Chris's quick photo guide

Contents

Blurb, why and installation

Some easy ways of making things look nicer using GIMP

What is GIMP?

You writing a GIMP manual or something?

No I'm bloody not. If you want a proper GIMP manual, find one of those nicely written tomes by a) someone who can explain things, b) someone who can write manuals, and c) someone who can write.

I've thrown this guide together as a brief description of some of my usual techniques for making photos look better using the GIMP image editing software. So, no, it isn't a guide to using GIMP by any means, but it is a handy "painting by numbers" way of ekeing out a few improvements.

"GIMP"?

Not the most pleasant or inspired name, I agree. It stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program, GNU itself being an organisation busying itself with the production of free software. Their own initials are a recursive acronym for GNU's Not Unix, the type of platform for which most of their software is originally developed. And, for those too curious for their own good, Unix itself is either "one of whatever it was that Multics was many of", or "castrated Multics" (i.e. "eunuchs") depending on who you ask and whether or not it's in polite company; but it would seem that the latter has set something of a rather unfortuate precedent regarding naming conventions. And, for the sake of completeness, Multics is the MULTIplexed Computing System, an ambitious operating system from the 1960s. Aren't you glad you asked?

Er, anyway, GIMP is much like the somewhat better-known Adobe Photoshop in terms of what it can do; this is, as its name implies, image manipulation using various interesting techniques. The most common basic technique I make use of here is its layering ability, where several copies of an image can be made, have different effects applied to each one and then layered on top of each other (hence the name) using various opacities and effects. This allows for some extremely flexible image editing and affords a lot of control to the user; interestingly, many methods are often direct analogues of film-based image manipulation, and many of the old techniques are carried straight over to digital media, such as the famous unsharp mask—a technique for increasing the perceived sharpness of an image, in spite of its apparently counterintuitive name.

Where can I find GIMP?

Here! Or in full, www.gimp.org. If your camera supports RAW images, don't forget to get hold of UFRAW too: for the impatient, a Windows download is here.

I'll add more to this section as I think of it.

Updated 8th March, 2008.

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