How to Create Stunning Landscape Photos in GIMP

Thursday, June 30, 2011  at 6:58 AM
Learn the basics of Multi-RAW processing.  Hint: You do not have to use RAW files, a type of image file, for this tutorial (I used JPGs!).  This technique is best used on a photo that needs to equalize or edit two different exposures.  I use this technique most when I have taken a photo of a beautiful sky, but the land portion is too dark.  If you try to edit the photo as a whole, it will be to the detriment of the sky portion, so that is where Multi-RAW processing steps in!  Welcome to the twelfth article in my Photography Editing in GIMP series!

Previous articles:

Article 1: Easy Photography Editing in GIMP
Article 2: How to Crop in GIMP
Article 3:  How to Control Saturation in GIMP
Article 4: How to Control Contrast and Lightness
Article 5: How to Change Color Photos into Black and White
Article 6: How to Level a Horizon
Article 7: How to Correct a Skewed Perspective in GIMP
Article 8: How to Square All of Your Corners in GIMP
Article 9: How to Adjust Curves in GIMP
Article 10: How to Adjust Color-Specific Saturation in GIMP
Article 11: How to Blur a Background in GIMP

These tutorials use the free photo-editing program GIMP.  I am not being paid to endorse GIMP--I just really like it!
Multi-Raw Processing 

Take your landscape photos from this:

Palouse Fields by Danalynn C


to this:

Palouse Fields by Danalynn C


Step 1: Open the photo in GIMP and open the Layers Dialogue box.  Right click on the layer in the Dialogue Box (it will be named Background) and select Duplicate Layer.

Palouse Fields by Danalynn C

Step 2: I highly recommend you name each layer something different at each point, to avoid confusion later on.  I named the bottom layer Land (I will be editing this one for the land) and the top layer Sky (I will be editing this one for the sky.

In this process, we will end up editing one photo so the land looks great, editing the other so the sky looks great, then combining the two photos.  By selecting the eye button in the Layers Dialogue box (it's the button that looks like an eye), you can control if you see a layer or not.  When you click on a layer, you are controlling it and you can edit it as a normal photo.

Click on the bottom layer, the one named Land, and edit it to make the Land look the best possible.  I adjusted Curves, Saturation and Contrast, and the sky ended up being washed out and dull--this is fine!  Then, click on the top layer, the one named Sky, and edit that to make the sky look the best possible.  I increased the saturation of the color blue.

Palouse Fields by Danalynn C

Step 3: Select the top layer, the one called Sky, right click and select Add Layer Mask.

Palouse Fields by Danalynn C

Step 4: Make sure your top layer with the layer mask is selected and that the eye button for the background layer is turned off (is not visible).  In the regular Toolbox, select the Gradient tool.  This is the one that looks like a small rectangle with a gradient in it.  Then, draw a line on the photo starting at where you want the layer to be the most transparent and ending at where you want it to be the most opaque.  This line represents the gradient--everything before where you started the line will be completely transparent, everything after you ended the line will be completely opaque.

On my project, I started my line at the bottom of the photo because I am controlling the Sky layer and I want to be able to see "through" the fields at the bottom of this photo and see the land-optimized Land layer beneath.  I drew my line up to the horizon, showing that this area will be getting more and more opaque.  Everything beyond the horizon (the sky) will be completely opaque in this layer, which is great because this is the sky-optimized layer so I do not want to see through it to the dull Land-layer's sky below.

Palouse Fields by Danalynn C

Step 5: This is what it will look like.  If you are having problems seeing this, check if the eye button is turned off for the background layer (the Sky layer).

Palouse Fields by Danalynn C

Step 6: Click the eye button for the background layer to turn it back on--your photo should look fairly complete as both layers are visible together at this point!

Palouse Fields by Danalynn C

Step 7: The last thing to do is to compress all of these layers into one finished photo!  Under the Image tab, select Flatten Image.

Palouse Fields by Danalynn C

Step 8: Save and enjoy your Multi-RAW processed photograph!

Palouse Fields by Danalynn C
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First Days Abroad

Wednesday, June 29, 2011  at 6:58 AM
The first few days abroad, above all else, have been relaxing.  Chris and I have spent a lot of time with our host family, who are fantastic, and we have caught up on reading, sleep and planning.

 London House by Danalynn C
On a leisurely walk around the neighborhood.

After how hectic my last few weeks in the US were, and how busy Chris had been while he traveled to Switzerland, Italy, Morocco and Wales, I do not feel bad in the slightest as we take some time to slow down.

London Door by Danalynn C
Fun fact: Most houses in England do not have front door handles.  Instead, you must have a key to open the door.


Our week will speed up in a few days as we start to add in more activities and sightseeing, culminating with a move to a new country on Friday!   

London Neighborhood by Danalynn C
I love how close all of the houses are here!
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How to Blur a Background in GIMP

Tuesday, June 28, 2011  at 6:58 AM
Learn to replicate the look of SLR camera by creating an out-of-focus background and focused subject.  Welcome to the eleventh article in my Photography Editing in GIMP series!

