FOSS Photography

va3pinner

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Jul 14, 2020
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Hello all - I am hoping this post generates a flood of replies.
I am a Linux user. I have Darktable, Raw Therapee, DigiKam and a host of other post processing apps on my computer.
AND I am at a total loss on where to start wit them, because the whole digital PP process is new to me. I have NO idea where to start my workflow with any of these programs.

I have chosen Darktable to be my main program, and as described in another reply in this tread, I just go in and try stuff until I create a **** of a mess then give up. Other times I really nail it- exactly what I wanted the photograph to say.
Last week I pulled up a raw file taken at night. Nice night scene overlooking a small town on a clody night. Interesting light reflecting on the clouds. Somehow, in the process of working with that photo, I discovered I could reveal stars through the clouds! and because it was an (overly) long exposure, I am able to see the traces of the clouds as they moved across the sky. Loved the results - but I have no idea what I did.

Point of this ramble - I need to figure out where to start, and a consistent minimal work flow to begin processing. I have as an (early) goal to make my RAW pics match my in camera jpg images, then go from there.
The article from pixls.us has a recommendation I will try, but I am looking for other ideas, and yes I know the whole process from start to finish is going to depend on the image. Darktable has 77 modules. I don't need all of them.
Just where in the world do I start??
Thanks
 

Darmok N Jalad

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When I used Darktable, I made a relatively short list of favorites to employ on most post processing jobs. Things I almost always tweaked were brightness and contrast, local contrast, highlights and shadows, saturation, noise reduction, sharpening, and vignette. I found the key was to process in a consistent order, with noise reduction being your last step since it has a fair amount of processing overhead. I’m sure others have more tips than that.
 

va3pinner

Mu-43 Regular
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Jul 14, 2020
Messages
34
When I used Darktable, I made a relatively short list of favorites to employ on most post processing jobs. Things I almost always tweaked were brightness and contrast, local contrast, highlights and shadows, saturation, noise reduction, sharpening, and vignette. I found the key was to process in a consistent order, with noise reduction being your last step since it has a fair amount of processing overhead. I’m sure others have more tips than that.
thank you for that I used those frequently and pretty much a random order at this point.
And on another subject - your username was my favorite episode Star trek new generation
 

junkyardsparkle

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I am at a total loss on where to start wit them, because the whole digital PP process is new to me.
That being the case, and depending on the depth of your interest, I would suggest not trying too hard to "learn a program" at first, and focus on learning some general things about the subject... I know that sounds like a slower path to gratification, but... at the very least, make sure you understand the concept of "dynamic range", as it applies to both real world scenes and the results of trying to capture them as data... and the common ways of displaying information about that. If you're not really clear on how a RAW file is different from a "baked" image format, that would be good to have a grasp of, too. While some popular commercial software tries really hard to hide details related to this from the user, darktable doesn't; you're working a little more "from scratch".
Last week I pulled up a raw file taken at night. Nice night scene overlooking a small town on a clody night. Interesting light reflecting on the clouds. Somehow, in the process of working with that photo, I discovered I could reveal stars through the clouds! and because it was an (overly) long exposure, I am able to see the traces of the clouds as they moved across the sky. Loved the results - but I have no idea what I did.
The easiest way to "mess around" with an image, while still being able to clearly see the process related to the results, is probably to restrict yourself to just using a "curves" module at first... it can just be the "base curve" module (enabled by default); reset it to flat, then go nuts seeing the effects of dragging it around in both linear and log mode. Curve tools are common to almost all image processing software, so if you understand them, you'll understand more than just a specific app. Then, once you've mastered using curves, you can start trying to master not using curves. ;)
Point of this ramble - I need to figure out where to start, and a consistent minimal work flow to begin processing. I have as an (early) goal to make my RAW pics match my in camera jpg images, then go from there.
That can certainly work just fine, as discussed earlier in this thread... the trick with darktable is to get this set up in a way which allows you the best options for making changes from there, rather than "painting yourself into a corner". Ultimately, you probably don't really want to mess with curves for every single image (unless you're working with a small number of very "artistic" masterpieces). If you can get yourself a good starting point based on just the exposure and filmic rgb modules (and maybe color balance for saturation, although that should be needed less with the next 3.2 release) you'll have a very nice, fast, parametric workflow for general images... and you can always fall back on the old curves module when you want to get crazy with sunsets and clouds or whatever. :D
The article from pixls.us has a recommendation I will try, but I am looking for other ideas, and yes I know the whole process from start to finish is going to depend on the image. Darktable has 77 modules. I don't need all of them.
You don't even need 1/4 of them... keep in mind that darktable is a non-destructive editor with a fairly long history... this means that there are plenty of modules that nobody should be using at this point, but they have to be retained so that edits somebody made ten years ago can still be rendered by the latest version. There's been some effort to hide the deprecated ones from users in the recent releases, but it's kind of a gray area, so some RTFM is required. The article mentioned earlier about linear RGB workflow is worth mentioning again.
 

