Lightning Storm

My Full Workflow

Aloha everyone, glad to be back after a busy year. I am now done with my business(y) tasks and am ready to start doing weekly edits.

This first edit focuses on my entire workflow. I touch on the general structure of my workflow and the individual steps taken. In most of my work, I don't use all the steps I go over, but in this video I try to.

My Full Workflow

The shot I use is from a lightning storm off our coast. I shot with an A7 at 24mm 10 sec F/5.6 ISO 100 using an intervalometer. I used the longer exposure to balance the ambient light with the lightning flashes.

My RAW file is available for download so you can follow along if you'd like 🙂

Complete Show Text

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Hi everybody.

It's Harry with another Darktable edit.

It's been a long time.

It's been almost a year.

I've been all over the place.

I went to Colorado for four months, did a bunch of work, got to go up into the mountains and shoot up at 13,000 and 14,000 feet, and shoot the Milky Way.

It was so much fun.

Anyway, here we go; we're going to do an edit.

I want to start by talking about my workflow.

My workflow: I think of it in five different steps.

This is my favorite part here: the artistic part, but the rest of it has to happen for me to be happy.

Prepare Image for Processing: this takes a long time, but once I get it through this process, I find that this part, the artistic part, I'm freer to do what I want with the picture.

I'm less constrained by the limitations of the picture.

When I'm done with that, I like to pick out individual items: pick out shapes and the edges of those shapes, and do some color enhancements.

In my final output, that depends a lot on where the file's going.

You know, is it going to a service bureau to get printed? Am I going to produce a JPG and put it on my website, or am I going to produce a PNG and put it on Facebook? Am I going to produce a JPG and put it on Facebook? You know, there's a lot of options.

If you produce a PNG and put it on Facebook, you're giving them the highest-quality information, but they're going to compress it.

And you're at their whim.

I've seen a lot of artifacts in their compression, and banding, and subtle tonal changes too.

So, maybe sometimes you're better off creating a small JPG but doing it on your terms and then handing it to them.

Anyways, you want to give them the right resolution; you don't want it to be too high of resolution, because this final output stage includes final sharpening, and that needs to happen at the final resolution.

You can't pre-sharpen; it just doesn't work the same.

So, scale it, and then apply an Unsharp Mask, and then compress it into a JPG, and give that to Facebook.

Hopefully, they won't compress it too much themselves, and you'll get something usable out of it.

Each of these stages have a lot to them.

This first one has a real lot to it.

I thought I'd do them in order, and maybe that would add some structure.

I'm going to be doing these edits every week, and this is the first one.

Let's see, My Work Flow.

There we go; okay.

Here it is.

I'll leave this on the side and we'll go through this as I do the edit, and we'll do it in order.

You'll be able to see how I think about images, and why I do them in the order I do, and then I'm going to provide the RAW file.

You can download that, and you're welcome to edit it yourself.

So, this is the first part: Prepare Image for Processing.

There are these stages.

We'll go through them.

This is the Artistic Part; this is the fun part, where you add tones and color.

Then, Shapes and Edges.

We're going to do some stuff that's pretty quick, actually, and I think adds a lot to the image.

Then, there's some work in The GIMP, and that's pretty quick.

So, one of the things you'll notice here in the GIMP is the RGB curves, and that's a little different.

When I'm working in Darktable, I think in LAB.

If you're not familiar with the difference between LAB and RGB, it's worth some time to look up.

I think that Wikipedia is an excellent place to start.

You can also just put it in Google, and you'll come up with a lot of stuff.

There's YouTube videos where people explain the difference really well.

It's a different way of thinking about color, and I use them at different times.

I mostly work in Darktable in LAB, and I think in LAB.

But there may be things that I want to do at the end of the edit, and the GIMP offers a really simple tool to enable me to make any of those changes.

Plus, I can scale in the GIMP, and I can apply an Unsharp Mask in the GIMP, and I can control my JPG, being able to look at it dynamically as I export.

So, I need to split these up.

Darktable's got the stuff it does; the GIMP has the stuff it does.

