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Book Reviews Books Media

GIMP 2 for Photographers 471

Jon Allen writes "A glance through any photography magazine will confirm that Adobe Photoshop is the accepted standard image editing software, offering almost unparalleled power and control over your images. However, costing more than many DSLR cameras, for non-professionals it can be a very hard purchase to justify (and of course for Linux users this is a moot point, as Photoshop is not available for their platform). Luckily, the free software community has provided us with an alternative. The GIMP, or Gnu Image Manipulation Program, offers a huge amount of the power of Photoshop but is available at no cost. Additionally GIMP is cross-platform, available for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Unix." Read below for the rest of Jon's review.
GIMP 2 for Photographers
author Klaus Goelker
pages 185
publisher Rocky Nook / O'Reilly
rating 9/10
reviewer Jon Allen
ISBN 978-1-933952-03-1
summary A great book for anyone with more than a passing interest in improving their photos
The one downside to using GIMP is that most magazines and photography books use Photoshop in their articles and tutorials, so if you do choose GIMP there's a bit more of a learning curve. Now once you're used to GIMP you'll find that many of Photoshop's features have equivalents, albeit with a different user interface, but getting that initial level of experience and familiarity with the software can be rather difficult. The GIMP does come with a manual, but it is really more of a reference guide and while very comprehensive it is not particularly friendly for new users. GIMP 2 for Photographers aims to rectify this.

Written clearly from a photographer's point of view (the author is a photographer who also teaches image editing), this book takes a task-oriented approach, looking at the types of editing operations that a photographer would require and then showing how to perform each task in the GIMP.

Rather helpfully, the GIMP software (for Windows, Mac, and Linux) is included on the book's accompanying CD. This means that you can follow each tutorial using the exact same version of software as the author, which really helps to build confidence that you're doing everything right.

I already have GIMP installed on OS X, so to test out the instructions in the book I performed an installation from the CD on a clean Microsoft Windows XP machine.

The exact filenames of the installation packages on the CD differ slightly from those in the accompanying README file, but the instructions in the book do list the correct files and after following this procedure the installation went without a hitch. The setup files do not ask any overly 'techie' questions, so it literally took less than 5 minutes to set up a fully working system.

As well as the GIMP application, the CD also includes all of the sample images used in the book, and for each editing tutorial the "final" image is provided so you can check your own work against the expected result.

Even more usefully, the CD contains an electronic copy of the complete book as a PDF file, so you can keep it on your laptop as a reference guide, invaluable when editing images on location (or on holiday).

I'd have to say that this is without a doubt the most useful CD I've ever received with a book. Providing the applications and example files is good, giving readers instant gratification without needing to deal with downloads and websites (which may well have changed after the book went to press). But including the complete book on the CD as well is nothing short of a masterstroke, and something I'd love to see other publishers adopt.

As for the book itself, the author takes us through basic GIMP operations — opening and saving files, cropping, resizing images, and printing. Once these basics are out of the way, the book moves on to a series of examples based on "real-life" image editing scenarios.

These examples are very well chosen, both in the fact that the vast majority of the techniques shown are genuinely useful, but also in the way that they are ordered. Each example introduces a new feature of the software, building up your knowledge as you work through the book. By the end you can expect to be skilled not only in "standard" editing — adjusting color balance, fixing red-eye, removing dust spots, and so on — but also in compositing, perspective correction, lighting and shadow effects, and building panoramic images.

Between the examples there is a good amount of more "reference" type material, with detailed descriptions of the various menus, tool bars, and dialogs you will encounter while using the software. Combined with lots of well-labelled screenshots this strikes a very good balance, ensuring that even after going through all the tutorials you'll still get value from the book as something to refer back to.

Overall the quality of the writing and general production standard is very high indeed. There are some points where it is noticeable that the book was originally published in German, but this never becomes a stumbling block to the reader's understanding. Most importantly though, the author employs the "show, don't tell" philosophy throughout which is key to successful teaching.

In conclusion, I would have no hesitation in recommending GIMP 2 for Photographers to anyone with more than a passing interest in improving their photos. And even if you already use image editing software, the book is well worth a read — I have been using GIMP for several years and still learned a great deal. The accompanying CD is the icing on the cake, making GIMP 2 for Photographers a simply essential purchase.

