Getting Picky - fun with tone EQ & contrast

Today’s closeup: Toothpicks scattered on a fine straw mat.

No masterpiece, but an opportunity to explore tone equalizer, contrast curves, and perhaps even some old school Tri-X ASA400 “film simulation.”

Whether you go for B&W or original color version, it’s still essentially a duo-tone affair.

Thus, an opportunity to focus your favorite RAW editor on functions like dynamic range and contrast curves without distraction. Enjoy!

My effort through ART 1.16.2 …

RAW file: 2022-09-12-011.CR3 (16.1 MB)
ART 1.16.2 Sidecar: 2022-09-12-011.CR3.arp (24.8 KB)

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


Hello everyone,
Here is my version with Darktable 4.0
Rightly or wrongly, I always start with a color version for black and white processing, for the conversion to black and white, I used a tone curve preset tonecurve_BW.dtpreset (1005 Bytes) based on a technique of the French photographer JULIEN APRUZZESE (at the 35th minute of the video below)
Greetings from Brussels,

2022-09-12-011.CR3.xmp (15.4 KB)


With a little color grading :wink: .

2022-09-12-011.CR3.xmp (8.0 KB)


@Christian-B Nice result. And thank you for sharing the link above.

Despite 5 years of French study, my skills have grown rusty over the decades - so I turned on YouTube’s translation for captions (… apparently I do remember enough to laugh out loud at some of YT’s humorous mistranslated captions).

What I grasped was Apruzzese’s key point: leveraging the individual color channels through curve manipulation is essential to taking maximum control of RAW conversion to B&W.

I’ve come across many sources (online and in print) as to this key point and have been convinced it is the central power of such conversions … producing possibilities that old analog film shooters (like me) using our stash of colored lens filters could only dream of.

You’ve inspired me to dive deeper into such techniques. In ART & RT, it appears that the “RGB Curves” (under the “Color” tab) are best suited to such tweaking. Perhaps there are more efficient ways to pull and tug on the RGB channel curves ( to differentiate between shadows and highlights within each color curve).

Which tools within Darktable 4 do you find easiest to utilize for such purposes?

Thanks again for nudging me along this powerful path to enhancing my B&W work in the digital darkroom!


@Thomas_Do I do like the color version as much as B&W in this case. Perhaps it’s the duo-tone - subtly differentiated - that produces a similar mood either way. Abstracts (or super-closeups) seem to lend themselves to such treatments. :+1:

1 Like

My version…

2022-09-12-011_01.CR3.xmp (12.2 KB)



Here is a similar version made with ART, it allowed me to learn and practice this software.
As with Darktable, I started the processing in colour and then converted it with the black and white module. The luminance preset gives the same result as the one I made with the tone curve of Darktable.

Art - BW =
DT Tone curve BW

2022-09-12-011-Art-BW-1.jpg.out.arp (12.6 KB).

Deepl is my friend, because my English is disastrous, I am French speaking and my second language is Dutch :wink:

Greetings from Brussels,


Thanks for the chance to play with this image.
My initial thoughts were of black and white, but when I pulled it into GIMP I liked the subtle range of colour.


Apart from a bit too much texture boost for me, this is excellent.

Thanks for sharing.

1 Like

Yes, I’ve found that starting with a good sense for the color content goes a long way in opening up the possibilities for color-channel-based editing into B&W. Each RAW editor has its own personality in this regard.

Glad you found this thread to be a good excuse to delve a bit deeper in what ART offers for such purposes.

In fairness, the toothpicks were fairly sharp :wink:

1 Like

Hi @ejm,
this is a fun challenge. Here is my version.

2022-09-12-011.CR3.xmp (13.3 KB)


You’re right, I forced it a little…