Monday, May 31, 2010

Family Ties

I do have interests outside of Linux and photography. It is amazing how often that I can work the use of these into my other interests. I have started the obsession of looking for my ancestors, pushing my way down the root system that is my family tree. There are many Free software programs available to manage the collected data. As a Gnome user I have chosen Gramps, although I believe that is is good for anyone using any desktop.

Gramps is just a purpose built database with a GUI. The GUI is naturally tailored for the job in hand, recording data about people, their relationships with others and their environment. Gramps is a very professional program. I have seen few programs that have such extensive facilities. It is a credit to the bizarre method of software development that is Free Software. It has a nice user interface, many features use its own pluggin system. Best of all it just works allowing me so many options to view my family history that I get lost at times! I have looked at commercial options and they can be good too. I have not yet seen one I like as much as Gramps, and all the ones that were worth any cash would have required me to switch to Windows, not an option in truth.

Photography does come into it. I need to record details of people. Photographs always help us remember and a family history should be just that, a history. Bearing this in mind how have I used it to date? I have a few old photographs of my great grandparents, these need retouching. I have taken a few trips to places my ancestors live. I can record at least the current aspects of these location. Some of my ancestors come from a small Nottinghamshire village of Tuxford. I have a picture of Tuxford Parish church, where some of my family marriages (see the photo attached). All this to tell you about my latest find, we are getting there.

Tuxford Parish Church is a nice old church, it dates from the 12th century. It has a large cemetery but it is difficult to get a good view of the church without a building or tree getting in the way. I was limited to my 24mm wide angle lens. My best shot of the whole church had major perspective distortion. Easy to fix in the Gimp, or so I thought. I had not used the perspective correction tool for over 12 months. I struggled and then decided to look up how to do it on the internet, rather than using the manual. I do this because some people get a good hack on how to use a tool and make my job easier. It did not work, the manual explains the tool very well. Fixing the distortion, as well as could be in my opinion, took just 5 minutes. What I did fall on was a site called Meet the Gimp. It is brilliant, an opinion I know but it is mine and you are reading my blog. What did I learn? Not to over correct, leave a little distortion in, otherwise it will not look natural. I knew this is the days when I used to prop up one side of the the enlarger table with a book. Digital does tend to make me forget the simple, Meet the Gimp gave me the nudge I needed.

Meet the Gimp is a nice series of photographic based video instructions. I learnt more in an hour watching a couple of episodes than I have watching days of material on other sites. The episodes appear to be released weekly, or even more frequently if you look at the archives. Even if you are an experienced Gimp user it is worth looking at how somebody else does things. It is not just about the Gimp, they had a review of Darktable recently. It appears to be a video blog on photography as much as anything. Try it, you will not be disappointed.

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