Photography, Tutorials

Saving in GIMP – Tutorial

A couple of people have pointed out that I haven’t told you about saving your files, or rather making sure you don’t lose the original file, so I decided today, that we should really go back to basics.  So please forgive me if this is too basic for you.  I have also decided that I would process an image for you, it is basic, but it is something I would do just to put up an image.  I will explain it as I go.

We start by opening GIMP, then right click, File, Open, and find the image you want to work on.  I have chosen an image for you that I took on that very early morning to Point Lonsdale, but this is taken at Barwon Heads, if anyone was a fan of the Australian show Seachange then you might almost recognise this as Diver Dan’s shed.

The original file name is _LC28016.xcf, a silly file type that GIMP uses.  Normally, in most processing, you would simply go to File, Save As and change the name of the file to something else.

You can see there, the image name has now been changed to barwon-8016.jpeg.  However, in GIMP in Windows to save it as a jpeg, you will need to right click on the image go to File, the go to Export.  You save the image in exactly the same way, but change the file type to jpg, and then change the name of the file and export it.  It is rather annoying, but it is the only way you can save your image as a jpg when you use GIMP in Windows.  If you are using Ubuntu, which I normally do for GIMP, then you do go to Save As and GIMP does the exporting for you, I don’t know why the same can’t be done in Windows, probably has something to do with the developers hating Windows.

After saving/exporting, close the image and open the image with the new name.  Now the original image is protected, so it doesn’t matter what you do to this one, if you ruin it, then you can go back to the original and start over, just don’t forget to Save a new copy.

Now we have a copy of the image that needs to be processed.  I don’t know if you noticed, but the image was crooked. My images are ALWAYS crooked, I don’t know why, but I have a knack for making them crooked.  Unlike Photoshop, you have to straighten your images in GIMP using your eyes, and the rotate tool.  The rotate tool is located in the toolbox, I have circled it in red, then the Rotate Box comes up.  Using the slider, move it until you think the image is straight, then click on Rotate.  Straight image.

Now the image is straight, but will need cropping.  The crop tool, is also located in the toolbox, circled in red.  Once it is clicked you stretch the rectangle over the image to where you want  the crop to take place, then double click on the image, or press return.  You now have a newly straightened and cropped image.  You could save it now, though I tend to wait until I have done what I want.  That is probably not a good thing, so please save your image here.

Next, I want to change the levels, it is usually one of the first steps I do, right click, Colors, then go to Levels.  In the window that opens, you can see the sliders and I have circled them so you can see where I moved them to, then I pressed OK.

I did hear from someone today, that I shouldn’t do vignetting, but I gotta say, I love doing it, though I am not really a huge fan of really heavy vignetting.  What I do tend to use a lot is the gradient tool.  In GIMP the gradient tool is located in the toolbox, again circled in red.  I also turn down the opacity, it is the second circle there, I have turned it down to 20%, I want the gradient to be subtle.  I also made sure the gradient I would be using was foreground to transparent.  Then I put some on the sand in the front and some in the sky, not much, but I like my edges to be darker.  You can’t see it here, but I hope you will be able to tell in the final image.

I don’t know that I will do that much more to the image now, so time to save it, in my case export it, so right click on the image, press File, then Export, when it comes up Replace, then press Replace, you do want to replace the image, the copied image that is, and not the original.

There is the image, the gradient is very subtle, I hope you agree, the image is straighter, I hope.  Though I do love the ruler tool in Photoshop, it is so much better.

I thought, since we were doing some basic things, I thought I might show you another way to make an image Black and White.

This time I opened the Adjust Hue/Lightness/Saturation, you do this by right clicking on the image, go to Colors, then click on Hue/Lightness/Saturation. You can see the sliders in the bottom half, they are all in the middle.

All I have done here is moved the Saturation slider all the way to the left, this takes out all the colour in the image.  I don’t know if this is an excepted way of doing a black and white, but it does keep your image as a RGB file, so if you wanted to add colour to it later on you could.  Now press OK.

So, as we did last week, I have opened the Brightness/Contrast and up the contrast some to make sure I get my blacks and my whites, remember the black card and the white card.  Once you have it where you want, then just press OK.

The image is then saved again, but this time, you have to make sure you save it as something else, or you will lose the colour version as well.  I simply put bw at the end of the file name, so now my image is barwom-8016bw.jpg.  If it was done with sepia, then I would put sep instead of bw.  It is important to come up with a file system that works for you.  If people are interested I can demonstrate mine at some stage.

