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GIMP - rediscovering a comprehensive freeware photo manipulation

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  • 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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