... that they're applying to an image that was just never going to fly in the first place.

    So - where does that leave us?

    - If you think that "photography is for you" then step back - make a list of what you want to shoot - from there lets work out what hardware is going to be needed to achieve that. And what software ($6,000,000 question).

    Personally, I've never seen the sense of learning one thing and then have to "unlearn" it all to move to a better package later on; prior to Photoshop being released on a subscription basis that was a very real issue for many; Photoshop is UNQUESTIONABLY the most capable package for photo editing in existence, and it also unquestionably has the most resources available to help people learn it (by way of books, videos, forums - you name it), but it was expensive. Thankfully, all that has now changed, and you can now signup and get it for only $9.99 a month (USD). No-brainer in my opinion.

    Having said all that, you still need to invest in education; as with many things in life there's easy and hard ways to do it -- my suggestion is to invest in at least a couple of good books for general photography and lighting, and a couple more on post-processing.

    As you say, there are a lot of opinions on the best way to go -- some come from those who "talk the talk" whereas other opinions come from those who "walk the walk"; my suggestion in that respect is to invest a little time looking at the results achieved by those already "walking the walk" along the lines of what you want to shoot, and give some more weight to their suggestions. I think you'd be quite surprised at how little variation there is in the approaches of those who consistently produce high-standard results here.

    On a final note, we often hear people say "I want to get my images looking as good as possible in-camera so I don't have to Photoshop them too much" ... unfortunately, that's a great-sounding concept, but the reality is 1000 miles away. I'm not saying that people should shoot with impunity in the knowledge that they can "fix it in Photoshop later" (far from it), but the reality is that the camera doesn't work like the human eye, and ALL shots vary significantly in the amount of post-processing required. Some case in points:

    - In the studio I'm investing 4 hours and 800 frames with a model - if she's got a hair sticking to her makeup then I'm sure as eggs going to get it sorted before I start shooting - I'm not going to clone a hair out 800 times.

    - Same shoot - model has acne and it's literally a case of "clone it out or wait 4 years for her hormones to settle down".

    - Shooting a landscape, I'm probably going to pickup a piece of rubbish that's in the shot -- but not in a situation where I have to trespass into a military defense area.

    Horses for courses. Usually the best way I define it is - in the real world - we get things as close as we can in-camera up to the point where - without compromising quality - it's faster to fix it in processing.

    Hope this helps.

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    Re: Is GIMP a viable PP program for photography?

    Quote Originally Posted by FootLoose View Post
    now fixed permanently at US $9.99 / mnth.
    Currently, not permanently.

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    Re: Is GIMP a viable PP program for photography?

    Shawn,

    If you're familiar with the high-tech industry, you know that some of the industry-standard products are the best and some are not. Plenty of successful, award-winning photographers who regularly sell their photos have used Adobe products and plenty have not. So, the choice of using an industry-standard product simply because it is the industry standard probably is not even a criterion for most people.

    You've probably bought lots of products when you had the choice of using industry-standard products or not. Apply whatever you learned in those situations to your upcoming software decision. In the grand scheme of things, the total monetary cost is relatively small; your decision will surely impact your wallet a lot less than your time and enjoyment.

    Use whatever decision-making process typically works for you and continue enjoying your photography.
    Last edited by Mike Buckley; 20th June 2014 at 05:47 AM.

  12. #12

    Re: Is GIMP a viable PP program for photography?

    I agree with all that Colin has written, but I would add two things in the opposite direction:
    - the Adobe subscription model looks good, but you are then tied to Adobe psd file formats and ways of doing things. The moment Adobe puts it's subscription rates up to a level you don't want to stick with, you will then have to switch to another piece of software because you won't be allowed to keep the software you have.
    - as Mike has said, there are plenty of superb photographers out there who do not use PS, and sometimes this is because they don't need its level of sophistication (I know I'll be in trouble if I say complexity).
    In the end, think about the arguments and make your own decision.
    I use Lightroom, and anyone is welcome to look at my photos and tell me I should have used PS. I just know that my problem is the photos I start with, not the post processing I do

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    Re: Is GIMP a viable PP program for photography?

