[Play Raw] Waterfall cutting through the rocks

Wow it has been a while since I have done one of these. Part of the reason is I have mainly been using Lightroom due to having switched to a Mac and not exactly having a proper workflow for Open Source yet. This does not mean I am not still messing around with darktable however. So here I bring one of my most recent shots.

Not the best shot for a few reasons. The first being the weather was just not cooperating. I had to wait nearly 30 mins just for the sun to get blocked by a cloud so that the top of the falls was not totally blown. Also the darn wind would not cooperate causing some of the trees to blur a bit.

Either way this will be a really fun edit due to some of the exposure challenges I had. In all honestly I should have bracketed and HDR stacked but not exactly a option due to only having a really small window for the shot due to having nearly no cloud cover for the sun.

Raw file: 20190809-RickettsGlen-0006.CR2 (24.1 MB)
License: CC-BY-SA

I will show my darktable edit first. Been a while but mainly uses filmic, tone equalizer, some tone curves, haze removal for a touch of extra contrast and a lowpass filter soft light blended for some little extra contrast mainly on the rocks as well as a custom exposure vignette. I had some issues preserving the details here with dt as you will see if you compare to my LR edit. Most likely because I am not as familiar with this software yet.

DT 2.7 xmp file: 20190809-RickettsGlen-0006.CR2.xmp (13.3 KB)

Finally here is my LR edit. Admittedly I put a bit more effort into this as this is the edit I posted to my Flickr. Uses some brush work and such to accentuate the depth outside of that just some very basic edits and a custom vignette as well using exposure. Keep in mind I am much more familiar with LR so it kinda shows.

Hope everyone enjoys editing this photo.


Here my edit in darktable 2.7.

20190809-RickettsGlen-0006.CR2.xmp (31.9 KB)


20190809-RickettsGlen-0006.CR2.xmp (7.7 KB)

@Thomas_Do Like the edit. This is such a challenging photo I find because the light was evil to me this day.

Did a new DT 2.7 edit myself really trying to figure out how to pull a bit more out of the highlights at the top of the falls. I am really not sure what magic the LR Highlights slider is doing but I can’t seem to replicate the flow detail leading into the foamy wash at the top of the falls. Either way I feel this is a much better attempt on my part then my first.

20190809-RickettsGlen-0006.CR2.xmp (26.2 KB)

here is a first attempt with PhotoFlow:

  • custom WB (spot meter on the gray parts of the left rocks, then tuned by hand to a warmer tone)
  • a global +1.5EV exposure adjustment and additional +0.5EV to the bottom-right portion
  • increased saturation with the color adjustment tool
  • local contrast module applied with default parameters and 100% strength

20190809-RickettsGlen-0006.pfi (33.3 KB)

Not as punchy as the LR output, particularly on the right side of the waterfall…


@Carmelo_DrRaw Looks really good. Photoflow did a great job grabbing that highlight detail on the top of the waterfall. Easily equivalent to the Lightroom recovery there. To be fair the extra punch in the Lightroom edit of mine on the upper right of the waterfall is a local painted adjustment of about + 0.2 ev to accentuate the highlight.

I am really impressed by what you did with Photoflow here it looks great. My Lightroom file also did a similar adjustment to the bottom bottom right of about + 0.25ev because I like to keep some of the deep dark shadows in my edits.

Might have to give Photoflow a spin sometime on my Mac.

20190809-RickettsGlen-0006.CR2.pp3 (12.8 KB)

20190809-RickettsGlen-0006.CR2.xmp (9.0 KB) 20190809-RickettsGlen-0006_01.CR2.xmp (9.9 KB)

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That was literally a 10 minutes edit. With some local dodge/burn one can certainly get out more details from the rocks… anyway, I’m really glad you liked the result!

If you want to play yourself with my edit, you can grab the latest macOS package from here (this is the latest one at the time of writing) and the PFI file from my post (I have just edited the post to attach it).

Interesting, my first impression when I saw raw file was rather that too strong local contrasts of rocks and trees, rather disturbing and harsh affecting the calm gentle waterfall and smooth water surface.

This water and the stones in the foreground were the central elements of the picture for me. Everything else served as the framing of this motive:

20190809-RickettsGlen-0006.CR2.xmp (22,7 KB)

Beautiful photo, by the way!



20190809-RickettsGlen-0006.pfi (25.5 KB)

This is using the shadows/highlights module.


@s7habo Glad you love the photo Boris I have been working really hard to try and improve my photography. Lovely edit by the way the Orton like glow makes it really dreamy. Always loved your edits you are very talented with dt. The main reason I cropped in a bit on the falls was to me it felt really busy on the right and wanted to settle it down a bit and emphasize the lighting I waited so long for. Personally I can’t wait to revisit this in the fall with some nice tree colors.

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I tried some dodging & burning to address the lighting issues and also remove distracting elements.

darktable: 20190809-RickettsGlen-0006.CR2.xmp (10.6 KB)


@msd: The different approaches here are really interesting. I found, for example, the wood on the right interessing for the composition and not distracting. That’s why I, in contrast to @blj and others, did not crop that part. On the contrary, I tried to emphasize the light on the tree trunk.

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I think it’s the freedom of feeling, perception, and imagination that makes arts fascinating. The difference in the approaches are interesting for me, too and I often learn from it when I do “play raw” here. In this particular photo, I thought the wood on the right side competes with the stones on the opposite side. Since I found the stones more interesting, I tried to emphasize them in my post processing.


@msd @Thomas_Do I agree this photo has many nice compositions depending on the particular editor/viewer. Last night I also did a edit with no crop and placed that as well on my flickr. I did this because after revisiting the image for this thread I took on a different perspective. Love both your edits.


GIMP 2.10.10 with RT 5.6 as raw editor.
20190809-RickettsGlen-0006.CR2.pp3 (12.0 KB)

You’re a brave (wo)man if you’re bracketing a picture of a waterfall! Things are moving so merging the shots will be hell…
You also didn’t need to bracket as you have now underexposed by almost 2 EV. You could have opened your shutter maybe for 1 second and still not have any clipping. Would have brought out the darker areas on the right a bit better maybe.

In any case, my edit and crop in RT 5.6

20190809-RickettsGlen-0006.jpg.out.pp3 (11.8 KB)

20190809-RickettsGlen-0006.CR2.xmp (7.4 KB)

I usually finish off with a few minor tweaks in Gimp (darktable.tif to gimp.jpg …but with this one I exported to jpg directly form darktable. For some reason. My hack seems to be most similar to thanatomatic’s directly above. But there are some minor appearance differences.

I was tempted, briefly, to lighten the dark shadow areas. But shadows are supposed to be (Ansel Adams-like?) shadows. So I left it as is.


@Thanatomanic could be hell to merge unless you bracket without the long exposure. I have seen a technique where you can take many shots and merge them together to simulate a long exposure and possibly could do with a hdr stack as well

But besides my insanity yea it is about 2 ev under. Partially on purpose because I knew I can pull the details back out. The issue was it was really sunny so I made a exposure assumption based off clouds covering the sun. And waited for a cloud to do so. I only had about a 10 - 15 second window for the shot so I made a quick shutter tweak and shot. Should have went a extra click but worked none the less