Jeremy Garcia provides a short introduction to F-Spot, a handy personal photo management application written in Mono.
Due to the proliferation of inexpensive digital cameras and the ever-increasing size of flash-based memory cards, it’s more and more common to shoot and keep a large number of digital pictures. Even the occasional photographer likely has thousands of photos, and the number only goes up from there. To make matters worse, in most cases, the vast number of pictures are unsorted, uncategorized, and scattered around your filesystem. How can one help tame this seemingly unmanageable digital mess? Enter F-Spot, a full-featured personal photo management application for Linux. F-Spot simplifies digital photography by providing intuitive tools to help you share, touch-up, find, and organize your images. Written in Mono, F-Spot is licensed under GNU Public License version 2, and is available for download from http://f-spot.org/.
Since F-Spot is distributed by almost all major Linux distributions through their respective packaging systems, you probably have the application and needn’t install it. The full source, however, is available if you choose not to use apt, yum, or your favorite package management tool.
FIGURE ONE: The F-Spot interface
The first time you launch F-Spot, you are prompted with an “Import” dialog box. This can be a little confusing — F-Spot is really asking for the location of your pictures so, it can add them to its database. F-Spot can also optionally copy your pictures to a central location, if you want to keep the originals in situ. After selecting a folder of images, you should see a list of generated thumbnails. At this point, you can optionally tag the entire folder with keywords to help you organize your collection and find pictures later. This mass tag on import is especially useful if you already used a folder based hierarchy to store your pictures. Keep in mind that you can always tag your pictures at a later time. You can now import your pictures.
If you have a camera connected to your machine you can also import pictures directly from the camera into F-Spot. You can access the import feature at any time via the File menu.
With your pictures now imported, you should find yourself in the main F-Spot window. From this interface you can take advantage of the many F-Spot features. The timeline near the top allows you to quickly get a sense for how many pictures were taken at what times. It’s also one of the myriad organization tools at your disposal.
From the main thumbnail window, you’re able to easily perform actions on multiple pictures (hold down the Control button while selecting a picture to add it to the list). To add and remove tags or remove the photo from the database or drive, right-click. Selecting a single photo presents you with various details such as name, version, date, size and exposure. From the main screen you can also start a slideshow.
Additionally, F-Spot has a built-in image editor. While it’s not comparable to the GIMP, it does allow you to easily rotate, crop, resize, and adjust red eye and other color settings with a few clicks. Versioning ensures your originals are never altered. You can enter descriptions of photos that are saved in the actual file so other people and programs will be able to see them, whether they use F-Spot or not.
FIGURE TWO: Adjusting color with F-Spot
Just as F-Spot allows you to easily import your pictures, it allows you to export them just as easily. As you’d expect, there’s an option to export to a Photo CD. That’s only the beginning though. You can also export to online services Flickr, Picasa, SmugMug, and 23. You can export directly into a Gallery- powered website. F-Spot can even build a custom themed mini-website and upload it via your choice of network services such as FTP.
Using F-Spot to organize, find and share your photographs allows you to focus less on minutiae, like where you stored that photo you’re looking for, and more on why you took the picture in the first place — enjoying and sharing the memory.