    Quote Originally Posted by LocalHero1953 View Post
    - the Adobe subscription model looks good, but you are then tied to Adobe psd file formats and ways of doing things.
    Not at all - you can save your edited file in any format you want including JPEG and TIFF - both non-Adobe formats that can be read by just about any package on the planet.

    The moment Adobe puts it's subscription rates up to a level you don't want to stick with, you will then have to switch to another piece of software because you won't be allowed to keep the software you have.
    All things go up in price over time, but I can't think of any reason why Adobe would want to screw-over a loyal customer base like that. I don't think commercial suicide is in their marketing plan.

    there are plenty of superb photographers out there who do not use PS, and sometimes this is because they don't need its level of sophistication (I know I'll be in trouble if I say complexity).
    In the end, think about the arguments and make your own decision.
    I use Lightroom, and anyone is welcome to look at my photos and tell me I should have used PS. I just know that my problem is the photos I start with, not the post processing I do
    If you're using LR then you're using the equivalent of ACR in Photoshop. If you can't do something in ACR then you won't be able to do it in LR either (in terms of image editing) - and then you'll need Photoshop. The irony is that the $9.99 subscription model from Adobe includes both LR and Photoshop CC for the same price.

    My standing suggestion is to make a list of all the things you pay money for each month (mortgage, food, transport, insurance, coffees etc) - rank them in descending order - and then see where Adobe's 33c a day for unrestricted use of the most capable image processing package on the planet, sits -- then it's not hard to see just how good a value it is.

    Think about it folks - 33 cents a day for gawd sake. If people can't see the value in that then something is seriously wrong somewhere.
    Last edited by Colin Southern; 20th June 2014 at 10:59 AM.

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    Re: Is GIMP a viable PP program for photography?

    If I had to make a very large bet about whether Adobe will probably raise or lower the cost of its subscription over a ten-year period, I would bet that it will be lower. Technology products are famous for costing less and less over time, especially when comparing cost related to capability. This includes software. The developer of the cataloging software that I use explained over a year ago that one of the industry statistics is that the average price of software apps is now less than $10 for a perpetual license. (When I think about the cost of the software that I use and that I spend more money than the typical person on software, anecdotally this makes sense to me.) All of the photography software on my computer that is still being developed cost me from 50% to 80% less than what it cost just three years ago and I don't see any compelling reason for that trend to reverse.
    Last edited by Mike Buckley; 20th June 2014 at 12:09 PM.

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    Re: Is GIMP a viable PP program for photography?

    Some good food for thought here in this thread.

    Is it safe to say that Post Processing with photoshop/aperture/GIMP/Lightroom et al is the digital equivalent of film photography lab processing?

    Is running a raw file through software similar to the process of developing a negative, and then printing on photo paper?

    I read (really skimmed) Ansel Adams' books "The Camera", "The Negative", & "The Print", and it was becoming apparent that the way he got his photos to look the way they did, was he had complete control over the whole process, from the choices he made in camera gear & settings, to the way he developed the negative, and then the way he printed the photo, on down to the mounting.

    It's starting to feel like my original view is akin to me taking all the creative care with regard to camera settings, lighting, subject; and then handing my film off to the Fotomat guy and saying "have at it, let me know when I can pick it up", if I leave everything to in camera .jpg processing, and forgoing the Post Processing, um, process.

    Here is a quick aside to all this- Would a slightly older version of Photoshop be acceptable? Like one from the last few years, circa 2011 or so? I believe it's installed already on a computer I can have access to and use freely if I want. That might be a way for me to get started with it. How about that?

