PIXLS.US Now Live!

I checked the first post I had made on PIXLS.US while I was building it, and it appears it was around the end of August, 2014. I had probably been working on it for at least a few weeks before that. Basically, it’s almost been about 10 months since I started this crazy idea.

Finally, we are “officially” launched and live. Phew!


I don’t normally ask for things from folks who read what I write here. I’m going to make an exception this time. I spent a lot of time building the infrastructure for what I hope will be an awesome community for free-software photographers.

So naturally, I want to see it succeed. If you have a moment and don’t mind, please consider sharing news of the launch! The more people that know about it, the better for everyone! We can’t build a community if folks don’t know it’s there! :) (Of course, come by and join us yourselves as well!).

I’ll be porting more of my old tutorials over as well as writing new material there (and hopefully getting other talented folks to write as well).

Thank You!

Also, I want to take a moment to recognize and thank all of you who either donated or clicked on an ad. Those funds are what helped me pay for the server space to host the site as well as the forums, and will keep ads off the site. I’m basically just rolling any donations back into hosting the site and hopefully finding a way to pay folks for writing in the future. Thank you all!

An Update about G'MIC on OpenSource.graphics

David Tschumperlé has a blog over at OpenSource.graphics and it appears that after releasing G’MIC he had some time to write down and share some thoughts about the last 10 months of working on G’MIC.

He covers a lot of ground in this post (as you can imagine for not having reported anything in a long time while working hard on the project). He talks about some neat new functionality and filters added like color curves in others colorspaces, comics colorization, color transfer (from one image to another), website for film emulation (yay!), foreground extraction, engrave, triangulation, and much more.

Interactive Foreground Extraction
Engrave Filter

A short table of contents for the post:

  1. The G’MIC Project : Context and Presentation
  2. New G’MIC features for color processing
  3. An algorithm for foreground/background extraction
  4. Some new artistic filters
  5. A quick view of the other improvements
  6. Perspectives and Conclusions

David may not write as often as I think he should but when he does - he certainly does! :) Head over and check out the latest news on an awesome image processing framework!

Discourse Forum on PIXLS.US

After a bunch of hard work by someone not me (darix), there’s finally a neat solution for commenting on PIXLS.US. An awesome side effect is that we get a great forum along with it.


On the advice from the same guy that convinced me to build PIXLS using a static site generator (see above), I ended up looking into, and finally going with, a Discourse forum.

The actual forum location will be at:


What is extra neat about the way this forum works, though, is the embedding. For every post on the pixls.us blog (or an article), the forum will pickup on the post and will automatically create topics on the forum that coincide with the posts. Some small embedding code on the website allows these topic replies to show up at the end of a post similar to comments.

For instance, see the end of this blog post to see the embedding in action!

Come on by!

I personally really like this new forum software, both for the easy embedding, but also the fact that we own the data ourselves and are not having to farm it out through a third party service. I have enabled third party oauth logins if anyone is ok with using them (but are not required to - normal registration with email through us is fine of course).

I like the idea of being able to lower the barrier to participating in a community/forum, and the ability to auth against google or twitter for creating an account significantly lowers that friction I think.

Some Thanks are in Order

It’s important to me to point out that being able to host PIXLS.US and now the forum is entirely due to the generosity of folks visiting my blog here. All those cool froods that take a minute to click an ad help offset the server costs, and the ridiculously generous folks that donate money (you know who you are) are amazing.

As such, their generosity means I can afford to bootstrap the site and forums for a little while (without having to dip into the wife goodwill fund…).

What does this mean to the average user? Thanks to the folks that follow ads here or donate, PIXLS.US and the forum is ad-free. Woohoo!

Skin Retouching with Wavelets on PIXLS.US

Anyone who has been reading here for a little bit knows that I tend to spend most of my skin retouching time with wavelet scales. I’ve written about it originally here, then revisited it as part of an Open Source Portrait tutorial, and even touched upon the theme one more time (sorry about that - I couldn’t resist the “touching” pun).

Because I haven’t possibly beat this horse dead enough yet, I have now also compiled all of those thoughts into a new post over on PIXLS.US that is now pretty much done:

PIXLS.US: Skin Retouching with Wavelet Decompose

Of course, we get another view of the always lovely Mairi before & after (from an older tutorial that some may recognize):

As well as the lovely Nikki before & after:

Even if you’ve read the other material before this might be worth re-visiting.

Don’t forget, Ian Hex has an awesome tutorial on using luminosity masks in darktable, as well as the port of my old digital B&W article! These can all be found at the moment on the Articles page of the site.

The Other Blog

Don’t forget that I also have a blog I’m starting up over on PIXLS.US that documents what I’m up to as I build the site and news about new articles and posts as they get published! You can follow the blog on the site here:


There’s also an RSS feed there if you use a feed reader (RSS).

Write For PIXLS

I am also entertaining ideas from folks who might like to publish a tutorial or article for the site. If you might be interested feel free to contact me with your idea! Spread the love! :)

Film Emulation in RawTherapee

This is old news but I just realized that I hadn’t really addressed it before.

The previous work I had done on Film Emulation with G’MIC in GIMP (here and here) are also now available in RawTherapee directly! You’ll want to visit this page on the RawTherapee wiki to see how it works, and to download the film emulation collection to use.

