|Is HDR Photography Linux's Killer App?
||[Aug. 6th, 2006|10:36 am]
Linux will transform the computer world once it develops a true 'killer app' that will make our lives easier. All Linux needs is a little bit more polish, and it will become a true transformative force for both professionals and consumers alike.
Cinepaint is a program that almost reaches this elusive goal. Cinepaint allows photographers to create HDR images, without spending hundreds or thousands of dollars. It isn't perfect, but it is a leap in the right direction. A polished implementation of HDR technology could cause many photographers to try out linux and make the switch! A free professional set of tools to compete with Photoshop would cause tremors throughout the industry!
If you have never seen an HDR picture before, check out Flickr's HDR Page for lots of awesome images. HDR photos have taken the web by storm, and have provided countless amazing painting-like photographs for use as computer desktop wallpaper. A fascinating article about HDR photography can be found in the New York Times.
After reading the article, I was annoyed that the reporter only mentioned Mac and Windows programs that cost at least $100. No mention of freeware or Linux software. I wasn't too surprised though, because my last search a year ago for a Windows or Linux solution to HDR a turned up almost nothing. I had given up hope because it seemed that the software only handled RAW images, and my mid-range Canon SD500 only produces jpegs. And the software required an investment of $600. No thanks.
A search on Google didn't reveal any decent information, but a search of my favorite social bookmarking website, del.icio.us , turned up a great link on the
Serendipitous altruism blog.
Surprisingly, the website had a link to completely free programs to do HDR with on linux!
If you haven't installed Ubuntu Linux yet, check out my previous posts, and install it!
Once you have linux installed, you can install cinepaint, which has a built in HDR image creator. Once installed, go to the Toolbox window, go to the "File" menu -> "New From" -> "Bracketing to HDR"..."File" -> "Open". Then click on HDR...and ta-da! Its very simple.
Unfortunately, saving a file is a bit of a problem...as with everything linux, things aren't always polished...saving to tiff didn't quite work. It is possible to save to other formats though. What did work was taking a screen shot as a .png and then converting it to .jpg with The Gimp...which really isn't an elegant solution, but it worked.
So, with minimal effort, I was able to make HDR images for free. It was difficult to get the pictures to line up correctly without a tripod, as you can see with my first attempt:
About 2 hours later, I produced this:
When the public realizes how much money they can save by using free quality software on linux, a new revolution will occur. Cinepaint is a great example of a program that saved me over $600! Imagine how much money it can save society at large! And imagine how much more freedom people will have to create art without being tied into proprietary software and formats! Imagine a world where everyone has a computer that is a limitless canvas that can be used to create beautiful art! That utopia is not far away!