Problematic sunset light

Hi, I was just digging through some old images and found a series with an orangey sky and silvery clouds behind silhouetted trees.

These are just snapshots taken from my house with no composition or anything in mind, I remember I just reacted to the colors and took the shots with the camera closest to me and went on with whatever I was doing :sweat_smile:

This camera was set to jpeg+raw, so for once I have some reference jpegs, and they actually look quite accurate to how I remember the light that day.

But now that I have them in front of me on the computer, they are just impossible to work with! The colours, transitions, contrast, everything, I just can’t get it how I want it.

So, this is the SOOC jpeg:

This is my best shot at it so far, which sucks:

Here is the raw-file:
IMG_9890.CR2 (12.4 MB)

What kind of black magic sourcery is canon actually doing in-camera to keep those clouds gray!?

Forgot to add this one, this is what it looks like when I first open it up in darktable:

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

Basic darktable edit. Nice shot!

IMG_9890.CR2.xmp (8.9 KB)


Thanks for posting
darktable 3.8

IMG_9890_03.CR2.xmp (13.4 KB)

Well done, you actually managed to keep the clouds’ blueish grey color. I’ll have to examine your xmp…

Havent looked at your xmp yet, I just had a hunch and opened the image fresh, and only lowered the exposure by a lot, and got an allmost identical result… :man_facepalming:
Only ‘problem’ is its very cold and pink now, instead of that warm orange :stuck_out_tongue:

My original edit to the left, lowered exposure only in the middle, and SOOC jpeg to the right:

DT 3.9.0+219

IMG_9890.CR2.xmp (10.1 KB)

sunset.light.pp3 (22.0 KB) RawTherapee 5.8 Development

You use darktable and this one gives you some issues. So here’s a second, darktable, edit::

sunset.light.cr2.xmp (11.6 KB) darktable 3.9.0


Problematic sunset light_IMG_9890.CR2.xmp (10.9 KB)

Interesting image, of note is the EXIF-supplied black point (128) is less than the minimum of any channel value in the image (blue, 136), and significantly lower than the green mins of 170. I changed the black subtract to 170, and used a simple control-point curve to shape the tone:

Can’t lift the low parts too much, if the gray clouds are to be kept ‘gray’…


Very nice edits, but displaying the same problems I’m seeing myself. With the clouds kept grey, the sky is left in more of a greyish pink/peachy color, and not the warm orange… :confused:


That is a conscious decision by me. I don’t think that the sky looks all that good when it is that orange/warm. There’s also the problem that the top left will be pushed too far when keeping it that warm and the red channel starts to clip.

Maybe this is more to your liking:

sunset.light-1.jpg.out.pp3 (22.0 KB) Rawtherapee 5.8 Development.

I basically reversed the taming and pushed it towards more saturated and slightly darker. It can be pushed even further, but as you might have understood I’m already having issues with this pushed version :sweat_smile:

PS: Did this one with RawTherapee, but the same can be done with the darktable edit I did: Play (mainly) with the color balance RGB module to warm things up.

BTW: In real life: The more things are warmed up (made more orange) the more this reflects in the clouds as well.


I’m generally not a fan of overly pushed colors, but for some images it can sometimes be required to get a ‘natural’ result. As I said, I took these photos just as a reaction to the insane colors I saw out my window. This last edit of yours feels to me very much like my memory of the moment…

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My version…

IMG_9890.CR2.xmp (15.5 KB)

Thank you all for the great edits and inputs, truly awesome :+1:

I think this will be my final edit of this one, at least for today.


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Filmulator handles it easily, retaining the color in the warm sky and also leaving the clouds gray.

  • Highlight Recovery 2
  • Exposure Comp -1.5
  • Shadow Rolloff Point 0.0147
  • Drama 56
  • White Clipping Point 0.587
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Very nice edit :slight_smile: Filmulator has surprised med everytime I’ve looked at it. I havent tried it in a long time now though, maybe I should install it again.

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This is my version:

IMG_9890.CR2.xmp (18.9 KB)

This is my attempt:
IMG_9890.CR2.xmp (18.0 KB)


IMG_9890.CR2.xmp (9.9 KB)

DT 3.8

“quick and dirty” with my standard set of tools in dt 3.8.1

IMG_9890.CR2.xmp (8,2 KB)