Digital Focus: Fix Perspective in Architectural Photos

Dave's Favorites: GIMP, a Different Sort of Image Editor

For those of you who love to explore new software--especially when it's free--I have a dream come true for you this week. A new image editor has just arrived in town, and it boasts much of the power of Adobe Photoshop. It's name? GIMP 2.0.

The Gnu Image Manipulation Program, more commonly known as GIMP, is an Open Source application designed originally for Unix, but there's a version that runs in Windows (after you first install another application called GTK+ for Windows). GIMP has the look and feel of a Unix application, so the menus and controls are fairly alien to Windows folks like us. Nonetheless, if you enjoy experimenting, you can learn your way around GIMP without too much trouble.

I've used the latest version of GIMP, version 2.0, for a week or so. It has a lot to offer, including all of the standard levels, curves, and color controls found in commercial programs like Photoshop and Paint Shop Pro. There are blur, sharpen, and clone tools. The filters and plug-ins are extensive and upgradeable. And there are lots of brushes and painting tools. To put it simply, GIMP is a powerful, $100-caliber image editor for the price of a glass of tap water.

Would I consider using it full time? Not really--but that has more to do with the fact that I already use, love, and understand my existing software library. If I was just starting out, though, I might consider GIMP long and hard. And if you just want to spend a Saturday playing with a fun image editing alternative, GIMP is waiting for you.

Be sure to download and install GTK+ 2 for Windows first; then download and install The Gimp for Windows. It may take a while, even if you have a fast broadband Internet connection, but it's worth it!