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More with the GIMP. April 10, 2006

Posted by jessicraft in photography, tutorial.

My previous post on The GIMP dealt mostly with the 'selective colorization' technique. I've also been working on the Gaussian Blur Overlay tutorial. I tried a landscape that wasn't so great for the shot – in fact it's the very same landscape I used for the other tutorial. For my second attempt, I went with a picture I took in February of some lovely orchids I was sent. Here again is a before and after shot. Or rather, after and before.



GIMP Tutorials April 9, 2006

Posted by jessicraft in Links, photography, tutorial.
1 comment so far

About a year ago I abandoned (well, mostly abandoned) my desktop computer – quite the ghetto box running Win98 – for a totally hot, totally enjoyable iBook. At the time I needed to find some image software that was – free – and so I went with The GIMP, The GNU Image Manipulation Program. I would highly recommend this to anyone – in fact, anything I’ve come across with the GNU philosophy has been impressive and it’s just a neat idea. Open source, yes please. And this is from someone who is far from a developer of any kind whatsoever, just someone who uses computers and likes free stuff.

Anyway – so iPhoto is pretty great, for someone like me who was way late into digital and someone who generally doesn’t do much manipulation of any kind. I have been (mostly) satisfied with it. iPhoto Buddy has really upped the satisfaction as my library grew too big and I started using multiple cameras. I have an EX-Z30 Library & a 350D Library, for instance. iPhoto has its limitations, though, it really is for the most minor of touch-ups and if you take good photos that should be fine for the most part. However, some digital darkroom techniques are just too cool to be so in the dark about them. It’s not the same as spending time in the dark & stinking of chemicals, but I am enjoying this on another level.

Anyway – I have had The GIMP for quite some time and I understand that it’s a powerful program – I understand this because I don’t know how to use most of it. But, I figured it was time to learn. And what better place to start than The GIMP’s own TUTORIALS.

I began with the Tutorial on Selective Colorization – that is, taking an image and having most of it be black & white with only a few small things (or one small thing) in colour. Y’know, like greeting cards with two little kids in black & white holding a bright red rose or something. Like that.

I found the tutorial very easy to follow, so if you’re just starting into this sort of thing I would recommend diving right in with it. You just follow their easy steps to create your image and it can be such a dramatic effect that it is terribly satisfying and will give you the confidence to try more techniques and eventually play around with this one to see what you can do. Here’s what I came up with, the second image I tried though I think it’s much cooler than the first.

I used the tutorial on a picture I took in Toronto of a street car crossing Spadina somewhere..

I’m a fan of the technique and will surely be looking for places to use it!

Canon PhotoStitch 3.1 March 6, 2006

Posted by jessicraft in photography, tutorial.

Ever since I first started seeing images digitally “stitched” together, I’d been way impressed and way intrigued. When I got my Digital Rebel XT it came with PhotoStitch software that is very straightforward and does the job. I thought I would take a few screenshots on my iBook and post the process for anyone not in the know.

First thing you do is open the “photostitch launcher” which is an application that lets you either stitch a new image together or view images that you have stitched together previously.

This is what you get. A big blank screen with big buttons that are easy to follow.

So you import the images you have taken and want to stitch together. Just a quick click of the “Open” button to select your images and away you go. When you bring ’em in, you’ll see something like the following in the middle of all that white space as above.

If you squint, there, you can see that these images all have little overlapping bits. From here, you can select some merge options – such as whether or not your image is horizontal, a matrix, and so on. I just use the default settings, myself.

Once you’re ready, you move on to the next step where everything gets stitched together – you’re out of “1. Selection and Arrangement” and into “2. Merge” – easy as pie. You basically just click a button and it does it – gives you back something like this..

As you can see, I did not use a tripod. I just stood in one spot and turned as I took about five or six pictures looking out over the Ottawa River from a spot on Parliament Hill behind the library. Gorgeous day. Now it’s time to save things.

The green outline there is the part that gets saved. You can stretch that however you would like – you can save things in a way that shows the white space to indicate that this is a series of photos stitched together or you can select a part of the photo inside that space so everything looks like one giant image. I shrunk things down and even then my image was over 5,000 pixels wide. It’s pretty spectacular to scan through these huge panoramas, I must say. Here is the final result, which I posted to my flickr photostream. If you view it there, you will see the photos notes which highlight which significant buildings are easily visible in the image.

“Pont Alexandra Bridge” 2006.03.04

Check out the larger size here.

All in all, a very cool programme.  I still have yet to recreate a high school photo project where this same thing was done in film, with the sun out today perhaps I will head out to recreate the shot digitally this afternoon.  That’s something I’ve been meaning to do and meaning to do and I don’t know what has been stopping me – re-learning that course with my new camera.