You can purchase GIMP 2 for Photographers from amazon.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.
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GIMP 2 for Photographers

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  • by gravis777 ( 123605 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @03:27PM (#20841923)
    I was quite confused by this article at first. Does this mean there is a new verison of Gimp out for Photographers? What's wrong with the current version of Gimp? Surely this is not an article refering to the release of Gimp2, that was released a while back.

    After reading and rereading the article, I think I have come to the conclusion that this is a review of a book, and the review was aimed at the non-slashdot community.
    • Yeah, I got the same impression. Doesn't everyone here already know all about Gimp?
      • Yeah, I guess that is what we get for speed reading. There are one or two places where it does mention its a book, but its burried. The box that tells the details of the book I thought at first was an advertisement, as it was located normally where slashdot puts ads at.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by rucs_hack ( 784150 )
        some people are really trying to pimp up the gimp recently.

        Thing is, it isn't, and never has been as good as photoshop, so the professional world aren't going to accept it while photoshop is better.

        And its not just because photoshop is proprietary, its just better suited to what the professional photographer and artist need to make a living. Gimp needs several more years with a much *much* larger workforce and some serious intent to make it so good that people won't even think of using anything else, and I
        • by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @04:33PM (#20842969) Homepage
          But for amateur photographers who don't want to spend hundreds of dollars on Photoshop, or even a hundred dollars on Photoshop Elements, gimp is a very good alternative. Just an anecdote, I downloaded the free trial for my wife, she tried it out for a bit, and decided that she liked GIMP better than Photoshop. The reason that she tried Photoshop was that one of her graphic designer friends recommended it to her. But having no formal training, she actually found it easier to use GIMP. People who have been using Photoshop for a long time either through actually buying it, or downloading a pirated copy will probably find it easier to stick with Photoshop than to learn to use GIMP. However, amateurs starting out who don't want to spend any money, will probably do just fine with GIMP.
        • For a professional, you have to have high quality CMYK support. Period. Doesn't matter how good the other features are, if you're stuck with RGB, you're never going to be accepted in the world of the printed page.
          • CMYK is irrelevant (Score:5, Interesting)

            by swillden ( 191260 ) * <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @05:16PM (#20843519) Homepage Journal

            For a professional, you have to have high quality CMYK support. Period. Doesn't matter how good the other features are, if you're stuck with RGB, you're never going to be accepted in the world of the printed page.

            Only if you're working in pre-press. Photographers, even professionals, don't deal with CMYK. Cameras and film scanners are RGB, all retouching is done in RGB, and final images are delivered to magazines/newspapers/whatever in RGB (usually TIFF, sometimes 16 bits per channel, usually 8). Then the pre-press production work begins by moving the images to CMYK and adjusting the colors so they look good in that colorspace and in the print system's color profile.

            This book is for photographers, not pre-press production. For photographers, the real issues that make Photoshop better than the GIMP are:

            1. Nearly everyone knows Photoshop
            2. The GIMP only supports 8 bits per channel
            3. The GIMP lacks adjustment layers
            4. The GIMP lacks the hundreds plugins Photoshop has

            Only item 2 above is a real showstopper, and that's only for images that benefit from greater dynamic range. Item 3 is huge convenience, but can be worked around. Item 4 is also just a convenience factor, but there are some plugins that do stuff that would take hours to do manually. If you need one of those regularly, you're best off getting Photoshop and the plugin.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              Yea, my main issues are pre-press at this point, so that's my primary concern. CMYK support is one of those things...Work with OSS enough, and you start seeing things like that. CMYK is only useful for a specific niche, granted, Adobe knows damn well that that niche buys TONS of licenses.

              Your issue #3 is the one that always jumps out and bites me whenever I'm using GIMP. You don't have to have adjustment layers, but once you're used to them, it's hard as hell to go back.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by justin12345 ( 846440 )
              I agree that number 2 is the real show stopper and what you said about CMYK only really being useful these days if you are doing prepress. What I wanted to add is that almost all images benefit from having a greater dynamic range during the input phase. Even if your output is going to be 8 bits per channel (which it often is), if you do any real manipulation to the image you need some data to throw away, 12 or 16 bits in your source. Otherwise you get some really nasty artifacts, sometimes in the form of co
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by m2943 ( 1140797 )
              There are versions of the Gimp that support 16 bits per channel. Hopefully, all of this stuff will get merged in version 3.
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by mlewan ( 747328 )
              As a shortcoming you forgot the lack of LAB support in the Gimp.
    • by tepples ( 727027 ) <tepples@gm a i l . c om> on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @03:34PM (#20842033) Homepage Journal

