Open Source Photography

In a recent article for, JT Pennington shares his favorite open source tools for photography enthusiasts. He points out that, while most people “scoff at the idea of a professional workflow on anything other than Windows or Mac,” that there are plenty of open source software options out there.

Pennington explains that “[t]he software landscape on Windows and Mac is so dominated by Photoshop and Lightroom…[but] we know of a better way—the open source way—and this is yet another example of how open source leads to more options and innovations.”

Here are 14 open source photography tools recommended by Pennington and commenters on his post.

1. Gimp

Gimp, open source alternative to Photoshop

Gimp is an open source alternative to Photoshop that enables photo retouching, image composition, image authoring and more.

2. darktable

darktable, open source photography tool

darktable is an open source photography RAW developer and workflow application that enables photographers to work with digital images, from capture to delivery.

3. LightZone

LightZone, digital darkroom software

LightZone is professional-level digital darkroom software that works on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. It includes RAW processing and editing and has an “international group of members and volunteers dedicated to the preservation, sharing, mutual support, and further development.”

4. Shotwell

Shotwell, photo manager for GNOME 3

Shotwell is a photo manager for GNOME 3, a desktop environment created by the international GNOME Foundation and composed entirely of free and open-source software.

5. Raw Therapee

Raw Therapee, cross-platform raw image processing program

Raw Therapee is a cross-platform raw image processing program released under the GNU General Public License Version 3. It enables a number of editing operations aimed at non-destructive raw photo post-production and is primarily focused on “improving a photographer’s workflow by facilitating the handling of large numbers of images.”

6. digiKam

Digikam, digital photo management application

digiKam is a digital photo management application for Linux, Windows, and Mac OSX that enables photographers to manage, edit, enhance, organize, tag, and share photographs under Linux systems.

7. Photovito

Photovito, free and open source photo processor

Photovito is a free and open source photo processor that handles RAW files as well as bitmap files (TIFF, JPEG, BMP, PNG, etc.). It does so in a non-destructive, 16 bit processing pipe with Gimp workflow integration and batch mode.

8. UFRaw

UFRaw, open source photo tool

UFRaw (Unidentified Flying Raw) is a utility to read and manipulate raw images from digital cameras—either on its own, or as a Gimp plug-in. It supports color management workflow and allows users to apply ICC color profiles.

9. Fotoxx

Fotoxx, open source photo platform

Fotoxx is a free, open source Linux program for image editing and collection management with a goal to “meet the needs of serious photographers while remaining fast and easy to use.”

10. Rapid Photo Downloader

Rapid Photo Downloader, open source photo tool

Rapid Photo Downloader is free software, written by a photographer for professionals and amateurs alike and released under the GNU GPL license, that allows users to import photos and videos efficiently and reliably.

11. F-Spot

F-Spot, open source photo platform

F-Spot is a personal photo management application for the GNOME desktop that aims to simplify digital photography by providing intuitive tools to help users share, touch-up, find and organize images.

12. Photoflow

Photoflow, open source photo platform

Photoflow is a photo retouching program that provides a complete layer-based workflow. The aim of the project is to provide a fully non-destructive photo retouching program with a complete workflow including RAW image development.

13. Pixls

Pixls, open source photo tool

Pixls is a platform that provides tutorials, workflows and a showcase for high-quality photography using free/open source software. As the site states, “There are many wonderful free/open source software projects dedicated to photography. Yet there aren’t nearly as many resources dedicated to photographic workflows with them.”

14. Hugin

Hugin, open source photo platform

Hugin enables user to assemble a mosaic of photographs into a “complete, immersive panorama, stitch any series of overlapping pictures and more.” The goal for the project is to be an easy to use cross-platform panoramic imaging toolchain based on Panorama Tools.

Looking for content? Check out the “Best Free Image Resources Online” here.

Top photo: Paul Skorupskas (CC-0)


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