Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Photo Editing with Gimp - Converting to Black and White

Ever have those photos that you just know would look great in black and white, but you took them in color and don't know how to convert?



Because it's a powerful tool, there are multiple ways to achieve the same result.  We'll start with the most straight-forward.

Open the picture you want to convert in Gimp.  I'm going to open the orchid photo I took in Nashville--this one:

From the main workspace, select the menu options Colors and Desaturate, like this:

In the Desaturate dialog, you have several options for the way the tool changes your photo to black and white, like this:

Play with each option a little to see the difference.  If you leave the Preview button checked, you'll be able to see, in real time, the effects of each.  They are generally subtle.  I like the Luminosity option for this particular photo, so I click the radio button to the left of Luminosity and click the OK button.

My photo now looks like this:

 Love it!

How did yours come out?  I'd love to see it!

Next time, desaturating in different ways.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Photo Editing with Gimp - Brightness and Contrast Using Layers

As I mentioned in the previous post, while the Brightness and Contrast dialog can be a great tool to improve your photos, sometimes it can make your photo look a little unnatural.  And sometimes it's hard to get it exactly right.  There is another way to help the brightness and contrast of your photo...


Remember?  Way back here, we talked about layers and the general principles of using them for digital scrapbooking.  You can also use them for photo editing.  Cool, yes?

Let's again use the original photo I took of the sign at the Loveless Cafe in Nashville as an example. 

The blue of the sign and the red of the trees just next to it need some work to actually mirror what I saw when I was standing there.

To begin work, I drag the photo into my Gimp workspace.

In my Layers Dialog (to the right of the main workspace--if you don't see it, select the Menu options Windows and Recently Closed Docs, then select Channels, Paths, Undo, Layers - Brushes, Patterns, Gradients, I see my original photo as a layer, like this:

The first thing I need to do is duplicate that layer.  I right-click on Loveless_Cafe_Original.jpg in the Layers Dialog and select Duplicate Layer from the pop-up menu, like this:

I then see two layers in Layers Dialog, like this:

The top-most layer is highlighted and my photo doesn't look any different than it did when I just had one layer.  That's because we haven't updated the Mode yet.  In the Layers Dialog, just above the Opacity slider, is a drop-down menu for Mode, right here:

Presently, it says "Mode: Normal".  I click the drop-down arrow to the right and select Soft Light, like this:

Now I'm beginning to see a difference.  The original photo I took is a little bit darker and the colors are a bit deeper, like this:

It's definitely already improved over the original, but I'd like to give it a little more punch.  So I duplicate the top-most layer (if you select the one that's already changed to Soft Light, it will duplicate that setting and you won't have to reselect it) a few more times until I'm satisfied.

For this one, I end up with seven layers.  In the Layers Dialog, it looks like this:

And my photo looks like this:

Much better, yes?

Give it a shot on a photo of yours that's overexposed, or has colors that just don't stand out the way you had envisioned.   I'd love to see the before and after!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Photo Editing with Gimp - Brightness and Contrast

One of the fastest and easiest tweaks you can make to improve your photos is brightness and contrast. 

I haven't quite mastered exposure with my digital camera yet, so many of the photos I have taken are either too bright or too dark, resulting in my subject looking washed out or dim.  Again, Gimp to the rescue!

Let's use the original photo I took of the sign at the Loveless Cafe in Nashville as an example. 

See how the color of the sign (which is brilliant blue, in person) doesn't really pop?  And how the trees look muted in the background, despite their gorgeous fall hues?

To begin work on it, I drag the photo into my Gimp workspace.  Then I select the menu options, Colors and Brightness-Contract, like this:

A Brightness-Contrast dialog window opens, like this:

I can do one of three things to adjust Brightness and Contrast here.  I can:
  • click on the slider button in the middle for Brightness and/or Contrast
  • click the up or down arrow to the right of the number box for Brightness and/or Contrast; or
  • type a number (or negative number) in the number box for Brightness and/or Contrast.
I find that dragging the slider is easiest to get in the range I want, and then using the up and down arrows to make slight adjustments works great.  Try it out and see what works best for you.

I'm going to start with decreasing brightness, since my photo is overexposed.

I drag the slider next to Brightness to the left by 50, like this:

Once I'm satisfied with the brightness level (which I can see in my original photo because the Preview box is checked), I click the OK button.

My photo now looks like this:

It's hard to see much difference between the original and this one, but it will make a huge difference when you begin to adjust contrast! 

Contrast is the difference between the lightest parts of the photo and the darkest parts of the photo. I again use the menu options Colors and Brightness-Contrast to open the Brightness-Contrast dialog window.  This time I drag the slider on the Contrast portion and, rather than reducing, I increase, like this:

Once I'm happy with the original photo (which I can see because Preview is checked), I click the OK button, and end up with a photo that looks like this:

Much better, don't you think?  Love that the blue now looks much more like it looked when I was standing there.  And the red of the tree to the right of the sign... yes, that's what I wanted. 

You do have to be careful with Brightness and Contrast, as it can cause your photo to look unnatural and lose detail if you overdo it, like this (confession:  I actually kind of like it, but more as an artsy piece than a photo):

Play with it a little, or a lot, until you like what you have.  And remember that the Undo feature (menu options Edit and Undo) is your friend.  Leave a comment if you're having trouble and I'll do my best to help out.  You can also leave a comment if you're just loving what you're learning to do with Gimp or you just want to say hi.  Hi!

Next time we'll talk about another way to adjust brightness and contrast without using the brightness and contrast tool -- layers!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Photo Editing with Gimp - Red Eye Reduction

I don't have as many issues with red-eye as I once did.