      After reading and rereading the article, I think I have come to the conclusion that this is a review of a book
      I got that impression just by looking at the Slashdot main page, which stated:

      Book Reviews [slashdot.org]: GIMP 2 for Photographers
      Posted by samzenpus on 2007-10-03 15:22
      from the crop-better dept.
      You might have missed it when the link to "Book Reviews" was drawn in a color similar to the green background of headline bars.
  • by iamacat ( 583406 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @03:27PM (#20841925)
    You just have to look at it from programmer's point of view. For example, there is no separate commands to draw geometric shapes. Instead you define a selection and then stroke or fill it. The upshot is that it's much easier to, for example, draw an intersection of two shapes. Default settings in photoshop also leave much to be desired. For example, only several undo levels are enabled by default. In Gimp you can review a long undo history and snap your project back to any point.

    I am sure PS is a great tool for professional artists, but it's horrible for programmers who want to do a little icon drawing. On the other hand, price of Photoshop and lack of Pen tool in Photoshop Elements make it unsuitable for most hobbyists and shareware authors.
    • by afd8856 ( 700296 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @03:34PM (#20842037) Homepage
      1. How do you change the shape of your selection outlines, or make small adjustments to it? In Photoshop, as they're defined by vector shapes, you can do this.
      2. Photoshop has the history palette (and even history branching, if I'm not mistaking, in the later versions)
      • by iamacat ( 583406 )
        1. You create a path, edit it until you are satisfied and then convert it into selection
        2. Nice to know, but when you just install the thing, Apple-Z stops working after just several undo steps. They could have easily used an adoptive algorithm that discards old undos when running low on memory or resorts to slower strategy of storing images every N steps and redoing operations in the middle.
        • by Sciros ( 986030 )
          PS users frequently work with images that take up many megabytes, and if there weren't a default 20 or whatever undo steps then out of the box PS would be maxing out the amount of memory you let it work with nearly every time. Anyway this is all very easily configurable, and if you're actually serious about using a tool like PS, you're going to be doing some configuration and personalization to it anyhow.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by iamacat ( 583406 )
            Why would super-expensive software be so dumb that it can not detect that I am editing an 128x128 pixel icon and adjust undo steps automatically?
            • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

              The problem is not that it can't detect that you're working with a small file and give additional history steps. The problem is that if you consistently work with small files and get used to having a long undo trail then you may get surprised when you only have a short history when you open a big file.

              For example, in your system a user might usually edit 128x128 px images and have 150 undo steps available. They'd get used to being able to undo 100 brush actions in a row if they needed to revert. But when
            • by Sciros ( 986030 )
              Well PS is kinda overkill for 128x128 icons. I'm not even sure you can save in .ico format out of the box with PS or not...

              If you are dealing with such small files (unusual for a PS user) then like I said you can go ahead and set the number of steps it saves in its history to much higher than default. Automatic adjustment like that is not really a feature that PS users have asked for, though, and that's why you don't see it. I'm not really sure I'd want it, either.
    • For example, there is no separate commands to draw geometric shapes. Instead you define a selection and then stroke or fill it.

      Likewise, there are no separate commands to cut or copy geometric shapes. Instead you define a selection and then cut or copy it. The object-then-verb paradigm goes back to Mac OS 1, and the Japanese language before that; GIMP just takes it further.

      For example, [in Photoshop products,] only several undo levels are enabled by default. In Gimp you can review a long undo history and snap your project back to any point.

      But in Photoshop products, you can use the "history brush", a clone tool that uses an undo history state as the source image.

      but [Photoshop products are] horrible for programmers who want to do a little icon drawing

      Some people claim that GIMP has the same problem, preferring something like Usenti [chem.tue.nl] for editing small indexed-color images because of th

    • by sakusha ( 441986 )

      You just have to look at it from programmer's point of view.

      Because that's just what every photographer wants.

      You did notice this is a review of "Gimp 2 for Photographers," right?
    • by JeanBaptiste ( 537955 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @03:56PM (#20842389)
      You just have to look at it from programmer's point of view.

