Question on simple work flow in Rawtherapee

Hello!

I’ve been trying to switch from LR to RT since I got a new laptop and I was kind of used to it when I used Linux. I’m very fond of open source, so I wanted to stick to it and use it as a main raw processing tool.

However, just to let you know, I’m very minimalist regarding processing, and I like to use only a few tools. When I used LR, I liked its flow placed just in my processing order (Temperature, exposition, contrast…).

With RT, I’m finding difficult to set in a flow since I very often go back and forth playing with the tools.

I’m finding specifically challenging that my photos seem very colored, saturated and with an artificial atmosphere (even if I don’t touch Saturation tool or Vibrance much).

Another difficulty is the haze. Some raw pics will come up with a strange fog. I can almost completely remove it with the Remove Haze function, but I’m noticing it also makes the photo more “contrasty” and with more strange white stains where it was once black (LR would prevent the photo from getting to that point, from what I remember.

Do you have any ideas on processing flow that won’t ruin your pics? I’m interested in going back to LR just to compare them more fully, but if you think RT is the way to go and if there are simple steps to make my work flow smarter, I’d love to read them.

Hi & welcome

I think this is a normal part of using a new tool. With time you’ll find what you like to use. There is also a favorites tab (have to configure it in a text file currently) for your favorites.

For the color, saturation, and other processing issues, either post a sample file or check out the Play Raw section.

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Welcome @cave!

I’m wondering what camera you have and if RT provides a DCP for it…

Best,
Flössie

Look for the Favorites here: https://rawpedia.rawtherapee.com/Favorites_Tab
You can put in this tab only the tools you are interested in, in the order you want them. This can help you start.

This might be because of the ‘Auto-matched’ curve. Just start with the Neutral profile and you get all the dullness of your RAW file that you can adjust to your liking :slight_smile:

This is something you will have to learn. There are no two Softwares that work the same and also some times what treatment works best for a picture will ruin another one.

This again does not make much sense. You can use either software to process your photos. Important is for you to be skillful enough to get the results you want. And for this there are not many shortcuts, you have to learn how it works for any software you do not know…

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Hi @cave . I had a similar experience coming from Lr and as @paperdigits suggests this is normal with a new tool. Everybody has a different way of processing but for what it is worth, here is my personal workflow for run-of-the-mill images. It is based on the Getting Started section of Rawpedia and includes some extra notes based on conversations on this forum and from elsewhere in Rawpedia. RawTherapeeBasics-3.pdf (88.8 KB)

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It would be great to see some examples of this. I’ve struggled a bit with RT giving lighter tones a warmer more saturated cast than what I see. It’s visible in skin tones but also some other cases. It’s clearly visible when compared to camera jpegs but I also thought I saw it compared to darktable output. I’ve searched for the cause (white balance etc.) but each time I though I knew the answer it slipped away. There are so many variables that it becomes hard to find the cause.

It’s also quite difficult to remove the cast using the available tools. My solution has been to ignore it :wink:

Aside from ensuring that you are using a proper DCP you can also try using film simulations that can change the the whle image with one clicl

http://rawpedia.rawtherapee.com/How_to_get_LCP_and_DCP_profiles
http://rawpedia.rawtherapee.com/Film_Simulation

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There is a fork of RT with greatly simplified workflow - ART. You can read about it on these forums. Personally I tend to use ART more these days than RT. ART has everything I need, does not include complicated tools I never use and does better automatic detection of my Nikon Z6 camera with 24-70 F4 S lens.

