Gimp Script Showcase: National Geographic

April 27, 2010
A photo edited with this script.  f/1.8; 1/1600 sec; 50mm; ISO 800

A photo edited with this script.

I’ve been really excited to show you guys this script for a while, but writing this entry kept getting pushed back for various reasons (some of which I mentioned in my quick update last week). But, I’m finally getting around to it, and I hope you think it’s worth the wait. It’s all about the National Geographic Script for Gimp. I first noticed this script a while ago and added it to the queue of ones to post about, but when misskeito and DM|ZE both commented to let me know how much they liked it, I knew I just had to do this one next. If you don’t already use this script, I’m pretty sure you’ll soon discover why it’s such a favorite.

Before I get started, here’s my original, unedited photo that I’m going to play with:

f/1.8; 1/1600 sec; 50mm; ISO 800

f/1.8; 1/1600 sec; 50mm; ISO 800

It’s a self-portrait I took while on one of my photowalks last year. Some of you might recognize this photo, actually, because the black and white version of it is my DISQUS icon, so it’s what you see when I reply to your comments.

Running the Script

If you need a reminder on how to install scripts for Gimp, be sure to check out this entry.

Once you have the script installed, you’ll find it under Filters –> Generic –> National Geographic. By the way, this is another script that takes a really long time to run on large files (or maybe it’s just that my computer is kinda old… hmm…)

Here’s all the default settings:

Default Settings

And here’s what the photo looks like with the default settings:

Default Settings

Default Settings

Here’s all the layers it creates:


And here’s what all the settings for the script do:

  • Shadow Recovery Opacity: I think you can guess this one. The Layer labeled Shadow Recovery? This is the opacity of it. I wouldn’t ever change this setting because it’s really easy to change after the fact. If you mess with the opacity slider after-the-fact, you won’t be surprised by what it does, either – the higher the percentage, the brighter the shadows are – so that green behind me? If I had this layer set to 0 Opacity, that green would be much darker
  • Sharpness: The values here range from 0-2.0, and the higher the value the more sharpening will be done on the photo. This is one that’s harder to adjust after-the-fact, so if you don’t like the defaults, the best thing to do is run it again. The difference was most noticeable in my eye – on the left is with the default settings (of 0.5), and on the right it’s set to 1.5:
  • Default vs. More Sharp More Sharp

    Default vs. More Sharp

  • Screen Layer Opacity: This is another obvious one. This controls the Opacity of the layer named “Screen”. Once again, don’t bother messing with this in the dialog box, just play with it after-the-fact. Remember, screen layers tend to wash out a photo, so you see how my face looks kinda washed out? If you up this to 100% Opacity it will be really washed out, and if you lower it to zero, it won’t be washed out at all
  • Overlay Layer Opacity: Another obvious one! It will set the opacity for both layers Overlay and Overlay2. These Overlay layers make the dark parkts of the photo even darker, so if you up the opacity of these layers my eyes, glasses frame, and the dark parts of my hair got even darker.
  • Local Contrast: The values here, once again, range from 0-2.0 – but these have a much more drastic final effect on the photo than the sharpness value did. If you scroll back up to the layers that get created, do you see the one called “Local Contrast”? See how it’s a subtle mostly-gray-toned version of the photo? I realize it’s hard to see exactly what it looks like from the thumbnail, but you get the idea. Well, if you up the Local Contrast value, that gray-toned layer is much less subtle. And that layer is set to Grain Merge at 100% opacity. When I upped the value of that layer to 1.8, this is what my final photo looked like (which is, in my opinion, a bit scary):
  • extra contrast - a bit much?

    extra contrast - a bit much?

  • Layer Mask for the Screen Layer: I’m sure you’re really surprised to hear that this creates a layer mask on the layer named “Screen”. You might as well check this because you can always delete or disable the layer mask if you don’t like it. However, the layer mask is just another way to make the washed out look not quite so washed out, and I liked this particular photo much better with the layer mask disabled. So, if you decide to keep this box checked, just to be sure to toggle the layer mask on and off after you run the script so you can really see which you like better.

Other Examples

I know this script is intended for portraits – and I love it for that – but I thought I’d try it on some other photos, too, just to see.

Unedited on top, National Geographic script on bottom

Unedited on top, National Geographic script on bottom

National Geographic script on top, unedited on bottom

National Geographic script on top, unedited on bottom

I actually really liked the way it worked on the kitty photo (that cat, btw, is not one of mine, but ooooh, my heart just melts looking at that photo!).

One more person-photo just for kicks:

National Geographic script on left, unedited on right

National Geographic script on left, unedited on right

Note: in all of the above photos, I checked the box for the Screen layer mask, but I disabled it in the first two photos. For the photo of John, I kept it enabled.

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  • ambil!

  • colors98

    I tried this recently and this is what I got:

  • I love this script....use it quite a lot actually. Makes so much just look "right" :)

  • It is a great script, but as you said play with the opacity levels afterwards. I also use this on shots other than photos and some of them come out great!

  • I don't do very much with Gimp, but I love reading your posts.

    The National Geographic script is one I will definitely be experimenting with when I get a chance.

    Your posts are always very well done and easy to follow. Keep up the good work.

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