On the search for a good DT workflow

Hi. I create my presets usually with the individual modules and tend not to use styles on the global image, at least not yet. Specifically where I have to set up multiple parameters on a module, I try to get myself into the habit of setting up presets. In denoising for example, I have one preset to control luma noise and one setup to control color noise.
I tend not to set specific target values but to setup the module ready for fine tuning. With profiled denoise, my preset contains the blend mode and the algorithm used. The specific values I experiment with based on the picture.

I really like Riley Brandt’s tutorials. They got me up and running with a reasonable amount of time invested. They also cover other parts of the workflow (ingesting, a little monitor profiling, etc).
In addition I added some browsing in the really good manual and threw in some other video sources (I watch Weekly Edit myself, but also a couple of other sources).

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LR was OK, but I never loved it. It always felt like I was missing something and in turn my photo edits seemed to lack that something as well.

I feel presets are personal tastes of the photographer or editor and there is no, “One for all”. I’ve never used presets in the past (3+ years ago) with LR.

For me dt was love at 1st sight, so powerful and I liked in the beginning you do have to roll up your sleeves and get dirty a bit. Once you dig in and start to understand how things work the payback is edits come easier and your photos and photography will benefit.

I use styles and modules presents of my own design in dt a lot. I’ve gone through the styles on https://dtstyle.net/ in the past to download a few I liked just so I could see their changes in the modules that made up the style.

I only have a half dozen general styles that are very similar because each one is a step above the previous in my constant progression of my skills and tastes. Through experimentation of existing module presets I find setting variations I like and save them. Just combine your favorite module settings to suite your tastes then save that as a style. When I define a style I will save most all active modules to it with the exception of ones like crop, orientation, etc…

It’s not too much unlike LR for some I bet, but my workflow goes a little something like this. I import photos, applying my name and copyright info to all. After import I use lighttable to quickly scan through the images to find ones of interest and likely keepers at 1st glance giving each one at least one star, more for something I might really want to make work and [R] for all the instant rejects. In lighttable hover you mouse cursor over a thumbnail and pressing the [Z] key will popup a larger preview of that image. It’s fairly quick can be very useful when weeding out the good from the bad without having to open each one in darkroom. Filter the images shown to be one star or greater rating. If there is a lot, or many of the same I’ll now go through those now adding more stars if warranted or removing all star ratings if I find I don’t want it. Note I only filter out rejects and no star ratings. I don’t delete anything at this point, not even the rejects. I’ll select all prospective keepers visible at this point in lighttable and apply my current working preferred general style to all. I’ll go though the results for any stand out issues. If none I leave them alone otherwise I’ll tweak them individually from here on a need basis.

It seems when there are any issues it’s from my composition when shooting, it was to dark, to bright, needs a crop that sort of thing. Sometimes it’s just strong mixed lighting I was shooting in natural light like a recent fair we went to late day. Overbright highlights are my main issue when it happens but I have a few presets for the exposure module that employ parametric masks on the grey channel with tweaked exposure setting that only affect the overbright parts of the image which at a fair at night can be any light source to strong. I’m actually editing a ferris wheel image with the issue. It’s not a bullet proof preset, it will need tweaking from time to time, but it does a pretty good for me most the time.

This is an example of what I was talking about earlier the more you dive in the more you’ll learn, learn to deal with everyday issues in photos that can be fixed with some tweaking and experimentation in dt.

If your worried of screwing any of the settings up or losing any pre-existing presets, or your photo library database in dt just back up your “/home/username/.config/darktable” directory. Which I recommend you do from time to time anyway.

If you want to see a large group of darktable user image edit results then visit our dt group on Flickr if you haven’t yet and check out the photo pool. https://www.flickr.com/groups/darktable/

Good luck with dt! I think you’ll find it quite awesome and easier over time.


thanks for the great respones. They are really helpful. Especially @MotoFotoe: it is nice to see the current workflow of some folks.

I am currently evaluating some of the PLAY-RAW threads and they seem to help a lot. I think it is not necessary to upload a picture, as I was pointed to the right directions from your answers. Thanks for that. Very great and helpful forum :+1:

I think I will find my way. Once again I recognize how important it is, that people make helpful tutorials.

PS: I’m not sure, if I should like that there is a windows version. Now I have nothing at work what holds me back from editing some playworks in the office. Just kidding… :wink:

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I would still recommend to upload samples you struggle with to get the look you want but have an example yielded by another software.

I am looking for its tutorials especially suited for beginners. Can anyone help?

Hi @charumal and welcome!

Here are some good ones:

Have fun!
Claes in Lund, Sweden

Thanks @Claes. I found a list as well. https://hackr.io/tutorials/learn-darktable

Thanks again.

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I realize this is an old posting, nonetheless I’m curious to hear what problem you had with Fuji & DT.
I’m using it and so far I’m very happy with the results.

@andrayverysame, Hi,
Firstly before anyone gets the wrong impression, I’m a BIG darktable fan :grinning:
My only problem is with the sharpening of the files, I find the RL deconvolution with damping set to zero, leads to a clean detailed file. Also the demosaicing in RT might add to this
I’ve tried and tried to get the same “clean” detail in dt but cannot.
So I’ve a preset in RT, demosaic, Standard film curve low iso, RL deconvolution (damping at zero)
Run my raws through RT and save either as Tiffs or jpegs and open in darktable to do the rest.

