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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
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    Perth
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    Default GIMP - rediscovering a comprehensive freeware photo manipulation

    Recently I upgraded my 2012 laptop to a latest (but not for long) model. The old laptop has a 750GB drive with ~ 300Gb of photographs on it and still runs, but with only 4Gb of RAM and a non SSD hard drive, boot up is sloooooow. Single apps run OK but once a few apps are running, switching between apps is painfully slow.

    Using a migration assistant I transferred everything from the old laptop(16GB RAM 1TB SSD) to the new one, and apart from entering a few password everything except one application transferred smoothly and easily.

    The one app that did not transfer and remain usable was Photoshop CS6. The software was smart enough to know it was running on another machine and asked for a new licence ie $$$$

    Photoshop is a fantastic program for image manipulation, I've been using it since Photoshop 1 came out in 1990, when work bought a single copy ( from memory it cost something like $750!) and installed it on a general use Mac and every man and hid dog wanted to use it. It was pretty clunky, but for its day it was revolutionary as there was nothing else around like it.

    In 1994 I purchased my own copy of PS3 (I think it cost $500?) through work and ran it on a desktop machine - I used it mainly to process images for lectures and conferences but we had also started to transfer a lot of materials to self paced learning modules running on computer networks. In 1996 I bought PS4 again through work to run this time on my work on a laptop and used it extensively on scanned images. Up until 2012 I upgraded, usually after every second version upgrade and slowly managed to climb the learning curve. I wouldn't say I became an expert PS user but I could quickly and easily use it for what I needed to do. My learning curve was helped significantly when in 1998 my son took it on for a major photography subject at school. For years we traded tips and how to's but now I think I may have finally surpassed him.

    When I retired I had Photoshop CS6 (Photoshop 13) on my laptop and have used it ever since. CS6 is the last version of PS that could be bought outright and now you have to buy a monthly licence which cost $15/month which I cannot justify. I can of course still use my old CS6 version on my old laptop at least while support is still provided for it which is maybe not for much longer.

    I knew this issue was going to raise its ugly head sooner or later so a few years agoI started to explore alternatives. I have over the years occasionally played with the freeware GIMP (Graphics image manipulating program), initially available on Unix platforms, and I'm surprised it's not mentioned more often in these forums. A search shows the last time it was mentioned in the Photo forums was 2012. One thing I found with GIMP was that would put a lot of new users off is that, like Photoshop, it has a bewildering range of possibilities which means it has a steep learning curve and realise there are plenty of other simpler freeware image manipulation programs around but few have the range of possibilities of GIMP.

    Early versions of GIMP were pretty clunky and it had far fewer options that PS which seemed like driving a sports car whereas GIMP seemed more like a battered old ute. However, over time GIMP has improved and is now quite a polished program in its own right.

    Anyway since unless I shell out $$ I am effectively unable to use PS on my new machine so I downloaded the latest version of GIMP (2.10) and have finally started to seriously use it. I'm finding it's very quick especially if you have a fast machine and for 99% of what I do it's doing an admirable job. What helps is being a long time PS user means I already understand image manipulation processes and lingo although there are many differences between the descriptors used by PS and GIMP. Some of the GIMP processes don't appear quite as intuitive as PS but that is probably just because I'm so used to the PS way of working and menu structures etc.

    In summary, if you interested in photo manipulation beyond what the basic apps offer and have the time to put into overcoming the learning curve it I can recommend GIMP.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Sydney
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    493

    Default

    You might want to check out Affinity Photo ( https://affinity.serif.com/en-gb/photo/desktop/ )

    Its arguably on a par with PhotoShop at a fraction of the price (retails for about $AU80, but can sometimes b had at discount - e.g. "Black Friday" sales etc)

    An advantage for PhotoShop users is its ability to directly open PSD (PhotoShop project files). And if you need to, you can also directly save back to PSD.
    If you have bought PS Plugins, many can be used with Affinity also.

    If you don't need a full on pixel editor, but want to creatively process your photos, check out Luminar - it BRILLIANT!
    ( https://skylum.com/luminar )
    Luminar is basically a replacement for edits you might have done with Lightroom, while Affinity Photo is a great Photoshop alternative

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Perth
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    Default

    Thanks for the information on those apps Ross. It's good to know there are "close enough" apps out there that don't break the pic-iggie bank.

    I've had a bit of play with an earlier version of Luminar and thought was very good but one problem I have is the chancellor of the exchequer will no doubt blanche when she sees the credit card showing the laptop so I was hoping to avoid spending any more $$.

    GIMP will also open and save PSD files. Unless three was critically required layer info involved I've avoided saving files in PSD format so I have very few files saved this way.
    Although I often looked at some of the fancier PS plugins I only ever purchased one in ~1996 - can't remember what it was but then for some reason it would no longer work on later versions of PS anyway.

