snow and color calibration

I’m having a hard time trying to get an acceptable color for the snow in a bunch of action photos I took of my daughter skiing.

This is the best I could get, there is also the additional problem of shooting against the sun, very bright highlights etc. I’d love to get a few pointer on how to use the new color calibration module. I have used a custom illuminant and simply played around with hue and chroma sliders.

This was processed in dt 3.4.1, and the photo was taken with a Fuji XT2 and the cheapest zoom of all (XC 50-230 OIS, not a great performer perhaps but superlight which is a bonus when splitboarding).

Here’s the raw plus xmp:

20210214_FUJ6103.raf (26.0 MB)
20210214_FUJ6103.raf.xmp (9.2 KB)

Files are licensed Creative Commons, By-Attribution, Share-Alike.


Did you use the color picker (color calibration module) and selecting a white area?

Not using darktable but rather Filmulator with the brand new white balance picker feature, sampling the non-clipped snow cloud to the left of the skier’s right pole.

  • Profiled CA on
  • Highlight Recovery 2
  • Temperature 5649
  • Tint 1.035
  • Exposure Compensation -5/6
  • Drama 54
  • White Clipping Point 0.62578

I also used defringe with RawTherapee.

Here’s a real quick edit in RT

20210214_FUJ6103.raf (26.0 MB)

I basically just drew a simple curve (film like) and pulled up the mid tones a bit, set highlight compression at 35 and the colour temperature to 6200 (by eye).

In my opinion, there is no right way to white balance a sunny snow picture; it requires a different balance for the shadows as opposed to the sunlit areas. Therefore just choose a white balance that looks good to you.

oops. I uploaded the raf file instead of the pp3 file. Here is the pp3 file:
20210214_FUJ6103.raf.pp3 (12.6 KB)


What I do with white balance casts is to look at the three-channel histogram, which will usually show the offset of the red and blue channels from green as manifest of the cast. With that, I’ll dial the red and blue WB multipliers in the respective directions to align the histogram peaks.


thanks for posting, I tried to reduce the blue cast color on the snow using color calibration colorfullness and color zone modules (aka desaturate blue)20210214_FUJ6103.raf.xmp (18.7 KB)
DT 3.4.1


Took the liberty to shift the hues a bit into a red-yellow-blue color harmony.

20210214_FUJ6103.jpg.out.pp3 (13.6 KB)

I was wondering why you call the natural blue color of snow mainly in shadow due to blue sky reflection , a blue cast?
Excuse me @ggbutcher, but I would not say the look of your rendering is realistic.


snow.and.colour.pp3 (17.8 KB) RawTherapee 5.8-2786-g5b329a8de

I’m also of the opinion that there should be somewhat of a blue cast, especially those parts of the snow that are in the shadows. The questions is: How much?

I did lessen it somewhat and tried to warm things up just a tiny bit. My main emphasis was on the skiing kid though.


I agree with your thoughts…

Ciao Alessandro!

Tell your daughter that she is more skilled than I [grrrrr].
Here is my attempt — where I used the color balance module in dt as my chief tool.

20210214_FUJ6103.raf.xmp (7.2 KB)
Have fun!
Claes a Lund, Svezia

a slightly softer processing
with the rgb curve you can compensate for such hard lights quite well :slight_smile:
translated by g …

snow and color calibration_20210214_FUJ6103.raf.xmp (11.8 KB)

There is currently a lot of snow in my garden. I’m looking at that now. With my eyes I don’t see a blue reflection in the shadows. Perhaps direct observation with the eyes is not objective? I am curious what the color experts think of this. I like the edit of @ggbutcher.

I always see blue colored snow in the shadows when the sky is cloudless blue and the sun is shining.

translated by g…

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Yeah. A the moment I can not check because the light is too soft outside but I’m pretty sure that’s normal.

BTW, @Claes and @Suki2019, nailed the cropping! :kissing_smiling_eyes::ok_hand:

20210214_FUJ6103.raf.jpg.out.pp3 (15.2 KB)

nice shot, i like her style of skiing :slight_smile:
this is my rough take in RT:

20210214_FUJ6103.raf.pp3 (13,9 KB)

Under good weather, blue sky is reflected on the snow. When illuminated by the sun, it is so bright that it appears white. In shadow, you perceive the blue tint.
Under cloudy sky it is quite different, it can seem gray. I had also snow in the garden and effectively due to bad weather condition there was definitely no blue tint.

In painting, I think Leonardo da Vinci was the first to use colored shadows.
After went the Impressionists
Monet “La Pie”


This was also using Color Calibration colourfulness. Reduced the blue quite a lot and also a little on the green slider. This was with with a mask selecting the blue via hue.

It’s not entirely unrealistic for this particular subject matter, since most ski goggles are orange.