Libre Graphics Meeting 2014 in Leipzig, Germany
What an amazing trip!
I was half joking when I mentioned to schumaml on irc a few months ago that I should come out to LGM2014 and do a photography workshop using GIMP. Half joking turned into half-serious, and half-serious turned into “holy crap, I better buy my plane tickets!“…
The LGM team accepted a workshop proposal by Tobias Ellinghaus and myself to talk about darktable and FL/OSS photography workflows. I was also presenting alongside David Tschumperlé and Jérome Boulanger on a retrospective look at G’MIC over the last couple of years! (The title of the presentation was “A 2012-2013 retrospective of the G’MIC project : New features from artists/developers collaborations“).
To say that I was excited is an understatement! I was finally going to get a chance to meet the GIMP team face to face (I idle in the GIMP channel on irc quite a bit)! I was also going to be able to hang out with David, who I collaborate quite often with. Also, none other than Rolf Steinort was also going to be there!
So after driving 700 miles to South Florida to drop our daughter off with grandma, Dot and I jumped on a plane in Miami! We finally hopped off the plane in Leipzig the next afternoon and explored a small bit of the city in preparation for the photowalk the next morning… (after first making a quick stop at the GIMP apartment where Michael and Femke were working on CoC stuff for LGM).
The next morning was a little rough for me, being jet-lagged by about 6 hours. I finally made it out and headed over to the University where I expected to have a small handful of people to meet (it ended up being a few more than I had anticipated, which was nice).
We had a stroll through town while making a few stops, such as Nikolaikirche (Church of St. Nicholas), the home of the Monday Demonstrations in East Germany. I probably should have done a better job directing the photowalk, but honestly I was mostly busy being enthralled by the city itself…
I mean, how can you not be when you turn a corner to find this:
Or seeing this when peeking inside the church:
Of course, Leipzig is home to Johannes Sebastian Bach and his final resting place just happens to be in this church:
To get ready for my trip, I listened to Toccata and Fugue in D minor a LOT:
While walking around the city we also happened into the Leipzig Market. It was a bit of an overcast morning with a sun that was attempting (in vain) to break through the gray cloud cover…
One of the nice thing about overcast days is that the sun gets a perfect diffusion material - clouds! This makes for much softer light and prettier portraits when shot outside. We stopped for a moment for me to bring out my reflectors and talk a little bit about using them in various configurations for fill on days like that.
What’s nice about using natural light and reflectors is that you get immediate feedback on what the modifiers are doing to your scene - you can see what the reflector is doing in real-time to adjust and modify to taste.
This was actually funny because we had someone holding the reflector for us, and a group of about 10 people (some with big, fancy gear) all firing cameras at one woman in the middle of the market. This actually got quite a few passer-bys to stop and wonder what we were doing (and I even saw a few people snapping photos with their phones of us!). I wonder if they thought we were papparazzi, or doing a model fashion shoot?
Of course, there were cool things to shoot at some of the vendors…
Even cooler to shoot some of the people there as well…
First Day of LGM!
I was so busy the first day of LGM meeting new people, seeing faces for the first time, and attending the presentations that I didn’t really grab any photos of the event! (Yet another reason why I’d be a horrible photojournalist…).
There were some fun and great presentations given on the first day, though! Pippin led the proceedings off with the “State of Libre Graphics” giving a nice overview of various projects. Nathan Willis gave a neat statistical presentation on traffic patterns of users across different discussion forms, and Peter Sikking did a great presentation on “UI Design for Full GEGL Integration in GIMP” (slides can be found here):
Of course, immediately following Peter I presented with David Tschumperlé and Jerome Boulanger on a retrospective of G’MIC over the past two years:
There were a ton of other great presentations, and I learned quite a bit (there was cool stuff from the Commons Machinery for instance on contextualizing creative works).
Speaking of David Tschumperlé, it was awesome to finally be able to meet and talk in person (after spending the past year collaborating on a few different things for G’MIC)! We were able to talk about many different things, and during the course of the week Jerome even managed to create a great filter to generate grain from a small sample in G’MIC!
We wandered around that evening a bit taking in the sights and grabbing some dinner…
Rolf Steinort (Meet the GIMP)!
