I have darktable 3.1.0+2446~g7d3d982d4 (compiled from git development a day or so ago) and used filmic RGB 4.
First attempt was to let the recover highlights module work in LCR mode.
After that, I made a pristine copy and turned off the recover highlights module, letting filmic do all the work on highlights.
I wanted to make the focus of the image the people, so I added a tone equalizer (to lighten the subjects and darken the top and bottom, more or less) and a duplicated exposure with a feathered, fuzzy, inverted circle mask over the area with the people (so that everything else becomes darker).
However, that affected the data filmic got, so its highlight handling let in too much semi-clipped data. Magenta invaded.
I then dialed back the highlight color, but it took away a little too much color in some of the non-sky (and sky reflection) color in the image. So I moved the highlights color back up and got a magenta cast in the sky (and reflection) again.
I then compensated for the magenta by “painting” a blueish color back using the colorize module with a parametic mask, to only affect the magenta color and then added two lasso masks to generally select the sky and the pool. Of course, then I feathered the mask.
Yes, painting the color on the sky is cheating a bit , but it’s done at the end of the pipeline and it it looks natural enough. I don’t know if the sky was completely grey, a touch blue, more blue, or some shade of magenta (due to a sunset) in real life. I’ve opted for a slight desaturated blue, which is most likely.
I went back to the image a third time to create a simplified version where I don’t add any additional modules in the scene-referred mode (official mode in darktable > 3.1.x, which is filmic-powered), yet only have filmic handle the highlights (again), to show a mid-step, and got this:
_V3A0302_02.CR2.xmp (5.9 KB)
It’s a little different from where I started with the middle photo, as the parameters have changed. However, as it doesn’t have the tone equalizer sandwiched in-between exposure and filmic, it lets filmic handle the extremes better, and doesn’t need the compensation, like the one in the middle.
Perhaps reordering the modules might make sense for this photo, to let filmic handle the highlights better and still be able to adjust the tons of the image with the tone equalizer.
Everything’s a tradeoff, I suppose?
So here’s one last one, where I built on the previous simple version, letting filmic handle the highlights itself, but reordered the modules to stack tone equalizer on top of filmic, then added a second exposure on top of that (to slightly darken everything but the subjects):
Edit: After seeing the image here, I’d probably further work on it, by making a mask for the equalizer to let the pool reflection shine through and then add another exposure module on top with a mask to slightly darken the chair highlights.
But, overall: This was a fun challenge and it was interesting to try out filmic 4’s highlight recovery.