Trying to love Gimp

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by John Seaman, Aug 23, 2020.

  1. I recently installed Linux Mint on an oldish laptop, mainly for net surfing, for which it seems excellent. I've installed Gimp 2.10 and have occasionally used it for image editing, but having used Photoshop for many years, and being of an age where learning new tricks is more of a challenge, I nearly always end up tearing my hair out trying to find things in unfamiliar places, or grappling with unfamiliar nomenclature.

    One example, when using "Save As" it only seems to save in the native Gimp .XCF format. To save as a JPEG you have to use "Export As ..." and laboriously select .JPG from a list. Even though the original image is a JPEG.

    I could go on - can you use the crop tool to crop and resize to a particular pixel size at the same time as in Photoshop?

    OK the question - can anyone suggest a strategy for helping me to use this very powerful programme without frustration? Thanks in advance.

    (I've also installed Raw Therapee and Darktable, with similar bafflement. I find myself using poor old Faststone, which runs under Wine with some peculiarities, such as the Rotate Left & Right tools not working).
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2020
  2. I've always felt the same way about Gimp. An interface that only its mother could love. That's why I use PSP, with all it's bugs and quirks; the interface is sensible.
  3. Gimp's interface is definitely an acquired taste.

    When exporting a file, it isn't necessary to pick a file type from the big list. If you want to save in a format that's different from the suggested default, just type in the extension for the new file name (e.g., replace picname.png with picname.jpg). The big list is handy if you don't already know all the supported formats and extensions.

    Rescaling and changing the resolution are done with the Image/Scale Image menu selection, and can be done simultaneously there. Gimp will (frustratingly) "help" you if you change them in the wrong order. Cropping is a separate operation, though, (as far as I know).

    I use Darktable much more than Gimp for working with photos. The current version (3.2.1) is pretty good. Versions before 3.0 are not as good. Version 3.0 had a habit of crashing, locking up, and becoming confused. I gave up on RawTherapee.

    You may also be interested in DisplayCAL, which is a display calibration application.

    Some documentation links (in case you haven't found them already):

    Last edited: Aug 23, 2020
  4. While I am waiting for my old copy of Photoshop to finally go to complete incompatibility, I keep GIMP up-to-date and play with it once in a while.

    It's probably no harder to use than Photoshop, but I have been using Photoshop since
    PS 2.5 splash.jpg

    I don't know anyone who uses GIMP regularly, but I still have respect for such a brave effort.
  5. SCL


    I switched to GIMP when I installed Linux on my computer after a failed hard disk and I couldn't get Windows to work properly for a few weeks. To me it was easier than PS...also tried Darktable but it was less intuitive. These days I almost exclusively use GIMP...but I'm not a power user like many PS people are. It is an outdated program IMHO lacking many advanced features, but it is free and does a yeoman's job.
  6. Thanks for the comments and links to documentation, now bookmarked. I must force myself to study these, but I lack the patience needed for reading manuals. I suppose apart from the interface, Gimp's main deficiency vs Photoshop is the lack of adjustment layers, although there are of course workarounds.
  7. John, do yourself a favour and give up digital photography and take up film photography where you can get it right, first time :/)
  8. GIMP is free, versus $$$$$ for PhotoShop. That's what you have to bear in mind.
    Gimp will do (almost) everything that Photoshop will do, just in a slightly different way, and in some cases better - keystoning perspective correction for example.

    The one area that lets GIMP down is its bug-ridden Hue/Saturation module, which needs a complete re-write. E.g. its lightness controls don't allow full white or black to be attained, and the red channel cross-talks with neutral greys(!).

    Other than that, once you've got used to the shift and ctrl keys being basically swapped from PS, it's fine and really quite easy to use.

    As for saving by default in .XCF format, that's no different from Photoshop using .PSD files.
  9. Ludmilla, I do both, and sometimes don't get it right first time in either.

    I'm all for getting stuff free, I use an old version of Photoshop which is now effectively free, at least to me. Actually I've had a Windows version of Gimp for a long time but always shied away from using it for the reasons stated.
  10. A few versions ago, the default view in GIMP was to have the tools and layers pallettes floating, and that put a lot of people off using it. You could dock the pallettes into a single window view, but it wasn't obvious or straightforward how to do it.
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2020
    John Seaman likes this.
  11. I hope I am not bringing this thread back to grade school level, but....

    Very novice photo editor user here, and same with my experience with the Sony a7rii..

    I installed gimp, and from what I read, it does not read/edit sony raw (arw files). You need a raw editor (plug in) for that. So I installed both RawTherapee and darktable programs. (See which works better).

    When I open up Gimp and select my arw file, it also seamlessly opens up either rawtherapee or darktable (depending on which plug in I have active in gimp). So far ok...

    Seems u do your editing in rawtherapee/darktable, save as a .jpg or.tiff, and then gimp can read those files.. ?

