Digital image post-processing

Over the last few years I’ve been learning more and more about digital photography and what is necessary to take a decent picture. What I’ve been ignoring up until now is the importance of post-processing. To me that’s something folks do in magical tools like Photoshop using mystical hand-waving and “File->Picture->Make Better” type operations. But the other day I decided to see what I can do in The Gimp to improve a picture in the way a Windows user would use Photoshop.
I selected as my sample picture this image of a beech tree on the north end of our property. It’s really quite striking, and I thought a nice portrait shot of it would work well. When I went to preview the images though, I was disappointed with the color level. Even though there was enough light (it was a nice sunny winter day), the image didn’t quite grab me the way I wanted it to.
I pulled the image into Gimp and started noodling around with menus. At a hint from a friend on flickr I upped the contrast level and fiddled some of the color saturation values. This is the result. I think the picture is much crisper and the colors are stronger. A definate improvement!
Last was cropping the image to focus on the tree itself. Since it’s, well, a tree, I decided to slim things down to draw out the height. I cropped inside the bracketing trees.
I like the end result. I think I can do better with other images, but I think from now on I’ll be spending time in post-processing before publishing my pictures.

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A wandering geek. Toys, shiny things, pursuits and distractions.

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5 thoughts on “Digital image post-processing

  1. Since you’re having fun with everything KDE, find a recent digiKam + digiKam plugins + kipi plugins for your distro. Recent is classified as .80 or .81 (.81 I think has a search bug that wasn’t in .80). I use it almost exclusively for my photos, having found Gimp way too painful to use. Current version supports RAW importing, devel version is moving to 16-bit colour space and RAW editing.
    Kipi plugins even give you a Flickr export capability 🙂

  2. I’ve actually been using Digikam for a ton of things lately, so I’m pretty familiar with it. The Flickr upload isn’t quite 100%, but it’s pretty good.
    I’ve found out the joy of gwenview lately. It’s EXTREMELY fast and lets you do very quick editing.

  3. After many years of majoring in Photography, working in the photo business and now with the deluge of photographs to look at here on the web ( way more bad ones than good), a few rules stand out which ( to me) can make a photograph better.
    1. Fill the frame
    2. The Law of thirds
    http://www.photoxels.com/tutorial_learn_composition.html
    3. Study great photographers,look at what you like, and try to figure out what makes those photos pleasing.
    That being said, like most things, I seem to learn most how to do something by learning how NOT to do it!

  4. Oh yeah, and about the light..
    Maybe if your camera does color balancing, you might want to change to over expose, as often the meter reads all that light and wants to underexpose and get the neutral instead of getting snow in the natural white that it is…
    My camera has a setting for snow.

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