Save instead of Export in GIMP 2.8

Version 2.8 of GIMP saves images as .xcf files by default when you hit CTRL-S. I remember a development version did this years ago but it was reversed before final release due to user feedback AFAIR.

I can understand the reasoning behind this decision but I hate it. It really, really bugs me. I don’t think it’s going to change in the future but if you must have your CTRL-S “save as a bloody jpeg because I said so” there is a way around it. You’ll use keyboard shortcuts.

Go to Edit->Keyboard Shortcuts and then search for export. Now change the shortcut to CTRL-S for either “Export…” or “Export to”. The former shows a save dialog, while the latter overwrites the file you have loaded. I prefer the save dialog.

You’ll still get the “close without saving” dialog. If it really bugs you (and I think it will) there’s a checkbox in the preferences asking you to, “confirm closing of unsaved images”.

*sigh* what a mess.

Straighten and Crop with the GIMP

One of the more awkward tasks to do in the GIMP is straightening horizons. You have to manually rotate the image using that tool which always seems to be fairly hit and miss.

I had hoped that GIMP 2.6 would have the “draw a line and rotate” function that Bibblepro and I think Photoshop have but unfortunately it’s not there. Not to worry because the Straighten and Crop plugin by Bert Hinz does the job too! (There’s another Straighten and Crop plugin too. I haven’t tried it. What’s it like?)

Install the plugin by copying the .py file into .gimp-2.6/plug-ins/. You might need to chmod it to make it executable. Fire up the gimp and using the Path tool (press B) mark two points on the horizon with left clicks of the mouse. Run the plugin (from Image->Transform->Straighten and Crop) and it will rotate the image.

Nice and simple and has worked on the couple of images I tried it on. (via)

Photo Frame with Copyright Message in the GIMP

It’s about time I released this script. I announced last December I had written a script for the GIMP to create the border and copyright message seen on my photos here.

Previously I used a 704×490 empty image with the border and message (and a similar image for portrait shots). That was fine for uncropped images but if the width by height ratio was different I had to edit the frame and resize bits. Took ages.

This script creates a thin black border around the image, then adds a white border at the bottom. Finally the copyright text and url are printed in the white border.
Border and text sizes are hard coded but the script will work for any size image. Currently they’re more suitable for the web size images uploaded here.

Looking for the script? Download copyright-frame.scm and copy into .gimp-2.6/scripts/ and start GIMP. The script adds a menu item at “Image->Filters/Decor/Copyright Photo Frame…” The script is based on one written by Alexios Chouchoulas and distributed as part of the GIMP FX Foundary.

When you run the script the border and message is added without further interaction. A dialog to modify the hard coded size values isn’t really necessary because the images I upload are all around the same size. Clicking “OK” each time the script runs is hardly productive. If you want to modify the values, you’ll have to edit the script.
To change the size of the text, look for

(TextLayer (car (gimp-text-fontname inImage -1 (- theWidth 230) (- theHeight 18) “Donncha O Caoimh, http://inphotos.org/” 0 TRUE 11 PIXELS “Sans”)))

230: the number of pixels from the right where the message starts.
18: pixels from the bottom of the image where the top of the message hits.
11: size of the font used for the message.
Change the copyright message to suit your own circumstances.

To change the size of the white bottom border, look for the code (+ theHeight 23) and change 23.

If you use this script please link back here. I’d love to see what’s done with it!

GIMP 2.6 out and I’m looking for the Ubuntu package

Hot news this afternoon is that GIMP 2.6 is now out. The release notes are the first place to look for a list of what’s new in this image editing software.

From the my perspective, there may not be anything mind blowing, but they have started integrating GEGL and there’s an option to enable it, so it might be possible to edit images in 16bit mode. I’ll have to start dumping my RAW files to gigantic tiff files once that happens. High quality Jpeg is great, but it’s 8bit. Most of the time I don’t notice, but on images with lots of blue sky it’s possible to see ugly banding of the blue that isn’t there in the RAW file.

I’m waiting for the Ubuntu Linux .deb, as are others and hopefully it’ll make it’s way to getdeb.net sooner rather than later. Meanwhile I’ll try my hand at compiling it myself.

PS. Welcome all from People’s Republic of Cork. Your visits are appreciated!

