Wanting a decent starting point

Apologies, I’ve removed this for the time being.

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here’s one possibility using the new “blessed” approach :slight_smile:

DSC_0979.nef.xmp (5.5 KB)


Thanks for that Alberto.

I’ve looked at the adjustments you made, and tried to emulate them onto a similar image, but it just looks awful, I would have thought I’d be at least somewhere near.

I don’t know why, but the Filmic workflow is just not working for me, I used to get better results when I tried dt a few versions ago.

As I’ve had pointed out, I also need to consider legalities for my images, so I’m considering removing the post for now.


hi @wildroverandy,

I think it is very important to understand what happens when you make the changes. This can be very frustrating in the beginning. If you need help, please do not hesitate to ask us and playraws with detailed explanations and discussion can also be very helpful!

I, in any case, will be happy to help you if I can!

@agriggio Yes, the blessed approach™ is quite interesting, and gives me quite good results.

@wildroverandy to get closer to your LR looks: (in darktable) try some clarity in the contrast equalizer, plus perhaps a little local contrast (increase detail a bit)?

Have fun!
Claes in Lund, Sweden

do you want me to delete my version as well?

Hi’ @wildroverandy
Thank you for your mail and post.
Evidently I’m also struggling with filmic but suffering from a severe cold I have some time to invest.

I had to give up using/understanding the old filmic but the new filmic seems much better. @aurelienpierre argues convincingly for the new approach and it seems to me that a huge amount of effort is being invested in the linear rgb way of doing things and developing dt along these thoughts so we will have a number of tools designed to work together. As an electrical engineer I also appreciate systems based on a sound and coherent theory. Here are some thoughts:

A digital image as a general rule needs some kind of s-curve applied to it. There are apparently 3 ways (maybe more) of handling this. You can do it yourself from scratch using tone-curve-tools, you can use the (default) base curve way or you can take the new filmic approach. I used dt the default base-curve-way and from this normally pleasant looking starting point I applied tools from the “jungle” of many dt tools not thinking about color spaces, pixelline or other complicated stuff. I never modified the base curve. To me it was a fixed starting point.

When you use filmic rgb you are supposed to do some tuning and not take the default result as a fixed starting point. Filmic has a number of sliders to improve the resulting s-curve. Try to watch Bruce Williams video on filmic rgb. This video is down to earth and instructive.

From ap’s documents I understand that a number of tools should be processed by dt before filmic and therefore the pixelline has been changed but I also understand that we should start doing filmic tuning before applying other tools (except white balance, exposure and color balance).

A practical example (the photo is shot at God’s Window in South Africa) that I previously have had troubles editing to my liking.

This is the base-curve look. I don’t like the skies.

This is the filmic rgb default. Ahrgg. The skies are completely desaturated!

Moving the white relative exposure slider a bit brings back some colors in the skies:

Some minimal tuning with other modules (a matter of taste of course) results in an image that I prefer over my earlier attempts:


I think the scene-linear RGB workflow starts making sense when you figure every pixel encodes a light emission. So every correction is like dialing up or down a light bulb. Preserving the chrominance is like raising/lowering the light spectrum amplitude while keeping its shape (which is not the same as keeping its original colour). Since your camera records a light emission, and your screen displays one, it’s just light transport all along.

Colours happen in your brain, it has nothing to do with what happens in the physical world and squeezing them conceptually in the image processing pipe was a mistake (not speaking about gamut mapping here, but colour conversions is something that goes at the extreme end of the pipe).

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Hi Alberto

I’m not too worried about yours, I just wanted to get the original Raw off for now.



I think for me now it has occured to me that as much as I ‘get’ darktable, and what you’re trying to achieve here, it seems to be making too much of a science of it all.

Of course science comes into it, it has to, but I feel I’m in danger of concentrating too much on that aspect, and forgetting that I just want to enjoy taking photos.

