Turning turtle terrific?

Hello all,

I deliberate exposed for the bottom of the neck of the turtle, even so got a little clipping in the specular reflection on the shell. I used multiple exposure modules and combined drawn and parametric masking, yet still can’t find much satisfaction. I’d be delighted if any of you can suggest improvements, including any critique on how I have processed.
2020-09-09_12-43-58.40_DSC6279.NEF (20.5 MB)
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike

1 Like

Has the pre ninja turtle glow. :turtle:


Leonardo? :turtle: Donatello? :turtle:
Does he take orders from Splinter? :rat:
Hero in a half-shell?

My try.

2020-09-09_12-43-58.40_DSC6279.NEF.xmp (14.9 KB)

The problem lies more in the right processing. May be you should change the category from “software” to “processing” leaving the tags “play_raw” and “darktable”.


This is the best I could do without going out of bounds trying to bring up the underexposed areas.

2020-09-09_12-43-58.40_DSC6279.NEF.xmp (6.9 KB)

2020-09-09_12-43-58.40_DSC6279.NEF.xmp (11.5 KB) 2020-09-09_12-43-58.40_DSC6279_01.NEF.xmp (12.3 KB)

1 Like

2020-09-09_12-43-58.40_DSC6279.NEF.xmp (18.4 KB)

1 Like

@Tim I think you flattened it too much or the masks are blending close tones.

My take. No inspiration: just applications of some of my G’MIC commands. PhotoFlow: minimal processing. G’MIC: clip negatives, local contrast, brightness x5, local contrast, texture and resize.

Thanks, Thomas, I have now changed the category.

@Thomas_Do, thank you for your rendering. The most significant discovery I made in your history stack was your use of the shadows and highlights module. This used to be a go-to for me but I have avoided using it in favour of tone-mapping in the last couple of years, and filmic since about the beginning of 2020. The brightness of the water behind the turtle is still an issue for me - my eyes find it a major distraction, which is why I used multiple masks. Anyway, thank you, once again.

@sls141, I see you like base curve and tone mapping. What particularly I noticed was the global tonemap module, which I have somehow never noticed, let alone used or understood. That module seems to be the game-changer for me in your history stack, in that it brings up the shadows and deals with the problematic bright water. Thank you!

@pitbuster, I like your image, but with your history file I get a default stack only. I’m not sure why this might be - version incompatabilities? I am running the daily build - currently 3.3.0~git636.0949e167c. I can’t work out how to find your darktable version in the .xmp file.

@afre, thank you for your take - no TMNT glow for you! G’MIC is still a closed book to me - maybe one day I will dedicate some time to it. Anyway, thank you.

@Tim, I agree with @afre, the tones on the shell surface are some of the most important bits of the subject. Thank you for your contribution.

Overall, I’m left with the impression that this is just a very difficult raw - the dynamic range of the scene easily overwhelms the dynamic range of my camera’s sensor. Serves me right for shooting in the noonday sun!


I am also using git, I think maybe I didn’t wait for DT to update the XMP. In any case, most of the magic was using Filmic RGB, Tone Equalizer and playing a bit with Local Contrast (reducing the last slider to better play with the high dynamic range of the image).

DT 3.2.1 2020-09-09_12-43-58.40_DSC6279_02.NEF.xmp (8.6 KB)


I used “retouch”.
Alternatively you can try a selective blur of the highlights with a low pass filter.
I set it up in the xmp if you want to have a look at it.

2020-09-09_12-43-58.40_DSC6279.NEF.xmp (33,5 KB)


Since no one seemed to care for my processed image, I tried to re-do it and let the colors go bluer, like many others. I did not like it nearly as well.

I think you just need to turn modules on and off from your existing xmp and see what is making the shell muddy and flat. I think that is the biggest negative to your image. PlayRaw is a place to explore, so do whatever you want regardless of what people think.

1 Like


Ok, this is my third attempt (second posted). I still feel like the log looks better on my first post, but the turtle probably does look better, here. And only the photographer knows what color the water should be. Thanks for the encouragement, @afre.

2020-09-09_12-43-58.40_DSC6279_02.NEF.xmp (7.4 KB)

1 Like

2020-09-09_12-43-58.40_DSC6279.NEF.xmp (17,8 Ko)

  1. terrific is not really suited for the mid-afternoon daylight you have here, a more gloomy lighting would have helped building the mood. Especially these speculars kill the mood.
  2. use a negative power setting in color balance (general one, not masked) to darken the ambient light and make the whole scene gloomy. Adjust the offset such that shadows stay legible despite the power/mid-tones adjustments.
  3. use a panoramic cinema cropping ratio for… well action cinema visual language, although the original framing is not great for that. If the turtle had been more on the left of the frame, we would have got a more vivid feeling of “I’m coming for you”, with more trunk on the right half on the pic.
  4. get rid of speculars without the halos with tone EQ
  5. brighten the turtle a bit (again, power/mid-tones but in a masked instance) and re-use that mask to sharpen the turtle a lot with contrast EQ
  6. bring up the green in ambiant for toxic effect, and the cyan in mid-tones on the turtle (in color balance). Then dial down the cyan effect by compensating slope and offset with amber color.
  7. for that kind of moody goal, you don’t need to salvage the whole dynamic range as I usually show/advise. Here, it’s more a matter of building an atmosphere and letting some parts to the imagination. Brightening shadows too much make it look like a National Geographic doc.

For me, it’s more that the focus is not on the eyes that distracts a bit, what I tried to counter with my quick-n-dirty edit (some extra exposure on the eye). Furthermore, the lack of colour contrast is also something I tried to work on, especially reducing the massive impact of the brownish water. For the crop, I tried to give the turtle some space to look. A tighter, ultra-wide crop may have worked as well, but the vegetation on the left also distracts and should be left out.

Or a more moody moonlit scene …

1 Like