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Discovering the Gwenview photo viewer

The Gwenview photo viewer is a great application and one of the reasons why I never looked back when I switched from Windows (Vista) to openSUSE (11.1). The application is installed by default when you install openSUSE with the KDE plasma desktop environment. But even if you have the GNOME desktop environment installed, I would recommend that you to install Gwenview. In my opinion, it is superior to the GNOME image viewer application.

Default applications often get overlooked. We just expect them to be there. But there are big differences when it comes to default applications. Take for instance the GNOME image viewer or Windows Photo Viewer. You can do a couple of basic things like zoom in, zoom out and move from photo to photo. You can put it in full screen mode and go back. And of course you can open, save, print and close photos. But that is basically it. Gwenview does a lot more.

So lets get to it. There are basically 2 ways to open Gwenview. The first way is to (double) click a photo in the Dolphin file manager (another great default application). The second way is to open Gwenview via the kickoff menu, by typing in the name in the search box or by looking at the Graphics section of the menu.

Gwenview contains a couple of elements. On the right side is a navigator bar that allows you to navigate to any folder on you computer. On the right are recent folders and recent files (photos) that you have accessed. So lets access one of these folders.

This will move you to the Browse mode of Gwenview. I have highlighted one of the cool features of Gwenview. The ability to easily move between photo folders. It is really great to be able to move between folders as quickly as this. No need to close the application.

Next is the View mode. You enter this mode by clicking on a photo. The highlighted section (below) in the top toolbar show the ability to move to the previous / next photo, to rotate the photo (by 90 degrees) counterclockwise / clockwise. The highlighted section in the bottom toolbar provides you with the ability to make the photo fit to the current window or zoom in to 100%. You can also use the slider to determine a custom zoom percentage.

Whenever you use the zoom feature, you have the ability to move around the picture using the navigator that will show just above the zoom controls.

Third is the Full Screen mode. This will not only show your pictures in full screen, but also gives you the ability to play your pictures as a Slideshow. When you move the mouse cursor to the top of the screen, a menu (black bar) will show various controls. The controls on the left side allow you to start the slideshow or to quickly scroll to a certain photo.

The controls on the right side allow you to adjust the slideshow settings.

A very neat feature of Gwenview is the sidebar. You can get access to this by either clicking on the sidebar button (left of the Add filter button), by pressing F4 or by going to View >> Sidebar. The sidebar allows you to navigate the folder structure of your computer.

The second tab of the sidebar allows you to see information on the selected picture. For this, you need to click on a photo. To see a lot more information, click on the More button that is highlighted in the picture below.

You can now scroll through a very long list of properties that your camera has captured while taking the photo.

Gwenview also allows you to do some basic photo editing. This is where the 3rd tab in the sidebar comes into play. Gwenview allows basic operations, such as mirroring, flipping, resizing and cropping the picture. A neat feature is the ability to remove red eyes in photos. You can also use Gwenview for some basic file operations, such as renaming, trashing, deleting, copying or moving a photo.

You think I have covered all the cool functionality of this application by now? No sir! (or madam!) Gwenview has multiple plugins. The first plugin I like to discuss is the print assistant. You can access this by going to Plugins >> Images >> Print assistant… The print assistant allows you to create (PDF) pages with multiple photos in various layouts.

Another cool feature is the ability to e-mail resized photos. This is handy when you want to share your holiday photos, but don’t want to send all these photos in full resolution (an 18 megapixel photo is about 14 MB in file size in Jpg). You simply select the e-mail program that you like to use (I selected Thunderbird) and then click on the option to Adjust image properties.

And one of the top features is the ability to import from / export to various web based photo applications. You can access this via the plugins menu. Or just click the Share button for the export options.

This covers all cool features of Gwenview. This application might be installed by default, but it is certainly not a basic photo viewer. It is a great application in its own right and a tool that I like to use time and time again.

Published on: 9 May 2018

Photography workflow on openSUSE

by Martin de Boer

I am a hobbyist photographer. Which means my needs for a digital photography workflow are modest. However, open source definitely makes my life as an amateur photographer easier. For many people, it starts with getting their first (digital) camera and just exporting their photos to their computer. And maybe they like to do some basic photo edits such as cropping and/or resizing. There are 2 open source programs that prove to be very helpful for beginners:

  1. Rapid Photo Downloader (fast download of photos to your computer)
  2. Gwenview (for photo viewing and simple edits)

After a while, the more aspiring photographers will like to do a bit more with their photo’s. Maybe have a program where you can manage your photo library. And some programs where you can do some more advanced photo edits. These aspiring photographers most likely still use the .jpg format. For these photographers I would recommend the workflow:

  1. Rapid Photo Downloader
  2. digiKam (for advanced photo management)
  3. Hugin (for stitching photo’s into panorama’s)
  4. Luminance HDR (for stitching HDR images)

By the time you get (more) serious into photography, the first thing that you need to know is that professional photographers are working with RAW image files. This is the equivalent of the analog negative film (pictured below). A RAW file is not (yet) a photo, but it contains all the information needed to export a digital photo. In comparison to the .jpg / .bpm / .png format, a RAW image file contains all of the metadata and sensor data that is captured by the camera. With the right program, you are able to adjust things like color and lightning.

Most people have heard of Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom. This is what most professional photographers use for their workflow. However, these programs are (at this time) not available on Linux. The current (29th April 2018) pricing for the Photography plan is € 12,09 / month (in NL) or $ 9,99 / month (in US). So this is currently priced at ~ € 145 / $ 120 a year.

Lucky for us openSUSE users, there are some very capable programs that are alternatives for these 2 well known programs. And these alternatives are free (and gratis) to install and use. Lets start with the alternative for Adobe Lightroom. The open source alternative is called Darktable. It can do a lot of things with your digital negatives. It has over 60 modules that can make multiple adjustments to your photos.

The open source alternative to Photoshop is called GIMP (the GNU Image Manipulation Program). Just 2 days ago (27th April 2018) GIMP version 2.10 has been released (1). This application can seem daunting to learn at first. The trick is to not try to learn everything at once. But to learn small edits that you can do with the program, one edit at a time. This is also something I like to address in future posts.

This brings us to the workflow for an advanced or professional photographer on openSUSE. I would recommend the workflow:

  1. Rapid Photo Downloader
  2. digiKam
  3. Darktable
  4. GIMP
  5. Hugin / Luminance HDR

In future posts, I want to go into more details on how to use these programs. From basic features to more advanced photo editing.

Published on: 29 April 2018