Photography, Tutorials

Basic Editing of Images, My Way

It’s Monday and time for another tutorial.  I have decided today to do some basics.  I don’t know how much you all know, most of you will know this, but I know there are some of you out there that have no idea, so today is for you.

I am also going to use different software, it is the software I started with.  One of the good things about this software is that it is free, and you can just download it from the internet.  It is called GIMP and it is available from here for windows.  Someone asked me in my class if it was any good if it was free.  Well yes it is good.  The reason it is free is because it started on Linux and is part of a whole software development thing that they have going on.  Developers all around the world work on it.  There is a lot of free software for Linux, it is fantastic.

So back to GIMP, here is what it looks like when it is opened.

I have done this tutorial using Ubuntu, so my desktop is a little different,  and the image in the background is the image on my desktop, not my image though.

Next you need to right click in the window where the image would be, then click on file, then open, and get your image from your computer.  I have chosen this dark, crooked image that I took inside one of the buildings in the city.

One of the first things I would do would be to straighten the image.  In GIMP, that means rotating the image until it seems straight.  On the tool bar that is on the right of the image window you can see the rotate tool, I have circled it in red, click on it.

A rotate icon comes up on the cursor and you can click on the image and turn it, or you do it using the slider in the Rotate window, which is on the left of the image.  Once you have the image where you want it to be, where you think it is straight, then click Rotate, I have circled it in red.

Now you will need to crop your image, you can see how the image seems crooked now.  So back to the tool box, this time click on the crop tool, it looks like the pointy end of a craft knife, I have circled it in red.

Once you have clicked it, you go back to your image and click on one corner, inside where the image should be and keep it pressed and drag it to the diagonal corner.  You get a rectangle or square, if it isn’t quite how you want it cropped, in GIMP you click inside the squares in on of the corners and move it to where you want it.  Once you have it where you want it you simply double click inside the window and it will crop the image for you.

There is the cropped image, it now looks straighter and is looking far better, except the image is quite dark, I would like to lighten it up a bit, so I am going to use levels for this.   To get levels, right click on the image, go down to Colours, then over to Levels, click on it.  It takes quite a while for the levels window to open.

If you look at the level window, there is a slider with what looks like a historgram over the top.  There are 3 markers underneath it, the one on the left is for the blacks and makes the image darker.  The one on the far right is for the whites and makes the image lighter.  The one in the middle controls the shadows, and depends which way you move it.  I tend to move the left and the right ones up to the bulk of the histogram area.  See the next image.

You can see where I have moved them to, and hopefully you can see how much the image has lightened up from the previous one.  This doesn’t always work, if an image is too dark, or too light, then nothing is going to help it.  Once you have the markers where you want them then you press OK.

My image is ready now, and I want to put this image on my blog, so I need to resize it.  I don’t like uploading massive images, you can see from the scale image window, that this image is really large.  I tend to make my images for my blog around 800 pixels to 530 pixels, or there abouts.  To resize your image, right click on your image, go down to Image, and then press Scale Image.  You will get the Scale Image window that is in the image above.

Change the size, make sure it is for pixels, or millimetres, or however you change your images.  I use pixels for my blog images, I change the largest size to 800 and then press enter, it then changes the other side automatically, you don’t need to work that out yourself, thank goodness. Once done, press OK.

Your image will go very small in the window.  To make it full size, as in how big the image is for real, press the number 1.

There it is, how big it actually is.  The thing with pressing 1, it might only work in Ubuntu, so you might have to make the image large, using the magnifying glass for that. The image is just about all done now.

I have watermarked the image (last weeks tutorial), I have saved it and it is already to upload to my blog, and here it is.

The image has been given a quick edit, and really doesn’t need anymore for this blog.  I hope that helps many of you work out how to do some simple things with your images.

Most of the stuff I have done with GIMP, you can do with most other editing software.  The set up is often different, but the names are usually much the same and the way they work is pretty much the same.  If you have any problems, let me know.  Good luck doing your images.