This is handy for those that may work purely in RawTherapee or that don’t want to jump into GIMP just to do some color toning. It’s a pretty big collection of emulations, so hopefully you’ll be able to find something that you like. Here’s the list of what I think is in the package (there may be more there now):

Have fun with these, and don’t forget to show off your results if you get a chance! It’s always neat to see what folks do with these! :)

Luminosity Masking in darktable (Ian Hex)

Photographer Ian Hex was kind enough to be a guest writer over on PIXLS.US with a fantastic tutorial on creating and using Luminosity Masks in the raw processing software darktable.

You can find the new tutorial over on PIXLS.US:

PIXLS.US: Luminosity Masking in darktable


Mairi Trois

Mairi Troisième

Readers who’ve been here for a little while might recognize my friend Mairi, who has modeled for me before. This time I had a brief opportunity for her to sit for me again for a few shots before she jet-setted her way over to Italy for a while.

I was specifically looking to produce the lede image you see above, Mairi Troisième. In particular, I was chasing some chiaroscuro portrait lighting that I had in mind for a while and I was quite happy with the final result!

Of course, I also had a large new light modifier, so bigger shots were fun to play with as well:

Mairi Color (in Black) ƒ/6.3 1/200s ISO200
Mairi B&W ƒ/8.0 1/200s ISO200

Those two shots were done using a big Photek Softlighter II [amazon] that I treated myself to late last year. (I believe the speedlight was firing @3/4 power for these shots).

It wasn’t all serious, there were some funny moments as well…

My Eyes Are Up Here ƒ/7.1 1/200s ISO200

Of course, I like to work up close to a subject personally. I think it gives a nicer sense of intimacy to an image.

More Mairi Experiments ƒ/11.0 1/200s ISO200
Mairi Trois ƒ/8.0 1/200s ISO200

Culminating at one of my favorites from the shoot, this nice chiaroscuro image up close:

Mairi (Closer) ƒ/10.0 1/200s ISO200

It’s always a pleasure to get a chance to shoot with Mairi. She’s a natural in front of the camera, and has these huge expressive eyes that are always a draw.

Later this week, an update on PIXLS.US!

Wikipedia #Edit2014 Video

About a two months ago I was approached by Victor Grigas, a video producer for the Wikimedia Foundation (the non-profit that supports Wikipedia), about using some of the techniques I had previously discussed to create 2.5D parallax video images from single photographs. The intention was to use these 2.5D videos as part of their first ever “Year in Review” video:

For reference, this was my previous result using F/OSS to create the 2.5D parallax effect with still images:

For the Wikipedia video, Victor asked if I could use some images from Wiki Loves Monuments (apparently the worlds largest photo competition according to the Guiness World Records). How could I say no? (Disclaimer: I donate every year during their funding drives).

So I agreed, and after a short wait for the finalists from the competition to be chosen, was sent these two awesome images to turn into 2.5D parallax videos:

Wat Phra That Khao Noi.jpg
Wat Phra That Khao Noi“ by K.Phothiwijit - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
Faisal Mosque Photography by Ali Mujtaba 12.jpg
Faisal Mosque Photography by Ali Mujtaba 12“ by Alimujtaba79 (Ali Mujtaba) - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

After a bit of slicing and dicing, I ended up with these short segments that ended up in the final video. As before, I did the main plane separations in GIMP manually. I divided the planes to best accommodate the anticipated camera movement through the scene (simple dolly pans). Once I had the planes separated, it was a simple process to bring them into Blender and offset the planes as the camera tracked across the scene:

This was a fun project to work on, and I want to thank the Wikimedia Foundation for giving me a chance to play with some gorgeous images and hopefully to help out in my own small way with the final outcome!

Also, Victor does a nice interview with the Wikimedia blog about producing the overall video. Great work everyone!

David Tschumperlé and OpenSource.graphics

Some of you may be familiar with G’MIC, the rather extensive image processing language created by David Tschumperlé that has a very popular plug-in for GIMP.

If you’re a fan, here’s a nice little treat for you. David has started a blog about image processing with open source software:


If you’d like a front seat to some of the more technically interesting things going on behind the scenes at G’MIC, this would be a good blog to follow I think. He’s already come out of the gate with a neat 3D colorcube investigation of some images (seen above, Mairi).

The 2015 Libre Calendar

So Jehan Pages contacted me a little while ago about participating in a project to produce a “Libre Calendar“. Once he described the idea, it was an easy choice to join up and help out!

Through his non-profit LILA in France, he has assembled 6 artists to produce works specifically for this calendar (Disclaimer: I’m one of the artists):

Aryeom Han
Henri Hebeisen
Gustavo Deveze
Brian Beck

The proceeds from the calendar will be split evenly between the artists, the LILA non-profit, and various F/OSS projects that the artists used (GIMP, Blender, Inkscape, etc…). The full list is on the site. (Second disclaimer: I’m deferring any of my proceeds to the projects).

This is a really nice way to donate a bit to the various projects and get a neat gift for it.

Head over to the site to see some sample images from the artists, and consider buying a calendar! Jehan is looking to meet a minimum order before moving forward (around 100 I believe).

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