Friday, 4 January 2008

Cooking with a view

Yesterday I embarked on one of my goals for 2008: to start learning a new software package for image manipulation. In one of those long computing sagas that are very boring even to those in the middle of them, I have been using Adobe Photoshop on a PowerPC for my images. The PowerPC is elderly in computer terms and cranky and I haven’t been able to rely on it for a while. I can’t afford to upgrade Photoshop to run on OSX on the newer iMac so I have plunged headfirst into the world of open source programs.

A relative encouraged me to try out GIMP. Wary of programs that are named after disabilities, I started out by discovering that GIMP stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program. I then had to find out what GNU meant. I now know that it means Gnu Is Not Unix and that Gnu is really Gnu/Linux or what most of us would refer to as simply Linux.

Between finding out this information and trying to do things with the programme, I started to hyperventilate. I am a long-time Mac user, lulled into security by the ease and intuitiveness of these computers and their programmes. On most Macs I am comfortable simply fiddling around with things until I work out how to do them, confident that I am unlikely to trash anything vital. Like my meat, I prefer my computing not to show from whence it came. The closest I have ever come to the innards of programs was using Pine on a Unix server when I first started using email in the 1980s. I am informed that Pine is a sophisticated, easy-to-use system so that makes my experience exactly zilch.

GIMP started out by testing my second goal of 2008 – to be more patient. It is a program that is smaller than its help manual, a fact that always raises a red flag in my mind. I spent a good chunk of yesterday trying to figure out how to resize some images. Having wasted time yesterday, today I started where I really should have – with the help manual. Within several minutes I had worked out how to do what I needed to do. The main problem for me is that the interface is such that you don’t always realise that you have done what you set out to do. Hopefully this will come with time and practice.

All this was to bring you the two images below of our lovely dishevelled hillsides, shaggy with grass. I looked up from cooking dinner the other evening to a break in the wind and greyness of recent days. It was one of those golden moments when your heart leaps with joy to realise the beauty of the place in which you live and the privilege of being able to glance out from your everyday activities to this …


2 comments:

DanteJ said...

GIMP is born of the Internet, and so is much of it's best documentation, although books are also available if you prefer.

Some online GIMP documentation:

http://www.gimp.org/docs/
http://www.gimp.org/tutorials/
http://www.gimpguru.org/

As a point of accuracy. GNU is not Linux. Linux came along after the GNU project was started and is released under the GNU Public License (GPL).

Most distributions of Linux include GNU utilities, but GNU pre-dates Linux.

Today they happily co-exist, making themselves available to all, even Mac users ;)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNU_Project

Blithe said...

Thanks for the info. I should have mentioned in a more recent post that the nifty little filmstrip for "Waterworld" was created using GIMP. Not an intuitive program but improving with acquaintance.