    Question (and I've only been messing around with the 3 programs for a day)... why not just "stay" in rawtherapee or darktable...what is the benefit of working in rawtherapee/darktable, saving as a .jpg/.tiff and then doing more editing in gimp?.

    Thanks all.
  12. If you consider the amount of time and effort spent to master an editing program, the cost of purchase is almost negligible. That effort is wasted if a program disappears, changes significantly, or simply remains a kludge to use. For $15/month you can have Lightroom and Photoshop on two computers. Adobe is a major corporation, which means their software is stable, up to date, and virtually immortal.
  13. To paraphrase Ansel Adams when comparing photography to music - "The negative is the score; the print is the performance."

    There is no more "getting it right the first time" in film photography than there is digital. The post processing is done in the darkroom. If you are ever in Tucson, AZ, go to the University of Arizona Art Department. They have a large collection of Adam's negative, prints and lab notes. You can see how he dodged, burned, bleached, etc. his prints to arrive at the final image. You can also find it in Adam's book, The Print. For more examples of "not getting it right the first time" in film, read The Photographer's Master Printing Course by Tim Rudman, if you can find a copy (try your library). Oh, no, post processing is much easier in digital than in the darkroom.

    And then, after the darkroom there is always the joy of spotting the prints using Spot Tone, a fine camel's hair brush, and a magnifying glass. I'll take the Spot Healing Brush every time.

    The above examples are for Black and White photos. Since I have never done any color film printing, I cannot comment on that process. But I am sure others here can comment upon the joys of color balancing in a non-digital color darkroom versus digital on a computer.
  14. For my Mac, the current OS will break it. Hence I have not upgraded yet! I'm toying with Affinity Photo.

    I have a lot of respect for people using Linux. I was a UNIX administrator for a few years and I used Unix in various flavors for decades. I loved it, but I'm not sure I'd want to do it now!
  15. That's pretty much what I do for basic photo editing. I use Gimp or Photoshop to do things that Darktable won't do or doesn't do as well, like compositing and pixel-level manipulations.
    As long as they are Windows or Apple based (Adobe products don't run on Linux, none that I'm aware of, anyway).
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2020
  16. I have an old back up Laptop running Linux Mint and recently put Darktable on it which is described as a Lightroom replacement. It may do what Lightroom does but it is a totally different experience, but it will recognise newer RAW formats that my aged LR 5 fails to do (but I'm used now to DNG conversions). It would appear any change from what you are used to will be a challenge. It amazes me that some people think $15 a month is a bargain! I'd rather spend it on a couple of wine bottles.
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2020
  17. I checked and found that my version of Darktable was much older than 3.2.1. - I hadn't realised that the Linux Software Manager often doesn't install the latest software versions. So I went into the Darktable website to try and get 3.2.1. Result, more bafflement. for example "As always, please don’t use the autogenerated tarball provided by github, but only our tar.xz." Huh?

    I downloaded the Windows version to install on my Windows 7 desktop. Hopefully it will be more straightforward ...
  18. The fun is just getting started!

    Somewhere on that page is a phrase something like "other versions" along with a link to an external web page hosted by OpenSUSE: < Install package graphics:darktable / darktable >

    On that page are listed several Linux distributions, none of which is Mint. However, Mint 20 is based on Ubuntu, so click on that selection. (Ubuntu, in turn, is based on Debian, but don't click that one.)

    The page scrolls up slightly to reveal "Add repository and install manually" and "Grab binary packages directly". Click "Grab binary packages directly".

    The page scrolls up a little more to reveal several versions of Ubuntu. If you are running Mint 20, at the bottom of the Mint 20 "What's New" page (on the Linux Mint site) is the note that is it is based on the Ubuntu 20.04 package base, so you will want to download the version for "xUbuntu 20.04" (the 'x' denotes that it is for all of the Ubuntu variants). If you have a different version of Mint, check the notes on the Mint site to find out which version of Ubuntu it is based on. (I'm still on Mint 19.3, so the package I download is the one for "xUbuntu 18.04".)

    After the file downloads, just double-click it from the file manager and it will run the installer. You might need to uninstall the current version first; the installer will notify you if it thinks it's necessary.

    If you don't want to go through all of that at first and your system has Darktable 2.8, that version is stable and it should allow you to become acquainted with how the user interface works. However, if your system has version 3.0 or 3.1, I recommend updating to 3.2.1. (Version 3 was a significant update under the hood, but there were some "oopsies" that needed to be ironed out.)

    As to the versions shown in the software center: Ubuntu keeps the software versions in each package base fixed for the lifetime of that distribution. If version 20.04 is to be supported for 5 years, for example, the software versions shown in the software center will, at the end of five years, be the same as they were at the beginning. Security and stability updates to those versions are kept current through the system updater.
  19. If you're using Linux, Gimp is the least of your problems. Everything that runs on Linux seems to be someone's hobby.
    PuntaColorada likes this.
  20. That's really helpful royfisher, I appreciate you going to the trouble to explain this thanks. I'll try it later, hopefully with a clear enough head.

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