    It would be helpful if other members could post which apps they're using.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Glen Forrest, Western Australia
    Age
    58
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    407

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    Bob,
    there are little programs out there that can find the serial numbers of your software installed that are free like Belarc. So if you still want to have PS as well this could be an option.

    https://www.belarc.com/en/products_belarc_advisor

    Rick

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Perth
    Posts
    23,580

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by warrick View Post
    Bob,
    there are little programs out there that can find the serial numbers of your software installed that are free like Belarc. So if you still want to have PS as well this could be an option.

    https://www.belarc.com/en/products_belarc_advisor

    Rick
    Thanks Rick. I'll have a bit of butchers.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2018
    Location
    Newcastle
    Posts
    367

    Default

    Linux and it's apps have come a long way. Amazing how much work gets done in the GNU 'free to most of us' world.

    I'm pretty frustrated with the software industry's trend towards subscription models. For the average man in the shed, it's often prohibitively expensive. I was looking at Sketchup over the weekend (Fusion 360 is clearly powerful, but frustratingly unintuitive). $600+ to buy an old-style package, or several hundred (US) a year for a subscription! For something I'll use once or twice a year (if that), it just doesn't make sense. If it was around $200 for a copy that could sit on my computer and age gracefully for the next few years, I'd have hit the buy button instantly.

    Similar with Adobe - I used to have a copy of Acrobat when it was affordable. That's no longer the case, and I don't have a need or time to bother with the shiny cloud features and other bloatware that apparently makes a subscription oh-so-worthwhile.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Perth
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    Default

    This past weekend I used GIMP on about 100 photos and and have started getting up to speed with it. I though it had locked up on me and was pretty annoyed when it did that but then it turns out to be a sub window hidden behind a bunch of other windows,

    I'm really starting to like it and am so glad I did not fork out for a subscription.

    I don't like subscription models of software use but I would look at them a bit more seriously if they considered subscription models that take into account usage.
    It would be a piece of cake to program into the app something like;
    $X to process A photos a month
    $Y to process B photos a month
    $Z for unlimited use.
    ETC

    Then pros who want to process thousands can pay accordingly and occasional users can still access good software.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2001
    Location
    Perth
    Posts
    9,139

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    Bob, I am on a Mac, and use Photoshop Elements 12 (which is quite old now). I have used a version of Elements many years ago when I was on Windows. Elements is a cut down version and a fraction of the price ($145 AUD from Adobe for the current version 19). This is more than a free version, but it depends on the user. As you know, I produce many articles, so it is worth it to me .. still, it has lasted about 10 years, so amortise that.

    Regards from Perth

    Derek
    Visit www.inthewoodshop.com for tutorials on constructing handtools, handtool reviews, and my trials and tribulations with furniture builds.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Osaka
    Posts
    819

    Default

    I've been using this for the last couple of years in addition to my Win7 box: https://ubuntustudio.org/
    Semtex fixes all

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Location
    SEQ
    Posts
    166

    Default

    +1 for Affinity Photo & Designer, I've been using Affinity for 2 years now.

    Long time Adobe PS & AI user, and CS user since inception... Got peeved when Adobe hiked up the AU subscription fees (around 2016/2017) and changed to Affinity. Affinity is definitely an Adobe alternative, but not yet an Adobe killer as it was toted.

    Have tried GIMP a couple of times over the years, both on Linux and Windows, but found it too clunky.

  12. #11
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    Feb 2006
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    Perth
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    Quote Originally Posted by Junkie View Post
    I tried GIMP a couple of times over the years, both on Linux and Windows, but found it too clunky.
    That's why I posted this thread. I also found early version decidedly clunky but the latest version is much less so.

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
    Location
    Sydney
    Posts
    786

    Default

    I've been using Paint.Net as my casual photo/image manipulation tool for a while. It's CS4-era capable, and does most of what I need, as I don't often find the need or time to go deeper than that... Not suggesting to ignore GIMP but its another option that may suit.

  14. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Caringbah, NSW
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    197

    Default

    Or if you're lazy (and time limited) like me, you could look at Topaz Studio. I use the free software and it does all that I require. There are many edits you can do manually or, in my case, upload the photo/s - select a section (landscape, portrait etc etc) - and then several versions of your photo appear already edited in many different styles. You can just settle for one of those, or use one and then do further manual edits to what you like. Or, if you want the professional version (at a price) you can buy (not rent!) whichever addons you like after having a free 30 day trial of each.

    Disclaimer: I have no interest in Topaz software other than as a happy user .

  15. #14
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    Feb 2006
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    Perth
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    Lots of good suggestions here - thanks for offering them up folks. Meanwhile I have been using GIMP and it hasn't changed my mind, yet.

  16. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    Vermont Vic
    Posts
    7

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    I use a free download called PhotoScape. I've used it for about 10 years, and teach others how to edit and process digital photos. I have a couple of thousand images on Flickr and other websites. PhotoScape is easy to use, has a number of effect brushes, four sizes of clone stamps and a cropping tool with 28 preset aspect ratios or crop freely. Here are some before and after editing done with PhotoScape.
    WW1 soldiers damaged.jpg WW1 soldiers restored.jpg
    Cloning out unwanted items: 19-4960 Jabiru J-430 YMAV 20150305.JPG 19-4960 Jabiru J-430 YMAV 20150305 flags removed.JPG

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