Strong gels, low key photo

This is an interesting test case as I was using strong colored gels on strobes when I was working with dance and theater students a number of years ago. There’s no “natural” look to aim for here as it’s supposed to look like a disco floor to some degree.

The light spilled onto my poorly maintained black back drop so finding the edge where you can hide that and still preserve some detail is tricky. Also, that blue/purple gel gives you a similar effect to the infamous blue LED to contend with. I had a red gel to the left and it’s supposed to look very red, not just warm or yellow.

This is the darktable 3.8 result:

_LGH0064.NEF.xmp (21.1 KB)

I think this is where the filmic approach really shines as I was able to preserve more detail in the hair than I was with the display referred method. Also, I tried with RawTherapee and this is the result there:

_LGH0064.jpg.out.pp3 (11.3 KB)

This could be down to the fact that I use darktable more often and have more experience with its tooling, someone who’s primarily a RawTherapee user may get better results than I did there. I was just using RT 5.8.

Anyway, have at it!

_LGH0064.NEF (15.9 MB)

This file is licensed as below:


_LGH0064.NEF.xmp (40.7 KB)

1 Like

nice picture! really like the expression and the low key.

vkdt render, using a spectral input profile and reducing saturation a bit so the blue doesn’t clip quite as badly in srgb:


_LGH0064.NEF.pp3 (14.7 KB)


Disco with neon lights/body paint look… :slight_smile:
_LGH0064.NEF.xmp (6.0 KB)

My try.

darktable 3.9.0~git1285.ab83b180bf-7638.1

Nice picture to test some darktable features.

_LGH0064_01.NEF.xmp (64.2 KB)

Thanks for share.


Thanks for posting
darktable 3.8.1

_LGH0064_02.NEF.xmp (19.7 KB)

gels.low.key.pp3 (15.7 KB) RawTherapee 5.8 Development

  • Made sure there’s enough details in her hair while making the background dark (it isn’t a black background),
  • Toned down the blue on her arm,
  • Lifted the blues on her hair and the side of her head/neck area. Also made the blues a bit more pronounced on her legs,
  • Fixed the missing top left part of the backdrop,
  • Increased contrast and edge sharpness to increase detail in, mainly, the face.

Not so sure what to do with the red coming from the left. Not that much of a fan so I toned it down to a point that emphasized/compliments her brown skin.


I did want this to be in the shadows but decided to lift the lighting, globally, about half a stop. Just that much more pleasant.

1 Like

My version…

_LGH0064_02.NEF.xmp (36.7 KB)

Darktable 3.9.0~git1282.7f85fd22cc-1
_LGH0064_01.NEF.xmp (54.8 KB)


_LGH0064-strong-gels-dancer-V3sgm-S-sRGB.xmp (56.8 KB)

Thanks for this image. Some interesting and different challenges. All done in GIMP. Clean-up of the background. I accentuated the blue light, also to make the hair and costume more visible. Added slightly to the highlights on the forehead, right arm and right leg. I may have to try again - it is still not what I tried to achieve.

_LGH0064.NEF.xmp (13.0 KB)

RT with final touches in GIMP : _LGH0064.NEF.pp3 (25.2 KB)


RT 5.8dev
_LGH0064.jpg.out.pp3 (15.4 KB)

_LGH0064.NEF.arp (12.7 KB)

My interpretation, DT 3.9

_LGH0064.NEF.xmp (10.5 KB)

Not really on topic, but certainly not too much off topic either:

Have fun!
Claes in Lund, Sweden