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Gimp Tutorials | Photography Workflow

gimp photography workflowA good workflow for photography will be explained in this gimp tutorial. It includes essential steps, tools and settings to start using Gimp for post processing of your photos. Gimp is a very powerful free image editing software and this tutorial is focused on bare essentials without going deep into every step to not distract you. Thes Gimp tutorials are simplified on purpose so you can quickly start and finish in 8 easy steps with understanding what the Gimp workflow would be. It’s a try to define the most efficient and fast workflow in Gimp for Photographers. Check out the  HDR Gimp tutorial and 70 creative Gimp tutorials.

1. Acquire and convert images

You can use RawTherapee or software provided with your camera to get RAW images and convert them to 16-bit TIFF file format. It’s important that you convert RAW images to TIFF not to JPEG. That will preserve the quality of the original when post processed in Gimp.

If you use point and shoot camera, it’s important that you’ll work in GIMP on bit to bit identical copies of original images not on any modified, recompressed or resaved ones. Don’t forget to back up original files from the camera to other folder or burn them to DVD.

Here’s the original photo we’ll be working on in this Gimp Workflow Photography tutorial.

gimp original

2. Rotate and Crop

Open a photo in Gimp, File->Open (Ctrl+O). If you need to rotate image apply Image->Transform->Rotate.

For arbitrary angle rotation (not 90 or 180), use Layer->Transform->Arbitrary Rotation.

To Crop an image use Crop tool (Shift+C). Crop tool in Gimp has much better usability than in Photoshop, you can drag every corner to adjust your crop precisely.

gimp crop

Rule of thirds or Golden sections guides which you can choose in the settings are also very helpful.

3. Remove noise and imperfections

If your photo doesn’t have much noise you can skip this step.

Duplicate the original layer of the image. Change the layer mode of the duplicated layer to Value mode. Select the layer above.

gimp layers

To remove noise from photo in Gimp you can use Filters-> Enhance->Despeckle or Filters->Blur->Selective Blur. Play with settings to get better results.

There are also a number of very useful Gimp Plugins to remove noise.

Healing Brush (H) in Gimp looks like a smart clone tool on steroids. It helps you to quickly fix small defects or imperfections due to scratching or dust based on image color context. To use it, first choose a brush with a size close to the defect. Then Ctrl-click on the area you want to reproduce. Release the Ctrl key and drag the sample to the defect.

With the help of Healing Brush the distracting branch in the upper right corner of photo was removed.

gimp healing brush

4. White balance

If you have any color cost, the best way to fix it is to set gray point in Levels dialog with the eyedropper next to the Auto button (Color->Levels).

gimp levels

Pick Gray Point only adjusts the color, not the brightness. If you click somewhere that you think is supposed to be a neutral gray (such as a white wall), the tool will adjust the colors of the whole picture so that any color cast is removed and that part of the picture looks gray.

You can also try Colors->Auto->White balance.

Colors->Color Balance also provides excellent options to adjust image white balance and tone in Gimp to your taste.

5. Adjust contrast and saturation

To expand dynamic range of the image apply Color->Auto->Stretch Contrast.

If you want quickly and easy increase contrast on your photo open Levels dialog and drag outer sliders to the beginning of the histogram (see screenshot in previous step). It should be applied to the duplicated Layer in Value mode.

To increase overall saturation of the image of saturation of any color, apply Color->Hue/Saturation.

That’s our photo after we increased contrast and saturation slightly.

gimp contrast

6. Resize

If you’re not going to publish your images on the web (upload to Flickr or post on Facebook), you can skip to the next step.

To resize image in Gimp, apply Image->Scale image command and choose Sinc (Lanczos3) Interpolation in the options. That would give you the best quality of resizing.

gimp resize

7. Sharpen

Apply Filters->Enhance->Unsharp Mask. For example, try these settings.

Radius 1.0, Amount 1.50 and Threshold 10.

gimp unsharp mask

Final yet unsaved result of this Gimp Workflow.

gimp sharpen

8. Save

If you plan to continue working on your photo save it as XCF, the native image format of the GIMP which supports layers, the current selection, channels, transparency, paths and guides.

To get better quality JPEG, in advanced options set Quality not less than 90, subsampling method 1×1, 1×1, 1×1 and DCT method: floating point.

To get smaller size, uncheck Save EXIF data and Save thumbnail checkboxes.

gimp save jpg

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