Technology Tales

Adventures & experiences in contemporary technology

Harnessing the power of ImageMagick

26th October 2008

Using the command line to process images might sound senseless but the tools offered by ImageMagick certainly prove that it has its place. I have always been wary of using bulk processing for my digital photo files (some digitised from film prints with a scanner) but I do agree that some of it is needed to free up some time for other more necessary things. With this in mind, it is encouraging to see the results from ImageMagick and I can see it making a major difference to how I maintain my online photo gallery.

For instance, making thumbnail images for the gallery certainly seems to be one of those operations where command line bulk processing comes into its own and ImageMagick’s own convert command is heaven sent for this one. For resizing images, all that’s needed is the following:

convert -resize 40% input.jpg output.jpg

Add a spot of further shell scripting and even a dash of Perl and the possibilities for this sort of thing become clearer and this is but the pinnacle of the proverbial iceberg. The -rotate switch will do what the name suggests and there are a whole plethora of other options on tap. So long as you have Ghostscript on your system, conversion of graphics to Postscript (and Encapsulated Postscript too) and PDF files is possible with the -page option controlling the margin around the image itself in the resulting outputs. Unfortunately, portrait is the sole orientation on offer but a bit of judicious post processing will turn things around. Here’s a command that’ll do the trick:

convert -page 792×612+72+72 input.png ps2:output.ps

For retrieving image metadata like its resolution and size, the identify command comes into play. The -verbose option invokes the output of all manner of image metadata so using grep or egrep is perhaps advisable, especially for bulking processing with the likes of Perl. Having the ability to stream image metadata makes loading databases like MySQL less of a chore than the manual data entry that has been my way of doing things until now.

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