Ansel (was: R&Darktable)

Regarding users and manuals:

About working with others:

Motivation to work with him:


If one wants to regard a positive outcome of doing just the opposite, they need to view this video:


Sounds like a recipe for personal burnout.

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Absolutely. I’m lovely in person.


Even simple stuff, tbh.

I mean that people abuse the disconnect that being online offers so not at all what you are taking from my intension … and it could be what I said but its a great example of something comes across 180 from what was the actual intension.


Fair point, sorry for the misinterpretation.


I do not want to do a character assassination of anybody here. I appreciate that putting a creative group of people together to agree on the design of a piece of FOSS must be very challenging. I feel AP came across in his videos as a very determined and opinionated (not a negative comment against him) developer. He appeared to have some very black and white ideas about what was good and what was bad in DT. I remember him making a comment once where he said photography was about the look and I 100% agree with this comment. As a single example of many instances he was very critical of the shadow and highlights module and would happy tell you it was bad and should not be used, his fantastic tone equalizer module is not despite what he may claim a direct replacement of the shadow and highlights module. They produce different looks. On the surface it may appear they both brighten the shadows and darken the highlights, but S&H modules lifts the colours and the contrast in the shadows and I often like that look. It does it with a single click to activate the module. My point being that what a single developer wants to call bloat another person will call an essential tool.

I downloaded Ansel to see if it was more stable on my machine as I was having numerous crashes in DT when trying to use Astrodenoise. I have no definitive answer to if it is more stable, but what I noticed was just how much was missing from Ansel that included features I loved. It was a stripped down version of DT and for that reason I remain a dedicated DT user. I hope that AP can share and contribute his great features with DT while maintaining his personal fork. After all there is Rawtherapee and Art. They seem to co-exist without animosity.

As for comments that the GUI was bloated with too many options and too many options in the preferences, I would say there is not enough. The ability to find images using the selection filters is great, but in my opinion could go even further. As for preferences to customise DT they are great, but could have more. The only bloat I see is the bloat that makes the developer’s job impossible. So I appreciate that one day certain modules have to disappear because they can’t be maintained or consume the developer’s time for very little reward.

DT is more than one person.


I’m sorry I wasn’t more clear…

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The tests takes too much time to be run on CI. But I do run them on one of my machine every night and the results are published into the Git integration sub-module. Today we have 136 tests and we are all green.


Yes, even though I do agree with quite a few of the removals, I think Ansel is a bit over-zealous with the delete button.

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Just leaving this here for reference. Remember to pick one of the higher tiers when approaching someone about their bad/wrong ideas. We don’t need anyone else sticking to the first two levels.


Yesterday I had a quick look at Ansel. I think I like a lot of what aurelien has done with the gui. Of course, it’s a pity that new cool modules such as Sigmoid and the new highlights reconstruction are missing. If I could I would create a fork of Ansel that includes new darktable features. Maybe I will try that.
Let’s try to see things objectively and without emotions, even though we must deal with negative emotional reactions. Let’s try to just see the facts and form an opinion. Not react back with emotions.
I don’t want to defend aurelien but I think I understand him. He has put a lot of work into darktable and he sacrificed a lot. Maybe secretly he dreamed of world domination or something like that. But now after several years there are not more darktable users that are real artists but most of them still have a phd in it or engineering. Of course he blames the other devs because he can’t beat up and force all those stupid photographers to use darktable. I think I see a way for a “compromise” and peace between the devs.


darktable keeps a database of edits, and it could be used to gleam information.

You could easily answer:

  • which modules are used in editing, and how frequently?
  • how many photos are actually edited (versus the whole collection)?
  • how often are masks used? what type?
  • which parts of modules are being used? (for example: Filmic has a lot of extra stuff)
  • which modules are used over time?
  • are people using keywords a lot? how many per image?
  • are people using saved searches? what types? (like, based on tags, based on dates, based on cameras, etc.)
  • how many people are using deprecated modules in new edits? (and which ones?)
  • how many photos are in imported into someone’s database?
  • which cameras are being used?
  • what file formats are there? (various raw formats, dng, jpeg, tiff, avif, etc.)
  • …and so many other things that might be useful to know

For anything to do with modules, you’ll probably want to filter by when the module stack was last edited, else you’d get a lot of old data skewing the results (especially where defaults have changed). It would be interesting to track module usage over time (probably based on either first edit, if that data is available, or last edit). You could also filter by filmic versions that are used (or if basecurve or sigmoid are used instead); some of the process versions are basically snapshots in time too.