The Curves Tool

The curves tool is a very basic tool that can be used to improve photos with a few clicks of the mouse. It is used to change the brightness and contrast of an image. It can also modify the separate Red, Green and Blue channels of an image too. The Curves Tool has a histogram to represent the shadow, midtone and highlight detail in the image. In the GIMP, you access it by right clicking on an image and go to Colors->Curves.

This is the second article in my GIMP for Photographers series, but as usual, all of this applies to Photoshop, or any other image application with a Curves Tool. The first tutorial was on The Levels Tool, and worth a read if you missed it!

Here’s an image I shot at the Lord Mayor’s Picnic in Fitzgerald’s Park a few months ago, and the Curve Tool below it. Notice the histogram? The photo is fairly well exposed, but some highlights are “clipped”, as the histogram hits right hand side without sloping off.


Brightening Curve

It’s easy to brighten an image. Just drag points on the line up.


Darkening Curve

Now, let’s darken the image by dragging points down.


Contrast Curve

A classic use of the Curves Tool is to increase contrast in an image. You do this by darkening the shadows, and brightening the highlights. The curve looks sort of like an “S” when you do this. Don’t go overboard on this though, because it’s easy to lose detail in either direction.


If for some reason your image has too much contrast, a quick inverted S curve will solve that problem,


Wacky Colours

You can select any of the Red, Green and Blue channels and do strange things to your photos. Here’s what happens when you play with the Red Channel.


And here’s what happens when you change multiple colour channels in different ways.

Colour Picker

After you have opened the Curves Tool, click anywhere in the image. Notice how a vertical line goes up and down the histogram/line? That vertical line is the colour of the pixel where you clicked. That can be useful if you’re trying to modify a particular part of a photo. This is what you get when you click on the black coat on the left of the image above.

Aperture ƒ/6.3
Camera Canon EOS 20D
Focal length 18mm
ISO 200
Shutter speed 1/250s

GIMP FX Foundary is a massive GIMP plugin archive

I’m surprised I haven’t blogged about The GIMP FX Foundary before. It’s a huge collection of GIMP plugins that have been updated to work with the latest GIMP.

All the plugins were already available in the GIMP Plugin registry or elsewhere but not all of them survived the changes to Scheme in the latest versions of GIMP. I downloaded these plugins ages ago and recently grabbed the updated tarball with over 100 plugins. You’ll see the results of those plugins over the next few weeks as I play around with settings and effects.

I could go on and on about it, but why bother? It’s a small download and free so why not grab the zip file yourself?

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.

GIMP 2.4 is out

The new release of GIMP 2.4 is finally out! Sven announced it on the Gimp User mailing list this morning. It seems like forever since 2.2 was released but he has promised that 2.6 won’t be as long in the making.

The roadmap for GIMP 2.6 will be discussed over the next weeks on the gimp-developer mailing-list. We can only tell you so much now: It is going to rock and it shouldn’t take as long to get it done as it took to finish GIMP 2.4. If you want to join the effort, your help is much appreciated.

GIMP.org is fairly slow now but the release notes have the low down on changes since 2.2. Some of the biggest user visible changes include red eye removal, healing tool and a better alignment tool. Plugins and scripts now live in the same place, the “Filters” menu. I’m using the rc3 release in Ubuntu Linux 7.10 and it’s been rock solid for the past few days. I’m sure Ubuntu will update their .deb package in the next few days.

After you update, get the GIMP Lomo plugin I posted yesterday. It’s 2.4 ready! :)

GIMP Lomo Plugin

This is a slighly modified version of an old GIMP Lomo plugin I’ve used for ages that will now work with the new GIMP 2.4 release thanks to some advice I remembered reading on the GIMP User mailing list. The original plugin is by Francois Le Lay but hasn’t been updated since 2005. It’s a basic script but it’s very effective. Just be warned, if you resize your image, make sure you right click on the Vignette layer and click “Layer to image size” before the resize. Otherwise odd things happen!

Download

Download gimplomo.scm.

Install

Installation is easy. Simply copy gimplomo.scm into your .gimp-2.4/scripts/ folder and restart the GIMP. It will appear as Image->Filters->Light and Shadow->Lomo.

Example Images

Below are two before and after examples of what the Lomo plugin does to images. I have also posted fake lomo photos in the past which should give a really good idea of what it’s capable of.


Before and After Lomo images

Why the change to Script-fu?

Script-fu in GIMP 2.4 requires that variables be defined before using them which has broken a lot of Script-fu scripts unfortunately. In theory it’s a great change because it tightens up on sloppy programming but it hurts the end user!