Revisiting “Darktable”

In a post last year, we discussed software packages for photography workflow and one of them is named “Darktable”.

I am always on the hunt for software and hardware that will give me optimal performance with minimal effort to help me through an intense product workflow. After looking into other software packages for my specific criterion, I came down to two options. Let me walk you through my list and then we will discuss the process to get here.

This is a list of basics that are crucial  to portrait, scenery and still life photography:

  1. Editing power for spot removal, elemental selection tools and layering work. This ability must either be a part of the software package or ability for integration with an editing program. [These things are important for manipulate and image without also misrepresenting anything within the photo.]
  2. RAW adjustment ability for exposure, white balance, contrast, color pushing and pulling, Tonal adjustments, etcetera.
  3. Cropping photos in batch files to certain common print sizes and digital device resolution.
  4. Quality assurance is a particularly important part. No customer wants a picture that is unfocused or has poor quality. So the program should accurately read and adjust the printing quality of a photo in dot per inch (DPI).
  5. Upload batches of files to personal web albums and other public albums on commercial websites or social media for advertising.
  6. Intuitive Workflow through the program is a great help while not “necessary”, is better to have functions and menus organized and accessible without multiple steps.

Software packages like Lightroom, Darktable and Aperture will not contain as powerful manipulation processes as Photoshop, GIMP or Corel Paintshop Professional. That is why I said it should at-least be capable of import/export integration with the manipulation software.

Now that I have explained my list of software package attributes I wanted, I will discuss Lightroom, Darktable and Aperture in our second blog post this Friday.

Post-Production Software – Part 4

MyPaint is a program designed for the creation of digital art or artistic expression on a digital image in .PNG; . JPEG or .ORA (Open Raster images). Do not worry if you do not understand the “Open Raster” terminology for a file format. This .ORA format will largely only be used by or applicable to professional artists.

For those that do use the Open Raster format, you will be interested to know that you can transfer .ORA images between GIMP and MyPaint.

MyPaint does not as much occur in the daily workflow of a photographer, unless there is a special ordered image to be styled or retouched as a painting.

Parents, this is a wonderful and inexpensive alternative to getting an artistic interpretation of your child’s professional portrait. Using one of your favorite photographs of you child, import the photo in .JPEG (.JPG is the same format) into MyPaint and use the different brushes for your desired effect.

Copyright of Foetoss Light 2012

I took a photo I had taken, imported it into MyPaint and used different brush style to compliment or fit the texture of the surface being altered. Now it has a feel or photograph and hand painting.

Artistically inclined users will find MyPaint intuitive. Be sure to look around the menus. There are many hot keys listed next to the operation in the menu. (The menus being “File”, “Edit” and so on.)

Capabilities: Layers, Brush Styles, Quick Tool Selection, Paper Texture, Single Key Hot-Keys and Quick Working Surface Positioning.

Strengths: The software is very attentive to each detail, including mouse cursor position, touch-pad scrolling and touch-pad selection. These three touch-pad specific things will affect your work by rotating your work surface, zoom in or out or move your work surface in the opposite direction of your mouse cursor’s position. Quite a surprise if you are not expecting the help.

MyPaint is a “light” program meaning that it is quick to respond and resourceful in its operations so as not to require large amounts of CPU time and Swap space. (Those are technical terms for “thinking power” = CPU time and “temporary memory” = Swap space.)

Weaknesses: While I have a hard time saying this, it is true. MyPaint devotes 75% of its power and ability to graphics pads like the Wacom tablets. It is still possible to use the program (MyPaint) without a graphics tablet, but it is not as fluid or convenient. This is not to make a case against the program. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to make a program as effective with both graphics tablet and touch-pad.

This is a strong program also young in the market as Darktable. MyPaint is currently on version 1.0. While I have not found bugs in MyPaint, I must confess I do not have the time or experience in the program that I would like.

Each program has its own capabilities, strengths and weaknesses just as we will choose them based on our use for the program’s applicable service.