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  2. I reblogged this because it contains a great deal of really useful information and I’m interested in trying GIMP too. I have heard a lot about it and although I have Photoshop on my desktop, I need a quality alternative editing tool for my laptop. The reblog looked wrong, so I copied your entire post, credits and all. It now looks like it ought , I think that many of us, even when we are advanced, can learn another technique or a new approach.

    • I am glad you liked the tutorial, GIMP is great, though if you are doing really involved editing it is much harder. I think it is perfect for basic stuff, and some complicated stuff, but I mainly use Photoshop for my images. I hope you like it.

  3. Reblogged this on The Unstable Image and commented:
    I’ve been following Leanne’s blog for around a month now. She is an avid creator of artistic scenes and uses many post production techniques. This guide to basic editing her way, is a great read for someone wanting to start editing photos using a free piece of software called GIMP.


  4. Thanks Leanne. I downloaded Gimp about a week ago and this has been wonderfully helpful. I hope you’re going to do more with gimp. Again, thanks so much.

    • So the tute came at a good time for you Don, glad to hear it. I will probably do some more, not sure how much, but I have some more stuff in mind.

  5. This is a great tutorial Leanne. Very helpful.

    I haven´t used GIMP – I use Picasa which has similar tools and is also free to download from the internet.

    • Thank you Marianne, I haven’t used Picasa, I might have to look into it, lots of people seem to use it, I feel I should know about it.
      I had hoped that whilst the tute was done using GIMP that people would be able to still use the same tools in their own software, so I hope you can do that.

  6. Ongoing Search says

    Thanks for this tutorial. I have been following most of these steps for a while, especially Rotation for straightening up the image. But instead of levels, I use curves. It’s just a matter of choice.

    • I tried to think of some basic things that might help those who do nothing. I use levels and curves, depends on what I’m doing and how I”m doing, I’ve also been known to use both. Thanks.

  7. Thanks, Leanne, I was hoping you’d do this. May have to translate to the software I’m using, but I’m sure it will be useful.

    • I think the basic tools are pretty much the same, If you need help let me know. I thought it seemed a logical place to start. Hope it helps.

  8. Thank you for the lesson.. this type post is always helpful even if we don’t have the same software… magnificent.

    • I hope it helps, the tools should basically be the same in most software, only things like how to get your images, and things like that would be different, I hope. Good luck.

  9. A great tutorial. I have already downloaded Gimp, following your previous message to me, so I’m already to put it into action. Thank you so much for your help. Blessings from Lizzie Joy

  10. Great tutorial. It’s doubtful photography will ever go beyond a hobby for me, but there is NO reason my pics can’t still look GREAT!!! Thanks for the info :-) now following…..

    • That is so right, you photos deserve to look great. I hope you have fun with the images, and thank you. :)

    • How cool, that is a great tool. I hope when you get time you have fun playing around with it all, good luck. :)

  11. Vicki - Glitter Frog says

    Thanks!! That was really simple and easy to follow. I’ve tried Gimp in the past, but gave up on it because I couldn’t figure it out. I may have to give it another go!

    • Thanks Vicki, I appreciate the feedback, I hope you have better luck with it now. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.

  12. I have GIMP for 3 years, never use it, don’t know how to, I bookmarked this, will read it carefully, thank you!!

    • I hope you will be able to use it now, it isn’t really hard and very similar to other editing software packages.

    • I was getting people saying they wish they knew how to edit photos, so I thought starting with something basic would be a great start. Hopefully it is easy to understand and people can follow it. Thanks Annie.

  13. Interesting post, I have never used GIMP, as i was trained on Photoshop and Coral. For me the tutorial showed that no matter what program used the steps are universal.

  14. I have used GIMP before, as well as Photoshop [CS2], but found bnoth of them too difficult to handle for my simple purposes. Nowadays I use ACDSee Pro 5.0 and I’m quite happy with what I can do with that programme.
    Best regards,

    • I think you have to use what you are comfortable with. I wanted to show some simple steps GIMP because it is free. That is appealing to many people. Hopefully people will understand that the steps are basically universal and can be used no matter the program.

  15. makemeadiva says

    Oh thank you for this. Super useful for me as straightening is a constant battle! I will be downloading right now :-) and be back to get some pointers!

