I was making a budget for a museum that asked my consulting and training to set up their imaging lab and I thought that almost $800 for a photo editing software (Photoshop CS6) was a bit too much. Photoshop is an amazing tool which definitely merits its considerable cost. Though, the point is that the basic photo editing that an imaging lab for conservation would perform, doesn’t justify the purchase of Photoshop. My Blog is all about avoiding unnecessary expenses in museums and wisely spend money when it comes to technical and scientific tool for art documentation and examination. So, this post and the next one are about FREE alternative to the expensive Photoshop, if all you have to do is just editing images for art documentation.
RAW files conversion
This is the first step. For art documentation it is recommended to shoot Raw. This format is native to the camera and allows for the best post-processing since all the image information is preserved. Photoshop has a plugin called Camera Raw which manages and can convert raw files from all the major camera manufacturers. Though, there are valid FREE alternatives. Since I’m a Nikon user, I’ll introduce just a raw converter for Nikon cameras., the Nikon View NX2. This software can be downloaded for free and will not make you miss Photoshop Camera Raw. Actually, Nikon raw file conversion performed by a Nikon software should be, supposedly, better than that performed by a third party software. A brief review of View NX2 features.
Batch processing. Since we apply panoramic photography to get both high resolution multispectral images and huge infrared reflectograms, it is necessary to process a large number of images and therefore automatic batch processing is mandatory. Fortunately, Nikon View NX2 has a batch processing utility that works as a charm.
- In the files navigation window, open the folder containing the images to be edited and converted and select them all (CTRL +A).
- Apply the editing necessary such as white balance, sharpening, contrast, brightness and so on.
- Click Convert files. The images are converted with the adjustments you applied and saved in the folder you choose.
Let’s look now at the specific Raw files editing capability of Nikon View NX2 and how those compare to Camera Raw.
Adjustments. On the right side of the View NX2 window the Adjustments panel contains all we need to edit the raw images before the actual conversion into JPEG or TIFF. From top to bottom:
- Exposure. Equivalent to Camera Raw exposure
- White Balance. Can be performed using the image that has the color checker and selecting “Use gray point”. Analogous to Camera Raw’s White Balance Tool.
- Picture control. Its Monochrome option it’s used for grey scale conversion to edit the infrared and UV reflected images.
- Sharpness, Contrast, Brightness. These are self-explanatory.