Highlights and Shadows

OK, I will admit it up front … I have been a H&S addict for many years. Yes, I do understand that it has some terrible side effects that can be hard to manage but frankly, so far, I have not found an alternative process that will provide similar effects.
The highlight slider is invaluable in developing sky contrast and detail and the shadow slider really does lift and add contrast to some almost impenetrable dark spaces.
My best solution to overcoming the nasty edge effects is through masking that usually does the trick but is time consuming. I had hoped that the new tone-equaliser would be some sort of substitute … it is a great tool and an impressive design but is simply is not built for that same purpose.
I would like to hear how others are tackling the same H&S problem in dt.

The article released with 3.0, https://pixls.us/articles/darktable-3-rgb-or-lab-which-modules-help/ says to prefer the Tone Equalizer.

I’ve never used shadows and highlights, I preferred the Tone Curve in LAB mode before the linear workflow. I still use the tone curve for small adjustments.

You can also try contrast equalizer with luma contrast and a mask.

Now I wrangle the over all contrast with Filmic RGB,

Unfortunately the tone-equalizer (which is a brilliant module) comes nowhere close to replacing the S&H. t-e is much more of a global adjuster which can be clearly seen when the mask is tuned on. It is possible to do some reduction of areas but local contrast is out of the question.

Has it gone through an update? There was talk about that. I know some raw processors have.

My alternatives:
Color balance, shadows mids and highlights.
To lift shadows, the black point slider in exposure module works well. I usually look at the waveform when adjusting to try and avoid crushing the blacks.
2nd instance of exposure and/or local contrast, blend mode multiply, mask to area - for darkening and adding contrast.
Filmic can also be used.

Filmic and colour balance do the job for highlights mostly. For raising the shadows if I’m not happy with what I can get out of tone equaliser I’ll just do it with a second instance of exposure and my own masks. Raising the shadows with exposure goes for any editing software it always works better IMO. Using the same masks with other modules to recover details or change the colour can be the key sometimes. I’ll often use contrast equaliser after pushing up the exposure.

In my experience filmic compresses the highlights but produces clipped shadows as a side effect. Do you use a copy of exposure positioned after filmic in the pixelpipe to lighten the shadows?

You open an image and turns on filmic. The whole image becomes lighter and more pleasant but the highlights are often clipped (due to the lighter image). Increasing the white relative exposure slider takes care of the clipped highlights but produces clipped shadows. If you increase the white relative exposure slider even more the clipped shadows are often reduced significantly!? I would think that you should decrease the black relative exposure to fix the clipped shadows.

I’ve not played around with moving things around the pixel pipeline yet so it’s just been at default.

I like using the exposure module with parametric and drawn masks. It give incredibly precise control over which parts of your image get adjusted.

You are right but it is unfortunately a rather time consuming approach. The way that S&H works is very convenient … unfortunately the results are not so satisfactory, especially if one wants to ‘push’ hard.

In order to create a parametric a mask accessing only the most dark areas you operate on the very limit of the scale giving only a rough control. Therefore, you have to combine the parametric mask and a drawn mask. It would be nice to be able to somehow zoom in on the scale to get better control.

this story ends in a pixel based drawn mask like the quick mask (shift+Q) in gimp …