  16. Tricia's Blogs says

    Great photo!! I took your advice and tried Gimp but ended up removing it due to some glitches — my computer locked up, froze and an error said it detected a malware virus. Now I know this Gimp editing software is highly recommended (you are not the only photographer who gives it a thumbs up, many started with it), so I was eager to see if I could give it a go, but now I’m a little afraid of it. Even so, I think the steps you taught here will be helpful tips regardless of the editing format. Thank you!

    • I asked my husband about that, and he said is she running windows 7, I don’t know, are you Tricia, apparently it doesn’t run well with it. The steps are pretty much the same, so if you are using something you should still be able to follow the steps. Thanks.

  17. Fascinating. I have Gimp, but obviously haven’t used it to full potential through not having learnt how to drive it.

  18. This is very generous of you Leanne… it is getting very late here, and I have only now discovered your great tutorial… so far I’ve used gimp only for adding borders and my signature, but am very interested into reading carefully this post :) Will do it tomorrow. Thank you :)

    • Thanks Paula, I hope you find it easy to follow and helpful. Maybe you will start using GIMP for more stuff. :)

  19. I can vouch for you – the GIMP is awesome! I used to use it all the time for my art until I bought my tablet (it came with a simple version of Photoshop and I’ve since stopped using the computer that had Gimp installed).

    I didn’t know that it was Linux stuff though~ Or that all these people have been working on the programming!

    • Thanks, it is great, like you I have stopped using it mostly. I found I wanted to know more about about editing and most things were for Photoshop, so I did plan on learning that then seeing if I could do the same in GIMP, but much of the stuff I do now, well, I don’t seem to be able to do it in GIMP. I think GIMP is fantastic for graphics, and good for basic photo editing, but that is about it.
      Yes, it is amazing the whole Linux community.

  20. Wow Leanne, That was so well written. I’m going to down load GIMP. I just bought photoshop, but I’m having trouble with it I can’t do watermarks with it. I like yours, so I’m going to go back and read your watermark lesson. You are getting quite a following! I really like your picture, too, BTW.

    • Thanks Marsha, many of the steps in this are almost the same for photoshop, if you have just bought that you should use it. The watermark tute was done with Photoshop. I am glad you like how I wrote it, I get worried that I complicate stuff too much, or don’t explain things properly. Yes, I am getting quite a following, it is getting hard to keep up with it all. I had forgotten about that picture, I quite like it too.

  21. Aho from Backwater, South Dakota! I’ve just nominated you for “Inspiring Blog Award” and “One Lovely Blog Award.” You may choose to pass along the fun by giving me a shout-out, then stating 7 facts about yourself and nominating 15 bloggers whom you find inspiring. Here’s where you can find my post nominating you:


  22. I’m a HUGE fan of GIMP. Use it for photographs and artwork that I draw, scan and edit using their toolbox.

  23. I’m a Mac girl, so doesn’t look like I can use. I do use Aperture though for any Mac users out there looking for a similar product (not free though). Totally awesome and similar concepts. Thanks, Leanne for the tutorial. I’ll work on a piece using these steps. Best, Joie

    • Thanks Joie, the steps would be the same so I hope they work for you. I don’t think GIMP does Mac, if that makes sense. I know, if my husband is anything to go on, that people who love Linux hate Apple and everything it stands for. haha.

  24. Great tutorial! I, too, use Gimp, but understanding how to make choices on adjusting color is still a bit of a mystery to me. Your step-by-step is helpful!

    • Thanks Diana, what sort of choices do you mean with adjusting colour? Glad you found the tute helpful.

      • Sorry Diana, I didn’t read it back properly, I thought your were using Picassa as well. Tell me how you want to change the colours, I”m unsure of what you mean? Do you want to change light and dark, or actual colours, like giving it more of a certain colour?

    • I think you have to use what you are used to, but I am hoping that the steps are pretty much the same. Thanks :)

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  26. E. L. Brown says

    Great tutorial! I love GIMP, I used it to create icons and header images for friends years before I ever got into photography. I find it to be pretty easy to use, especially with the aid of the online help manual when you first start out. I must be running a super old version though, because my GIMP looks nothing like yours! Do you know which version you use? Also, can you manipulate RAW files in your version? I had to get a separate plug-in so I could shoot in RAW.