Anyway, my point is that we don’t need to actively track how someone works; darktable already keeps all the most interesting data. And it could be done with a side-program (not in darktable itself), even as a script that queries the database and be completely opt-in. (And it should try to anonymize things, of course.)

It’s usually a lot more interesting when you have data generated by how someone works than asking them questions that they might not answer with enough detail… or their memory might unintentionally skew things. It’s best having both data and a survey, of course. :wink:


So have a lot of other people. He is not unique in this regard.


I believe that would exclude the information from anyone that uses --library :memory:

I can understand that frustration and as someone who works with/in “real photographer” circles it’s been hard to get anything outside of the Adobe solutions taken seriously. I’ll touch on why I think that is down below. People rarely ask or care about my philosophical thoughts, but as to the notion that “too many engineering PhDs and and not enough real artists are using darktable” I think Dr Richard Feynman said something about this:

I have a friend who’s an artist and has sometimes taken a view which I don’t agree with very well. He’ll hold up a flower and say “look how beautiful it is,” and I’ll agree. Then he says “I as an artist can see how beautiful this is but you as a scientist take this all apart and it becomes a dull thing,” and I think that he’s kind of nutty. First of all, the beauty that he sees is available to other people and to me too, I believe. Although I may not be quite as refined aesthetically as he is … I can appreciate the beauty of a flower. At the same time, I see much more about the flower than he sees. I could imagine the cells in there, the complicated actions inside, which also have a beauty. I mean it’s not just beauty at this dimension, at one centimeter; there’s also beauty at smaller dimensions, the inner structure, also the processes. The fact that the colors in the flower evolved in order to attract insects to pollinate it is interesting; it means that insects can see the color. It adds a question: does this aesthetic sense also exist in the lower forms? Why is it aesthetic? All kinds of interesting questions which the science knowledge only adds to the excitement, the mystery and the awe of a flower. It only adds. I don’t understand how it subtracts.

Granted there are academic definitions for art, degrees and accreditation but I can see where the notion that “too many geeks and not enough real artists use this software” would rub people the wrong way. It certainly does me to a degree and smells of an elitist view. Yes, I have day jobs in geeky fields. Yes, I was a pro photographer for a number of years and have spent quite a long of time and energy on learning, training, reading and so forth. I’m actually pretty locally respected in that field, yeah I’m not on the cover of Vogue or Nat Geo or whatever but the amount of “real artsits” who regard me with some level of respect is confidence is, well, something I guess.

Sometimes people can be both and that’s fine. Not all art is great or even noteworthy either. Ultimately we are human beings and can try to be dispassionate but emotions are part of our fiber and hard to ignore. I’m trying to do better and it would help if the rhetoric on stuff like that can cool down some.

As to the aforementioned lack of uptake of dartkable I think that’s down to Adobe’s market dominance and the fact that digital photography is still very much a commodity. Most of the BFA and MFA having photographers I know break out the wet plates, film or Polaroids when they want to be creative. Digital is still seen as the work van in that it just needs to do its job so they can get paid so they’re going for the solutions that worka the fastest and have the broadest range of support. There’s very little incentive to look outside that box for most of them because of the production pressure and the lack of differentiation on the output to a degree. If you use a wet plate it’s got a certain aesthetic, darktable and Lightroom do basically the same thing and can produce very similarly pleasing results but ultimately there’s not a novelty to using darktable really like there is a giant Polaroid camera or something like that. At least from my simple view art at least has one foot in the novelty world too. Digital is still like fast food for most of these folks and it’s hard to really make a dent in that thinking IMO.


I do follow or at least skim this thread, though usually not logged in, so:



At some point, we need a summary. :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:

I think part of the reason we are still discussing him so much here, is because many people, me included, want to avoid exactly this. So we occasional have a look at Ansel to see if anything was fixed there, that should be fixed in dt too, or if any new ideas were implemented, that we could learn from. Or even if something he mentions in his rants could be easily fixed. We would prefer bug reports filed in the dt github, but we are not expecting that, either from AP himself or from Ansel users. So we do the leg work ourselves; this is how open source works. But it can be a little hard to, on every visit, have to read insults or threats. And to know that spectators will judge that, just because we don’t have constructive arguments with him, he must be right on all counts. Whereas we have tired of trying as well, over the years. And people will believe what they want to believe.

Anyway, some of us have now been blocked from his github. In my case possibly for kindly requesting he remove the standalone midi module that he carries so much hatred for and that he should have no interest in inflicting on his users.