Tuesday, June 27, 2006

My Latest Endeavour: Developing a Digital Photography Workflow in Linux

I've been working quite happily in Ubuntu Linux lately. Of all the typical tasks I perform on my pc, there have only been two real deal-breakers for me in using Linux on a daily basis at home: Digital Photography and AutoCAD. The latter is something I am willing to forego for the time being - doing CAD work at home is not as high on the list as it used to be ;). Digital photography in Linux is something I'm tackling head-on as of late and I think I'm coming to grips with it piece by piece.

I've found that the barriers to using Linux for my digital photography are being knocked down bit by bit. Such is the relentless progression of the open-source community. If there is an itch, it will eventually be scratched. On the Windows side, I've traditionally used the following tools:

1. Canon's propietary software for downloading the photos onto my pc.
2. Canon's Digital Photo Professional for RAW image tweaking and conversion to jpeg (I shoot RAW most of the time).
3. Adobe Photoshop Elements 4 for image editing and for maintaining a catalog of my images.
4. Flickr for publishing photos for online display (with the side-effect of having a duplicate online backup of at least some of my photos.)
5. Blogger's photo upload for posting specific photos to my blog where I want to have more control than just linking to a Flickr version.
6. Sonic RecordNow for backing up images to DVD for offsite storage.

With Linux I'm finding that I have to really nail down a better-defined workflow but that is not a bad thing. Sometimes being forced to work more thoroughly on a problem can yield new and better results. Here's how things are shaping up at the present time:

1. F-Spot for importing RAW images from the camera to my hard drive.
2. UFRaw (and more importantly its batch mode) for conversion of RAW images to jpeg format.
3. The GIMP for image editing and tweaking.
4. F-Spot for cataloging and tagging of images into a library.
5. Flickr for publishing photos (see #4. for Windows above)
6. Blogger photo upload (see #5. for Windows above)
7. Gnomebaker for backing up images to removeable media.

Loose Ends and Comments:

  • I would like to find a better method of importing images from my camera in Linux. I'm sure there is one, but I currently can't find an application that will let me see thumbnails of the RAW files prior to importing the images from the camera. While F-Spot imports my .CR2 files, it doesn't show me thumbnails of these images *prior* to importing them.

  • While utilizing UFRaw in batch mode on the command line works flawlessly, it makes converting 15 out of 25 RAW images a bit of a hassle (it's much easier to convert one or convert all of them). A simple GUI with RAW thumbnail selection would be ideal here. Perhaps my interest in Python programming will come in handy here [cue big guffaw].

  • Currently UFRaw doesn't carry over the EXIF metafile information when it converts my .CR2 images to jpeg. I have to use a program called ExifTool to do this. I just realized this so the latest photos I've posted to Flickr are missing any EXIF information. (Everyone should realize that not all image editing software will keep all the EXIF info intact when editing an image, so sometimes when you edit a photo before uploading it to Flickr it might be missing some or all of the EXIF info. - something that might piss off Kent Newsome ;) )

  • Printing photos in Linux is still a big unknown for me. I'm a bit unsure about colour management and printer control within Linux. Then again, I haven't spent a lot of time on it.


I'm quite pleased with using Ubuntu Linux at home with regards to digital image workflow. There are still challenges to overcome. Call me a masochist, but I do enjoy the challenges. As a card-carrying linux newbie, please point out any corrections or helpful information that you might have or know about in a email to me or even better, post it in the comments.


Sybren Stüvel said...

You can use Digikam to get the images from your camera. Along with the appropriate kipi-plugin, it'll show thumbnails for the raw images.

Anonymous said...

Have you tried Rawstudio? Ver. 0.5 came out a month ago, and includes batch processing.

RichardQuerin said...

Yup. Currently I'm using Rawstudio 0.5. and its batch processing features. Thanks for the comment.