      This is why most linux applications are nowhere near ready for the desktop.

      not flaming.
    • by Eponymous Bastard ( 1143615 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @04:52PM (#20843201)
      I'll give you two features that alone make Photoshop easier to use:
      - Unified move/scale/rotate/perspective/etc tool with transparency. Want to paste a person on top of a building? A flower on a hat? Paste your logo on a billboard on a photograph? You move, scale, rotate and do everything else in one shot until it looks right. Scale a bit, move, scale, move, rotate, rescale, change transparency, doesn't match quite right, rescale again... ok. On the Gimp, you have to do scaling and rotation separately, which is harder to get right and you lose quality, especially if you do it repeatedly. The best I found was to use the measuring tool on an axis on both source and destination, and then calculate scale and rotation and enter it on the two dialogs, then move. Even the transparent move wasn't implemented until recently, and you have to make sure to disable visibility of the layer before you move. (Or at least you did a month ago)
      - Adjustment layers: Nondestructive editing is good. Adjust the colors. Adjust the colors of another layer. Doesn't look quite right? Readjust the colors of the first one. In the gimp I end up making copies before a color adjustment so that I can redo it if I need to.

      Notice I'm not talking about high powered features, or 256 bit color in YMCA palette or whatever. I'm talking about every day things. Even the layer grouping in Photoshop is very useful even if you don't put in the layer blending effects, making it easy to implement.

      There are a couple features from the Gimp I miss when I'm using Photoshop, but the end balance is in photoshop's favor.

      For simple editing the Gimp is good. If you don't have Photoshop, the Gimp is good. One-on-one comparison ... give it a couple years.
    • by niceone ( 992278 ) * on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @05:25PM (#20843641) Journal
      You just have to look at it from programmer's point of view.

      That might be the best UI insult I have every seen :)
  • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @03:29PM (#20841953)
    Spencer: Bring out the GIMP.
    Peter: The GIMP's not installed.
    Spencer: Well, I guess you'll have to compile it now, won't you?
  • Picasa (Score:5, Informative)

    by Hoi Polloi ( 522990 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @03:29PM (#20841963) Journal
    Picasa [google.com] is good enough for my photo needs (i.e. straightening, lightening) and it is free too.
    • Re:Picasa (Score:5, Informative)

      by Entropius ( 188861 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @04:27PM (#20842899)
      Picasa is excellent, but:

      1) It only has one "sharpen" button with no parameters. For an operation that's as touchy as sharpening, you need more control.
      2) The highlights/shadows/fill light sliders aren't as flexible or as easy to use as the Gimp's curves tool for adjusting contrast.

      Add a proper unsharp mask tool and a tone curve, and Picasa would be able to do 90% of post-process jobs. Now it can only do 10%, simply because curves is so useful.
    • Picasa was OK the last time I tried it, but has some issues. Mostly, I felt like the software was in control and I was not.

      The GIMP gives you a ton of control, perhaps too much in some areas, and not enough in others. For example, I couldn't figure out how to turn an image to black and white in the GIMP, but I could separate the color chanels w/o trouble. This just seems wrong. For Photoshop, you can convert to b&w with an option that's on the menu, while in the GIMP, I had to really hunt for it.

  • [Ff]ree vs Piracy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by OmegaBlac ( 752432 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @03:31PM (#20841989)

    However, costing more than many DSLR cameras, for non-professionals it can be a very hard purchase to justify
    Which is probably why Adobe Photoshop is one of the most pirated pieces of commercial software. Cost certainly has not harmed Photoshops popularity and the fact that it is perceived to be a "standard" by many means that most people without the funds to purchase it would rather choose to pirate the software instead of relying on a [Ff]ree alternative such as the GIMP.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by MightyYar ( 622222 )
      They laughed at me in CompUSA when I said that I couldn't afford Photoshop: "No one PAYS for Photoshop!"
      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @03:48PM (#20842263)
        That's when you're supposed to respond with an enthusiastic "Cool!!" then walk over to the software shelf, pick up a copy of PS, and then head on out the door without paying.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by couchslug ( 175151 )
        No one who does not have to excepting the odd moralist loon.

        That's why Photoshop has such good market penetration. The perceived need for it drives BOTH purchase and piracy, which reinforce it as a standard. This model works very well and there is no reason to change it.

        Want to reinforce OSS alternatives to commercial soft? Join the fight against warez to keep the competition from getting the benefits of "pirates" chumming the market with their stuff!
    • That's true. That's why GIMP has a hard time, for hobbyists, the GIMP is competing against an infringing copy of Photoshop.

      Even if you do pay for it, Photoshop doesn't cost more than a whole lot of DSLR cameras, it's actually priced about the same as a base model from many brands, list price to list price.

