Looking for a new tool
I’ve been away for a while. Away from almost everything, except my job: the family cash cow. Of course I’ve been travelling a lot: Sweden, Norway, UK, Belgium (yes, low-cost transfer flights offer this additional chance, today) … but this is not the core reason for my absence. It’s been like entering a tunnel and being concentrated on my duties until I was out on the other end. I realise this only now that I’ve found an hour to sit on the couch in my living room and watch on TV at the final phases of the last stage of Giro d’Italia. Yet, while I’m watching at the riders to climb on pristine white snow covered valleys of the Italian Alps I have the computer fanning and puffing on my laps.
Beside family issues and a diet I should start before it’s too late, I’m thinking to my next challenge and to the residual chances I have to succeed.
Facts are that, after several years spent using my regularly licensed installation of PhotoShop, the cost reduction program that my company is waging struck my workplace and left me without a digital darkroom.
So, under suggestion of my colleagues from the SW team, I tried an installation of GIMP (www.gimp.org) and see how it feels working with this new open-source and free image manipulation tool.
The results of my first attempts have been shocking and terrifying. After moving around for some time with the mouse pointer into the menus and the popping up windows and trying some elementary steps on a sample image I felt like a fish fallen out of the bowl. I could witness that everything was there under my eyes but to some extent it was looking different, with different ways of getting to the same results. All the automatisms acquired with years had been blown away in a matter of minutes. Uncertainty ruled on the tips of my fingers.
It didn’t take me much to figure out that the first thing I had to renounce was being able to sit and develop a toned black and white image with the same easiness I used to work in PS. As a first instinctive reaction I franticly opened a browser and looked for GIMP and the ways it offers to develop a B&W image and from that a split-toned image and eventually a duo-toned version of this. I was actually wishing to find a magical hidden button somewhere but I was soon disenchanted. I got instead a multitude of articles were the basics of B&W conversion and toning were explained in details, but all were addressed to people who have plenty of time to invest on self-teaching. Not exactly the kind of user I’ve recently become.
As a second desperate chance to play I remembered I had a copy of PS Elements somewhere in a drawer: one of those DVDs I got in my D300 and D40 kit boxes, along with tons of useless adaptation cables. After plugging the disk into the reader I discovered that I needed a user key that I wasn’t able to retrieve anymore. Hence, I turned to see if the online version of PhotoShop (www.photoshop.com) was good enough for my aims. Needless to say that this desperate trial did not satisfied my ambition as well and I had to renounce to duo-toned once again.
So I had to go back to GIMP as it seems to be the only reasonable chance I have to put myself back on track. Beside this, I like the idea of the free software foundation and, for free, I can’t actually complain for any misalignment with the reference tool. It’s just that time is short and I can’t wait for the day when I’ll be back, up & running.