[Play Raw] Glaciers, Birds, and Seals at Jökulsárlón / Iceland


I’m extremely new to RAW development - meaning that I now start to take pictures as JPG+RAW to have the possibility to work on the RAW’s if I’m not happy with the JPG.

This summer we went to Iceland and I took this image at Jökulsárlón (unfortunately with auto mode, there was no time for finding good settings …). I’m very fond of the elements (glaciers, birds, seals, mountains, water, …). However, I’m not too happy with the image in general: to me it looks too grayish and a bit dull although we went there at 5pm when the sun was setting … in reality, the scene was somewhat ‘friendlier’.

I would be very grateful if you could show me what you would do with it so that I can understand the niffy little tricks of RAW development.

Thank you so much in advance

20180829-171901.rw2 (22.5 MB) released under CC BY-NC-SA license.

And here is what the camera did to the RAW (sorry for not providing my own try: I’m still completely lost and in the stage of reading blogs and watching tutorials)

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Welcome to the forum @BayerSe. You will find very friendly and (usually) patient people here. Here are my thoughts (forgive me if I am saying things that are too obvious to you).

It is better to start with a vision. That means one should know what one want to do with a given image. (Like you said above that in your image contrast is too less and that it looks too frigid to you) This way, you can choose only those modules of a program that deals with issues one has already identified. Therefore, how good a given program is depends on whether it has the tools to implement your vision or not. I find that RawTherapee has all the tools that I need to process a raw file and GIMP has all the tools that need to locally modify a photo.
Here is an attempt at your example.

  1. Vision: To accentuate the contrast, make photo friendly and create a subject of obvious interest in the image.
  2. Implementation:
    a.The sky is reflected in the snow making it bluish and frigid. Thus, set the White Balance on the snow to make it pure white.
    b. Look at the histogram and use the tone curve to adjust black point and white point. Activate the Local Contrast module to add… well… local contrast.
    c. The line of birds in the sky gives the photo an extra dimension. Accentuate it by adding a graduated filter to darken the (overexposed) sky.
    d. The juxtaposition of the glaciers and the birds give the subject of interest in the photo. So crop the image to remove the foreground water expanse, which was distracting the viewer from the main subject.
    Done! Here is the result.
    20180829-171901-1.jpg.out.pp3 (10.8 KB)

Here is my interpretation: Set white balance toward warmer colors but keep the blue color in the ice. Do some contrast enhancement (sky, reflections on the water) with tone curves. Do some sharpening and structure enhancements (highpass, equalizer). Increase the reds in the sky and water (tone curve). Try to recover the burned areas in the sky (highlight reconstruction with color reconstruction). Make ice brighter (color zones). Crop so that the animals look a little larger and the birds are on the left.

The colors look now “interesting” with the blue ice and the warm sky. How was the impression to the naked eye?

20180829-171901.rw2.xmp (8.5 KB)

Same with white balance set to thr rocks.

Edit: I added [Play Raw] to the thread title.

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Thanks for the very warm welcome @shreedhar! Your comments and descriptions are very helpful, I’ll take a closer look on your steps over the weekend - thank you!

Thanks alot @Thomas_Do - if I remember correctly, then the impression was closer to your second image. Thanks for writing down your steps!

Here’s another image which is closer to ‘reality’ (as far as I remember) with respect to the colors of the sky as interpreted by the camera


Okay, here a version of my above image, which might be a little closer to reality:

20180829-171901.rw2.xmp (10.0 KB)

20180829-171901.rw2.pp3 (10.9 KB)

first step:
recover highlights with exposure compensation and highlight compression sliders (check the highlight reconstrunction button )

second step:
brightness/ contrast sliders ( but the curves tool is way more powerful)

third step:
white balance with the eye dropper

last step:


20180829-171901.rw2.xmp (9.1 KB)

Edit: I corrected the picture a bit

LightZone, twice:

Custom;iceland.lzt.txt (8.5 KB)

Custom;iceland2.lzt.txt (9.1 KB)

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20180829-171901.rw2.xmp (9,3 KB)


The output of macOS Filmulator into RawTherapee. (The reds purples pinks violets and oranges were rather artifacty so I gutted them)

20180829-171901-output.tif.pp3 (11.0 KB)


Gave it also a try with DT:


Couldn’t restore the highlights.

I like this image :grin:. Here an other version:

20180829-171901.rw2.xmp (9.8 KB)


merci @BayerSe 4 ice & pips with ice picks {blood, ice, vodka, 1 anchovie}

photoflow (using channel mixer & DR and TM)

gimp and g’mic (a bit if a blotchi work, anyway…)

pola{r} detail :skull:

cheers and a good weekend for y’all =)

forgot to say that this reminded me of the terror

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Someone turned the thermostat up too high and messed with the laws of physics too.



@Joan_Rake1 I don’t know what to say. It isn’t just global warming: it’s hell on earth. :skull::poop:

Here is my try. Personally I prefer the BW version.

darktable: 20180829-171901.rw2.xmp (8.6 KB)

darktable: 20180829-171901_01.rw2.xmp (7.9 KB)


Thanks for sharing.
Rawtherapee → highlights recovery
Darktable → tone mapping
Gimp → wavelet sharpening

20180829-171901.rw2.pp3 (10.4 KB)
20180829-171901_02.tif.xmp (1.4 KB)


you took the poop out of my skeleton :scream::japanese_ogre::clown_face::face_vomiting::alien::genie::leg::bone::peacock:

… the words out of me mouth. Guess it’ll be roasted bird for dinner

…if only someone didn’t shove some circuits inside the carcass.