      Really, Adobe Lightroom or Apple Aperture are more suitable for photo work, and those programs are cheaper.
    • http://cameras.pricegrabber.com/digital/p/48/form_keyword=dslr/rd=1/sortby=priceA [pricegrabber.com]

      I see TWO DSLR cameras for less than the price of photoshop, one of them (the one that is 5$ less) comes with a lens.

    • Re:[Ff]ree vs Piracy (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Eponymous Bastard ( 1143615 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @04:34PM (#20842975)
      I had an interesting experience: I installed the Gimp for my sister, because I didn't want to pirate PS (half morality, half laziness). She started using it and learned it, even though it wasn't always intuitive. I had to show her a bunch of tricks myself, to help her along.

      The interesting part is that once she showed her friends her edited pictures and animations they also started using it. Many tried pirating PS, but ... It wasn't translated. It's actually hard to find a download for Photoshop in spanish. This isn't a problem for my sister since she reads english well enough, but a lot of her friends don't, or at least not as easily.

      Now all her friends and half her high-school is using the Gimp simply because the translation makes it easier to use, even if windows and office and everything else on their computers is pirated. My sister jokes she should get a prize from the Gimp team, since she spread it around.

      (Note that I do know from experience that PS has a lot of nice features, both at the low and high end, but the translation is worth the difference for a lot of people)
  • No 16bit support (Score:5, Informative)

    by Eugenia Loli ( 250395 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @03:33PM (#20842019) Homepage Journal
    No 16bit support on Gimp, and so it's NOT a good solution for prosumer or pro photographers. And Cinepaint has forked a long time ago and so many other features are missing from it, so don't even mention it as an alternative. 16bit support on Gimp was first promised in 2002, but it's still not here...
    • It is frustrating that GIMP is really nice to use, but it lacks anything over 8 bit. Cinepaint can do higher color ranges, but its missing all of the features that makes GIMP nice in the first place. CinePaint's ground up rewrite (Glasgow) was supposed to fix all of these issues, but its incredibly unstable. Anything I try and do with it crashes it.
    • No 16bit support on Gimp,

      You'll get your 16-bit support when we've all moved up to 16-bit processors.

      Oh, 32 now? Even 64?


    • And in addition to that, anyone (professional or consumer) trying to print will find that color management in the Gimp blows nine kinds of donkey ass.

  • Adobe Lightroom (Score:4, Informative)

    by darthv506 ( 571196 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @03:34PM (#20842029)
    I would imagine that a large number of photographers have switched over to Adobe Lightroom. It's tailor made for photo work (workflow, organization and processing). It's a very nice piece of software and a lot cheaper than PS CS3!
    • I've barely touched my copy of Photoshop (v7.0... yeah it's been awhile) since downloading Lightroom. If you use Photoshop primarily for working with digital camera photos, I barely see a point to having Photoshop at all unless you're wanting to do extensive photo editing. I paid $169 for Lightroom I believe, and was only too happy to do so.
    • Re:Adobe Lightroom (Score:5, Informative)

      by photomonkey ( 987563 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @05:07PM (#20843433)

      IAAPP (I am a professional photographer)

      Lightroom and Aperture are both eye candy and nothing more. They do not replace the functionality of Pshop (including clone-stamping out dust and making color-channel level edits). Additionally, their support for IPTC/EXIF metadata is shaky at best. If you use a server or network storage device to store your image archive, it's kind of fun to watch Lightroom and Aperture shit the bed trying to figure out how to deal with it.

      It's almost like a lot of the developers have realized that everyone and his brother have bought digital cameras, and that they can probably sell yet another expensive 'make my photos stop sucking' software to people who already can't use what they have.

      I've used the Gimp on Windoze and Linux, and it's about where Pshop was at version 4 or 5. All software can be improved upon, and Pshop is no exception. But there is a reason that they have driven everyone else under (or nearly under). It's a damn fine couple of million lines of code.

      In my expert opinion, the best combination for browser/meta editor and editing app has to be Photo Mechanic and Photoshop.

  • Strawman (Score:5, Informative)

    by KenSeymour ( 81018 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @03:35PM (#20842051)
    Comparing GIMP to the full version of Photoshop is a straw man argument. Compare it instead to Photoshop Elements. Elements is about $100, not about $700.

