The rapid growth of digital photography has increased the demand for powerful image editing software. In competitive comparison with popular commercial applications, open source image editors have entered the arena with GIMP.

The Web site offers downloads of the most recent version of the GIMP. It offers user support through active mailing lists and tutorials, as well as news and development information.

GIMP undergoes constant improvement, and is so rich in features that many are devoted to this one piece of open source software.

Some educators have yet to find reasons for students to create and edit their own images for classroom use. The fact is that digital cameras allow students to explore a wide range of subjects in new ways. For example, photographs of roofs from houses in different parts of the country provide an opportunity to measure slopes and to speculate as to why some areas have steeply pitched roofs and homes in other climates do not. Student generated photos can be incorporated in reports, web sites, and multimedia documents to help illustrate understanding of virtually any topic.

GIMP can start with a blank screen on which you can create your own image, more commonly you will start with an image from a digital camera or scanner.

To the right of the image you’ll see a panel with some tools ready to use. GIMP lets you undo any changes you make to your original. These “undos” go all the way back to the beginning of your session. This is handy if you are doing a lot of edits and have decided to change your mind frequently throughout the project.

A simple task you can do with GIMP is have it automatically correct the color balance and contrast of your image. Changing the resolution of your image to be posted on the web when creating pictures is sometimes necessary. You need a high enough resolution to be easily seen, yet a small enough file size to keep it compact.

Saving images edited in GIMP gives you a lot of choices. The ability of GIMP to open and save images in a wide variety of file formats makes it a valuable free open source tool.

GIMP lets you create several layers for each image on which various editing effects can be used to create spectacular pictures. Different effects can be applied to the starting image, or can be combined one after the other to build quite interesting images.

Various filters can be applied to images to create some amazing effects. One of the many built-in GIMP filters can turn an image into a mosaic. Another one can make a picture look like it was taken many, many, many decades ago. The image will look faded and have a sepia tone. A unique effect in GIMP allows the image to be wrapped around a sphere and rotated.