Ubuntu Linux, Day 27: Working With GIMP

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30 Days With Ubuntu Linux: Day 27

From the very beginning of the 30 Days With Ubuntu Linux series I have had readers comment, tweet, and email me to take a look at GIMP--the GNU Image Manipulation Program. So, as we wind down the 30 days, today's post is dedicated to exploring the photo / image editing tool that is installed with Ubuntu.

I have to say, based on the name alone it doesn't sound like anything I would use. If I was looking for photo editing software and something called 'GIMP' showed up on a list, that would not be the first thing I would click on. Just sayin'.

GIMP is a powerful open source image editing tool installed with Ubuntu.
Truth be told, though, part of the reason I waited this long to look at this at all is that I personally don't care. The extent of my photo 'editing' is to rotate the picture 90 degrees if I need to change the orientation of a picture from my iPhone from portrait to landscape, or vice versa. It's not exactly rocket science, and any image software can do it.

My wife, on the other hand, is a professional photographer. She lives and breathes Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom, and definitely knows what she is doing. So, I have enlisted her aid in analyzing the capabilities and functionality of GIMP. The rest of this is written from her perspective, in her 'voice'.

For starters, I like how fast GIMP loads, and how few resources it seems to consume as compared with Photoshop. I bought a high-end, quad-core CPU, 12GB of RAM PC specifically to smoothly handle the resource needs of working with very large images and RAW files in Photoshop.

Speaking of RAW, GIMP couldn't work with the format natively, but it was easy enough to install a RAW file reader. I found and installed UFRaw.

With UFRaw, I was able to easily adjust typical image settings, including noise. Switching to UFRaw completely, though, would be a significant culture shift. I don't use Adobe Bridge--so I can't do a direct comparison--but I can say it would be a real challenge to go from using Lightroom for RAW file management to UFRaw.

Moving on to the native image editing capabilities of GIMP, I was pleasantly surprised at how user-friendly the interface is. In fact, it is a bit more user-friendly than Photoshop in my opinion. A lot of my keyboard shortcuts worked as well, but some were different.

Basic image editing functioned as expected (meaning similar to Photoshop). I was easily able to figure out how to duplicate and create new layers, create layer masks, adjust curve, clone and heal. Despite that, the 'out of the box' installation of GIMP can't compare to the newer features of Photoshop CS5 like Content-Aware Fill.

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