I made a wallpaper for my Ubuntu 12.04 installation today.
Posts in category Gimp
This is a pseudo-HDR photo. I really don’t know much about HDR photography at all, but I figured I would give it a shot. I used just one image taken with my Nikon D3000 in RAW mode. I set the exposure for the lighter sky, because details can be brought out of the dark areas in RAW photos. I opened the image up with GIMP/UFRaw four separate times. Each time I changed the EV in UFRaw to be two steps apart and saved it as a new image. I had -2, 0, 2 and 4. Then I ran Qtpfsgui (worst name for a program ever) on the four images and used the Mantiuk method on them. This is the result. The landscape is not as bright as I would like, and there are some strange things going on in the clouds that I’m not really happy with, but overall I think it was an interesting exercise.
There are a lot of tutorials out there that tell you how to simulate tilt-shift photography (actually the technique is just tilt simulation, but I’ll call it tilt-shift since everyone else does) in Gimp. And those tutorials are okay, but all the ones I’ve seen take a rather simple approach that leaves some elements of the image blurry when they shouldn’t be. So here’s my way of making the best tilt-shift simulation in Gimp.
1. Image selection
A good candidate for tilt-shift simulation is a photo that is taken from high up and far away from the subject. While it’s not completely necessary, the end result will be better if you choose an image with this perspective. For our tutorial, I have chosen this photo I took of Arkansas Nuclear One from the top of Mt. Nebo.
2. Pre-editing the photo
Now you’ll want to do your typical photo editing, like adjusting colors and whatnot. One important step is to make sure your image is as sharp as possible. A particularly good method for sharpening is the high pass filter, but if you don’t want to install that plugin, you can use the less-effective Filters → Enhance → Unsharp Mask. If you use the high-pass filter, be sure to flatten the image afterward. Here is my photo after adjusting curves and sharpening:
3. Duplicate the background layer
On your layers palette, click the background layer and then click the duplicate layer button below the list of layers.
4. Apply a gaussian blur
Make sure you have the duplicated layer selected, then click Filters → Blur → Gaussian Blur. The photo I’m working with is 10 megapixels, so I’m going to set the blur radius to 50. Your mileage may vary. Just be sure to look at the preview window and choose a blur radius that you’re satisfied with. Here is what my photo looks like after adding the blur:
5. Add a layer mask
In the layers palette, right-click the blurry layer and choose Add Layer Mask. In the dialogue box that pops up, choose to initialize the mask to White (full opacity). For more explanation of layer masks, check out my tutorial: Everything you need to know about Gimp layer masks.
6. Apply a bi-linear gradient to the mask
From the toolbox, choose the Blend tool (I think it should be called the Gradient tool, but I digress). Set your foreground and background colors to black and white, respectively, by clicking the reset button right below it. In the tool settings, change the shape to Bi-linear.
Now place the cursor at the point in the center of the area you want to be in focus. Draw a vertical line to the edge of the area you want to remain blurred. To keep the line vertical, you can hold down the Ctrl key while you draw it.
This will create a gradient across the layer mask, with its darkest part in the center (where you started to draw) and fading to the lightest parts at both the top and bottom (where you finished drawing). It masks the blurred layer in those areas, making the sharper image on the layer beneath it visible.
For my photo, I have made just a very thin strip for my gradient. In this screenshot, you can see the black gradient on the layer mask thumbnail on the right.
A lot of tutorials skip the next step and go on to manipulating the colors, but that’s where they fail and this tutorial succeeds. To make a more realistic miniaturization of this image, the tower of the power plant needs to be in our depth of field, along with the steam coming out of the top. So we’ll take care of it in the next step.