Author: Klaus Goelker
Publisher: Rocky Nook, 2011
Aimed at: Photographers wanting to use GIMP for image editing
Pros: Good introduction to an application that can be confusing
Cons: Poor organization
Reviewed by: David Conrad
An introduction to using well-known open source image editing software that is provided on a disc bound into the back of the book.
The key thing about this book is to pay attention to the "for Photographers" part of the title. This is an introduction to using Gimp 2.6 - the well known open source image editing software. If you don't know it then the good news is that there is a disc bound into the back of the book that contains the application ready for you to install.
The majority of professional photographers use PhotoShop for their editing needs and many amateurs also use either PhotoShop or its much reduced baby brother, PhotoShop Elements. Using Gimp has two big attractions - it is free and it is powerful. Because it is open source software it has attracted a lot of enthusiastic coders who have added things to it that would have been deemed too complex to use in a polished package such as PhotoShop.
Unfortunately you may have noticed the use of the term "polished" and it is true that by comparison there are some elements of Gimp that are a bit rough around the edges.
The book starts off from the very basics and discusses the idea of pixels, color models and importing pictures from your camera - including a discussion of raw format. Chapter 2 is where you actually start using GIMP. At first we look at simple things like rotating, image resolution, cropping etc. Then we look at the subject of scanning including the problems of scanning an image that has been screened and how to remove Moire. I was surprised to find this topic so soon in a book on digital photography. We move on to look at touch-up work - color correction, removing spots and dust etc and finally using filters. The descriptions are all in terms of do this, or try this and rarely go into what the different controls do. The book does tell you typical settings for the controls but not in a way that would allow you to use them intelligently.
Chapter 3, note that each chapter is very long and divided into sections, covers masks and layers. After telling you how to create an accurate mask the first topic covered is manual red eye removal. Then on to working with layers. This is a very lightweight introduction to organising your work with layers but it is enough for the beginner. Oddly we then have a section on dealing with under and over exposure - a topic that is so important that it is usually dealt with earlier. Next we return to more touch-up work - converging verticals and improving a sky. Then we look at adding text and creating frames. The chapter finishes with a collection of special effects and manipulations - extracting objects, shadows, filters for lighting effects, 3D, cross-fading, collage, and finally HDR which is a subject worthy of a book in its own right.
The final chapter is called, somewhat mysteriously "Working with black-and-white and color images" - and I thought that's what we had been doing in the earlier chapters. This is mostly about working with grayscale images and colorizing them.
Finally we have an appendix listed as Chapter 5 which deals with all sort of odds and ends, the IWarp filter, tips, notes on Gimp 2.8 and so on.
Overall this is a reasonably good book to get the beginner started with Gimp, which can be a confusing application with so many icons and buttons it is tough to know which one to click. It has two main failings. The first is that it lacks detailed organisation. It roughly follows what you need to know but goes off into sometimes related tangents. The second problem is that it fails to explain the deeper workings of the GIMP filters and effects - but this perhaps isn't unreasonable in a beginner's book. The illustrations and examples go a long way to make up for its defects and if you are a beginner and want to try photo editing using GIMP this isn't a bad place to start.