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by Katja Socher
About the author:
Katja is the German editor of LinuxFocus. She likes Tux, computer graphics, film & photography and the sea. Her homepage can be found here.
Translated to English by:
Katja Socher <katja(at)linuxfocus.org>
Photo magic with Gimp
Holiday season is over and you have your digital photos on your
hard disk. Now it's time to give them a final touch with The
Gimp. In this article we show you with several examples what
you can do to enhance your photos with The Gimp (the latest
stable version when I wrote this was Gimp 1.2.5).
Sometimes a photo looks a bit colourless, it is too light or
too dark or there are other reasons why a colour correction
would help the photo. To improve the colours of your photos you
can use the tools that you find in the menu under
Image->Colors (you get to the menu by right clicking in the
image that was opened with the Gimp). Most of the time there
will be a preview field that you can tick to make the changes
viewable at once. If you click on Reset the changes won't
affect your image and even if you already clicked "okay" you
can still get your old image back by clicking crtl+z.
However to try out several effects and compare them with each other it is better to make one or several duplicates of your photo (Image->Duplicate) before you apply the canges to them.
It's always the best if you keep a copy of your original. Perhaps you won't like the changes that you did anymore next year or you want to try out something else. Then you will be glad to still have the original. So it's always better to save the changed photo with a slightly different name.
Some digital photos are just a little bit unfocused or the
photo lost focus by applying some other tools to it. To
increase the sharpness of your image there are the tools
unsharp mask and sharpen in The Gimp. Both can be found under
Filters->Enhance. With unsharp mask you often get a better
result as this method improves on the edges. In many cases you
will already be satisfied if you apply it with its default
Sometimes it's difficult to take a picture with your digital
that has the focus on the foreground and your object you focus
on and a blurred background. Gimp can help you to reach this
For this you select the part of the photo that you want to be sharp with the intelligent scissors (that's the tool in the main menu that actually looks like a pair of scissors). You make some points around the object that you want to select. The intelligent scissors find the outline themselves. Therefore it is important to make more points in those areas where the object doesn't have a big contrast to its environment. To make the selection effective click on the first point that you made again, the scissors change into a square, now you click somewhere inside your object. Now you can see the selection. Next you sharpen it a bit. For this you click on Filters-->Enhance-->Unsharp Mask (or Sharpen). After that you invert the selection (Select-->Invert) and blur the background. To do this you go to Filters->Blur and choose the blur tool that you like best. Sometimes you won't like the transition between the sharp and blurred areas. In that case you can select the blur tool and draw around the outline as you would do with a paint brush.
With a non-digital camera you can get a soft looking image
by using long shutter speeds. Of course you can create this
effect with the Gimp afterwards. The blur tools can very well
be used for this. The photo gets a softer look and may even
look kind of romantic. Selective Gaussian Blur
(Filters->Blur->Selective Gaussian Blur) is best to use
here as the blur filter will only be applied to areas that
don't have a big contrast.
One characteristic of a good photo is that is has a subject
it focuses on and not so many other things to distract or
confuse the viewer (except of course this was in the intension
of the photographer...).
So it can happen that one or more objects in an image disturb the overall impression of the picture and therefore it would be better to remove them. To do this you can use the clone tool (that's the button in the main menu that looks like a stamp). If you have selected the clone tool you click with your mouse in the area that is to be cloned while you hold the Ctrl-key down.Then you release the key and click with the mouse in the area that you want to paint over. Now you can use the clone tool the same way you would use a paint brush. Sometimes you will get a more natural looking picture if you define a new cloning area several times. And practise makes the master here!
Certain mistakes in a photo like a tree that grows out of a person can also be corrected this way.
To get more focus and attention to your image you can give
it a frame. Gimp offers numberous possibilities for this.
Of course The Gimp can't always do miracles and change a bad
photo into a good looking one. And it's also not possible to
write a cookbook with recipes for every photo as each tool has
a different effect on different photos. But still I hope that
this article will be useful for you to get the best out of your
Have fun and happy gimping! :)
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2003-08-22, generated by lfparser version 2.38