    I have used both Elements and GIMP and find Elements much more intuitive. This is even though
    I used GIMP first. Elements also supports the RAW mode for my Nikon D70.

    I now only use GIMP when I don't have access to my home machine, where the one licensed copy I have is installed.

    Elements also allows you to organize your photos into categories without having to create a directory structure. It has built in partial and full backup functions.

    Of course, YMMV.
    • I now only use GIMP when I don't have access to my home machine, where the one licensed copy I have is installed.

      Check the license. Adobe generally allows you to install their apps on a second machine (ie, work/home machines, main workstation/laptop) so long as you don't run them both at the same time.
    • by iamacat ( 583406 )
      I don't know how you draw smooth shapes in Elements without the Pen tool. But in any case, it would be fair use to install your licensed copy on all your machines as long as you are only using it on one machine at a time.
    • Raw mode (Score:5, Informative)

      by GroundBounce ( 20126 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @03:49PM (#20842285)
      Actually GIMP's support for raw files has improved dramatically in the last few years. Install the UFRaw [sourceforge.net] plugin, which most Linux distros package up and which supports the D70 as well as many others.
    • by sakusha ( 441986 )
      A better comparison:

      Gimp 2 for Photographers book MSRP $29.95
      Photoshop Elements 6 (includes instruction book) MSRP $99.95

      For a mere $60 more (or less depending on discounts) you can buy a real piece of professional software rather than just a book.
  • Unless they have recently added support for higher depths than 16 bits, no one will be able to take it seriously. I'd love to use gimp for something more than a quick rescale of jpegs, but when you're constrained to working with 8 bits per channel, everything just gets too tedious. :/
  • There are a number of really good books on doing web comics with Photoshop. Are there any equivalent books for GIMP?
    • by Hatta ( 162192 )
      Isn't illustration something better suited to a vector drawing tool like, say, Illustrator? Or Freehand or Inkscape?
      • If starting from scratch, yes. If not, no.

        If you draw your images on paper, then scan them into your computer, you get a lot of versatility using Photoshop or the GIMP. For instance, you can erase pencil smudges, inking mistakes, or just change your mind and flip an image. Then you can scan your lettering into your computer and add then in the appropriate places using layers. Once that is done you can then color the image.

        Now all you have to do is resize the image to fit comfortably in a browser and s

  • I know this won't win me any friends from the OSS crowd, but the last time I tried using GIMP the GUI was an absolute nightmare, and the application was buggy as Hell, and the documentation was all over the map (some of it well written, most of it garbage that read like it was written by an engineer with English as his second language). Perhaps this has changed in recent years, but a few years ago, it was most defintely NOT comparable to Photoshop. I would compare it more to something like Corel's Paintshop [wikipedia.org]
    • I go back to it from time to time, but I agree, its nightmarish to use and I end up giving up in favor of alternatives, anything. I'm no pro user, but I do a bit of image work, enough to like a decent and easy to use image editor, which the gimp isn't.

      I think it has suffered from too many years following the vision of Mattis and Kimball. It was good when Linux looked like the gimp, but we've left that era long behind.
  • I've been using photoshop for about 10 years now and have become very proficient. I recently made the switch to linux. The only real application i havn't found a replacement for is photoshop. I have tried using GIMP but their are just too many problems with it. While it is probably acceptable for those who have never used photo editing software before, anyone who has touched photoshop will feel severly handycapped. When i first heard about GIMP i was hoping it would simply be an attempt at cloning phot
    • Try GIMPShop (Score:5, Informative)

      by GroundBounce ( 20126 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @03:57PM (#20842413)
      You might be intrested in GIMPShop [blogspot.com]. I've never used it, but it is a modified version of GIMP designed to have an interface that is closer to that of Photoshop. There is some Photoshop fuctionality that is missing in GIMP, and this does change that, but it might help long-term Photoshop users become comfortable with GIMP faster, especially if you're in a situation where you need to use both. Again, I've never used it, so I can't speak as to how much it helps.
      • I've tried to use it and the installation bombed horribly.
        They haven't updated it in long while.

