GIMP Trouble

Post-processing digital photographs has always intimidated me. I use GIMP (for Mac), because it is free and I think it is a good program. It does however cause me great anguish at times. I was looking forward to the 2.8 build because it runs natively in OS X. Unfortunately, I didn’t get far with it because, aside from getting frequent crashes, the color rendering is very puzzling to me. Working from the same RAW files I get differently rendered outputs. The above pair have both been imported through ufRAW with the same settings, contrast and saturation unadjusted, into GIMP 2.8.2 and 2.6.11 respectively. Same for the two below, save for equal adjustments to contrast and saturation.

It’s somewhat more pronounced in the bottom pair, but the colors appear more saturated in the 2.8.2 images.  What’s worse is that I can’t even get a consistent rendering from ufRAW to 2.8.2 — it gives a surprisingly different result. I decided, well, maybe I should try another program, so I put the wasp through Nikon viewNX2 to eliminate ufRAW from the picture. I don’t really know my way around that program (and exporting a jpeg seemed terribly hard to do for such a simple task; I’m sure I was missing something), but I came out with an image, and without doing any editing, I simply opened it in each respective version of GIMP. And the difference is still there, as except now 2.6.11 is more saturated:

Comparison of color rendering of single image in GIMP 2.8.2 & 2.6.11 (image processed in viewNX2)

Comparison of color rendering of single image in GIMP 2.8.2 & 2.6.11 (image processed in viewNX2)

Naturally I am suspecting this to be a color management issue. I look at the preference for each GIMP version and the only differentiating settings were on the “Monitor profile” (jackpot?!) and “File Open behavior”. I aligned each to the same settings, “sRGB profile” and “Keep embedded profile”, but the color difference didn’t change. As you can see below, the final image as rendered in [my Firefox for Mac] browser looks like the 2.8.2 version. I’m not sure how big of a problem this is in the grand scheme of things, but I find it bothersome, especially because I may want to abandon ufRAW for other reasons (though I do like how it integrates with GIMP). The only thing I can think to try (but am too fed up with at this moment to figure out) is to find a way to import the system color profile directly into 2.6.11 as it was missing.

thread-waisted wasp

Image post-processed in Nikon’s viewNX2 program

Overall, I am pretty happy with GIMP. And I wouldn’t waste time on this if it weren’t that GIMP 2.8.2 runs much more erratically plus ufRAW’s strange color switch into GIMP; I would use 2.8.2 and bid a fond farewell to the older version. But, alas.

As it stands, I do not do much post-processing (though I’m sure more of it would help some of my photos), so the RAW editor/importer seems as important as anything. I did not really care for the interface of viewNX2. I also tried darktable, another open source, free program, which I also found hard to navigate. I will have to give them better chances, but I am hoping to smooth out my ufRAW and GIMP problems instead. This stuff always makes me feel like I’m starting from scratch. Any suggestion or advice is welcomed!

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