Photography workflow on Linux

Recently I acquired a Nikon D7100 DSLR. With this nice camera I was able to shoot in RAW (uncompressed and unprocessed photo file format) and I needed a good editing tool for those files. Since these files come unprocessed from the camera’s sensor, I need to do the photo editing like setting the contrast, color tones, sharpness etc. on my computer. As you might guess there aren’t many programs for photo editing on Linux on the market. Some of them are open source and some proprietary. However the choice is very limited.

For my photography workflow I need programs for things like

  • organizing & minimal editing (eg. resizing)
  • editing RAW’s
  • creating HDR’s (high dynamic range)

Organizing & minimal editing

An open source tool for organizing photos is KDE’s digiKam. I can create albums for sets of photos, rate them and do some editing, resizing as well. I can look at pictures taken at different locations (GPS map) or dates (calendar) and the program sorts them accordingly. digiKam not only lets me view JPG but also RAW files and with this program I can easily download the pictures from my camera.

KDE’s photo editing software “digiKam”

Editing RAW’s

For RAW editing I currently use two. One is the proprietary program “Corel AfterShot Pro 2” and the second one is the open source alternative “RawTherapee”. Both have many features for editing RAW and I get really great pictures with both of them. Also a rating and sorting / tagging feature can be found in both.

“Corel AfterShot Pro 2” may have some better sorting mechanisms and algorithms for editing sharpness of the photo. However someone can also create awesome shots with “RawTherapee”. I for example find the queue manager better in the open source program. However I like them both and since “Corel AfterShot Pro 2” is also available on Linux for around 50€ I can and will use them both. Another thing is that a HDR editing feature will come out soon. This gives me a program for sorting, editing and creating HDR’s all in one.

Corel AfterShot Pro 2. Property of Corel.
Corel AfterShot Pro 2. Property of Corel.

Creating HDR’s

A real HDR is created by stacking several photos of different exposures together to create a final photo with high contrasts in shadow as well as bright areas. An open source tool for that purpose is “Luminance HDR”. I don’t have really used this program because it used a lot of RAM to stack a few pictures together. I have 8 GB of RAM, which should be sufficient though. Maybe “Luminance HDR” works on your machine better :)

Therefor I will be waiting for Corel to release the update for creating HDR’s in “AfterShot Pro 2”, because I didn’t find a better solution than “Luminance HDR” on Linux yet.


6 thoughts on “Photography workflow on Linux

  1. Not sure if you are (still) interested in another program for developing raw photos, but I use Darktable for quite some time now, combined with Gimp, and I really like it! Another program which does a good job, is Photivo. But the latter you have to compile yourself…

    1. I used Darktable also but I found it not very intuitiv. I know that Darktable is used quiet often but I prefer Rawtherapee :) I have been using RawTherapee lately because it has more to offer than Corel After Shot. However RawTherapee sadly lacks layer editing.

  2. Very interesting information! I have to find a way to get a nice workflow now when I am leaving Windows/Bridge/Photoshop, and I don’t know yet how to deal with NEF-files, metadata (information about where, when etc, needed for image agency, today I use templates in Bridge). The small adjustments I do in Photoshop I think I can do in GIMP.

    But I am a little worried about effective workflow, and dealing with metadata. :P

    Any ideas?

    1. Hey, glad you like the post :) However, I wouldn’t suggest you using GIMP for editing RAW files, it has a plugin but the adjustments you can make are very limited, I think. Gimp is an image editor which can only handle 8 bit color depth.

      From the RAW converters I have tried: Rawtherapee, Corel AfterShot, Darktable and I must say that I like Rawtherapee the most. It has quiet sophisticated features, good algorithms, the handling is very intuitive (more than Darktable) and its free :) I am dealing also with NEF files only which never gave me problems on Linux. You can also edit metadata in Rawtherapee too or use another tool on Linux. Give it a try :)

      I want to update the post anyway, are you interested in some information on a specific topic?

  3. Oh! Thanks a LOT for that post! Yes, I have understood that I need some of these to convert RAW-files, and I will give them a try! :D

    The metadata was the big question, but if I can handle that i Rawtherapee I might manage with Rawtherapee and Gimp.

    Can I make templates in Rawtherapee, to put in some “standerd-data” like my name and contact information, the image agencys information etc? Today I just use a template and hundreds of pictures will all be done in “no time”. (Bridge).

    And in Photoshop I often use scripts and actions to be more effective. Layers is useful too, but there are layers in Gimp?

    I would love to find a nice workflow in the Linuxworld, I like the idea with open source. :)

    Can’t wait to get my new laptop (made my decision today) and start trying everything, since my Windows-PC krached I’m using my daughters old laptop and a USB-installation with LMDE, works fine for internet-surfing but the computer is old and I can’t try all the photo-related programs on it! :P

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