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Monday, June 14, 2010

Free Tools: Open Source Photo Editing with the GIMP

Even though we are just a Dude with a Dog we are humming right along with our free websites now.  We've invested $12 in a domain name, signed up with Weebly or Google sites, we've picked a template, filled in all of our site info, created our Artist Statement, our Artist Bio and our Contact info.  It's time to create our gallery of our work.   We are operating on a shoestring budget here so we don't have professionally made photographs of our work and are taking them ourselves.  The only problem is that the photos don't show off our work as well as they could.  No problem that's what Photoshop is for.  Big problem when you are just a Dude and a Dog, photoshop is expensive!

Almost everybody has heard about free or low cost software.  Most of the time there is no free lunch.  Either the software itself has limited functionality (that you can 'upgrade' for full functionality) or it has full functionality but is demo software where you can't save your work or your work saves with a 'watermark' turning your work into an advertisement for their software.  Clearly not all 'freeware' is really free so how do you tell the difference?

What we are looking for is not demo versions commercial software but software of the people, by the people and for the people.   We can find such software in the grass roots, from the bottom up,  socialist world of Open Source, Creative Commons and CopyLeft.  Bring out the GIMP!

GIMP or  General Image Manipulation Program was created by a couple of university students at Berkeley in the mid 90's and extended by countless others over the years into the full functioning Photoshop rival that it is today.   If your pictures are close you may be able to get away with a mini editor like Picasa which allows you to make basic adjustments of crop, straighten, contrast, brightness, etc.  If you want full blown pixel level editing Gimp is the editor for you. If you know photoshop you will feel comfortable with gimp.  It's not as polished in some areas but it is functionally close.

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