There are so many ways of converting images to black and white.  I have recently downloaded a trial of Silver Efex Pro 2 from Nik Software to see what it is like.  I will talk about it in another post.  This is just another way.

Back to my image files.

So here is the directory with my photos from Point Lonsdale, I have circled the two images we have been working on, you can see them there in there finished state.

Here is the image in the final black and white state.

The thing I really wanted you to learn from this tutorial, is always make sure you save a copy of the image, don’t do anything to the original.  I do work on the original image, but when I save it I save it as something else, but I would recommend to those of you who are just starting out, save a copy at the beginning, then you will always feel reassured that the original is safe.

Have fun.


  1. Good advice to save a copy of the original, Leanne. I have lost many originals by not doing so. I’m working with Lightroom at the moment with the photography course, and it’s not necessary to save copies with this as the original stays on the hard drive. Blessings.

  2. Really enjoy your tutorials Leanne, always very helpful.

    Noticed on this one your watermark appeared without comment. Do you have a quick / shortcut method of adding this? I am using PS and adding long hand each time, a one-click solution would be great.


  3. I use Picasa rather than GIMP, but I can always take something away from your tutorials, Leanne. Thank you :)

    • It is free Jen, you can download it from their website, or if you take a look above in the page for software there is a link to it.

      • Depends, if you want to do more editing, then yes, I would recommend it. I have only used picassa once and I struggled with how limiting it was. I would recommend downloading it and trying it, if you don’t like you can always delete it Jen. I hated the way picassa reorganised my files, and I couldn’t find anything.

      • Thanks Leanne. Will look into it. I do a bit of editing…but maybe I would do more with better software. You’re advice is awesome and I like basic!

  4. Have you been watching Killing Time? I keep wanting him to adopt Diver Dan persona and tell them all to bugger off.

  5. I think it’s safe to assume that some of us are absolute beginners, and that very basic stuff is useful.
    I love thatimage, by the way!

    • Yes, a couple of people have pointed out that I hadn’t told people to save the original, and I thought it was about time I did.
      I quite like the image too. I did quite a few there in Barwon Heads, but that is the first one I have shown. I hope the winds aren’t too strong where you are today.

  6. Excellent tutorial, Leanne…and though I found the image quite compelling in color, the B/W is superb! Haven’t downloaded GIMP yet, as I’m ‘swamped’ with so many images to ‘Shop in order to keep my blog somewhat current. I’ll make some time for that, though, and will let you know how things progress!

    • Thank you 1000, it was a good opportunity to show a different way of making a black and white image. If you use photoshop, I can’t imagine why you would worry about GIMP, so please don’t feel you have to for me, unless you want to check it out. Thanks again.

  7. Excellent tutorial, Leanne. I started playing around with GIMP and these tutorials are definitely helpful.

  8. Thanks so much… I’m going to seriously have to try GIMP if it can be used in MAC. I appreciate all of your patience and hard work teaching us (or trying to) how to improve… :D

    • You are welcome Keli, I actually really enjoy it, it is a wonderful thing to get comments like this, I am looking forward to hearing how you find it on the MAC. Thank you. :)

  9. I always use Photoshop, but sometimes, when we’re travelling, I’m forced to use Gimp because I’ve installed Linux on my wife’s laptop. I really hate using Gimp…

  10. ok, now I am curious about the vignetting – probably since someone told you that you shouldn’t be doing it. Can you tell me more about it and why you wouldn’t want to do it.

    • I think vignetting is one of the things, you either like it or don’t. I do like it, and I like the way it can help you to focus the viewers attention to certain parts of the image. So vignetting is darkening the edges, I don’t always darken the edges that much, just a little, sometimes heavier. I like the effect and I like it so that light things, or white is not on the edge, you don’t want anything on the edges that will lead your viewer out of the image, though that is just my opinion.

  11. Not too basic for me. For me the main goal is to tell a story eventually in an amateur movie (stills and video) using Adobe Premiere Elements. My photos are rarely taken on a solo outing, I’m conscious of delaying my companions and thus TRY to shoot quickly. Your description of how you treat your work with great care is much appreciated. Thanks.

    • That is interesting, how you describe your work. We all work in different ways. I am glad you liked the tutorial, thank you so much mytiturk.

  12. I agree, basic advice can’t be overlooked. I always work with a copy, and rarely ever delete an image, as you just never know when it might come in handy. Interesting post :)

    • That is so true, nothing like ruining an image and not having the original to go back to. Thank you EllaDee

  13. Any thoughts on working with a fractal filter in Photoshop? Have you seen a open source Fractal Filter that will work in GIMP?

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