va3pinner

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Thank you for your reply. I've been handling a camera since the 1970s yeah I'm that old, so I clearly understand dynamic range. I also clearly understand the difference between a raw file and a jpeg. I was just looking for a good sequence a workflow to get started in.

I have fooled around with the various curves in darktable and other programs, but I think I will probably focus more on the filmic RGB module after some other basic edits to bring the raw file up to speed. The article in pixls was very helpful in determining which modules might not be good ones to use at this point.

I am curious where I can see how the models are sequenced in the pixel pipe. It might give me a better idea of what order I can use for each image. And I know each image will be different depending on how the camera recorded that wrong file.
 

junkyardsparkle

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I've been handling a camera since the 1970s yeah I'm that old, so I clearly understand dynamic range.
For somebody who doesn't know you, it's only clear after you say so, so please don't take offense at any over-explaining. :D
I am curious where I can see how the models are sequenced in the pixel pipe. It might give me a better idea of what order I can use for each image. And I know each image will be different depending on how the camera recorded that wrong file.
Clicking on the module group tab/button things beneath the histogram shows you different (somewhat arbitrary) categories of modules; clicking on the leftmost one will show you the modules which are currently actively processing the image... and here's the not-so-obvious thing: clicking again on whichever tab is already selected unselects all of them, and will show you all of the available modules. The processing order is from bottom to top (true of all group views), so this will give you the big overview of how the modules are ordered by default.

This modular transparency is something I like about darktable, personally; having a sense of what's going on under the hood helps with understanding what order you might want to do things in, since the processing order remains the same regardless of what order you make changes in. This has implications, for instance, if you have a carefully adjusted parametric mask in some module, then go back to adjust the exposure module at the beginning of the "pipe"... the parametric mask later down the pipe will be seeing different values now. A good habit is to get basic exposure adjusted for mid-tones first thing... at least get close. It's also possible to add more exposure modules at different points within the RGB part of the "pipe" if you need to, but I wouldn't start moving things around until you're comfortable with darktable workflow in general; there are relatively few good reasons for doing so.
 

va3pinner

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Messages
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For somebody who doesn't know you, it's only clear after you say so, so please don't take offense at any over-explaining. :D

Clicking on the module group tab/button things beneath the histogram shows you different (somewhat arbitrary) categories of modules; clicking on the leftmost one will show you the modules which are currently actively processing the image... and here's the not-so-obvious thing: clicking again on whichever tab is already selected unselects all of them, and will show you all of the available modules. The processing order is from bottom to top (true of all group views), so this will give you the big overview of how the modules are ordered by default.

This modular transparency is something I like about darktable, personally; having a sense of what's going on under the hood helps with understanding what order you might want to do things in, since the processing order remains the same regardless of what order you make changes in. This has implications, for instance, if you have a carefully adjusted parametric mask in some module, then go back to adjust the exposure module at the beginning of the "pipe"... the parametric mask later down the pipe will be seeing different values now. A good habit is to get basic exposure adjusted for mid-tones first thing... at least get close. It's also possible to add more exposure modules at different points within the RGB part of the "pipe" if you need to, but I wouldn't start moving things around until you're comfortable with darktable workflow in general; there are relatively few good reasons for doing so.
Thank you for this, very helpful.
Now that I've started to get a feel for things, we get a new version!
 

junkyardsparkle

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Now that I've started to get a feel for things, we get a new version!
Yeah, and it's a significant one in a few ways... hopefully now the dust can settle a little bit. The GUI overhaul should be mostly done, at least, and the last pieces of the module re-ordering upheaval are in place ("styles" can be used effectively with custom module orders now). I've been pretty happy using development builds leading up to this release for the last couple of months, so I'm going to try to stick to this version for now... that way, I can take part in discussions and be on the "same page". :D
 

mcasan

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  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #32
Rebuilt my Linux file system after I made two 2TB SSDs into one 4TB RAID 0 volume to contain my /home directory. Nice to have room for more raw images. :thumbup: Naturally the entire file system is backed up by TimeShift.

Now time to get Darktable updated.
 

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