Following a recent comment in the Leeds Flickr Group about the cost of things like Photoshop, Lightroom and other photo software, I thought I’d post a small article about some of the free alternatives that are available on the net.

First up, how about a Photoshop alternative?



GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Project) is a very well known open source image editor stuffed with an very extensive feature set. It’s a raster editor, which means that it performs operations directly on the pixels that make up the image (like Photoshop), and not a vector editor (think Illustrator). Unless you are working as a graphic design GIMP will meet jsut about all the image editing requirements you have. For more information and to download it visit:

Next up lets look at an alternative to Photomatix for producing high dynamic range (HDR) images.


Despite the rather strange name, this program provides you with tools to tone map and create HDR images (although please, no weird halos around everything!). It supports a range of HDR format and allows source images to be imported from a variety of formats – JPEG, PNG, PPM, PBM, TIFF(8 bit). Once again, this application is open source and you can find more information and download it from the following site:

Now how about organising your images and doing basic editting?


Produced by Google, Picasa is surprisingly good at allowing you to organise and sort your photographs. In addition it allows you to eliminate scratches & blemishes, fix red-eye, crop and produce basic video slideshows. Combined with Picasa Web Albums it allows you to upload your latest and greatest shots to the web to share with friends and family. For more info, visit:

Finally, rather than Picasa, were you looking for more of a workflow tool like Lightroom? Well you might just be in luck.

Whilst it’s early days, blueMarine is an open source attempt to replicate much of the functionality of Adobe’s Lightroom and Apple’s Aperture. At its most basic it is a photo browser, which can be explored in different ways (by folder, by calendar, by tags, by galleries). The aim of blueMarine is to fully support the photographic workflow, even before the photo shoot (for instance, trip planning supported by maps) and beyond print or archival. It support a variety of the more popular RAW formats although doesn’t yet provide the non-destructive editing features of some of its more costly competitors. Definitely something to keep an eye on! (

What’s your favourite freebie photo related application?

1 Comment

  • Roger 2009 Jun 03 / 15:13

    Thanks for this information Nick.

    Didn’t know about QTPFSGUI will definitely have to give it a try.

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