Is There a Free Alternative to Lightroom or Aperture?

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If you are a professional photographer, you’re either using Apple’s Aperture or Adobe’s Lightroom, I’m sure. This is for hard-core digital photo management. Both of these programs work well, but they are quite expensive. So, what can you do instead?

blueMarine is a cross-platform, open-source application that will give you a full-on digital photo workflow experience. The closest thing I could equate to this is Aperture or Lightroom. blueMarine is pretty much the same thing. You can sort by different variables, and increase or decrease the size of the results returned. It’s insanely easy to work with, and organize all of the photos in a professional manner.

As with most photo workflow apps, you have several methods of inspecting your image collection. Icons in the top left corner switch the app between filesystem tree, calendar, and tag views, and you can sift through the assorted photos in a 2-D grid, or a single “filmstrip” along the bottom of the screen.

You have full control over how much information blueMarine displays for each image, courtesy of the View -> Decorators menu. You can show file properties such as size and filename, image properties such as camera settings, and any metadata you assign to the file.

You can also assign basic one-through-five-star ratings for each image, and mark “keepers” and “trash” with simple keyboard shortcuts. Although blueMarine does not include editing functionality, the beginnings of such features are found in the image inspections tools, with which you can zoom in and out and magnify selected images.

I’m not a professional photographer, I’m just a hobbyist. If I hadn’t already paid for Aperture, I’d be using blueMarine myself on a regular basis. I’m glad I found it, and could pass it along to all of you.

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