    Thanks for all the replies. Just for fun, are there some threads/posts/examples of some before & after processing photos some of you out there in CiC land have done? I'd love to see not just the photos to get feel of how much difference there is, but some discussion of the thought process involved when you apply post processing to a photo. Like, what was your intention? What did you think about before, during, and after you took the photo- did you look at a scene/subject/whatever and think "Ok, I'll shoot this now, and then do such & such to it later". And, possibly different variations you did of the same photo, and what some of the possibilities are, etc.

    Once you start going down this rabbit hole, the more you learn, the more things start opening up further than you thought you'd have to go! This goes along with my "Allegory of the flashlight". It's amazing how there are similar principles at the root of seemingly dissimilar things. (sorry, getting sleepy & too philosophical)

    Thanks again! Good stuff here.

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    Re: Is GIMP a viable PP program for photography?

    Quote Originally Posted by Southpaw View Post
    Would a slightly older version of Photoshop be acceptable?...That might be a way for me to get started with it. How about that?
    If your primary goal is to get started, that would work fine. You might even get lucky and determine over time that you want to continue using that product or an upgrade of it.

    However, if your immediate goal is to determine which post-processing software you want to use over a relatively long period of time, you will probably need to test drive at least two applications and probably more to determine the best fit for you. I remember years ago that someone accurately explained the need to spend at least 40 hours (the approximate equivalent of a work week) determining which cataloging software would be the ideal fit and I think the same is true of post-processing software.
    Last edited by Mike Buckley; 20th June 2014 at 12:47 PM.

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    Re: Is GIMP a viable PP program for photography?

    Quote Originally Posted by Southpaw View Post
    Is it safe to say that Post Processing with photoshop/aperture/GIMP/Lightroom et al is the digital equivalent of film photography lab processing?
    Kinda. It is from the perspective of the processing, but with traditional lab processing not many people setup their own darkrooms whereas a lot more people process their own photos digitally.

    Is running a raw file through software similar to the process of developing a negative, and then printing on photo paper?
    Again, kinda. It's akin to developing, but printing is of course optional.

    I read (really skimmed) Ansel Adams' books "The Camera", "The Negative", & "The Print", and it was becoming apparent that the way he got his photos to look the way they did, was he had complete control over the whole process, from the choices he made in camera gear & settings, to the way he developed the negative, and then the way he printed the photo, on down to the mounting.
    Yep - and that part hasn't changed as such.

    It's starting to feel like my original view is akin to me taking all the creative care with regard to camera settings, lighting, subject; and then handing my film off to the Fotomat guy and saying "have at it, let me know when I can pick it up", if I leave everything to in camera .jpg processing, and forgoing the Post Processing, um, process.
    This comes up quite regularly; the analogy I like to use is buying a cake -v- making your own. If you buy it then it's baked how the baker wanted it to be baked, but when you bake it yourself you can do it how YOU like it. Continuing the analogy, until you learn to bake then you'll probably have a worse result to start with, but eventually things click.

    Here is a quick aside to all this- Would a slightly older version of Photoshop be acceptable? Like one from the last few years, circa 2011 or so? I believe it's installed already on a computer I can have access to and use freely if I want. That might be a way for me to get started with it. How about that?
    You're probably talking CS5 or there abouts. It was a good version (I know it really well) and fine in most respects -- I'd still say "go for the 33c a day option" though unless you really can't afford it. Whereas it's true that many people don't need some of the later technologies that Adobe have added (a) there are some like content aware fill that do make life a lot easier and (b) the other thing people seem to forget is that it's not just the new tools that they add that make a new version what it is ... they also refine the old tools too eg the cloning tool in PS CC is way more intelligent than the one in CS5.

    Thanks for all the replies. Just for fun, are there some threads/posts/examples of some before & after processing photos some of you out there in CiC land have done? I'd love to see not just the photos to get feel of how much difference there is, but some discussion of the thought process involved when you apply post processing to a photo. Like, what was your intention? What did you think about before, during, and after you took the photo- did you look at a scene/subject/whatever and think "Ok, I'll shoot this now, and then do such & such to it later". And, possibly different variations you did of the same photo, and what some of the possibilities are, etc.
    Jeepers - talk about a "how long is a piece of string question!"

