Creating blacker blacks on a grey day from a flat image

I’m trying to improve the blacks in this picture.
It’s taken mid winter on a grey and damp day so produced a flat image.
Suggestions please.

There are two .xmp files as the ear tags are monochrome in one and coloured in the other.
IMG_1454_03.CR2.xmp (13.8 KB)
IMG_1454.CR2.xmp (15 KB)
IMG_1454.CR2 (12.1 MB)

This file is licensed Creative Commons, By-Attribution, Share-Alike.

Simplest solution: use “black level correction” in the exposure module

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I’m not entirely sure just what look you want - I may have overdone it!
I’ve just increased contrast in filmic and dropped exposure slightly. I fiddled with the ‘black relative exposure’ in filmic too but not much. I may have gone a bit too dark on the exposure…


IMG_1454.CR2.xmp (17.5 KB)

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IMG_1454.CR2.xmp (12.4 KB)

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I tried basic processing plus the Tone Curve module -
IMG_1454-blacks-and-cows.CR2.xmp (44.2 KB)

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Add a tone curve. Dont edit it at first…blend in subtract or mulitply …play with opacity it will need to be low…then if needed you can introduce a small tweak in the curve to suit…

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Hi @JohnNZ ,

I do agree with @123sg, when he wrote:

I’m not entirely sure just what look you want

“Blacker blacks” can be understood in several ways.
Like (RGB) 0,0,0. Or additional contrast. Or induce a
slightly blue tone into the blacks, to make them look
blacker…

Have fun!
Claes in Lund, Sweden

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My take with darktable, and my experimental film grain alg on top.


IMG_1454.CR2.xmp (13.4 KB)

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Hi @JohnNZ,

i feel like the easiest module would be the “color balance rgb”->“4 Ways” Tab. By adjusting the “global offset” and “shadows lift”.

Maybe this helps :wink:

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@priort , I played with this but not getting anything interesting, perhaps you could provide an edit?

@paperdigits , my photo wasn’t a hyperlink for some reason. I edited in a blank line just above the image and that made it normal e.g. click to expand.

But I thought we are warned against doing that because of the risk of bringing RGB values into the negative range.

Seems like you figured it out on your own. Not clear what you need or want from me.


IMG_1454.CR2.xmp (7.8 KB)

I’m not sure if this is something like what you’re after.
I used color balance rgb’s contrast control with a low fulcrum value of about 12%, and an extreme contrast value of 80%.

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Been staring at this one intermittently, looking for the opportunity to spend time with it…

Getting blacker blacks is fundamentally about contrast, and that’s an easy change with a s-shaped tone curve. But going monochrome opens other opportunities, per-channel shaping and other things you wouldn’t do to protect those precious colors. Here’s my take on that, in rawproc:


I used a two-part curve strategy, a loggamma to lift the shadows out of the toe and then a s-shaped control point curve to introduce the contrast. I grayscaled with only the blue channel, offered the most contrast in some of the textures. Crop to put that indignant face in the proper context with the anterior presentations :laughing: , and a more aggressive post-resize sharpen to punch out the textures. Then, I just had to get rid of that line so I just dragged the JPEG over to GIMP and cloned it out.

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And two with LUTs:


IMG_1454_01.CR2.xmp (10.1 KB)
IMG_1454_02.CR2.xmp (6.3 KB)

The Fuji XTrans III - Acros+R is from this site, I think: Fuji Film Simulation Profiles – Stuart Sowerby
The BW5 LUT is from: Free LUTs

You can crank up dehaze for something like this…if you can’t get it in diffuse module

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IMG_1454.jpg.out.pp3 (14.4 KB)

IMG_1454.jpg.out.pp3 (14.4 KB)

IMG_1454.jpg.out.pp3 (14.5 KB)

IMG_1454.CR2.xmp (17.8 KB)

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You can crank up dehaze for something like this…if you can’t get it in diffuse module

Actually the tone eq and local contrast don’t do a bad job either…

IMG_1454_01.CR2.xmp (11.5 KB)

Bonsoir,
J’espère qu’elle va dans le sens que tu attends, mais par mauvais temps il ne faut pas attendre de miracle :wink:

IMG_1454.CR2.xmp (12.7 KB)

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I like the grain! Can you share details on your ‘experimental grain algo’? Is this something that will be added to dt anytime soon? Or a standalone tool? Is this based on overlaying noise scans or entirely algorithmic?