Previous articles:

Article 1: Easy Photography Editing in GIMP
Article 2: How to Crop in GIMP
Article 3:  How to Control Saturation in GIMP
Article 4: How to Control Contrast and Lightness
Article 5: How to Change Color Photos into Black and White
Article 6: How to Level a Horizon
Article 7: How to Correct a Skewed Perspective in GIMP
Article 8: How to Square All of Your Corners in GIMP
Article 9: How to Adjust Curves in GIMP
Article 10: How to Adjust Color-Specific Saturation in GIMP


These tutorials use the free photo-editing program GIMP.  I am not being paid to endorse GIMP--I just really like it!
Create a Blurry Background

This post will show you how to take your photos from this (with an apparent wide depth-of field):

Village in Morocco by Danalynn C

to this (with an apparent narrow depth-of-field):

Village in Morocco by Danalynn C

Step 1: Open your photo in GIMP and select the Magic Scissors button (the button in the toolbox that looks like a pair of scissors).

Village in Morocco GIMP tutorial by Danalynn C

Step 2: The Magic Scissors tool works by forming a line at the point of highest color gradient--where the color changes the fastest, which is usually at a border.  Start by clicking a point on the edge of your object.  Now click a point along the edge, but slightly further along.  A line should be between them, following the edge.

Sometimes Magic Scissors gets it wrong.  This is fine!  Just click on the incorrect line between the two points that you have made and drag that line back to the appropriate spot.  This will create an additional point where you have clicked.  Then, continue working your way around the object.  I find that if the object has a sharp outline, such as a silhouette, I will need fewer points than if the object's outline is fuzzy or a similar color as the background.

Village in Morocco GIMP tutorial by Danalynn C

Step 3: Once all of the points have been selected, if you hover your mouse is over this original point then a symbol of two interlocking circles should appear.  Click here.

Village in Morocco GIMP tutorial by Danalynn C

Step 4: Left click inside your outlined shape to cause the edges to become dashed.  You may need to click twice. 

Village in Morocco GIMP tutorial by Danalynn C

Step 5: Right click inside your selected figure and select Edit, then click on Copy Visible.

Village in Morocco GIMP tutorial by Danalynn C

Step 6: From the Layers tab on top, click New Layer.  Nothing will appear to happen, which is fine.

Village in Morocco GIMP tutorial by Danalynn C

Step 7: Click paste (or click Ctrl+V).  Click "Yes" to all of the dialogue boxes.

Village in Morocco GIMP tutorial by Danalynn C

Step 8: To help us see what we are doing, we will open the Layers Dialogue Box.  Click on the Windows Tab, then under Recently Closed Docks select the Layers, Channels, Paths...option.

Village in Morocco GIMP tutorial by Danalynn C

You will get this:

Village in Morocco GIMP tutorial by Danalynn C

Step 9: With just a regular mouse (click on the Toolbox icon with four arrows), click on the part of your new layer that is not inside your selection.

Village in Morocco GIMP tutorial by Danalynn C

Step 10: In your Layers Dialogue Box, click on the layer titled Background.

Village in Morocco GIMP tutorial by Danalynn C

Step 11: Now you are controlling only the background and you can edit it as a normal image.  Whatever you do will not affect the object you outlined, since you have pasted a copy of that object into the foreground (the next layer up).  If you wanted to make the background black and white, but keep the subject in color, you could now do that to this background layer by simply following the steps in my tutorial for turning images into black and white. However, this tutorial will show you how to blur the background.  To do that, select the Filters tab, then under Blur click on the Gaussian Blur button.

Village in Morocco GIMP tutorial by Danalynn C


Step 12: The box that popped up lets you control how much blur you want.  I usually just accept the default blur and then blur it again if it is still too crisp, but if you know that you want a lot of blur then you can control that via the Blur Radius option. Increasing the Blur Radius to 10 instead of the default 5 will give you quite a noticeable blur.

Village in Morocco GIMP tutorial by Danalynn C

Step 13: For most photos, be careful not too blur too much!  If you do, it will look like you just cut and pasted an image onto a fake background.  This is why I tend to do my blurs only a bit at a time.  For this image, I used the default Blur option twice.

Village in Morocco GIMP tutorial by Danalynn C

Step 14: Save your final photo after blurring the background.

Village in Morocco GIMP tutorial by Danalynn C
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Neighborhoods in London

Monday, June 27, 2011  at 6:33 AM
Chris and I are staying in a delightful neighborhood just out of central London.

London backyard Animation  by Danalynn C
The backyard, as seen from the back porch of the house we are staying in.

London Street Sign by Danalynn C
I love the variety in street signs in London!

Neighborhood School by Danalynn C
A school just down the road.

London House with Flowers by Danalynn C
Many of the houses have hanging baskets of flowers.
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Tips for Cheap Plane Tickets

Friday, June 24, 2011  at 6:58 AM
Since Chris and I rarely pay for lodging while traveling, the bulk of our costs usually come from transportation.  Today is my travel day!  Since I will be spending the next 24 hours going from airport to airport, let's look at some tips and tricks I have to getting cheap plane tickets!

Morocco Donkey by River
Flying: maybe a bit faster than taking a mule in Morocco...

