Thursday, October 16, 2008


Photography has always been something I’ve enjoyed and dabbled with. In my high school journalism classes more than a decade ago (yikes!), we learned all about composure and framing, contrast and light, as well the technical aspects of using SLR cameras -- film back in those days, not digital. Another aspect of those classes was learning to use Photoshop for editing the photos. I quickly learned that just as a good editor can turn an average piece of writing into a literary masterpiece, a good photo editor can do the same for a photograph, albeit with more technical tools. Luckily (?) for me, I was in school for many, many years beyond high school, so I was able to keep easy access to Photoshop. Those academics love their fancy software. But ever since I’ve been out in the *real* world, my life has been sadly Photoshop-free.

I still enjoy photography. And I have still edited my photos -- to some degree. But until recently, it was not at the level that I would have liked. I got a free copy of Adobe Photoshop Elements somewhere, but it just offended me with its simplicity. So essentially I haven’t had access to good photo-editing software since 2006. Until now.

Thanks to my good friend Hilary’s advice, I downloaded Gimp. It’s freeware, which is awesome compared with $700 for CS4. But it’s got a lot of the capabilities -- and functions very similarly to -- the old Photoshop I know and love. So far I’ve just used it on my PC at work because I don’t have Internet at home. So I don’t know how it will work on my Mac, but as soon as Verizon stops hating me and I’m back in Web-land, I plan on downloading that version and testing it out as well.

I’m an idiot and forgot my jump drive at home today with all my before-and-after edited photos to show off (again, no Internet at home -- so frustrating). I had all these lovely images of fall leaves and DC scenes. But oh well. Instead, I’ll show you Richele. Richele is Washington’s newest Examiner blogger, and she needed a profile picture for her bio. So she called on me, her trusty life assistant, to help out. Here’s the picture we started with. Obviously she didn’t want other people in the shot, but she liked this picture. So I told her I’d work some magic.

Normally I’m not one to alter reality (i.e., delete light posts, flip images, etc.), but I figured since this was for a bio picture, it was OK to take out all the background noise so it didn’t appear that she had strange plastic things growing out of her head. I didn’t have a lot of time to work on it, so the contrast between her head and the background is a little fuzzier than I'd like. But all in all, I -- and she -- was pleased. And now I'm spreading the word about Gimp, which I'm the last person in the world to know about, per usual.


hilary said...


I'm so glad you are loving your Gimp software. And, uh, when you get really good at it, I'm going to be bugging you to help me with a few of the functions. I'm having vector issues... what else is new?

Good job with the photo!

And snaps for the super-fast blog comment at coolkidscrafting today. Very impressive KJH!

a friend to knit with said...

no. i must be the last person. i have never heard of gimp! i love what you did with the photo.
thanks for spreading the word!