        The REAL solution is to offer 2 layouts in GIMP: Native and Photoshop.
  • ...there being a /. poster whose .sig referred to some software that claimed to have something like 70% of Photoshop's functionality at 10% the price. It intrigued me when I saw it, but I never bothered to follow the link. Does anyone know what that software was, or if it's a viable alternative?
  • What I want to do with GIMP, and cannot find the place for it is adjust a selection edges after I've made the selection. In PS you go to the Select menu and you can specify the current selection, say a rectangle, for adjustment. Then I can individually move the edges in or out to fine-tune it in a way that's most useful to me, and I CANNOT FIND on GIMP. Maybe this book explains that feature.
  • Is there an alternate installation of Gimp on the Mac that provides a more OS X interface? The default X11 setup is an abomination of an interface; it's essentially unusable. With a halfway more normal GUI, GIMP would be significantly better. Any options out there? Thanks.
  • Deep Color (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Speare ( 84249 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @03:55PM (#20842371) Homepage Journal

    It's not about the oft-slagged interface, it's about actual capability falling behind the curve.

    It's going to be a common rant in this thread, I am sure, but the fact is, GIMP is falling behind because it has not yet mainstreamed any support for "deep color." It is stuck in an 8-bits-per-channel world, which is fine for many forms of web graphics and proofing, but has some serious limitations in advanced photography. Many photographers are getting quite interested in HDR, RAW, and ICC. What few plugins exist for these in the GIMP world are incomplete and only allow you to import their results back into the limits of an 8-bits-per-channel world.

    • Re:Deep Color (Score:5, Informative)

      by swillden ( 191260 ) * <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @05:31PM (#20843733) Homepage Journal

      GIMP is getting support for deep colors and multiple color spaces as part of the new graphics engine, GEGL. GEGL was supposed to be part of GIMP 2.4, but it wasn't quite ready so it's been pushed back to 2.6. I don't imagine we'll see GIMP with GEGL before 2009, but it is coming. The new engine will also make lots of things much easier to implement, and much faster and more RAM-efficient, in spite of the hugely-expanded dynamic range.

      Of course, you can't edit your photos with GIMP 2.6 right now, so if you need deep colors, at present you're pretty much stuck with Photoshop. You could also try Krita, but it tends to crash a lot.

  • by Nerdposeur ( 910128 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @03:58PM (#20842437) Journal
    I do not understand the fascination with GIMP. I have used Photoshop for basic editing for years, and found GIMP to be a nightmare when I tried it.

    Paint.net, on the other hand, is easy to use, works in basically the same way as Photoshop (many of the shortcut commands are even the same), and is free. I now use it almost every day at work for basic web stuff - resizing, erasing undesirable elements with the clone brush, converting formats, etc.

    Maybe I misunderstand GIMP (maybe because I'm running XP), but you know Photoshop and you're looking for a free version, Paint.net will be a much easier transition.
  • How do you change the default JPEG quality from the measly 85 (to say >90)? As a photographer this is the most annoying setting that I end up having to change all the time.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Ant P. ( 974313 )
      Try the 2.4 RC; they finally added a "save defaults" button to that window. (It's been driving me insane as well)
  • Cinepaint does 16 bit, which I'm now starting to find MUCH more useful, as I now have a RAW capable digital camera. I really do wish that the Cinepaint and GIMP would de-fork. There is SO much good stuff in GIMP that's not in Cinepaint, and vice-versa (and that includes expertise). Keeping them separate seems stoopid !
  • The world of pro/semi photography has moved on to tools like Aperture/Lightroom. When you are shooting hundreds images working with them in PS or Gimp is far too time/labor intensive. With the next generation for tools I can efficiently deal with hundreds/thousands of image to grade and quick edit images then if required do fine editing with PS/Gimp.
  • by Aphrika ( 756248 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @04:20PM (#20842795)
    Last time I looked, here in the UK they were about the same price - £569, although it'll be more for the camera (maybe £900+) if you're going to be wanting a decent lens. You're also assuming that said DSLR fanatic already has a computer, which you can also argue is a requirement.

    If you're going to pony up between £500 and £1000 for a camera, then it's worth factoring in the price of software, especially as you don't need to buy film.

    I mean that's like getting a film SLR and moaning about the cost of darkroom kit... it's the same with any hobby; horse riding isn't just the price of a horse, fishing isn't just the price of a rod and digital photography isn't just the price of a digital camera, you have to account for all the necessary extras as they say...
  • THAT interface (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Attila the Bun ( 952109 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @05:06PM (#20843417)

    People who complain about Gimp's interface aren't just whingeing for the sake of it. Gimp is immensely capable, but dear god, why is the interface split across so many windows? Photo editing in Gimp is a chore, chasing little windows around the desktop with the mouse.

