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Raw Therapee Becomes Free Software

Posted on | January 20, 2010 | No Comments

In case you have not heard (this was covered on Slashdot and I’m sure the rest), Raw Therapee is now available under the terms of the GNU General Public License (Version 3 or later). Other than wishing it was GPL V2 or later, I’m really excited about this.

Even though I have the option, I usually don’t shoot in RAW for two reasons:

  1. Ubuntu is my primary OS (after all, I love taking pictures, but programming pays the bills), RAW conversion is a pain there.
  2. The only Windows PC I have is my netbook, hardly suitable for selecting, much less correcting or converting.
  3. I know I said two reasons, oh well. I don’t edit most of my stuff, if its THAT bad, I learn what I can from it and try to shoot it again. Having RAW output accessible might discourage what has proven to be a really good habit. I treat DSLRs like film cameras, mostly, beyond the few minor corrections (or perhaps de-saturation) that I use.

Some really good things are going to come out of this. The original author will be able to spend his time doing what he really likes doing, working on the algorithms that make converting and correcting easier, while people who enjoy UI design can work on making the program friendlier and more intuitive. Since a large number of programmers are also amateur (or better) photographers, I have a feeling forks of this are going to start flying around like lightning. ┬áMaybe we’ll see a reduction in the HDR toilet bowl shots since these folks will have something more interesting to do :)

I use mostly F-Spot and the grumpy old GIMP for cropping and corrections, but seeing as a lot of wind is going into this new sail I intend to be a part of it. Wile I have nothing against the GIMP, its not exactly convenient for the minor corrections that I do. In fact, if I spend more than 15 minutes fiddling with something, I usually just trash it.

I’ve got about 3000 shots in my “crop, correct or otherwise fiddle with” folder, some of them in RAW. I’ll enjoy playing with this new toy over the weekend. At the least, if I’m taking something I know I’m not going to be able to shoot again, I could add a little safety bracketing it and saving RAW now that I’m a little more enthusiastic regarding the tools available to play with it. In fact, my two most common mistakes are forgetting to adjust color optimization or ISO. If Nikon made a 10 pound DSLR that featured 20 programmable knobs, I’d probably buy it.

I’ll post some before and afters over the weekend, I’m sure.

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