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Open source software for your photographic workflow

As I promised during last night's talk, here are the details about the software I mentioned:



A command line utility that can read and write the metadata written by the camera to the image files it creates. This includes many details about the date and time when the picture was taken, the photographic details like the make and model of the camera lens, the focal length, shutter speed, aperture, ISO setting, etc. Exiftool allows you to access, manipulate and even over-write this information. It is very powerful, but also rather 'techie'. The routine use I demonstrated was to use Exiftool to read the date on which the image was taken and to use that information to move the image file from a working directory where I download it from the camera to its eventual storage location within my long term image archive at the path '\PhotoArchive\<year>\<month>\<day>'. I do this by setting up a batch file called 'photo.bat' which contains the following command:

exiftool "-Directory<DateTimeOriginal" -d "F:/PhotoArchive/%%Y/%%m/%%d" -r "D:\work"

where 'D:\work' is the working directory to which I download the image files from my camera and 'F:\PhotoArchive' is my long term storage locality.



An open source "Digital assets manager" which I use to organise my photographs. I use it for two main purposes:

  • Tagging the images with keywords describing their contents, e.g. the name of the species depicted
  • 'Geo-tagging' - tagging the images with the location (Longitude, latitude) at which they were taken

This allows me to locate a given image quickly amongst the huge numbers I have archived (F\PhotoArchive currently contains 24,145 files and occupies 390GB of disk space, it contains digital images dating back to 2003). It would be very time consuming to locate a given image without using something like this!



Note: Free for 30-days, then asks (quite persistently!) for a donation if you continue to use it!

As its name suggests, a very fast viewer of the actual RAW file and histogram (NOT just the JPEG thumbnail stored in the image file by the camera). I use this to make my initial assessment of the images I have downloaded from the camera and to delete those that are not worth keeping. Fast Raw Viewer has a nice set of keyboard shortcuts that allow you to navigate through the images, one by one ([space] advances to the next image, [back-space] to the previous one), look at the images at 1:1 ([Z] zooms to 1:1, [Z] again goes back to fitting the whole image in the screen) and deleting the failures ([Del] 'rejects" an image - it creates a directory called "_rejected" in the folder where you are viewing images and moves the ones you reject to this folder). It will also do a "quick and dirty" raw conversion and load the processed image into your chosen photo editor, but I don't tend to use it for that.



This is an image viewer with some editing functions and excellent abilities to create slideshows. It has been around a long time and is capable of viewing images and artwork in just about every file format ever devised! "Out of the box" it supports and enormous range of formats, but many more exotic ones are available as 'plugins' which can be downloaded separately. It is useful as a straight viewer for either RAW or finished images, but I use it more often for two other purposes:

  • Ability to transform images from one format to another. Say I have processed a whole load of images to .TIF format (often asked for by publishers). But .TIF files are usually enormous (the .CR" file saved by my camera are around 20-24Mb, but saved to a .TF file they will typically be over 100Mb). So I want to save them as JPEGS for web-site use. Irfan view will do this as a batch job with full control over the size and quality of the final .JPG files depending on the use, processing a whole directory of images in one job.
  • Ability to build a quick slideshow (saved as an .exe file) from a set of images with full control over the order and timing and the ability to add music (MP3) and captions (derived from the file name).



For the latest 64-bit Windows version, go to the downloads page and download the latest 'Windows Vista/7/8/10 64-bit - fast' version listed. These are updated often with new builds.

This is the most popular RAW developer for the Linux operating system and is very fully featured. The user interface is rather like the Adobe version with sliders offering a very wide range of adjustments. The settings are kept in a .pp3 file alongside your RAW image file so you can revisit them as required. It is easy to set up your favourite image editor so that you can process an image and pass the result directly into your editor of choice.

GIMP - the GNU Image Manipulation Program


I prefer to get my builds from Parth's Place - scroll down to the "downloads" section at the bottom-right of the page and choose either the GIMP 2.8.14 64-bit build or the GIMP 2.9.5 64-bit Experimental build.

GIMP version 2.8 is the current stable release version and is recommended for most uses. GIMP 2.9 is the the next release (which will eventually be released as 2.10) under development - hence it is 'experimental'. I find it pretty stable and use it a lot. One of the biggest advances in the development version is that it supports images with more than 8-bits per channel (in fact up to 32-bits per channel or floating point representation). The 2.8 build includes UFRAW as the RAW developer and the 2.9 build, a new and rather interesting RAW developer called PhotoFlow (which is still a bit slow and buggy!). This means you can just drag and drop a RAW file on GIMP and the built-in RAW developer will deal with it - very convenient! Both of these builds also include the latest G'MIC package. If you download the 'vanilla' GIMP for Windows from the gimp.org site, you won't get any of these plugins and will have to install them separately.

G'MIC - GREYC's Magic for Image Computing


An incredibly powerful open source framework for image processing which provides a wide range of methods to convert, manipulate, filter and visualise images. It is packaged for use with several open source imaging projects including GIMP. It is included in Partha's builds or can be downloaded for installation into standard GIMP from here. You will find lots of 'bleeding edge' stuff here which is simply not available anywhere else. While away those long winter evenings experimenting with whacky effects you never even dreamed of!