1. Fly Hub to Hub: When flying long distances, try to fly hub to hub and then take local transportation or a smaller airline to the closest location.  Hub to hub tickets can be found for rock bottom prices if you look--I once paid $450 round trip for Seattle, USA to London in the summer. 

2. Use a Rate Tracker: I try to watch the plane prices for at least several weeks to get an idea of how they fluctuate and I LOVE taking advantage of rate trackers, where you can see graphs of the average and minimum airfares for a certain trip over the most recent months.  Most discount airline websites have a rate tracker function, even though you may have to search for it. 

3. Find the best website for the ticket you want to buy: I usually find the best overall deals, especially for the long-haul flights, at Kayak, but not all airlines show up on the flight search websites such as Kayak, Expedia or Orbit.  For smaller, local budget airlines, such as EasyJet and RyanAir for flights in Europe, I check out their own websites.  I also watch the promotions--especially with the smaller airlines, you can sometimes get great deals.  Chris once bought a ticket from Switzerland to Turkey for $20 USD and with big promotions you can often find tickets for sale only for the cost of tax (often around $10).

4. Compare different types of transportation: When traveling shorter distances, always compare plane prices to train/bus/car.  Sometimes planes will be unexpectedly cheaper (it is cheaper to fly from London to Toulouse, France, than to take a train), and sometimes you will have to weigh the benefits of quick plane travel to cheap alternative transportation (what I saw in Thailand).
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How to Adjust Color-Specific Saturation in GIMP

Thursday, June 23, 2011  at 6:58 AM
Learn to control saturation for specific colors!  Want to make the green fields jump off the page, but you don't want the red dirt to be color-saturated as well?  This tutorial will show you how.  Welcome to the tenth article in my Photography Editing in GIMP series!

Previous articles:
Article 1: Easy Photography Editing in GIMP
Article 2: How to Crop in GIMP
Article 3:  How to Control Saturation in GIMP
Article 4: How to Control Contrast and Lightness
Article 5: How to Change Color Photos into Black and White
Article 6: How to Level a Horizon
Article 7: How to Correct a Skewed Perspective in GIMP
Article 8: How to Square All of Your Corners in GIMP
Article 9: How to Adjust Curves in GIMP

These tutorials use the free photo-editing program GIMP.  I am not being paid to endorse GIMP--I just really like it!

Control What Colors Are Enhanced

Take your photos from this:

Saturation Before

to this:

Village in Morocco by Danalynn C

Step 1: Open your photo in GIMP and under the Colors tab click on Hue-Saturation.

Village in Morocco by Danalynn C

Step 2: If you try to increase the overall concentration, the clay walls become much too yellow.

Bad Saturation by Danalynn C

To choose what colors you want to be saturated, use the color wheel above the sliders.  Click the dot next to the color of choice (here, blue) and then when you use the saturation slider it will only control the saturation for that color. 

Village in Morocco GIMP Tutorial by Danalynn C

Step 3: You can make changes to the saturation of multiple different colors if you like, you do not even have to close the dialogue box in between.  If you ever want to control the saturation of all the colors, as you started, just click on the Master button.  In this photo, I increased the saturation of blue, cerulean (light blue) and red.

Village in Morocco GIMP Tutorial by Danalynn C

Step 4: If you open the Curves dialogue box, under the drop down Channel menu (it defaults to Value) you can select the different colors and control them via the Curves graph instead of controlling the overall saturation of the color by the slider only.

Village in Morocco GIMP Tutorial by Danalynn C

Step 5: Save your final image with increased saturation of select colors.

Village in Morocco GIMP Tutorial by Danalynn C
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A Photo-Essay: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Wednesday, June 22, 2011  at 12:34 AM
Last summer, Chris and I took a fabulous, magical (excuse the pun...) trip to see the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  Let's relive our time there via photo-essay, shall we?

Universal Studios by Danalynn C
Outside the entire park!  The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is one of the worlds inside Universal Studios.

Waiting in Line by Danalynn C
Waiting in line.  We enter Universal Studios before the Wizarding World is even open, so we have to wait outside for a bit.  Totally worth it!

Entering Hogsmeade by Danalynn C
The doors open, we pass under the sign for Hogsmeade!

Hogsmeade by Danalynn C
The shops loom above us, covered with fake snow--surreal in the stifling heat of Orlando, Florida.

Hogsmeade Shop by Danalynn C
Not all of the storefronts are functioning stores, but it doesn't matter at all--they are so cool to look at!  

Hogsmeade Sign by Danalynn C
Time to go to Hogwarts! 

The Hogshead by Danalynn C
Where to go for lunch?  Perhaps I'll pop into the Hogs Head? 

The Three Broomsticks by Danalynn C
As the afternoon crowds become overwhelming I decide to hide out in the Three Broomsticks and grab a butterbeer.  

Honeydukes by Danalynn C
The shops all light up as the daylight wanes, and my favorite window display is the one for Honeydukes.

Hogwarts at Night by Danalynn C
We pass by Hogwarts again on our way out of the park--exhausted but so satisfied! 
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