Linux and Photography – Round Two

Some may remember that a fair while back now, I blogged about using Linux (Ubuntu Studio 8.04 to be exact) for photographic purposes. I came to the conclusion that whilst it was completely possible, life was just easier if you were running a Windows or OS X install and using either Lightroom or Aperture. Since then however, I got rid of the Ubuntu Studio install and just ran a regular flavour of Ubuntu and what I found was that it became even more useful for the odd bits of photography work I had to do each day and as a day to day operating system.

Jump forward a year and a bit and I know sit here with a semi fresh installation of Ubuntu 9.10 (64bit) in front of me and I am astounded at how quickly things have progressed. The experience is just so much more polished and it feels like such a solid OS to work with. There are some negatives however, such as the music library management program I had been using, Songbird, ditching its iPod support, but that is for another time. So without any further ado, lets jump into how I handle my workflow from start to finish.

First off, we have a nice and clean desktop to work from. You may be different, but I absolutely hate clutter in the back ground. Whether it is a gazillion shortcuts, mounted devices or a busy wallpaper, I just cannot stand it.

desktop
Now, so you have come home from a busy day covering a protest or trekking up and and down mountains in search of that “perfect” landscape, you have your images on your card and you want them downloaded onto your PC. My recommendation would be a nice little app called Rapid Photo Downloader, which does exactly as the name suggests, it downloads your photos off your memory cards nice and quick and has management for folder structure and file management among other things. It isn’t a catalog manager but for those who are used to using Explorer, Finder or Nautilus to manage your collection of images, it isn’t a bad starting point.


Next up is getting around to the actual processing of the images. At the moment, I am using a trial of Bibble 5 and I am amazed at how much it has improved since Bibble 4. There are a few areas of the program that by far outshine parts of Lightroom, like incorporated Noise Ninja, the ability to create edit layers and some of the presets as well. It mightn’t be as polished as Lightroom is or as quick sometimes, but it really is a powerful image editing program. There are some basic catalog features in there and the interface is straight forward and rather easy to get used to as you use it. Of course, one large downside is the price, Bibble 5 is currently selling for USD$199.95, a bit of a sting if you are more than used to the free nature of most of the Linux world. If you decide it is worth it though, you get an incredibly powerful and versatile piece of software for your money. If you don’t want to fork out this kind of cash, then there are other options out there such as Raw Therapy (which I spoke about in my last article) and RawStudio which can be had for the grand total of nothing.

bibble

bibble2

Once you have finished editing your photos, you will most likely want to share them with the world. In my case, that meant finding an application to upload batches of photos to Flickr with as little trouble as possible. I also wanted something where I could specify a particular set for the images to be placed in as well as tags and resize options if I needed to resize something quickly without opening the Gimp or Bibble. After a quick search of the internet, I decided to give kflickr a go as it looked like it was the best match for my needs. It is incredibly simple to use and nice and quick. Haven’t had an issue with it yet (touch wood).

kflickr

I decided to not include any mention of the Gimp as it really hasn’t changed all that much since I last spoke of it and also, I never really use it. Same for another great program, Inkscape, it is incredibly feature rich and a great free alternative to Indesign, but I just have not had a chance to use it lately and give an accurate opinion on it. If you like to do some video editing on the side, then there are options there as well such asPiTiVi which seems to be a well polished, feature rich video editor/movie maker (don’t ask me any more about it, I only have it installed and haven’t used it yet).

So there we have it, a quick run down of what is available to a budding photographer who doesn’t want to rely on either Microsoft or Apple for their computing needs. Using an OS such as Ubuntu also means that you can save a fair bit of cash when building a system to use for your editing needs, which leaves more money in the bank for cameras, lenses and other accessories 😉

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For Your Viewing Pleasure

Remember a post I made a while ago about my sources of inspiration? Well not long after I wrote that, I was introduced to the flickr of Lakshal Perera (Lucky for short) and in particular, his 52 weeks projects self portraits. Every time I saw one of them, I just wanted to drop whatever I was doing, grab the camera and start shooting again. For some reason, I never actually added him as a contact (or I thought I had), so today I finally got around to doing it. Turns out he recently moved up to Bris-vegas and has started taking on a 365 days project as well, but with a bit of a twist. Wish I had his will power for sticking with photography projects, into his second 52 weeks project and doing a 365 one at the same time. I couldn’t even keep up with just one of them at a time…

Lucky also has a blog as well as his flickr and it is definitely worth checking out. So what are you waiting for? Go have a look-see 😉

Slipping Standards or Just Being Cynical?

