Rawtherapee + ETTR

I am trying to avoid using ND grad filters in my landscape shots and instead using ETTR technique.

I have made some unsuccessful trials. I finish with something very unrealistic.

I was wandering how is the workflow to obtain a realistic landscape in Rawtherapee. I failed to find some video, website,… in which a reasonable workflow is described. I mean the kind of details like, tart with this profile, then,…

Any help you can provide is very very welcome! Thanks in advance

1 Like

What problems are you having when trying to do ETTR? The basic idea is just overexpose as much as possible without clipping, using zebras. Then you just decrease the exposure and add contrast and/or dynamic range compression until you get suitable results. As long as you don’t blow any highlights, the result of ETTR should be just as realistic as if you expose ‘normally’.

Thanks for the answer.

I think I have understood the basic idea, but I am starting with this and therefore I have some doubts. Now, some questions.

a) Using neutral profile if the photo is taken just after sunset the histogram fills the whole spectrum. Reducing the exposure would mean a significant clipping of the shadows. Is that correct?

b) Pushing the shadows after doing previous step creates some undesirable effects, if you go too far, like halos or these kinds of things

c) Usage of tone curve 1 and 2. Is there any optimal way, I mean, it is better to change it in 1 in 2 or a mixtue of both. Are you using the auto matched curve? Neutral profile have an straight line. It is better to use neutral, or other bundled profiles

d) should I activate highlights reconstruction?

e) In the tutorials I show I never show that people reduce dynamic range. Can you mention why this would be necessary.

As mentioned, as an starter i have simple doubts. My idea was to find a tutorial on how to do it with Rawtherapee.

Thanks in advance

Using neutral profile if the photo is taken just after sunset the histogram fills the whole spectrum. Reducing the exposure would mean a significant clipping of the shadows. Is that correct?

Yes, that is correct that if the whole histogram is filled on neutral, that reducing exposure results in shadows clipping. This can be fixed by setting the blacks to a negative value, and dragging the shadow compression slider up.

Pushing the shadows after doing previous step creates some undesirable effects, if you go too far, like halos or these kinds of things

What tool are you using to lift the shadows? What version of Rawtherapee are you using? Versions older than rt 5.0 used to have really terrible Shadows/Highlights tool, but the most recent versions should be a lot better and now can be pushed harder. If you want no local adjacency effects, for a more natural look, use the blacks slider as previously mentioned. If you want a crisper, more contrasty and detailed result whilst capturing the whole dynamic range, use dynamic range compression and Shadows/highlights.

Usage of tone curve 1 and 2. Is there any optimal way, I mean, it is better to change it in 1 in 2 or a mixtue of both. Are you using the auto matched curve? Neutral profile have an straight line. It is better to use neutral, or other bundled profiles

Tone curves 1 and 2 both do the same thing, so the recommended workflow is to use one for smooth rolloff darkening of the shadows, and the other for highlights, but you can get by with just doing an S-curve on using just one. Use auto-matched curve, if you like the tonal response of your in camera jpegs, but don’t if you don’t. Since you are using ETTR, your in camera jpegs will not look the best, but if you are setting the exposure after the ETTR closer to middle grey, auto-matched curves might be a good starting point.

should I activate highlights reconstruction?

Yes, you should always activate highlight reconstruction, and either use blend or color propagation, whichever looks better, which will be image dependent. The one exception would be if you are batch processing lots of images with absolutely no blown highlights whatsoever, to save processing time.

In the tutorials I show I never show that people reduce dynamic range. Can you mention why this would be necessary.

Could you please clarify? Are you referring to using some sort of tonemapping tool to compress the dynamic range, or are you referring to ‘loosing’ dynamic range by adding lots of contrast and causing things to clip black or white?

5 Likes

Hi,

thank you very much for your response. I was playing with your suggestions and got some improvements. Some more questions:

a) Let us set the profile to neutral. If the histogram is full but not clipped and I am utilizing the raw file, has any sense at all to reduce the exposure?

I mean, colors are there, also in the sky. Of course the normally darker areas are now very light. But, It has not more sense to increase, for example? I mean, in this sense decreasing the exposure is just making the sky darker or blacker but without further increase. I am speaking of an scene after sunset.

b) I am using version 5.8. Significant halos appeared near the threes. Black slider produced much more “natural” effects. Dynamic range module is also very interesting

c) Yes, auto matched curve not the best :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

d) About dynamic range: You clarified before in your answer!

Thanks in advance for the answers!

We have a category Processing > Play Raw where there are tons of files with edits. It is useful for learning. You can post your own file as well.

2 Likes

What specific tool are you referring to that is causing halos?

Let us set the profile to neutral. If the histogram is full but not clipped and I am utilizing the raw file, has any sense at all to reduce the exposure?

Yes if you want a darker feel to your image, at this point it’s a stylistic choice. Just be sure you aren’t causing shadows clipping, if you plan on brightening shadows afterward with a different tool.

I would recommend you take a look at Andy Astbury’s videos on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/user/TheAndy800/videos). I would say he has the best RT training videos out there period. He also does a lot of landscape work. His workflow is usually process in RawTherapee and finish up in Photoshop though you can do a lot in RT without leaving the program.

5 Likes

Thank you :+1: :+1: