Insipid landscape to understand tone equalizer and the monochrome dark skies

Apologies for the rather boring and uninteresting landscape image first of all. The idea is simply to get insights into two particular things I was trying to do in darktable.

Edit 1

This is a minimally processed photo where I wanted to use tone equalizer to darken the sky and make the clouds ‘pop’. However, this particular edit does not contain tone equalizer! The reason is that I could not get rid of this halo effect on the trees, see screenshot below (left=image as posted here, right=with tone equalizer, notice the grey on the trees):

Another nasty side effect my application of tone equalizer here is the destruction and muddying of the trail visible on th lower right corner (left=tone equalizer, right=original):

This is the xmp (processed with dt 3.4):

20200524_NIK3363.nef.xmp (10.0 KB)

Edit 2

This is a simple b/w conversion using color calibration, where I was trying to replicate the typical red filter effect that @ggbutcher discussed here. I used the new color calibration module pushing the red slider on the gray tab all the way up but… meh.

Here’s the xmp:

20200524_NIK3363_02.nef.xmp (10.8 KB)

And finally the raw file (thanks Glenn!):

20200524_NIK3363.nef (41.2 MB)

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

1 Like

I mentioned a similar problem with the tone eq in another thread, yesterday. It would change some dark bokeh areas of the photo to what I initially thought were actual smudges on the lens, but when I took out the tone equalizer module, they looked ok. I think it is the same as what you are reporting. I had never had anything like that happen with dt 3.2.1 or older.

1 Like


With the JPEG, Rx1 + Gx0 +Bx0 rendered a black upper sky, posterized in the transition to the lower region at the horizon, so I tempered it a bit by mixing in the green channel:


Windows XP is that you??


insipid.landscape.nef.xmp (11.2 KB) darktable 3.5.0+218~ga34246950

I’ve been having trouble with the newly added, and now default, eigf in the tone equalizer module too. Tim’s description sounds about right. Cannot get it to do what I want and have decide to make a general preset that reverts to the old defaults (with some small changes). I should not have to fight with modules!

The above edit I made is done with your edit in mind: I did use the same modules you did, although implemented them differently. One thing I would not have used here is… the tone equalizer. I did add it to show that the halos are not seen if you do not use eigf (or, like me, need to learn how to use the new defaults?).

EDIT: Just realised that I used 3.5 to edit this image, which you might not have installed. Just checked and this sidecar is still accepted by dt 3.4

1 Like

I mostly use contrast equalizer and local contrast to give thee clouds a little punch.

But in this case I (unnecessarily?) touch a bit of tone equalizer. I think the default masking needs to be modified for every case.

dt 3.4 20200524_NIK3363.nef.xmp (11.0 KB)

1 Like

@ggbutcher Glenn thanks for trying on the jpg – after your post I edited the original and added the nef file! I’m now re-reading Aurelien’s description of Color Calibration to see if I’ve missed something – I thought that what I did there was exactly the same procedure you’ve described here.

Ah, I thought you were saying that my problems were due to running dt on windows then I realized the joke on Windows’ background!!! Anyway, this was shot in Valle Imagna (Lombardia, northern Italy).

@Tim @Jade_NL @Eduardo_Battaglia thanks for trying, I have checked and in fact using the old guided filter instead of eigf does not produce those weird greys on the trees and does not destroy the character of the trail path. I agree that tone equalizer isn’t probably needed on this particular image…

I often saw a smudginess of details even using ‘guided filter’ in tone eq. It generally disappeared on selecting ‘average guided filter’, which became my default option. Haven’t yet used 3.4 to know if ‘average eigf’ is comparable.

No, the landscape together with the clouds is quite interesting.
My try:

20200524_NIK3363.nef.xmp (14.4 KB)

From the NEF, I had to add color saturation to the image to get the blue to go dark when applying the “red filter”:

Looking at the original JPEG, I think the camera also added saturation.

1 Like

Nice picture @aadm!
Here is my take with darktable. I didn’t use the tone equalizer, though.

20200524_NIK3363.nef.xmp (23.4 KB)

Using the rgb curve instead of tone eq. And color zones. Almost all the tweaks stolen from various posters in this forum, so thanks all.

20200524_NIK3363.nef.xmp (14.4 KB)


20200524_NIK3363.jpg.out.pp3 (15.2 KB)

Must have been a really nice day! Where is this?


Oh right, first I need to make the sky more blue then apply the red filter! Thanks!

I have processed so many photos with the simple rgb curve, but right now I’m trying to get used as much as possible to the modern approach (filmic+color balance etc). However, good reminder that dt gives perfectly good results with the simple and friendly curves (well friendly for those that come from years of editing in lightroom or aperture).

It’s a trail that starts from Fuipiano Valle Imagna, province of Bergamo (Lumbardy, Italy). I think this is approximately here, near Costa del Palio:!45.8673!9.5226

I think your edit @betazoid is too much contrasty for me (I tried to preserve the texture in the clouds as much as possible, see above), but I liked the greens which I haven’t been able to make so “green” in my edit.

Here’s another 3 shots from the same hike:

PS: and thanks to all the others that have tried to work with this photo!


Let me add one more thing: landscape photography is about composition, you know that probably. But the most boring landscape shot can have the best composition and the other way round. So the composition justifies the “isipidity” of the subject.

1 Like

Sure the question was about DT, but as I was beginning to play with Lab curves in RT, I gave it a try. Using the LH equalizer to darken the blue and CH to increase the chromaticity of the blue.

20200524_NIK3363.nef.pp3 (12.1 KB)

20200524_NIK3363.nef.xmp (14.3 KB)

DT 3.4 filmic-based with blues darkened in colour zones module

My take, DT 3.4 (with Tone Equalizer)

20200524_NIK3363.nef.xmp (11.8 KB)

1 Like