IMAGING July 12, 2012
The free RawTherapee program is ideal for editing RAW-format photos.
You can process photos on your PC to your heart's content without spending a cent.
IT'S that time of year when we turn our thoughts to winter frugality. What's the most we cheapskates can get for nothing?
For Windows and Linux, there are enough freebies to handle image viewing and editing that it is possible to process digital images without spending a cent.
Consider, for instance, the editing program Photoscape (photoscape.org). This application will do just about everything a person needs in the way of changing brightness, contrast, colour balance, size, cropping and adding a frame as the cherry on the cake. There are clone- and spot-removal tools, as well as red-eye correction.
RAW conversion in Photoscape is crude and makes shooting RAW pointless. But do not give up on the superior file-saving format - help is at hand.
RawTherapee (rawtherapee.com/free, for Windows and Linux, 32-bit or 64-bit) is an astonishing application that does just about everything Adobe Camera Raw or Lightroom can do. Some of the function labels are a tad arcane - for instance, what do you make of ''reweighting iterates''? - but a bit of suck-it-and-see helps comprehension. The download and installation are quick and easy, and you are not asked to disclose your grandmother's maiden name or even your email address to get it.
Anyone running Windows without installing Irfanview (irfanview.com) is missing out on an application that Mac pixies envy. Irfanview is a lightning-fast image viewer, editor and batch processor. Want to convert a folder of RAW images to JPEGs? It is done in a trice. Need to see thumbnails of image file types that Windows won't display? Just run Irfanview Thumbnails and they are displayed as big or as small as you want. The Windows and Mac native viewers are primitive by comparison.
The only competition for Irfanview for the Mac is XnView (xnview.com). This is a work in progress - the current version for the Mac is 0.51 - and it is not the smoothest of experiences. However, it beats Preview, the Mac's native viewer, hands down. XnView is also available for Windows and Linux in more-developed versions.
Galerie (tinyurl.com /5zkk7) is freeware for the Mac. This web photo-gallery generator works by drag, drop and click to create an HTML file for uploading to a server. This is a better way to showcase your photos than to have them overwhelmed in Flickr or Picasa. A good selection of templates allows users to customise the look of the gallery. Why not create your own ''cloud'', which, after all, is just a fancy name for a big hard drive somewhere else? It's not free but look at justhost.com.au and you will see that $2.95 a month buys you a domain name and all the cloud space you are likely to need. As far as we know, this is the cheapest way to get a domain with your own name in it. Ours is terrylane.info.