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Gimp - Select Highlights - how to do? - PSCS ctrl-alt-tilde (~) - with Gimp?

I have been using Photoshop for years and would like to migrate over to Gimp but find one huge stumbling block.

With Photoshop CS
I use ctl-alt-tilde (~) to select highlights - called Load composite as selection.
Then I can use ctl-I to alternate from low to high values (lowlight to highlights) - called invert.
I use ctl-H to hide the marching ants - called toggle extra's
ctl-D to deselect and go back to whole image manipulation.

Benefits
Very simple, easy to use and allows me to use any number of filters to manipulate either value. For instance, increase or decrease contrast and/or brightness within each value, or blur, or saturation, or put a very subtle canvas affect, or use a plug in that only affects that one value, the choices are almost unlimited. It gives me far more control and like I said, it is very, very easy to use.

With Gimp 2.6.7 used with Ubuntu 9.10
From what I can see I need to produce layers, and it is a many step process.

Solution
I have been looking everywhere for hours for an easy way to do this with Gimp, but so far have come up empty. A plug in? Or something even simpler? Or invent a plug in that can do the above? I am not a programmer and have no idea how to do that.

About me
I'm one of those types that like things simple, the many step process leaves to much room for errors.

Limitations on what I can view
I live in China (transplanted American) and the government here blocks youtube, blogs and other such sites. If you point me to a web site, I may or may not be able to view it. Albeit most HTML sites I can view, but blogs are pretty much blocked and sometimes, for some reason I don't understand, on some sites just the images are blocked.

Conclusion
Am I missing something, or am I stuck with layers and thus laying out big bucks (or stealing it) for Photoshop CS and Windows when I really want to use Ubuntu?

Thanks for your help.
Jim
.

Forums: 

Not a hot-key kind of guy, but you can select the highlights by selecting the Channels Dialogue and then rightclicking on one of the channels (doesn't matter which one) and then choose the Add to Selection option. I do this quite often by the way to then do an inverse selection to sharpen the dark parts. :)

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