Here was someone I was also really looking forward to meeting, Rolf Steinort (Meet the GIMP)! Rolf had to work earlier in the week, but was able to catch a train over for the second day of LGM. This was awesome. If you’ve ever spent a lot of time learning great things from someone online, you can imagine how neat it was to finally be able to sit down and spend some time with them.
We spent some time wandering around the city together and talking (he’s German and was able to give us some great history and context to our surroundings). It was a blast!
We even passed by a €1 store where they were selling really inexpensive goods, and I got the idea to build a quick light modifier (I didn’t want to pack too heavily for the trip). I had built a couple of cheap and quick ringflash modifiers previously and thought it might be fun to build one to use during the meeting. So I dropped in and spent about €5 purchasing a pasta straining bowl (colander), some cups and some tape.
I borrowed a knife from Rolf, and while we sat at a cafe getting milkshakes (Milchbar Pinguin) I hacked at the plastic bowl and taped stuff together to build a franken-ringflash. This was a very handy light modifier to have for the LGM party later that evening:
Rolf managed to capture a great shot of me…
just as I was getting ready to photograph him (though intimidating to the subject, the light quality is uniquely ring-flash-y):
One nice thing about the way this ringflash was constructed (not being attached to the camera permanently), is that I can easily just hold it off to the side to use it as a makeshift beauty dish as well:
The rest of my photos from the LGM party night are here (or here as a Flickr set):
Not too bad for €5 worth of cheap goods from a corner store!
Yes, many people have asked for a build guide or tutorial for making the same ringflash you see here - I’ll be glad to write one up as soon as I finish processing photos from the trip! So stay tuned!
Yes, the DIY ringflash was fun to play with, but I really wanted to use the opportunity to grab something a little more polished of the GIMP team. Thanks to Tobias Ellinghaus from the darktable team, I was able to borrow his umbrella and stand to shoot some quick one-light portraits.
I was also able to borrow Rolf’s tripod to hold up my diffusion panel as a makeshift umbrella in a pinch. This is how I shot the sample image I used for the workshop on Saturday:
Including an outtake that I thought was cute:
I didn’t have the luxury of my own room to setup when it came time to shoot everone else, though. I had to do my best with a small area at the top of the stairs in the University, next to the main meeting room…
Not the most ideal situation, but sometimes a challenge is fun! I setup very close to a single wall with Tobias’ umbrella on a lightstand. The chair for the subjects was about a foot from the wall and the umbrella was about the same distance away. We moved out from the back wall to let it fall to gray (which was tough because umbrellas like to spill a lot of light everywhere!).
In the end I feel like I got some neat portraits out of it.
Rolf sat in for me while I adjusted lighting ratios, and I got a pretty nice photo of him in the process…
Not everyone looked so somber! Antenne wouldn’t stop laughing and grinning long enough for me to get a serious photo, so I opted for one that suited her better:
Ryan Lerch jumped in for one of my favorite portraits of the series in a more somber look:
While ginger coons had a slightly brighter portrait…
The set of portraits that I really wanted to grab while I was at LGM was of all of the GIMP team who were able to attend. I wanted to put faces to the people who were giving their time and expertise to all of us in improving and maintaining such an important piece of software to me and my pursuits.
These are the people working hard to bring us such a great piece of software like GIMP. They donate their talents to the software that many of us use every day (and sometimes take for granted perhaps). So remember to donate whenever you can!
In no particular order:
I can’t thank the GIMP team enough for letting me tag along this year to LGM. It really was wonderful getting to meet everyone!
While at LGM I also got to meet and make friends with the darktable team as well! These guys were a lot of fun to hang out with, and Tobias opened the Photo Workshop on Saturday with a great intro to darktable! So I couldn’t pass up a chance to shoot their portraits as well:
I’m actually missing a portrait of Pascal for some reason. I must have spaced out and didn’t chase him down to get him to sit for a quick shot. I’m sorry Pascal!
Before I completely finished wrapping up the last shoot at LGM, Dot had a great idea to shoot the darktable team as an homage to Mick Rocks famous cover for Queen II:
Which led to a photograph so funny that I was laughing the entire time while editing it!
This was an amazing trip! The opportunity to meet so many smart and talented people working hard on free software was just incredible. Everyone was quite passionate about what they were doing, and so many great ideas and discussions were had! I can’t recommend it enough if you’ve ever considered attending! Just go!
If you want to see the complete set of photos I took while I was there, I have them all in an album on Flickr here:
LGM2014 Album by Pat David