Linux Tools For Serious Photographers
While most mainstream Linux distros come with photo management software, these applications are more suited for shutterbugs than serious amateurs and professional photographers. Fortunately, there are quite a few high-quality powerful Linux-based photographic tools that can rival proprietary commercial applications like Adobe Photoshop Elements and Lightroom. And using applications like Entangle, Rapid Photo Downloader, and digiKam, you can turn your Linux machine into a powerful darkroom for processing and organizing photos.
Common Photographic Tasks
Let’s start with a brief overview of common photographic tasks:
- While you’d normally use your camera to take photos, there are a couple of Linux-based tools that can be used to remotely control and trigger your camera. These tools can come in handy for exposure bracketing, focus stacking, macro photography, and so on.
- Before you can do anything with your photos, you need to transfer them from your camera to a computer, and then import them into the photo management application.
- Next, you have to sort and organize the imported photos.
- Once the photos have been neatly organized, you have to process the RAW files.
- Most of us share our photographic masterpieces with others. And in most cases, we publish photos using either one of many third-party photo sharing services, or upload photos to self-hosted galleries.
So what are the tools that can help you to handle these photographic tasks on Linux?
digiKam to Rule Them All
A solid photographic workflow is unthinkable without an application that can help you to import, process, and organize photos. While there are several such applications available on Linux (Rawstudio, Darktable, RawTherapee, etc.), digiKam makes a sensible choice for a number of reasons.
- Thanks to the LibRaw decoding and processing library, digiKam can handle a wide range of RAW formats. digiKam currently supports more than 400 cameras that shoot in RAW, and new models are added almost as soon as they hit the market.
- digiKam offers several ways to view your photos. You can use a conventional album view, browse photos by tags or by date, or display your photos as a timeline. digiKam also allows you to view your photos on the map, provided they have been properly geotagged.
- Speaking of geotagging, the application sports a separate interface for working with geographical data. You can use it not only to geotag photos, but also geocorrelate them. digiKam offers another useful feature called reverse geocoding. Using it, you can retrieve human-readable locations such as city, street, country, etc. for photos based on their geographical coordinates.
- The photo management application offers a wide array of tools that can help you to keep tabs on your photos. For example, digiKam offers tagging and rating features. In addition to that, the application sports the Color labels and Picks tools. The former lets you apply color codes to photos, while the latter can come in handy for quickly sorting photos.
- digiKam sports powerful filtering and search capabilities. The dedicated Filters sidebar in digiKam offers a simple yet flexible way to filter photos by specific criteria. For example, you can easily set up a filter that displays photos containing certain tags and have a specific color label.
- The application supports non-destructive editing and versioning. This allows you to tweak photos without affecting their originals. In addition to that, you can save multiple modified versions of the same original and use digiKam to neatly organize them as well as keep track of changes made to each version.
- When it comes to editing, digiKam offers a wide selection of useful tools. Besides the usual suspects like Curve and Level adjustment tools, digiKam offers exposure blending, lens correction, perspective adjustment, black-and-white conversion, and many other nifty features. Better yet, the application sports powerful batch processing capabilities which allow you to apply multiple editing and conversion operations on a set of photos.
- Finally, thanks to a comprehensive collection of bundled plugins, you can publish your photos on many popular photo sharing services like Flickr, Picasa, Facebook, SmugMug, and others.