Lightzone Vs Gimp – quickie

Well I Downloaded Lightzone a few days back – it’s a free download for Linux users, I have been using Gimp and Cinepaint till now for most of my image based stuff, I had been told that Lightzone was a wonderful piece of software, so I decided to give it a go – it’s only about 25 Mb to download and it comes in a tarball (ready to run).

With the camera I was using I didn’t have any access to raw format, so for this quickie test I did my usual thing and immediately saved the images as TIFF files before I did any modifications on the files – this is to preserve as much data as possible during the editing process – editing in jpeg can be quite lossy.

I created two copies of the file in TIFF format and opened one in Gimp and one in Lightzone, I then spent about 5 min tweaking each file to make it clearer and more appealing to me – this isn’t scientific, and I have much more experience in Gimp than Lightzone. All I was looking for was a bit of an indication of which software would give a nicer quick result – I didn’t use any selections in this test – all of the changes were global, I could do much better in each software if I were to put in some time – this is a five minute test.

In Gimp I used curves, contrast, unsharp mask and hue saturation.
In Lightzone I used the zones (removed some and spread the remaining tones), sharpened, and adjusted the colour balance and the white balance.

I’ll just show some details of the image I used after I had finished with it in each piece of software, it was a bit of a tricky one – lots of reflections and shadows – all shown at 100%.

First the gimp for colour;

The reflections are kinda opaque, the colours are bright in the bright colours, but muted in the brown areas, I’m having a bit of trouble reading the reflections, they aren’t very clear.

Here’s the Lightzone;

Lightzone favoured the browns, it tended less towards the bright yellows and green, but the image is still warm and bright, the reflections are much less intrusive and can be read easier.

With gimp on stonework;

The result is very harsh when it was adjusted globally, I was aiming for the tones in the pond, so the tones on the stonework suffered, Again the intrusive blue reflection is a feature – it wasn’t blue, the sky was grey in real life.

In the Lightzone version the stone and concrete is much less harsh and more subtle, the overall effect is warmer and the reflection is again much less intrusive.

With Gimp on reflections;

Just looking at the reflections in Gimp and it’s real hard to see past them, the colours are bright in the pool, but the grey area’s haven’t warmed up at all – the overall effect is harsh.

With Lightzone the reflections are easier to see past and to read as well, the stonework has also warmed up considerably.

Here’s the full shot with Gimp

And with Lightzone.

Conclusion;

Well this wasn’t scientific, for one, The Gimp, for all it gets right is an 8 bit imaging program, it simply can’t see the colours that Lightzone can, so a direct comparison is flawed. Having said that – Lightzone has some features that the Gimp doesn’t, like for instance the ability to see and compress tonal zones (what it was named for) – this is a fairly sophisticated feature which can be used to control harsh lighting.
Lightzone also has better global colour correction.

I’m going to be using both frankly – gimp is great when working with Black and White images, it also has one hell of a lot more functionality when it comes to stuff that’s not so directed at photographs. But looking at these results I’m going to be using Lightzone for colour images in future.

Technical;
If anybody is curious – the file output by Gimp was fractionally smaller than that of Lightzone, but this was on the order of 50K – Negligible when you consider that both files were about 5.5 Mb – I used a 2MP camera to take the shot, it shot JPG (I suspect 8 bit) – so the original file wasn’t that great. And yes – Lightzone took longer to complete operations than Gimp did. I’m running V2 of Lightzone on an AMD Athalon @ 2Ghz w. 640 Mb ram running Ubuntu and it runs fine – though I’m looking at upgrading to 1Gb of ram at some stage.

Film shots

Well I got the first film from my Zenit developed, they were mostly underexposed or overexposed a little, such is life. I have found that the light meter does work since then, so I need to make a suitable battery cover for the camera, in the meantime I have been shooting with a pinhole and an Olympus Trip 35 which is older than me (it’s over 30, I’m not). So I’ll have some shots from those in the next few days.

I didn’t get the paper exposure & developing right on these, so they mostly were underexposed on paper, I just shot a couple quickly before leaving the dark room last week. Anyhow, here’s a cabbage tree, I’m not sure what happened to the bottom of it to make it fade away like that. I did a digital tone (sepia) to warm it up a little.

(This, by the way, is my first self-developed, self-printed photo ever – I had never brought a B&W film before last week).

I also shot a shot of some deadly nightshade which didn’t turn out so well, it was kinda underexposed, but it creates a mood, I’ll prolly get back to some of those shots and print them properly, this also got the digital sepia treatment. I quite like this actually.

And I fiddled that one a bit and added some green into it – I sorta like this too, it could work as an illustration for a book cover. Pretty messy though – I only spent a minute or two on it.

My next film should be a bit better – I really should grab an extra pack of photo paper and learn how enlargers actually work, I currently don’t have much of a clue.

Blurred shots ~ Yayee!!!

I took my new slr for a walk today to show it the sights, am I allowed to call it my new camera? it’s about as old as I am, it’s an old camera, but it’s new to me – kinda like having a new boyfriend I guess.

Anyhow, when I’d taken about 15 shots it started to rain, so I packed the camera away and instead I decided to take a couple of shots with my digicam just quickly to get some shots of what I was seeing. Well, I read a book the other day where a person had deliberately moved the camera on slow exposures to make trees drip and other such madness (very nice it was too), so on a whim I tried a few things with my digicam.

This was a shot of an autumnal tree in an otherwise green area, with a kinda wobbly vertical blur – I’ve upped the colours in curves cos I’m not a purist 🙂 I think it looks like fire.

Pine needles with another wobbly blur.

I forget the name of this plant, but it’s with a twist blur – rotated the camera. Nice how it captures the center – colours upped a little.

An off center twist.

And by this stage it was raining kinda heavily, you can get an idea how wet it was from this shot – the vertical lines are motion blur, but the reflections are water – motion blur makes it seem wetter than it was – put it this way – I still had an electronic (non-waterproof) camera out but the weather had reached the stage where the precipitation had ceased to be humorous.

I also got a couple of shots I’m gonna try hdr on at some stage.

Now for dinner, woot for mushrooms.

New camera

I have a new camera, it’s a Zenit TTL SLR, and it has a broken light meter, thus I need to guesstimate the exposure. For $15 I got the camera with a standard 58 mm F2 lens, the case, and a spare 135 mm lens that has fungus in it. I’m quite happy with it for that price. I have a B & W film in it now, so I’ll post some pics next week (assuming that I don’t completely blow it).
It’s quite a big camera, it weighs a little over a kilo, all steel and quite satisfyingly sturdy feeling.
Now I just need a short lens about 20 – 30 mm.

Out of focus shot through the viewfinder – as you can see it’s pretty dim. (and yes, I need to clean my windows)

This is in focus, I don’t find this shot as aesthetically pleasing.

On a side note, I went to the library today and as I left I got mobbed by about 20 seagulls, all flying all around me, it was like something from a Hitchcock film – except they weren’t attacking me and I couldn’t see the wires. So a couple of shots of seagulls.

More seagulls, you prolly can’t tell, but the nearest ones were about 4′ from the camera, I so need a zoom digicam.