Photo Editing Overview

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Digital photography rules. Although many of us probably still have envelopes stuffed with old holiday and vacation photographs that have been glued together by time and humidity, it's been a long time since I've had to deal with film. I'm probably showing my age by mentioning it at all. I have a few generations of digital cameras with increasing resolution, my cell phone has a camera, my laptop has a camera, and even a wristwatch that I bought during an eBay seizure a few years ago has one. Digital photography makes it incredibly easy to archive, catalog, and share your photos while also reducing the number of items that you can't find when you want them — they're all on your computer. (It also increases the number of items that you should back up!) Having all of your photos as digital images also makes it incredibly easy to "fix" problems ranging from red pupils and various forms of under- or overexposure, to Bolshevik-like purges of estranged relatives or insignificant others from the visual history of your life.

Although I use GIMP for editing all of my digital photographs, both Ubuntu and Kubuntu provide sophisticated software packages that make it easy for you to download images from a digital camera, store them as online albums, and clean up those images in zillions of ways. Google also offers Picasa, a free download that provides a nice solution for retrieving, archiving, and editing photos. (Picasa also runs on Microsoft Windows, in case that still matters to you.) These are discussed in more detail in the section of Chapter 21 on "Digital Cameras and Ubuntu," but I'll at least introduce them here. Ubuntu desktop systems install the F-Spot Photo Manager, shown in Figure 18-18, which is invoked by default when you attach a digital camera to your Ubuntu system, automatically extracts and archives photos, and provides some easy-to-use tools for cropping, removing red-eye, correcting colors, and much more.

^ a .-. -L ■ rHI'^H F-Spot requires the odious Mono runtime environment that provides support for Microsoft l - yssptSaiS .NET applications on Linux. Perpetuating .NET applications through Mono does not benefit free software. However, if you don't care about that type of issue, F-Spot is a great piece of software. While I may disagree with its developers' choice of programming languages, it's impossible to argue against the quality of the tool.

Figure 18-19 shows digiKam, the digital photograph editor and archiver that is installed by default on Kubuntu systems. digiKam is an extremely impressive package (with no .NET baggage!) that KDE offers to invoke when you attach a digital camera to your Kubuntu system.

digiKam is a great piece of software, providing a huge number of built-in tools for editing your digital photos, including tools for red-eye correction; color, hue, and gamma correction; resizing and cropping your photos; changing their aspect ratio and perspective; and much more. If you want a dedicated tool for editing digital photos, you can't go wrong with digiKam. Kubuntu users win by default. For Ubuntu users, digiKam is one of the best arguments for installing KDE apps on Ubuntu that I've seen since K3b (discussed in Chapter 19, "Working with Multimedia").

Ubuntu's F-Spot photo manager

Ubuntu's F-Spot photo manager

FIGURE 18-19

Kubuntu's digiKam photo management software

FIGURE 18-19

Kubuntu's digiKam photo management software

Everybody knows Google, and most people know that Google provides lots of free desktop and Web-based applications. Unfortunately, many of its desktop applications initially appear for Windows and are only later upgraded to run on Linux (which is somewhat ironic because Goggle is a huge Linux advocate and uses a homebrew Linux distribution on all of its servers). Picasa, Google's photo editing app, uses the software from the WINE project to run on Linux, which is somewhat disappointing but better than nothing. (WINE stands for "WINE is not an Emulator," and is an implementation of the Microsoft Windows API that runs on non-Windows systems.) If you like Picasa, you can also sign up for a Google Picasaweb account (www.picasaweb.google.com) to share your Picasa photo albums online. Like the other photo-editing applications introduced in this section, Picasa is discussed in more detail in Chapter 21. Figure 18-20 shows Picasa running on an Ubuntu desktop system.

figure 18-20

Google's Picasa photo management software

Google's Picasa photo management software

Applications such as GIMP and Krita, discussed earlier in this chapter, can largely eliminate most opportunities for Photoshop-envy if you're moving to Linux from some other platform. However, if you simply must use Photoshop, you can always run it under WINE on Ubuntu or Kubuntu desktop systems or run it inside a virtual machine. And there's more! Never one to leave a bandwagon un-jumped-upon, Adobe offers a version of Photoshop as an online photo-editing tool known as Adobe Photoshop Express (https://www.photoshop.com/express/landing.html). Signing up for Photoshop Express also gives you 2GB of online storage for your images. On the down side, Photoshop Express requires Flash 9 and I generally dislike Flash on Web sites in much the same way that I dislike cotton candy on the dinner plate. I'm also perfectly happy with the GIMP and Digikam, and am wary of attempts to ensnare my digital content in online tools. Your mileage may vary.

Commercial photo-editing software is also available for Linux — hooray! One up-and-coming photo editing package for Linux is Light Craft's LightZone (www.lightcrafts.com/linux), which is a commercial package with a free trial edition. Light Craft seems quite serious about providing high-quality photo-editing software for Linux, and the LightZone software has gotten good reviews and a warm reception from the Linux press. Similarly, an excellent commercial photo-editing package that's well worth checking out is Bibble (www.bibblelabs.com). Bibble comes in two versions, Lite and Professional, and also offers a trial version. Bibble and LightZone are not included in your Ubuntu Linux installation because they are commercial applications, although both are still relatively inexpensive. Bibble and LightZone are great examples of the growing amount of commercial software for Linux that makes it the equal of any other personal computer operating system.

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Digital Cameras For Beginners

Digital Cameras For Beginners

Although we usually tend to think of the digital camera as the best thing since sliced bread, there are both pros and cons with its use. Nothing is available on the market that does not have both a good and a bad side, but the key is to weigh the good against the bad in order to come up with the best of both worlds.

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