But I have a ton of old pictures that would be so darned cute if not for those blazing red eyes.  My little sweeties end up looking like little devils! 

Here's a perfect example:

My sweet husband LOVES to do face painting, only in the non-traditional way.

So, many moons ago, he did it up right.  Eli, our youngest (who, to be fair, does get picked on sometimes), looked like he'd just weathered a pretty good fight--probably at the hands of Brandon, his slightly older brother, who had a fantastic bandit's mask and the fists to prove it.

This would have been a totally scrapworthy picture... except that Eli looks like Linda Blair has taken him over.  What to do?

Gimp to the rescue!  And it's simple!  Did I already mention that?  Did I also already reiterate that it's FREE?  MOST excellent!

I open Gimp and drag that lovely picture right out of the folder I had it stored in and onto my Gimp workspace, like this:

Then I select the Red Eye Removal tool, by using the Menu options Filters, Enhance, and Red Eye Removal..., like this:

When I select the Red Eye Removal tool, a dialog opens that shows me what my photo will look like after I apply the fix, like this:

A couple of things to note here.

First, the Red Eye Removal tool fixes the color red.  Not just eyes.  In this picture, there's a ton of fake blood going on (because moderation is not a word that my sweet hubster uses very often), out of the poor kid's eyes, and nose, and out from under (and over) his bandages.  I don't want to change the color of that stuff because, you know, blood is supposed to be red.  But you can see in the Red Eye Removal dialog preview that all of the blood would be brown if I clicked the OK button.

Second, there is a threshold slide that you can move.  In some cases, the Red Eye removal tool may not be picking up the eyes and manipulating the threshold can give it a boost.  In this case, the red of the blood and the red in his eyes are pretty close, so that won't really help me.

Finally, there's our little friend, Wilber.  And just to the right is his tip for us.  "Manually selecting the eyes may improve the results."

Ahhhh.... Light Bulb!  (Are you a fan of Despicable Me?  LOVE that flick in this household!)

So I click the Cancel button to close the Red Eye Removal dialog and return to the main Gimp workspace, where I can manually select the eyes, just like Wilber told me to.

To do that, I click on the Ellipse Select tool in the Toolbox, like this:

And then back over in my picture, I click and drag so that the ellipse outlines one of Eli's eyes, like this:

Then I again select the Red Eye Removal tool, by using the Menu options Filters, Enhance, and Red Eye Removal..., like this:

This time, when the Red Eye Removal dialog comes up, I see just the area I selected, like this:

Yay!  No blood involved this time, just his cute little eyeball (I know, I'm so cheesy... but I really DO think even his eyeballs are cute!), and it's a lovely shade of brown (which is good since his eyes are, in fact, brown).

So much better than the whole Linda Blair thing.

I click the OK button and move on to selecting the other eye.  Since I had already clicked on the Ellipse Select tool in the toolbox, it should still be selected (but if it's not, go click on it again in the Toolbox), and I should be able to just click and drag a new ellipse around his other eye, like this:

Again, I select the Red Eye Removal tool, by using the Menu options Filters, Enhance, and Red Eye Removal, and the Red Eye Removal dialog opens.  This time I see his other eye there, like this:

Just lovely!  Note that I tried really hard here to only get his eye and not the blood just to the right.  I could have made a smaller ellipse, selecting just the iris area, if I had been really concerned about it.

I click OK and see my cute kiddo, in all of his gory glory--red where it should be, brown where it should be.

All would be good except that the right eye (his left, but right as I'm looking at the pic) is still selected.  In order to deselect, I use the menu options Select and None, like this:

And the heavens open and the angels sing...

Scrapworthy, indeed.

Now I'm ready to export this back into digital picture file.  To do that, I select the menu options File and Export, like this:

In the Export dialog, in the text box to the right of "Name:" I enter the name of my file.  I call mine Face_Painting_2006.jpg (you can name yours whatever you'd like--Superhero_2007.jpg or Camping_2008.jpg or High_School_Graduation_Blackmail_Photo_2004.jpg or whatever).   

Make sure to add the extension .jpg to the end so it saves as a digital picture file.

Then I select the folder where I want to store it (to the right of "Save in folder:") and click the Export button.

And I'm ready to print that puppy or scrap it or frame it or keep it in my stash for the High School Graduation Blackmail scrapbook I have going...

Is that easy or WHAT?!?!

Did I already mention it's also... FREE?   :)

Let me know how it goes for you.  I'm dying to hear about your adventures with Gimp!  And I am also, of course, totally available if you're stuck or need help or need a good font recommendation or need directions to Wiggins or need a good recipe that can be made with zucchini...

Monday, October 29, 2012

Photo Editing, Anyone?

Wanna know a secret?  All of those photos I showed you in my post about Nashville?


Yep.  Made the colors deeper, increased contrast, reduced or increased brightness, cropped.  Improved significantly over the originals where I didn't get the shot quite square, or the sky was washed out, or the colors were muted. 

Guess what I used to do it?

Yes!  The GIMP!  (for FREE!!! - my favorite word)

As I was posting them, it occurred to me that this would be a perfect time to do a series on photo editing.

Then you could work through a project picture, like this one:

Beautiful trees, right?  But the lighting just did not make the colors pop like I wanted.  And the gray sky didn't offset the brilliant oranges and reds like I had hoped.  I snapped it anyway, because I knew I could fix it later!

Here it is after my "fixing":

The best thing about it?  You can TOTALLY do what I did in just a few simple steps.

I was thinking that, over the course of the next few weeks, we could chat about some of the following:
  • red-eye reduction
  • brightness and contrast
  • desaturation
  • fixing overexposure
  • brilliant skies
  • more on cropping and resizing
... stuff like that.


Other photo editing topics you'd love to cover?