    It's a terrible pity, because so much work has gone into making Gimp. To can do almost everything an amateur photographer could want, but after a few weeks using it I went looking for an alternative and bought Photoshop Elements. Elements is missing a few features, but it's a pleasure to use, and that's why so many people use it instead of Gimp.

  • by Nephroth ( 586753 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @06:28PM (#20844395)
    Unfortunate pop-culture reference, but using the GIMP reminds me a lot of the episode of South Park in which Mr. Garrison involves an alternative form of transport with a rather unfortunate control interface.
  • Two reasons (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BigBadBus ( 653823 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @06:48PM (#20844609) Homepage
    Two reasons why I've tried GIMP and will *NOT* return to it unless it has: a) a better GUI b) better documentation How do you expect ordinary users to use it, regardless of how wonderful it is, if its hard to use and isn't intuitive? Even MS Paint is better, and easier to use than GIMP's functionality!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @06:53PM (#20844635)
    If appearances, didn't matter, we wouldn't need image manipulation programs! Time and again, I've seen professional photographers reject the GIMP. Why? Not because it lacks patented color spaces or features, though it does. Simply because the name is cringeingly embarrassing. They'll use some awful shareware app if they can't use photoshop, not the GIMP.

    Now, as some borderline autist developer, you may not care about such things, and think their embarrassment is stupid and irrational. but arty types - including digital media workers - tend to be emotional and less than entiely rational. They're *all about appearances*. When they're talking shop to their colleagues, they don't want to be saying "I just opened up the gimp".
  • by Toonol ( 1057698 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @07:51PM (#20845267)
    A few months ago I did a little poking around to see what my son was doing on the internet.

    Well, besides all the obvious things a 17 year old looks for on the net, he was hanging out on a discussion forum for video games. The first post of his that I found was this:

    paint sux use gimp.

    As a father, I'm conflicted.
  • by capaslash ( 941889 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @10:15PM (#20846599) Homepage
    I work as a news photographer at a daily paper full time. We use Photoshop on OS X at work. The only thing GIMP really lacks that would make it unattractive for news work is the lack of CMYK. But I understand Krita can handle CMYK just fine. The other standard stuff -- dodging, burning, adjusting levels and curves, resizing, applying unsharp mask -- GIMP does fine. But I don't think the newspaper industry is interested in GIMP. $600 for Photoshop isn't an issue with most newspapers, plus it's a standard so everyone knows how to use it and you don't need to re-train everyone.

    8bits per channel vs. 12-16 bits per channel isn't really an issue for newspaper work. I've never noticed any fellow photographers use these extra bit depth modes. Everybody seems to stick with 8bit/channel jpegs. RAW is slow and takes up a lot of space on memory cards. Also, bear in mind that newsprint is "axle grease on toilet paper" so any advantage that higher bit depths provide will not be especially noticeable. Heck, just getting the CMYK registration to line up on a press is a big enough challenge!

    8bit/channel images are the standard for Web images. So for newspaper Web sites, GIMP, of course, would be perfectly adequate.

    For personal work, I use GIMP. All my flickr photos are processed using GIMP. When I make prints at the one-hour lab, I bring in my media card full if images adjusted only with GIMP. For me, price is an issue. I strongly prefer not to spend $600 on Photoshop. But also, and just as important, I am a fan of the Free Software philosophy. It appeals to me. For these same reasons and more, I use GNU/Linux and BSD at home, also.

    Regarding GIMPs interface, coming from a Photoshop background, it did seem to be awkward to me at first, but now that I'm familiar with it, GIMP's interface seems fine to me. It all depends on what you're used to.

    I've also used GIMP for personal paid projects ... some individual portraits and some group portraits.

    As an aside, I recently installed GIMP on a family friend's computer. They love it! Here's an actual email I received from them:

    "... I took the copy of the rooster photo you had on my CD to send to Costco to make a large print for my sister. The color was dull, so Drew helped me with GIMP and we got vibrant color and an amazing print. I will send it to my sister framed for Christmas; it will be the perfect gift. Thank you for giving us copies of your terrific photos. I want to learn more about GIMP this year, and this experiment has me excited about the possibilities ... [The IT guy at work] told me we have a book in our professional library on how to use GIMP. I checked it out on Thursday before I left for Helena. I am looking forward to trying it out. It will be good to have a new interest occupying my time every so often."

Things are not as simple as they seems at first. - Edward Thorp