    By the way I love your blog – I always find your photography to be so stunning!

    • I just had a look and I am running 2.6. I have no idea about using raw files, I always use jpegs in it, I process my raw files in Photoshop. I found it to be fantastic when I first started, but when I wanted to do more complicated stuff I found photoshop easier to use and allowed me to do more stuff.

  27. i use Picassa also…
    what is the difference between adjusting color through a histogram and using a tool called “fill light”–
    great tutorial…i learned a few things!

    • I have never used Picassa, I will download it and see what I can make of it. I haven’t heard of the things you are talking about unless you mean levels.
      Glad you learned some things.

  28. I have a mac and used to have GIMP, but when my computer was stolen, I never got around to putting it back on the new mac…just bought Photoshop Elements. It’s OK, but I’m wondering if GIMP has more editing features? It was too complicated for this ol’ gal before, but I’ve learned a few things since then and might be able to use it now. :-)

    • Maybe you should try it again. I don’t know if they still do it for macs. I found it too hard to work stuff out once I got to the more complicated stuff. I use Photoshop CS6 for all that now. I hope it works for you.Thanks

      • Yeah, I had the same problem with Gimp. It seemed to be too complicated and hard for me to figure out. I bet I could figure out the CS6 though, since I already have Elements. Thanks for the tip!

  29. Thanks for bringing GIMP to my attention. I hadn’t heard of it before. Looks like it has some fairly good features for being free. Great tutorial. It’s amazing what a little tweaking can do. – Rene

  30. really helpfull… after picasa gna dowloadf this n thanx a lot… really appreciate ur tym n effort for putting up such helpful posts

    regards :)

    • You are welcome, it is nice to do them, and I hope people get a lot out of them, it helps me too, I am learning how to do them. Thank you :)

  31. flowwiththeblood says

    GIMP is really powerful photo editing tool. I hate the detached multi-windows interface, but fortunately the newer version can be operated as a single window.

  32. Although I mainly use Photoshop and Lightroom, but I also run a laptop on Kubuntu and GIMP is a great tool that covers most of the basic editing feature of Photoshop and a little more. For free it’s excellent and its constantly improving.

    • I am kinda the same, but the other way. I have windows on my laptop with Photoshop and my desktop has Ubuntu and I use GIMP in it. Funny. I agree with your evaluation of GIMP.

    • Honestly, if you are already using Photoshop, I would stick with it. I ended up going to Photoshop because I found GIMP hard to do more complicated editing on. YOu have to get all sorts of plugins and really have to know what you are doing, whereas it all comes with Photoshop. GIMP is free, so it can’t hurt to download it and have a look.

  33. I’ve longed to learn the art of photograph, but – if I can put it this way – my life hasn’t “gone” that way. HOWEVER, I think your blog is great, and I’m going to refer my friend Mary Geddes to your site. Though she’s part of a writer’s group I know she would love to follow your blog to learn about photography. She bought a camera specifically for this purpose. So keep a look out for her name, or find her on facebook.
    My own attempts at capturing scenes in Mwinilunga, Zambia, aren’t that great. But they’ll suffice for now.

    • Photography is just another skill, but if you write, then that is wonderful. I think we all take photos for different reasons and we all have to decide what they are, if you are happy doing what you do, then I think you should continue doing it. Thank you for stopping by my blog.

  34. Little Brown Tomato (LBT) says

    I have never used GIMP but have heard it’s a great start. Glad you recommended.

    • It can be a great place to start if you are looking for something. Does that make sense? I used it for years before I started to see the limitations of it. Doesn’t hurt to download it and take a look at it.

      • Little Brown Tomato (LBT) says

        I downloaded. It seemed difficult. I’ve been using Adobe Elements and some free online photo editing software. Next month I plan on splurging with Photomatix. Woohoo! :)

  35. Thanks for sharing so much information on photography…with blogs & on-line sites being so visual making better photos are needed by us all! Thanks for coming by & the “like’…

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