Most of the time, I want to just get some photos without having to worry too much about the science part of it, and of course there are plenty of tools out that cater for that.

I think this is where the original ‘automation’ thread came in though. I’m not looking for a fully automated workflow, but at least a choice of how I want to process my photos.

I’ve actually been playing around with, and learning darktable for a number of years, but still seem no where near to finding a worflow that I can work with.

Olaf, thank you for your input, and yes I have watched the Bruce Williams video, and many others of his too. I follow the methods as close as I can, yet still end up no where near a final image I’m happy with.

It’s a shame, because I thought darktable could have been a viable option, but in reality, it’s just ‘too much’ for what I need, and I just cannot see why my editing workflow is not producing anything like a reasonable result.

If it is a matter of spending much more time on each image, then it simply isn’t going to happen, not for 60,000 images anyway.

Best regards,


I just bought myself this book : https://play.google.com/books/reader?id=kDcdAgAAQBAJ&pg=GBS.PA646

There is a great deal of optics, physics and psychophysics in it, that explain how to account for visual and physical issues while using mostly the colour balance to grade images.

I wonder why this is an acceptable topic for people working in the cinema industry while the photography industry is willing to sacrifice image quality to avoid dealing with… scientific concepts. (And by dealing, I don’t mean learn how to solve the equations, but just know about their existence).

The science overhead is just an entry fee. Sleep on it, it will eventually become intuitive (like walking or driving a car become intuitive after some extensive learning). Once it’s intuitive, you can drive a car and have a chat at the same time. But I’m pretty sure you couldn’t at your first lesson.


Have you tried ART?
I find it very quick and streamlined to get good results. The starting point is very similar to OOC camera JPG but anything can easily be changed. The masking options aren’t as extensive as DT but I find them more than adequate.

Probably not the best analogy for me, as I was a car mechanic for the early part of my life, and know how a car works. However, many people can drive a car without needing to understand how it works.

I understand where you’re coming from, but I’m not in the photo industry, it’s just a hobby. And, I would hardly say I’m at my first lesson either.


Not something I’ve seen, at least not for MacOS.

ART is @agriggio’s fork of RT and yes I don’t think a macOS version is available yet.

I find this extremely frustrating, with as many works have been written, we have never heard a concrete explanation of where you think your failures are (on what module with what setting, exactly), what exactly you’ve tried, no sharing of xmp files.

All we have is generalities and feelings.

Sorry if that sounds harsh, but you have to help us help you.

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Ok, thanks, I understand that now.


I find this extremely frustrating, with as many works have been written, we have never heard a concrete explanation of where you think your failures are (on what module with what setting, exactly), what exactly you’ve tried, no sharing of xmp files.

I did actually post images and xml files, and then got pointed out to me that there might be legal issues with the way I posted. Not wishing to chance anything, I decided to remove the article. If I had any idea where the failings where, I wouldn’t have been having trouble in the first place.

To be honest, I do find the plethora of tools available to be quite overwhelming, so I find it hard to even start to describe what I’ve tried or not, to some extent.

All we have is generalities and feelings.

That’s because the feeling I get is there’s no ‘flow’ to working with darktable, and it is a battle for me to work my way through editing an image.

What’s most frustrating for me, is when I’ve tried a few things, and then someone pipes up with ‘you shouldn’t use that module with these modules’, or that module should be used before/after that one.

I’ve tried so many things I’ve watched or read about, I can’t begin to start telling you what I’ve done in any detail. That’s why I was asking for a good, simple, starting point - forgetting whatever I’ve done before, a clean slate if you like.

Sorry if that sounds harsh, but you have to help us help you.

I’m not taking it as harsh, my last couple of comments weren’t asking for help. I stated where I stand now, that’s all.

See darktable 3.0 for dummies (in 3 modules)


Was it a suggestion to include a CC licence? It is our habit to license the raw file. Licensing helps us respect the author and also protect the community. See PlayRaw stuff to keep in mind.

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