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I find that with RT the default settings do indeed look a little bit less like my camera JPG than they would in, say, Lightroom, not that this is necessarily a bad thing, but they do. When I tried RT I was convinced it was capable of better results, but I knew I would need practice, so I kept Lightroom for a few more months, and I would practice with photos I’d done already in Lightroom, or process a new photo in LR and then try it in RT. A lot of the time, RT was better, but not every time, or it would be better in one way but worse in another, so I’d go back and play with it and try to figure out what I did wrong. I did this as a kind of hobby for several months, and eventually deleted Lightroom. The point is, there’s a learning curve, and, while I love to rag on Adobe as much as anybody else on the internet, it might indeed be helpful, as you suggested, to download the trial and do some practice with both, comparing results and adjusting your technique until you can get something you’re happy with in RT. Alternately, try RT on some photos you’ve already done in Lightroom and see if you can figure out where you’re going wrong without installing it again, although this might require more intuition and trial and error. Output from the two shouldn’t be identical anyway, but they’re both reasonably powerful (RT much more so I would argue) and either should be able to produce a half decent raw conversion. Had I made the switch immediately, I might have struggled more, but I was able to figure out how to get results that are reasonably similar out of each, just usually RT would have a slight edge in detail. If the colour didn’t match, I’d go back and season to taste.
I’m not sure how specifically to make your photos look better to you, but I will say that I find that the curves are a much bigger part of my workflow in RT than in LR, I find that a big part of the way a picture looks (including how “strong” the colour are) when I process it in RT is achieved in the curves, a lot of the other tools get used more sparingly. Try flattening the default curve and playing with it yourself, play curve one against curve two, and experiment with the different modes for them to see how they effect colour. I would often skip curves in LR, or use them to a much slighter effect. In RT, since there are 2 (plus 9000 others sprinkled throughout the program), and because of the way they work, I find they’re a much bigger part of how I get a picture to look how I want than they were for me in LR, I can spend a fair bit of time and consideration working on the curve of a photo, everything else can usually be done pretty quick and business like for me.
As far as removing a cast, the color toning tool can probably help, but I find the a and b curves in the lab controls the best way to remove (or add, if I want to) a cast to a picture. The various LAB curves are the way I prefer to adjust the way colours look, although there are numerous ways of doing this in RT. BTW I tried ART recently and really liked it, but kind of missed all those LAB curves, so for now I’m sticking with RT.
I think you have a lot more control with RT and its more powerful, although I probably spend more time per photo now than I did using LR. More experience might help my efficiency, but having more tools and (I think) more power and control, it might be unavoidable that you can end up spending more time.
I don’t know what kind of camera you use, but I was able to take some DCPs from Adobe DNG converter so I’m able to apply “camera landscape,” “portrait,” etc. to get a different starting point with certain Canon cameras. If Adobe has the DCPs, and you have the camera, you can apply them in RT. This gives me a little selection for different colour interpretations to start out with, but I don’t think it saves me a great deal of actual time, I still have to fiddle with the curve on a per-photo or per-batch basis. You might be able to find a curve, DCP, film simulation, or other kind of “preset” to get you where you want to start out from (or make one), but my experience is you really have to put a little bit more thought and input into each photo (or batch) in RT than you do with LR, but for me, its definitely worth it.
I hope you can achieve the look you want, I’m just a user but I love to evangelize RT and hope everybody can enjoy it at least as much as I do, but I understand it can be frustrating if you’re not getting results you’re happy with. This was my experience with darktable, its obviously really powerful and I’m sure great results are possible, but I wasn’t able to figure out how to get them myself. Of course I didn’t spend several months using it parallel with LR and comparing results like I did with RT (not to mention dt has been massively updated since I last tried it), so I suppose that’s understandable.

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Cool nothing beats a nice flow chart to organize your workflow, very helpful. I remember I used to have a similar one pinned above my monitor for CameraRaw/PS back in the old days when it was all so convoluted I didn’t stand a chance of remembering all the steps. Once I got Lightroom and certain aspects of PS got a little better, I didn’t need it right in front of my face at all times anymore, but for quite a long time, it was very conspicuous there in my little photo-cave. Now I’ve got the updated one for the 2020s, cheers.

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Really valuable, thank you for sharing @Wayne_Sutton, and adding the extra info!

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Show examples - raw + pp3 + screenshot.

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Could be the input profile’s “look table”, but again, impossible to say and pointless to debate without raw + pp3 + screenshots.

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Thank you. I’ll try to use Play Raw as soon as I have time. Since quarantine started it’s been pretty difficult to manage time for photo processing (hence, the time I took to get back to that post here).

Hi!

Sorry for taking some time to get back here. My camera is an old Canon T1i (I guess it’s called 500D in the US) with an EF 35mm f2.

How do I know if RT provides a DCP? Sorry for the newbie questions.

Thx!

Hi Daniel,

Sorry for taking this long to get back to the post.

I’ll try that and keep exploring RT. Thanks a lot!

Hello Wayne,

Sorry for taking this long to reply and get back here.

Thanks a lot, I’ll explore and try to follow it. It’s good to see there are a lot of interested people here showing this kind of support. I’m feeling more confident in exploring RT.

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Hi @cave,

First of all, if the camera is supported, “Auto-matched camera profile” should be active:

If not, the DCPs we provide can be found here (as well as the camera_model_aliases.json):

Sadly, your camera is not yet supported, and that’s most likely the reason why your colors are off. You can help by providing @Morgan_Hardwood with the necessary shots if you have access to a color target. The creation steps are described in RawPedia:

http://rawpedia.rawtherapee.com/How_to_create_DCP_color_profiles#Shooting_the_Color_Target

HTH,
Flössie

Hello floessie,

Thanks a lot for that explanation. Unfortunately I don’t have access to a color target to make one, but I checked a RT website regarding DCPs and LCPs, the following:

http://rawpedia.rawtherapee.com/How_to_get_LCP_and_DCP_profiles#Windows

They tell me that I can check the camera with the Adobe DNG converter, and it is there, my Canon 500D (or T1i). I’m trying to install the free Adobe DNG and follow the steps shown in RT how-to, hoping I can find my camera DPC and import to RT. Don’t know if this is a way out, but let’s see.

So we have in this forum RT developers? This is great to hear (read), and a great place to be in.

Thanks a lot once again.

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