A Free and Excellent RAW Photo Processing Suite: IrfanView, UFRAW, and GIMP

cowboyHere are the steps to set up a free and excellent raw photo-processing suite, using IrfanView to sort and write IPTC information, UFRAW, a plugin to read and edit RAW photos, and GIMP, a poor man’s Photoshop.

I used this suite to edit the photo of my grandson, at left.

Here are the steps to setting up this suite of programs, written for Windows users:

Download Irfanview and its plugins and install both.

Download UFRAW and install it.

Download GIMP and install it.

Configure IrfanView
Open Irfanview. Under the Options menu, select “Properties/Settings” and then “Miscellaneous.”  In the “Set External Editors” section, browse to your GIMP .exe file.  You will find it in this path: C:\Program Files\GIMP-2.0\bin\.  Once you have located it, click the OK button.

There is one more setting to adjust in IrfanView:
Again, under the Options menu, select “Properties/Settings” and then, “File Handling”. Put a check mark in the box that says “Jump to the next file after deleting/moving”.  Finally, click on the OK button.

Configure UFRAW
Now open UFRAW.  In the Places column to the left of the UFRAW window, navigate to a folder with raw photos in it.  Select one of these raw photos and click the “open” button.  Next, click on the “options” button at the bottom right of the UFRAW window.

Erase whatever may already be in the “remote Gimp command” window and replace it with:
C:\Program Files\GIMP-2.0\bin
Then, click on the OK button.

Now you’re ready to put this free and excellent raw photo processing suite through the paces:

1.  Use IrfanView to sort your photos for quality

Open Irfanview. Click on the yellow folder icon at the top left of the window. Then, in the browser locate the folder that contains the raw photos you have downloaded from your camera.  Select the photo at the top of the list and click on the “open” button.  You’re now ready to use IrfanView, a snappy sorter, to weed out the photos you do don’t want to keep.  Pressing the right arrow key will show you the next photo in the folder. Pressing the delete key deletes the photo you are viewing and automatically opens the next photo for viewing.  When you get to the last photo in the folder, IrfanView will prompt you to ask whether you want to remain in that folder or move to another.  Click the “use folder” choice.  This returns you to your first keeper photo in the folder you have been using.

2.  Use UFRAW for basic raw photo adjustments

Open this photo in UFRAW by holding down the Shift key and pressing the E key.  You are now looking at the raw photo in the UFRAW editing window.  Use the buttons and sliders to make basic image adjustments.  Hovering your cursor over a button tells what that button controls.  When you are finished making basic adjustments, click on the OK button at the bottom right of the window.

3.  Make fine-tuning adjustments with GIMP

Now the photo will automatically open in GIMP, for final editing.  GIMP will permit you to make many more fine-tuning adjustments, such as dodging and burning, blurring backgrounds for portraits, correcting lens distortions, etc.  There are oodles of tutorials and help files on the Web for GIMP users.  If you don’t know how to accomplish what you want, Google some keywords and you’ll likely find what you need.

When you have finished your GIMP editing, under the File menu select “save as” and choose the format you wish.

4.  A final step:  tagging your photos with IrfanView

To tag your photos with tags that will remain with the photos at the meta-data level, use IrfanView for writing IPTC information to them.  You’ll find instructions for this step in my previous CyberKenBlog post: Using IrfanView to View, Sort, and Tag Photos:  Detailed Steps.

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