Maybe some of you read my other topic discussing what I view as the best Raw Processor for the Olympus files. Many (including myself) were probably put off by the interface and the challenge of learning a new software. Nevertheless I decided to learn Darktable and found it's very well laid out, with a good manual and no features that would require to "unlearn" anything. It does have a lot more capabilities than LR, but for the basic 99% of image processing it's very simple. Here is a short tutorial for an everyday scenario: A picture taken in not so great lighting, harsh with challenging colors. The goal is to improve it as much as possible without ruining the mood - a sunny seaside afternoon. Some may object with my results which is perfectly fine, the purpose here is to show the tools which obviously some may use to a better end result. I start with a base conversion. This includes a contrast curve and a HSL preset that I developed by comparing several pictures with the default Olympus jpeg conversion. My goal was to start with something very close to what OV3 would produce and be able to take it much further with some modern PP tools. I'm pleased with this preset, might require some fine tuning depending on the actual scene but it works ok as a starting point. Other "default modules" are Sharpening (with a "general" preset) and Denoise, set up for slight Chroma noise reduction, similar to what LR provides as default. base conversion by Dragos Simionescu, on Flickr Note that the Tone curve in DT is working on Lab space, as far as I understand this gives much better control on the luminosity without affecting hue or saturation as much as the same tool in LR. By the way, this is me and my family, trying to get a family portrait by the sea. I triggered the camera with my iPhone while my kid was showing his enthusiasm for this endeavour. Needless to say we quickly dropped the whole idea. The picture definitely needs some taming of the harsh light and some selective exposure compensation. Let's get to it. The Highlight and Shadow module works great, maybe not as refined as LR's but still helps a lot without producing unwanted artefacts if set up correctly. highlight_shadow by Dragos Simionescu, on Flickr Now let's do selective exposure compensation - Dodging as known by the more experienced darkroom veterans. Virtually all effect modules in Darktable can be applied in various blend modes (similar with the layer blending in PS, with several ways to mask the effect. The masks can be brushed in, drawn, set up by parameters such as Luminance, Chroma, Hue etc, or even parametric and drawn. Let's say you want to dodge a part of the image but want to put more emphasis on a specific hue range. You choose drawn+parametric, draw your area of interest and than combine with a specific hue range. You get a mask that covers only the specified hue range from that particular area. This is a small example but it's hugely useful, and remember it can be used on basically all modules. For my picture I chose to do a simple drawn mask. I could've brushed it in (similar to LR) but I much prefer the selection drawing for precise results. It works really fast, just place a few clicks on the contour of the area, adjust the fall off with the mouse wheel and done. selective exposure by Dragos Simionescu, on Flickr And here is the end result, I also adjusted the black point for the dodged area to maintain the contrast. selective exposure 2 by Dragos Simionescu, on Flickr I feel that the dodged area doesn't quite match the rest of the image mood, seems to be a bit too red. I want to very slightly correct the shadow tint. Enter the Color balance module. This is a simple parametric RGB curves adjustment. You can set the black and white point for each of the curves and also the gamma (how concave or convex is each of the curves) I simply moved the black point of the Blue curve slightly to the yellow side. This resulted in a bit warmer shadows, which I like. color balance by Dragos Simionescu, on Flickr I like to add some vignetting. Ever since using Aperture I fell in love with its vignetting effect, which is MUCH more attractive than any other I tried. It doesn't just darken the image's edges, it also saturates and increases contrast as the fall-off increases. I tried to simulate it here by using a curves module and applying it with an oval mask. What you don't see is the a&b curves, which are also drawn as S curves. This means the setting, besides pulling down gamma, also increases color contrast in the Lab space, creating deep saturation and color punch. I apply this with an oval mask, adjust the size of the mask (similar to choosing the center center point and fall-off radius) and set the opacity (similar to choosing intensity) vignette by Dragos Simionescu, on Flickr And here it is, my seaside "family photo" Notice how this vignette effect gently increases the "density" of the picture, not only darkening the corners. final by Dragos Simionescu, on Flickr That's it, the whole processing took me no more time than it would in LR, in fact the most time consuming part was designing the "base conversion" curve and HSL setting, which can be applied automatically for all imported images based on a simple or complex filtering setting. You can for example load a set of presets for all Olympus raws, some presets for high ISO, some for a specific lens etc. Once you set these up you don't have to do much more than loading the RAWs and start working only on the PP. Hope you enjoyed this, all questions and comments are more than welcome.