Questions Answered

September 1, 2009

You may have noticed that I wrote an entry this week for Digital Photography School entitled 7 Photography Projects to Jumpstart your Creativity. This led to some questions in the comments of that entry, as well as some new visitors here to and instead of writing about Curves (again, I’m sorry if anyone has really been looking forward to that post), I’m going to answer those questions.

This also means I should really stop trying to predict what I’m going to write about during the week because other things always come up and I do something else instead. Oops.

So. First, meiteng asked:

I have just downloaded Gimp recently but I have no idea where to begin. Where can I get resources to help me get started with using Gimp?

For a very basic introduction to opening images, cropping, introduction to layers, the different selection tools and filters, check out this Introduction to Gimp – it’s using a slightly different version of Gimp than I’m using, and perhaps a different version than you are, but the concepts should be the same.

After that, I suggest you block out some time and start watching the Meet the GIMP video tutorials. There’s over 100, and you can see the list of all of them here. They’re really good tutorials, but there are a few downsides: You have to download them, and the older tutorials are using an older version of gimp, so some of the menu options are slightly different now. In addition, I’m usually not a big fan of videos – I find it harder to learn at my own pace when the pace is controlled by a video, I like things I can read more. But that’s just a personal preference, I know a lot of people actually prefer the videos. So, I still highly recommend them. I’ve been using Gimp for quite some time and I still pull down some of these tutorials and learn something new in each one.

Second, in the post on DPS, I shared this picture of a leaf with water drops on it:

Photowalk 17: Rainy Leaf

gavin commented on the post asking:

Any chance you could share with us how you edited your mono leaf shot? I think it is really great.

Thanks, gavin! I’d be glad to share how I edited it! I’m going to duplicate the process here in order to document it, so it might not look exactly the same in the end, but you’ll get the idea.

First of all, I shoot in RAW, so I opened the image up in my RAW editor. I’m currently using UFRaw, but there are some things I’m not happy about with it, so I’m not going to talk too much about it, because when I eventually settle on a RAW editor that I really like, I’ll post the details here. Ultimately, I ended up with the image in Gimp and it looked like this:

Original Photo in Gimp

Next, I converted it to Black and White. Now I know I keep talking about how I prefer to use the Channel Mixer (see this entry), but I distinctly remember I just used Colors –> Desaturate and used the Lightness option. I probably did this because pretty much the entire image was green, so I figured playing with the channels wouldn’t buy me much. So. Now I have this:

Simple Desaturate

So, we’re black and white, but we’re missing the contrast. So I open the Levels dialog (Colors –> Levels), and slid the left slider to the right, and the right slider to the left, but the thing that made the most difference was sliding the middle slider to the right (to learn what the sliders do, check out Gimp 101: Levels). Here’s what my Layers dialog looked like:

Levels Dialog

And here’s my final image:

Final Image

UPDATE: As kristineh pointed out below, I probably sharpened this photo as well in the original. I use the Unsharp Mask under Filters –> Enhance. My typical settings for a photo like this would be a radius of 1 or 2, Amount of 0.85 and Threshold of 4.

I hope that helped! Any more questions, ask away!

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Filed under: Photo Editing, Resources
  • amiamateur

    I was looking at the photo on DPS (link given below)

    The photo is amazing. I was wondering what post processing did ya do on that. The faint yellow glow and some grey... it is unbelievable. Wish I could do that. I have some photos of my daughter which I want to play around with. Can you help me?

    I dont know if this is the right place to put this question in, but i did not find a place where i can ask you questions.

    One more thing i should tell you- your website is cool.. i have never had anyone explain things so simply.. You have made the techno mumbo jumbo understandable to the average mind.. i appreciate it.

  • That's definitely a beautiful picture - and one I can't take credit for - I did not take or edit that photo. I'll try to see if I can duplicate something like that, though. If I'm able to, I'll be sure to walk through how to do it!

  • kristineh

    Looks like you sharpened in the original, but not this image?
    BTW nice picture and tutorial.

  • oooh, good call. I probably did. I updated the post the values I most likely used - thanks!

  • Chrisitine

    Everyone seems to be shooting in RAW right now. I've never shot anything in RAW, and a little anxious about even trying. You should totally do an entry on RAW! :)

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