Photo on Linux

I've gotten into a photo mood lately. Both shooting editing and organizing. With it I've discovered some new useful tools as well gotten to know the ones I've used before better.

The first and foremost is digiKam its a photo manager. Its primary job is maintain a database of all your photos. Photo- managers are not something most people have used so it might need some getting used to. The interface for digiKam is quite intuitive and easy too pick up. And for the average photo junkie it will have everything they need. But it certainly lacks some features which I think a self respecting photo managers must have. Here are some things I wish it had:

  • Way to flag a photo as a different version of another. (They should share all meta-data such as tags and description)
  • Split into a backend/frontend for centralized photo management. (KDE4 version supports multiple database roots so this can be used as a workaround)
  • Multi user support. If your whole family goes on a trip being able to collaborate on an album is essential
  • Export/import album with all meta-data (so one can share a whole album with someone else)
  • Save export options of raw images along with raw image.
  • HTML album generator needs to include meta-data (description, tags etc..)
  • Better gallery2 integration
    • better support for raw images (does not scale raw on upload).
    • Automatically fill out gallery title and description using local info.
    • Ability to preview pictures on select.
    • Better error messages.

Most of these issues are not major, especially since some of these will be solved with the multi-root support of the KDE4 release. I started with the negatives but it has a lot of cool features also. One of my favorite is calendar view. Regardless of how your galleries are organized it will use the EXIF date tag to arrange all your photos by date. It really helps when organizing photos. Tagging is also very useful, you can tag any photo and then you can view all photos by particular tag really make it easy to organize data. DigiKam also has a slew of semi-functional export features such as gallery2, flickr, and picasa. These are provided through the kipi framework, they are nice but most require some more work to become completely feature- full and userfriendly.

Almost forgot, digiKam is also an excellent tool for downloading photos from cameras. Most cameras are not plain UMS devices so they need special software to fetch the pictures out of them. If you are on windows you can usually use the manufacturer software to do this, but on Linux this is a tad complicated. Unless of course you use digiKam -- which turns the process into a magic "detect [the camera type] and download" single click operation.

To share my photos with the world I use a web based photo-manager as a front- end to my local database. Its called gallery. I have tried this tool in the past and it was just too cumbersome to use (I ended up writing my own PHP gallery system). But with the kipi export plug-in to digiKam and the remote plug in to gallery life just become easy.

The last few tools are only important for someone who is seriously into photography. The first is a gimp plug-in called ufraw, its basically a frontend to dcraw. It allows you to preform advanced raw editing before you import your photo to gimp -- you can adjust almost any aspect of your raw file conversion (lightness, white balance, hue, saturation..). UFRaw is a bit daunting but you don't always have to use all the features it provides, lightness is probably the only one you'll have to adjust on a regular basis. Another tool is called exiftool its used to read and manipulate EXIF information in pictures. There are times where you can loose the EXIF data while editing a photo (IE when saving to png in gimp) and using this tool you can quickly clone the EXIF info of one file onto another using the -TagsFromFile option. It even supports batch mode, for example "exiftool -TagsFromFile IMG_%4.4f.CR2 *.png" will copy the EXIF information to all PNGs from its parent file using the file name as mapping (sample file names: IMG_2565.png IMG_2573_1.png IMG_2565.CR2 IMG_2573.CR2)

So that's it for now, shoot away. And if you like, you can check out my public gallery.

LILUG  News  Software  2008-06-17T23:19:55