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Managing RAW Format Photos with UFRaw

 Video of how to tweak photos with UFRaw

Introduction to RAW Format

Most digital SLR (dSLR) cameras (-plus some of the more up-market compacts) allow you to take photos in what is called RAW format. Essentially this is the raw output from the camera's sensor, before any processing or compression has been applied. It is favoured by enthusiasts and professionals because it allows them to take the image, as shot, and manually tweak the shot to look it's best. In general, if you're someone who snaps away and does not spend time editing and enhancing shots on the computer before you print them out, then RAW format is of little use to you. Each digital camera manufacturer seems to use their own RAW output format, but most also support Adobe's .DNG (Digital NeGative) format as well.

Note: you can view a demonstration of how to tweak photos with UFRaw in our Video Section


Introduction to UFRaw

Assuming you do use RAW format, then upon importing your images to your PC, you'll find that Linux does not natively know how to display them. However, there is an application that allows you to both view and manipulate your digital negative: UFRaw. This seems to be the equivalent of the in Adobe PhotoShop Elements Camera Raw pre -processor. If you're familiar with Adobe PhotoShop Elements, then UFRaw will look familiar.

UFRaw can be installed from the Ubuntu Software Centre or directly from ufraw.sourceforge.net/Install.html:

UFRaw in the Ubuntu Software Centre

In Fedora, you can find UFRaw by searching for the string "ufraw" in the Activities area, selecting the checkbox and then clicking on the "Apply" button:

UFRaw in the Fedora Software Centre


Viewing RAW Files

Merely by installing UFRaw you will be able to view RAW images stored on your disc:

Raw Thumbnails in the File Manager

Double clicking a RAW image will take you into Shotwell - assuming you have it installed:

Raw Image opened in Shotwell


Editing and Tweaking RAW Files

If, instead on double clicking on your RAW image, you right click on it and choose:

Open With → UFRaw

Open with Shotwell Option

..then your negative will be opened by UFRaw:

Main Shotwell Window

Although this window will look intimidating to digital photography newcomers, it will look very familiar to Adobe PhotoShop Camera RAW users. This window basically allows you to tweak things like:

  • To increase or decrease the exposure, drag the Plus/Minus Icon slider to the left or right

  • To adjust the white balance, use one of the presets from the drop down box and/or then dragging the "Temperature" and/or "Green" sliders

  • Indicate which areas are over/underexposed in the photo (aka the blinkies) - i.e. where detail may be lost with the current settings

The majority of the time, the author uses UFRaw simply to tweak exposure. Occasionally (-for example if the camera settings were left on a wrong white balance), it is useful for correcting a colour cast.

Unfortunately, many of the graphs appear to be display only in the current version rather than the dragable type used in Adobe PhotoShop, but you can still pretty much do all an enthusiast would need to do in UFRaw.

If you need actually alter the image, UFRaw provides a little icon in the bottom right corner (GIMP Icon) to send the image to GIMP. This allows you to tweak exposure and white balance on the negative, then move seamlessly over to work on more detailed aspects of individual picture enhancement, such as shadow levels, sharpness or adding effects.


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