Rasterbating – Tutorial February 7, 2006

Posted by jessicraft in photography, tutorial.

In the fall as I was working on getting through the last of my university courses I decided to take a little bit of a break for a a photo project. I had seen these types of images before and had always wanted to try one. I rasterbated one of my photographs.  Here’s how!
Step One: Pick a photo, any photo.

I took this photo of my grandfather’s camera, an Agfa Ambi Silette, using my Casio EX-Z30 point n’ shoot digital and then converted the photo to black & white using iPhoto; also made a few minor touch-ups.

Step Two: Upload the picture to your computer.

It is now ready to be rasterbated. Go to the site linked to above, upload your picture, and wait for the PDF file result. You can choose something really huge or something really small – I went with a 3×3 image.

Step Three: Print. Go to Staples or whatever company you would like, you can even do this at home – have the PDF file printed.

I had mine done in black and white and printed on card stock, though as you upload the file you can choose other colours or you can rasterbate and print in full colour.

Step Four: Cut out the borders if you forgot to tell the people at Staples to center things or if you just prefer your image without borders.

This step was kind of a pain, but what can you do. I would suggest you have a snack before you get started ’cause once you start you just want to finish.

Step Five: Come up with a way to mount it. I chose two thick pieces of mounting board stuck together as the backing. I wanted to hang the images individually on the wall but that would have cost far too much money so I went with this – a quick & dirty solution.

Step Six: Time to lay it all out and prepare to stick it all together. This isn’t so bad if you do something small like 3×3 but I’m sure it is rather tedious if you do something HUGE (check the Rasterbator site for examples of full walls being done like this – pretty cool stuff).

This is when you decide on things like whether or not you want pages to have space between them or not. I went with space.

Step Seven: Stick it all together! You’re almost done. I did this initially with double-sided tape but it wasn’t sticky enough so I went and picked up some spray-adhesive. Worked much better, so you should probably go right to that.

Ta da!

Hang ‘er up on the wall, and that’s it!  You’re done.

$12 Slide Scanner – Tutorial January 11, 2006

Posted by jessicraft in photography, tutorial.

This Slide2Digital: Low-Tech Digital Slide Scanner page by Chuck Flanagan was brought to my attention a while ago. Seemed like a good idea, so we went ahead and tried one for ourselves. A quick trip to Home Depot and we were off; with a suitcase full of slides of Europe and North America in the ’50s & ’60s waiting, we made this little attachment for my Canon Digital Rebel XT.

In a few simple steps we turn a slide like this:


Into this:

slide final


  • Digital SLR camera with a lens; I used my Rebel XT + 55mm EF-S lens
  • Lens shade; mine is 60mm and looks like this
  • Rubber plumbing coupling; mine is 1.5″-2.0″
  • Foam tape
  • Exacto knife (something to cut into the rubber coupling)
  • Close-up filters; I used +6

That’s it! I call this the “$12 Scanner” because I’m assuming you already have the expensive bits, which are all useful independently in their own right (the dSLR, Lens Shade, Filters & Exacto-knife). The only new additions are the plumbing gear & foam tape.


What you’re going to do is create an extension for your camera that sits on the end of the lens inside the lens shade, with the slides sitting at the end so that they will fill the frame of your dSLR. Put your camera and filters aside for now, it’s time to make the extension.

Step One: Make sure you have everything you need and that it all fits together. Using a lens shade to help attach your plumbing extension to your dSLR I’m sure saves a considerable amount of work.

The rubber coupling will sit inside that.

Foam tape will help give a snug fit and hold everything in place.

Step Two: Put it together! Wrap the foam tape around the smaller end of the rubber coupling so that it will sit snug inside the lens shade; cut 4 marks out of the large end of the rubber coupling so that the slide will sit in the end. This part is kind of a pain, probably won’t end up pretty but it will get the job done.

RESULTS! This is what you end up with. My apologies, I took the picture before I had cut the bits out for the slide.

There’s more! The filters. By using the filters (again, I used +6) on your lens before attaching the lens shade with the coupling you will enable the slide image to fill the entire frame.

*CLICK!* Time to snap away. This should be done with your camera on a tripod and using some careful focusing. This can be done automatically or manually, whatever works best and is most comfortable for you. Remember that your slides are sitting at the end of the lens and will twist and turn while you make your adjustments. This is okay because you will be able to fix things as necessary on your computer. To get a nice even light source, face the camera at your computer screen with a white screen showing (I open Microsoft Powerpoint and fill the screen with a blank slide).

Upload the pictures to your computer.

Now, just use your favorite photo editing software and make any minor touch-ups as necessary. It works quite well, I have even used this technique to ‘scan’ negatives into my iBook and fiddling with the image from there.

Simple and straightforward.