I remembered yesterday that I still had an account set up over at deviant Art so I decided to log in and see how long it had been since I showed it some love. Last upload was something like the 9th of October last year and the last journal entry was a rather emotional one from the 2nd of that month. So after getting used to the layout changes they had made to the site in the last nine months, I set about updating a few things and started looking around to see how my fellow dA users were going with their artistic adventures.

Now back when I used to frequent the site, the quality of submissions was over all very good. People had obviously put time and effort into taking the photos in the first place and then chosen only their best to upload and into the right categories. Now though it seems as though a blurry, over exposed photo of a man hole cover taken with an iPhone on a whim counts as serious street photography. There are photos that people have just thrown into whatever category they want (a webcam self portrait of an angsty teen and her equally angsty and immature boyfriend in the urban life one for example), photos of anything with way too many cheap and nasty photoshop filters applied to them that you can barely see the subject and an artistic nude section that could make some porn sites jealous.

Don’t get me wrong, there are still some great works of art on there, you just have to dig a little longer through everything else to find the occasional inspirational gem.

Inspiration

There are people who inspire us in all sorts of ways. Whether it be to be a better person in general or to achieve a particular goal, they usually go unrecognised. Tonight though, I will name a few people who inspire me to do more and try more with my photography. They are to thank for getting me out of countless creative funks and their blogs and galleries provide countless procrastination opportunities. Hopefully this will generate a little more traffic for them as well 😉

You may notice that the likes of Chase Jarvis and Dave Hobby do not take up any of the spots in my list. For all they do provide some inspiration for me, they aren’t the people I turn to when I’m flat out of ideas or just want to see some truly great photos. Besides, they get enough traffic as it is and I would rather promote the local talent that I honestly think is far better than the ‘main stream’ guys…

Firstly, we have Todd Norbury. I had my first encounter with Todd through the OCAU Photography forums (as is the case with most of those on this list) a couple of years ago and through his posts, I found the link to his Flickr stream. Liking what I saw, I added him as a contact and proceeded to follow his postings over the following months. One of his photos that always managed to stick in my mind was one he took at a horse racing event in Nowra towards the end of 2007. It taught me a few things, the 5D can keep up with sport, horse racing photography is way more interesting than I first thought and that I would kill to get a photo with as much pop as that one. Of course, when it came to being my turn to photograph a bush race meet, I had to check Todd’s shots before heading out to make sure that I had half a clue about what I was doing.

Then towards the end of August last year, I noticed a great set of photos start to appear on his Flickr stream. These were from what appears to be an annual road trip for him. Each time I saw there were new uploads, I had to check to see what interesting places he had been and what amazing photos he had taken while there. Looking over this set always leaves me feeling motivated and I am dying to get out there and make a similar trip of my own (end of semester holidays are looking like a good time so far). His eye for the details is definitely the thing that I keep going back for. I can spend hours looking over his photos and after wards, never feel like I have wasted a second of my time. If there is someone who drives me to get out and explore, it is Todd.

Next, we have my go to guy for portrait inspiration. Known to OCAU’ers as ya3, to Flickr’ers solely as Yakub and to the rest of the world, Yakub Erogul, he first caught my attention with his talent of creating these remarkable portrait sets with some very minimal gear. The next thing that drew me in was his unique post processing style. The colours he manages to get really set his work apart from pretty much everything I have seen before and mix this with his already keen eye and uncapped imagination, great results are sure to follow. One shoot of his that has always stood out above the rest for me has to be one of the ones he did with the wonderful Jessica. The locations, the mix of styles, the processing, the lighting and the raw creativity all combine to create a shoot that I can’t help but keep going back to and flicking through.

Lastly (for now anyway) is Chris Young, another fellow OCAU ‘tog (seeing a trend here?) who has provided me with vast amounts of inspiration over the last few months. He started tackling a 365 days of self portraits project not long before I decided to give the 52 weeks of self portraits thing a try and before I let it fall by the wayside Chris was pretty much always there to provide encouragement in one form or another for me. Apart from the comments on my photos, his own project helped me keep pushing through mine. It was great to see someone get so creative each day with photos of themselves. The mix of serious, not so serious, down right crazy and locational self portraits gave me a tonne of ideas for my own project as well as providing me with excellent procrastination material. And after having pretty much no interest at all to visit England, the photos from his recent trip there have made me want to run out and book the flights straight away. His eye for patterns, lines and the odd bit of serenity among the chaos keeps me checking his gallery at least once a day and I would kill to have just a little bit of the talent that Chris has. All of his holiday ‘snaps’ are travel magazine worthy.

So there we go, its taken three months to finish this thing. But trust me, it won’t be the last post like this that I make. It will probably take me another three months, but you can expect to see names such as David De Groot, Jonathan Yeo and Clarence Tang in the next installment.