GIMP 2.6 for Photographers
Today we review “GIMP 2.6 for Photographers”, a book written by Klaus Goelker and published by Rocky Nook in 2011.
Books on software generally fall into two categories: references and user manuals. The first kind is what I call “traveling across menus and dialogs”. While references are extremely useful as reliable source of complete information on some tool or a filter, personally, I have a soft spot for user manuals that refer to workflows.
Second edition of “GIMP 2.6 for Photographers” written by Klaus Goelker and published by Rocky Nook is one of such books. Instead of explaining each and every menu item it appeals to a particular cast of GIMP users, photographers, and explains solving various tasks, from correcting colors and retouching to complicated use of masks and layers.
The complete contents is too long to quote, so let me list just the chapters.
Chapter 1. Basics
Chapter 2. Using GIMP: Correcting and Touching Up Your Images
Chapter 3. Using Masks and Layers—Painting, Filling, and Color Tools
Chapter 4. Working with Black-and-White and Color Images
Chapter 5. Appendix
Less than 1/10 of the book is devoted to basic information on digital imaging, and the rest of the book is packed with useful tips which is something I really anticipated. Elements of a reference manual are in place, but they are considerably toned down.
The most important thing, however, is that in most cases Klaus delivers convincing editing techniques. The book is written by a person who is clearly passionate about photography and has been using the techniques long enough to know them backwards and forwards, with all sorts of subtleties.
Another thing I liked about the book is that the author uses terminology with care and describes best practices. After numerous GIMP tutorials “How to make HDR images with GIMP” reading a 100% correct information on what HDR is and why GIMP cannot yet handle it natively feels like a revelation.
Where applicable, Klaus explains how to make an imperfection in a photo not happen in the first place. That’s exactly the kind of practice I would love to see widely adopted by book authors.
There are in fact very few serious mistakes made in the book. Some techniques definitely made me raise the eyebrows, such as use of Oilify filter to mask camera noise or Supernova filter to “freshen up” a landscape picture. On the other hand, I’m guilty of using some questionable non-standard techniques myself, so who am I to judge?
The explanation of Desaturate color tool options in the 4th chapter somewhat puzzled me, because difference between methods is actually very obvious (and it's a call for an article on my side, I guess), while use of Color Mixer for desaturation could be given more attention which it really deserves.
Some factual information about GIMP in the Appendix is incorrect which could be solved if the author chose to contact developers team for cross-checking (I blame it on a technical editor anyway :)). The mistakes in question are not terrible, and you are taking it from a perfectionist, so don’t be scared.
I also found some of the explanations on UFRaw in the 2nd chapter a bit off. E.g. base curve is rarely edited, because it’s a rather low-level thing that deals with unique camera color characteristics. That is, if you ever edit it, usually you do it once in a lifetime. For tonal adjustments of particular scenes the tone curve on Corrections tab is used instead.
Let’s sum it up.
Precision of instructions: 5/5 Ostensiveness of illustrations: 4/5 Contemporary trends relevancy: 4/5
As experienced user of GIMP I’m attracted by advanced information on using the application. I would still recommend the book to people who are making their first steps with digital photography and GIMP. Yet even if you know your way around the tool, you will still find “GIMP 2.6 for Photographers” full of useful hints and advices.
A word of warning is that the book is primarily targeted at photographers who do architecture, landscape and street photography. This has probably something to do with Klaus being an architect by contract. If you are looking for a book that deals mostly with portrait photography, you will probably have to look elsewhere (essential information on retouching is in place though).
The books comes with a DVD that contains sample images, installation packages of GIMP for major operating systems as well as some freely available 3rd party software.
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Rocky Nook, 2011