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.