Is there really any excuse for not taking great photos these days? Smartphone cameras top many point and shoots and take photos that compare favorably with SLRs of the past (I’m from the Kodachrome era, back when film and processing was expensive, and composing a shot was important to keep per-photo costs down).
Today, my Mac is home to a number of great photo tools ranging from Apple’s Photos app for library management and Adobe’s Lightroom for workflow and enhancements. In between the free from Apple and pay-for-life from Adobe, I’ve collected a dozen or so useful photo utilities. If you’re on a budget, here’s one you’ll like.
Light Table, Meet Darkroom
This clever mashup of a light table and darkroom is called Darktable (officially ‘darktable’ in lowercase, but that’s just wrong), a free and open source photo workflow app which also works with RAW photos. I consider Darktable to be a virtual light table and darkroom for Mac using photographers on a budget. What you get for free is quite remarkable.
The user interface is a bit quirky and displays plenty of information, including EXIF data. The modules are straightforward– Lighttable, Darkroom, Tethering. All editing is non-destructive. Darktable is very good at handling photo libraries that number into the tens of thousands and search is handled by rating, tags, and more.
The zoom capability features zero-latency. It’s also social. Darktable exports to Picasa and Flickr, and can even generate a basic HTML-based photo gallery.
Tools? Baby got tools. Crop and rotate, invert, fill light and tone curve, tone mapping, and color image operations that include channel mixer, correction, transfer, even vibrance, and velvia. The list of filters and post processing options, including watermark controls, are extensive.
And, yes, Darktable comes with a detailed user manual. All this is free. What’s not to like?