Linux Tools for Professional Photography

Tools are available that allow you to do professional photographic work straight from your Linux desktop.
Working with a Service Bureau

For salable, fine-art prints, I prefer Lightjet prints made by a service bureau on a Cymbolic Sciences Lightjet printer. This printer uses lasers to expose the image onto conventional photo paper, most often Fuji Crystal Archive paper. Wilhelm Imaging Research tests (the authority on photo print life) show these prints have a display life of 60 years with little color shift or fading, significantly longer than most inkjet prints. These prints are indistinguishable from conventional photos and can be made as large as 4 × 5 feet.

Preparing the file for output on the Lightjet is similar to preparing it for inkjet printing. Start by going back to the original file that was saved, not the file for inkjet output. Again, resize the file to the correct physical dimensions, this time using 300PPI rather than 200PPI, sharpen the file using the technique described above and save it to a separate TIFF file. The service bureau I use, Calypso Imaging, offers Lightjet prints for photographers across the US. They also offer a discount if the file to be output has been resized and the correct ICC profile, available from their Web site, applied. Download the latest ICC profile and apply it to your image using tifficc. The image then is ready to be burned to CD-ROM or uploaded to Calypso's FTP site for final output.

A few days later I receive the final print, look back at the process used to create it and contemplate how, although my photo tools have changed, the goal remains the same—to create a print that conveys my feelings about my chosen subject. Finally, I am able to go through this entire process using Linux in combination with affordable desktop products, all in my own digital studio. Although a few areas still need improvements, Linux is very much up to the task. So get out there, take some photos and try out these Linux tools to make great photographic prints.

Resources for this article: /article/7704.

When RW Hawkins is not helping companies with their Linux servers, he is camping and backpacking with his 4 × 5 camera in the canyons of the Southwest. He lives in the Silicon Valley with his wife, who prefers pizza to camp food. His Web site,, offers a gallery of his fine-art prints as well as technical advice on digital imaging.



Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Gimp 2.6 supports 32 bits

Anonymous's picture

Gimp 2.6 supports 32 bits per channel.

The gimp? hah!

Zach Stern's picture

Gimp supports 8 bit colorspaces only.

My photos are 12 bit.