    Folks usually go through various levels when they get into Photography;

    Level 1 is striving for photorealism (getting colours & tones right etc)

    Level 2 is starting to anticipate things a bit (thinking before they release the shutter - moving the rubbish on the lawn - not shooting in dappled light etc)

    Level 3 is starting to envisage and create scenes (Hmm - if I go there at sunset when there's high cloud - take a really long exposure then that will give me "this and that" etc

    Level 4 is really accepting that what you got at Level 3 was as good as it could have been, and now take it to the next level in post-processing.

    Something like that anyway. At the end of the day, it's where art meets science and the more you can skill up on both areas, the better the decisions you can make at all stages along the way -- and developing your own style along the way. Having said all that, their are things that speed the process, but there's just no substitute for trying out things and learning from the results you get. After that, you're pretty much limited only by your imagination.

    Once you start going down this rabbit hole, the more you learn, the more things start opening up further than you thought you'd have to go! This goes along with my "Allegory of the flashlight". It's amazing how there are similar principles at the root of seemingly dissimilar things. (sorry, getting sleepy & too philosophical)
    Almost midnight here, so that went waaaay over my head!

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

    Shawn - In the film analogy you use, I would suggest that your straight-out-of-the-camera (SOOC) jpeg is the equivilent of what a commercial mini-lab type processor would turn out; the images that were taken during a family reunion or vacation. Good enough for the undescerning masses.

    Using ACR / Lightroom can take your images (quite quickly) to the standard that a standard custom printer would have turned out in the film genre. Here I'm thinking of what the school and wedding photographers would have used. Better workmanship, with little to no surgery on the prints.

    Using full-blown Photoshop puts you into the realm of the custom printer + the airbrush artist.

    Whatever step is good enough for you, is where you will stop. Frankly, I use all three levels in my work. If I need a quick shot for a Facebook or website post, SOOC is usually fine. Well crafted shots, especially those destined for internet or small format prints, ACR / Lightroom might suffice. The best of the best that you decide to print in large format, full blown Photoshop is the way to go.

    As for using a older version of Photoshop; legally PS6 is the only one you can buy. ACR / Lightroom have / are RAW converters and if you a purchasing a recently released camera, an up-to-date version is pretty well mandatory as older versions are unlikely to support your camera (nicely said, if the camera model was released after Photohop CC was released, you will unlikley find that it is supported).
    Last edited by Manfred M; 20th June 2014 at 01:15 PM.

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    Re: Is GIMP a viable PP program for photography?

    $10/month is an insignificant amount of money in the grand scale of the costs involved in this hobby. Especially when one begins to add in the cost of associated camera/lens/computer equipment.

    But, IMHO, by far the worst part of this whole exercise of photography is "Time". Time spent to learn the basics of photography and the associated gear, as has been touched on by others. And then comes the time spent learning that PP software, can you say years. Granted that I'm not the brightest bulb in the closet but, my first ever picture was taken in 2008. That is a long time to invest, in my case, in achieving a humble level of mediocrity.

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    Re: Is GIMP a viable PP program for photography?

    Quote Originally Posted by GrumpyDiver View Post
    As for using a older version of Photoshop...ACR / Lightroom have / are RAW converters and if you a purchasing a recently released camera, an up-to-date version is pretty well mandatory as older versions are unlikely to support your camera (nicely said, if the camera model was released after Photohop CC was released, you will unlikley find that it is supported).
    To clarify that, Manfred is referring to post-processing RAW files because the issue that he mentions doesn't come into play if you shoot only JPEGs. Add to his comment that the recently released lenses won't be supported in the sense that related automatic distortion corrections won't be available.
    Last edited by Mike Buckley; 20th June 2014 at 02:56 PM.

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