recovering sunset glow in dt using filmic v4 processing

I’m really excited playing with the improvements of darktable 3.2.1 as well as trying to switch to a scene-referred workflow using filmic v4. (I’m still in the process of wrapping my head around this.)

Here is a photo of a hill that I took around sunset (the sun was setting behind me).
When I was out there (IRL), the hill had some nice red-ish glow, but I was unable to recover it in darktable. (I still have a lot to learn and photography only has recently become a hobby for me).

I hope that maybe some of you will have a shot at getting more out of this raw, so that I can learn from it.

Sunset_QVL.cr2 (30.6 MB) Sunset_QVL.cr2.xmp (8.3 KB)

This photo is released under the CC-BY-SA 4.0 license.


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Here’s what I’ve come up with, I think it was reasonably successful at being true to life (although I can’t be sure as I wasn’t there :slight_smile:)

Sunset_QVL.cr2.xmp (13.0 KB)

The majority of the colour editing I did came from the color balance module with a little bit from the color zones module to lighten up the red on the hill. I’m a big fan of using the color balance module to selectively introduce colours to the shadows/midtones/highlights. It takes a bit of practice but I’ve been very happy with the results.

My try

Sunset_QVL.cr2.xmp (5.5 KB)

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Thank you both @noahwc and @Tim. I really like your edits and I’m looking forward to dissect them tomorrow.

So far my attempts to use the color bala


Less of a sunset vibe, but brought out the red a little.

Sunset_QVL.cr2.xmp (58.9 KB)
darktable 3.2.1

sunset.glow.cr2.xmp (13.7 KB) darktable 3.2.1

White balance and especially colour balance are your friends in this case. Both can be used to make images look warmer/colder.

I’ve exaggerated the warm tones in this one a bit just to show that you can warm things up nicely.

You could also throw in the velvia module, but I’m not a fan if it is used only to warm things up, guess that’s a personal thing though.


Sunset_QVL.cr2.xmp (17.7 KB)


My try.

Sunset_QVL.cr2.xmp (9.8 KB)

Found this quite tricky, used masks (in dt).

Sunset_QVL-oliver-playraw-V2-S-sRGB.xmp (159.0 KB)

Thank you all for your submissions. I can learn a lot by going over your history stacks. Many of you have used modules that I never even heard about.

A few call-outs:

  • @age managed to get closest to what I remember seeing with my own eyes,
  • In my opinion @Jade_NL was the best to get out the glow on the hill.
  • @Thomas_Do was also quite successful recovering the glow.
  • @soupy: I like your version a lot, even though the sunset vibe got a bit lost.
  • @RawConvert has by far the longest history-stack: Man, you must have spent a lot of time on that!
  • @noahwc Your rendition is also quite close to the original, I’ll work with your suggestions on using the color balance and color zones modules.
  • Last but not least: @Tim - short and effective.

Many of the module-combinations are still well outside my comfort-level and probably I won’t start using them for a while. I definitely have to read up about some modules in the manual and start using them in my own edits. I’ll probably come back to your history stacks at a later time.

Once again thank you all!!! Thank you, bedankt, merci und danke!



Sunset_QVL.cr2.xmp (8,3 Ko)

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Yes, got a bit carried away and went up some blind alleys. I wanted to make the glow on the hill more orange without changing anything else. Used Color Zones for the first time though I don’t know if that’s the best or even a good way to do it.

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Sunset_QVL.cr2.xmp (60.9 KB)

Edited on my laptop that has 52% sRGB so this edit might be oversaturated.

Edit: on my main machine now and this purple sky is terrible haha

Since I wasn’t there, this is a shot in the dark.

Sunset_QVL_01.cr2 BM .xmp (13.0 KB)

Tried to keep it as true to what I think it really looked like at that moment. Thanks for sharing, Oliver.

Edit: here’s a version with a little more sharpening via contrast equalizer:
Sunset_QVL_11.cr2 BM .xmp (13.5 KB)