RawTherapee ― no local adjustments = flawed image processing workflow?

In my hunt for a Lightroom alternative I’ve been trying out both darktable and RawTherapee.

While I find it much easier to achieve the the global processing results I’m after with RawTherapee, I can’t seem to wrap my head around the image processing workflow.

What does your workflow look like if there are no local adjustments (except for graduated filters) possible within the raw editor?

I presume people do global adjusments in RawTherapee, export and use GIMP to further process demosaiced images with local adjusments. However, performing local adjustments after global adjustments seems like a badly flawed image processing workflow to me.

Example: global adjustments usually increases the contrast of the image. If i want to raise the shadows of a certain part of the image, I’ll will have a lot less editing headroom to work with after the image has been demosaiced and global contrast has been applied.

Being able to do local adjustments like dodging and burning is a very basic feature and RawTherapee seems like such a well thought out application that I feel that I’m missing something.

If there’s no support for local adjustments, is it planned (or even wanted)?

We welcome questions but you should have searched the forum for discussing about local editing before asking this question. The answer was not hard to find.

See Local Lab build

The dude only joined the forum 2 hours ago…jus’ sayin’.


The so-called local lab branch mentioned above will provide local edits when the feature is ready.

Otherwise I’d export two or more versions of the image and blend them together in gimp.


Hi! Sorry for not doing a proper search. The other part of my question still remains though. I wonder how people work around this limitation in their day-to-day editing. I’ve pondered exporting an extremely flat image from RawTherapee and add a global curve after I’ve done local adjustments in GIMP. That’s sort of what I did before I started using Lightroom 3 and before Camera Raw became as powerful as it is today.

Adjustments based on luminosity and hue can be made in RT using Wavelets Residual Image and LH tab of LAB respectively. They are not exactly “local” but well targeted adjustments and they do the job most of the time!

@mikae1 Just to clarify: You claim that the right way to process images is to apply local adjustments (in for exampe the GIMP), and then proces the image using global adjustments (in for example RawTherapee)? If that is true than You are really trying to drive the car on reverse.

@cuniek And hot rod drag racing cars are required to have a reverse gear, even though the race is straight forward.

Ah, thanks. That is one way to address the issue I guess. I’ll try it.

I didn’t say: first GIMP, last RawTherapee. I said: first local adjustments, last global adjustments. My conclusion was: the image processing workflow I could think up with RawTherapee seemed strange. I worked as a professional retoucher for many years, and it goes against the basics of what I learned. For those more technically inclined, it results in a “first destroy data, then try to work with it” type of workflow.

I came here to get some input, some good ideas on how to set up the best possible workflow using RawTherapee.

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That’s exactly what I meant. Don’t feel offended but… You are doing it wrong, or we mean something complately different by “local adjustments”.

This is literally what You want to do. I don’t want to stretch this conversation, so here it comes:

  1. open RAW file in RawTherapee, process it until everything looks as close to Your goal as possible
  2. Export into 16 bits TIFF and open it in any other app that suits Your needs
  3. Apply local adjustments in this app.

That is the right workflow with RawTherapee.

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I may be totally wrong but for me, starting with local edits and then applying global edits is not a good idea, as the global edits are likely to have an impact on what you did locally. Going the other way seems more intuitive to me, global edits then local edits, knowing that local edits will not mess up other parts of the image.


It may be possible that the words local and global are confusing the issue. The point is when you want to apply changes to almost whole image except for certain parts, can one do it in RT or not?
One can then get most of the image right except for certain patches which haven’t changed much. So they are easier to modify later. At least I took @mikae1 question this way. Usually such patches are either luminosity based or hue based. So I mentioned relevant tools.

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