Sunday, June 27, 2010

Powerful, free, and easy Linux Photography Tools

Lately, I have been working quite a bit with Linux photography. I'm using Linux programs because I don't want to steal (or buy) expensive Windows programs; and part of the van-dwelling life is being frugal with your hard-earned money. With these tools at your disposal, you can unleash your creative potential on your digital photo library.

Before the Windows people start feeling left out, I would like to mention a program called Wubi, which will emulate a Linux environment as a program INSIDE your Windows installation. That means you can install/uninstall it with ultimate ease. Check it out here:

Some great FREE Linux programs to take a look at are:

  1. Hugin – This is an amazing program for panoramas and multiple picture art. There are some great examples on Hugin's website that show the power of this program... Very impressive stuff.

  2. FFMPEG – This excellent tool will help you break down videos into individual images, compile individual images into time lapses, and convert image formats. Although this program doesn't have an interface (which means you will be doing command line work, similar to Window's DOS) there are plenty of easy-to-learn tutorials and techniques (I'm talking 5-10 minutes) that will get you rolling.

  3. GIMP/GIMPshop – Basically this is the free photoshop of Linux. If you need something done graphics-wise for your pictures, there is a tutorial on how to do anything you think of online.

  4. UFRaw – Basically the purpose of this program is to process RAW style images through a digital darkroom studio. RAW images are common formats for DSLRs. This format differs from the common JPEG format in that it is minimally processed and uncompressed (which means larger file size). Technology is great :) I use this whenever I am getting prepped for creating an HDR image.
I made this panorama below by taking apart a 10 second video frame by frame using FFMPEG, and then putting about 12 of the extracted frames together in Hugin (which does all the hard work automatically).

  1. Photomatix - The only paid for program I use for photography. This program is arguably unsurpassed in generated HDR images. If you search for a few of these style photos online, you will see how beautiful HDR shots are. If you're going to do the job, do it right. It costs 99 bucks, but if you have any .edu address, you can score the program for 35 :) Currently, there is only a Windows/Mac release, but if you install another program called WINE, you can run a lot of Windows programs, including Photomatix, on a Linux machine...

    ..but I know, it's not free. So a great alternative to this program is..

    6. Qtpfsgui - Although not as complete as Photomatix, it's free and easy. Here's an example of an HDR I created with this program:

Give some of these programs a look at on Google, and you can see how powerful they are. With an arsenal like this at your disposal, it will feel like you have super powers to manipulate to visual world... MUWahaha!

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