You might ask, why don’t I stay in RT to do the editing, well I never been able to get my head around the fact that you have to be at 100% to see the effect of certain modules, take sharpening for example, when zooming out, the image looks soft, so I cannot tell if it needs a little more contrast, I’ve tried having plenty of detail windows open but I guess it just doesn’t suit me.

Both softwares are excellent BTW.

Thank you @ukbanko

Hm… I’m not sure at this point if I’m doing anything wrong, but I’m checking my X-E2 raw files and it seems I can’t find a way to see the worms :slight_smile:
Which is good, of course, but I heard about this issue so many times among fuji shooters who use other programs as well that I always find myself a little puzzled as I never had this issue.
Well, I’ll keep experimenting and if I stumble upon the same problem I’ll post here.


I’ve heard great things about the 3 pass demoasicing for xtrans!

Hi. I know this thread is elderly, but I keep coming back to it, because in the starting post, Joeheb describes my feelings exactly :).
However just wanted to mention: clicking the link in @paperdigits post for Weekly Edit either leads to a pop-up that I have apparently won a smartphone, or, after clearing all browser history, takes me to a weird url that starts with ww7 instead of www.

Weekly edit has lapsed, but you can still find all the videos on YouTube.

What tools were you using in Lightroom?

Thanks, I already had harry_durgin bookmarked on YT. Just thought you might want to remove the link for future readers.
In LR I just used the basic options and got nice results. I’ve just uploaded my first batch of dt-processed images to Flickr and I think they could be better… (flickr.com/jaydot)
Like joeheb, I have a Fujifilm camera, and one thing I’ve figured out is that I get a better start by not using the preset base curve for Fuji… (I use neutral).
Other than that, I’m simply frustrated at being at the bottom of what seems to be a steep learning curve, dt has so many more options! I spent the whole afternoon trying to mask one red object in an image and didn’t succeed. So far :).

Hey @Jaydot, I’m a newbie here and have been using these raw editors for some three months now.
Indeed, it’s not that easy at the beginning, and I almost gave up.
Now I feel totally confident in doing my basic stuff (everything I was doing in PS and LR, not much… and a bit more, now)
I hope you don’t give up. One interesting thing to do here is sharing a raw file under the Play raw tag and let others apply their own workflows. You can learn a lot from others there and maybe it will ease a bit your initial efforts. Don’t be shy. (For example, I’d be glad to edit your rood ding raw!)


like this?

The more specific you are, the better we can help you. I’ve never used LR, so I don’t know what the basics are, and there is a high chance that the basics are different for each person.

I also have a Fuji, I got it recently and I’ve been pleased with the results I’ve been able to coax from the raw files.

For beginners in dark table, I’d remcomend limiting yourself to the following modules: base curve, tone curve, color zones, equalizer with clarity preset, and sharpening. You should be able to get really far. Take the time to learn how the masks work (that is what really sets DT apart). I often use drawn + parametric masks, and multiple selectors of the parametric mask. I usually use the parametric mask (L and Hue or C) to narrow the selection and the drawn mask to refine it.

Post some problem images and we can help you more.

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Wow! Thank you both!
This is the image that has me gnashing my teeth… The red thing should be red, not orange, my daughter has a lovely complexion which is messed up, and trying to get a bit more detail in her jeans resulted in a lot of noise.
I know it’s a snapshot, and it doesn’t merit hours of work, but it came out of LR without those problems…
Off to work now, but I’ll try to figure out how to upload the raw file in the weekend. Do I have to put it online somewhere and link to it, or can I actually upload a 32Mb raw file?
Also I don’t see an “insert image” button - perhaps that is because I’m so very new here?

I think 100 MB is the limit.

Create a post, add a trailing “[Play Raw]” header to the title and upload the file. Usually people also upload a corresponding jpg, either the camera’s or your workflow result.
Also, don’t forget to add the play_raw tag and license the file under the Creative Commons licence. Take a look at my first play raw.

Obrigada, @gadolf. Isn’t it amazing how different people produce quite different images! I find the Play Raw threads absolutely fascinating, and I haven’t even downloaded anything yet to study the xml files :slightly_smiling_face:. Your pano of Rio is lovely. But in Play Raw, all sorts of different software is used, and for the time being I think I need to concentrate on understanding the basics of dt.
@paperdigits, thanks again. I redid my photo from scratch using your “first workflow” (after watching endless yt video’s and reading endless explanations) and I got much better results! Changing the base curve was essential, the Fuji base curve is very agressive to my eye, so I changed to neutral with exposure fusion, which gave me a far nicer starting point.
Actually, I think your “first workflow” answers the question @joeheb started out with - with special attention to the base curve thing. As a new user you don’t even realise it’s there and what it’s doing to your image…
I will continue to read and practice :grinning:

@Jaydot that’s what I did at first, and still doing now (but now I started using other tools, where they seem to fit specific needs. For example, I find RT better in removing noise - specifically, with wavelets - and noise is my main issue) But you’re right, for now, keep with one software, and DT is a good starting point.

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