Thumbs up for Cork!

You may remember this gentleman from a photo I posted around a year ago (it’s pure coincidence I’m posting this today! Really!)

This was shot in Midleton, Co. Cork during the Food and Drink Festival in 2006. Nice guy who came over for a chat afterwards.

GIMP For Photographers: Levels

GIMP Colors Many people find using the GIMP or Photoshop a daunting prospect but in fact those packages are quite easy to use once you’ve practiced a few times. This will be the first in an occasional series to help photographers use the GIMP to post process their photos.

The Levels tool (right click on your image, select Colors, then Levels) is used to adjust the levels of the colours in your image by manipulating a histogram representing the image. In simple terms, you can make broad changes to the Red, Green, Blue and overall “Value” parts of your image.

The single most useful function of the Levels tool is the “Auto” button. Click that button and the histogram will be stretched out. Your image should look better. If the photo lacked contrast, it can suddenly become a lot “punchier”!

Here’s an example which will make things clearer.

GIMP Levels before example

This is a nice photo I took in Galway in 2005 with a Sony 717. Unfortunately, there’s a nasty yellowish sheen to the image. I probably shot this with the white balance set to cloudy. That can give a pleasing golden look to images but it’s not always welcome. The image also lacks contrast and looks under exposed. How do I fix that?

GIMP Levels

Fire up the GIMP Levels tool. Right click on the image, go to Colors, then Levels. This is the histogram for the image above. See how it’s all bunched into the middle? Now, click on the “Auto” button.

GIMP Levels after example

Wow! One click did that? The image looks so much better now! The swans actually look white and it’s brighter and shiny!

GIMP Levels

I opened the Levels tool again, just to see what effect “Auto” had on the histogram. Sure enough. It’s stretched from side to side.

Levels before and after
Before and After Auto Levels

Wasn’t that easy?

Advanced Usage
You may have noticed the eyedropper buttons next to to the Auto button. Those are “Black”, “Grey” and “White” selectors. Click on one of those, your cursor will change to a eyedropper and then click on the corresponding colour in your image. They work pretty well, but can be confused. If it all goes wrong, just click the Reset button, or CTRL-z to undo if you’ve clicked OK.

You can also manipulate the histogram manually. Just drag the sliders left and right until your image looks ok. You can change the channel with the drop down at the top of the Levels dialog. Changing individual channels does interesting “cross processing” things to an image.

External links:

  1. The Levels tool on gimp.org docs
  2. Levels Tool – white, black and grey to the rescue! – a tutorial I wrote about the levels tool back in 2004!

Want to know more? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear what you’d like to know and learn about the GIMP.

Spectators on the beach

The hang gliding crowd attracted a bit of a crowd on Inch Beach in 2006. Well, it was late September and there wasn’t that many people on the beach in the first place, so 2 people isn’t so bad, eh?

Hunger got the best of us and we watched as a powered plane flew high up in the air. I don’t think any of the gliders made it up that day because the winds weren’t right.

Emergency!

In an emergency such as a fire you want to be able to escape from a building quickly and be assured that there’s plenty of water to fight the flames. I presume these capped pipes have something to do with that purpose?

Ballycotton Fishing Boats

Fishing boats crowd the harbour in Ballycotton on a warm August afternoon.

This was taken in 2006, when I think I shot the rest of my Ballycotton images. I love the imposing clouds and the leading lines of the bows.

Lonesome Donkey

A donkey, alone in his field. There’s a horse in the background but he’s being fed. The donkey doesn’t get anything. Poor thing.

Spotted on the road around Slea Head at the end of the Dingle Peninsula, Co. Kerry.

That’s the last of the donkey pictures. For now.

The sandy beach at Couminole

I photographed the beach at Couminole on the Dingle Peninsula back in 2006 when there was a beach there. There was no sand to be seen during repeated visits there in September 2007.

I had actually quite forgotten I had taken this so it was nice to see the lovely sandy beach!

Trivia – a well known member of Mallow Camera Club who shall remain nameless was caught by the tide and had to remain sitting on the rocks for several hours in wet, foggy and rough conditions until the tide went out again.