I downloaded the source code for the development version of the GIMP that supports 16-bit processing.

I strongly suggest you do the same: download that and compile it; it's well worth your time.

Okay, first thing we're going to do is Make Image Visible, and that's just so I can get a baseline and see where the horizon is, make sure things are straight, stuff like that.

This area here, this is pretty dark.

Oh, this is a lightning storm.

This happened last week.

It was a heck of a storm, too.

The good thing was the lightning was nearly all cloud-to-cloud, so it was really safe to stand out there.

I mean, not perfectly safe, but it was pretty safe.

This is near our house; it's the coast.

I'm looking up towards the town of Hilo.

This is in Hawaii.

I set my camera on 10-second exposures.

Now, the reason I did that was I wanted to get information about the landscape.

I know it looks all black here, but I shot this with my fancy new Sony A7, and it's got a lot of dynamic range.

This may look black; there's data in there.

So, 10 seconds is great, because I get more of the landscape.

It's not going to be just black, and I still get the lightning flash.

Now, the lightning flashes, they occur quickly; they're fractions of a second, but they're very bright.

So, you want to multiply the amount of light you get from the background by a lot so that it's not way over-powered by the lightning strike.

The key is to get a nice, long exposure for a nice, short strike, and then you get a nice balance.

I did 10-second exposures with an inter-valvometer and just let it click away.

I did make a mistake; I didn't focus in the right place.

I focused a little bit near, but I used a pretty long F-stop.

I think it was around 5.6, so it all worked out fine.

The first thing we've got here is just to make the image visible so that we can do things like rotate, and whatnot, and so we can see what is happening with Demosaic-ing.

We're going to change the Exposure, make sure we don't clip on this side, and then add Global Tone Mapping to bring out our shadows.

That's just so we can move forward and see what we want to use for Demosaic-ing, and what our noise levels are and things like that.

Okay: Exposure ......................(is hiding).

Alright; I'm looking up here, and not so much at the image.

I don't want to clip too much data; I'd rather not clip any, but I think that I'll be clipping some.

I can reconstruct those colors later.

Alright, that looks pretty good right around there.

That's my Exposure.

I'm going to go to Global Tone Map.

The nice thing about Global Tone Map is you can pretty much just start with the default settings, which is this Dragos setting, and your Bias and Detail.

I'll probably increase the Detail and the Bias, but let's just start with that.

See, that added a lot of information to this on the side here.

Okay, that looks pretty good.

And, how much Detail? We don't want to introduce too much noise.

That looks good to me.

Now, we don't want that up here.

We just want it down here.

So, let's use a Mask.

Let's see.

Make that a little bigger.

That looks pretty good to me.

We're going to look at Demosaic-ing, and we're going to decide whether or not to correct for Chromatic Aberrations.

Well, let's look in here.

This is going to be the most challenging stuff.

Our Demosaic-ing options are this PPG; that's the default.

And, we can use Amaze; not much difference there.

And this VNG4; oh, boy, that looks a lot better.

Look how...

I mean, we've still got noise in here, but it's a nice tight pattern, and you don't see as many pixels that are just black.

See, the PPG, there's a lot of just pixels that are not the same color as the adjacent ones, so there's more variation.

I think I like this VNG4.

If we don't use Color Smoothing, we get sharper images, but if we can get rid of a little more of this noise, I'd be happier.

Well, I don't think that made that better.

Nor that.

Oh, maybe that did.

Okay, we'll take a Snapshot, and let's look at three: three times.

Yeah, I think that three times is better.

If we go all the way up to five, the image starts getting pretty soft.

I mean, we can do that, but only if we really need it.

See, our plants here are all growing together.

There's not as much distinction between them.

I think three is a good compromise, and we've accomplished a lot with the Demosaic-ing.

The next thing we've got on here is Chromatic Aberrations.

Oh, wait; I want to check the Demosaic-ing up here in the sky to see if it's producing good results up there too.

So, we started with the PPG, and off.

Well, that's not bad up there.

That Amaze looks a little better, and the VNG does look a little soft.

But, we can bring back our edges later.

See, the Demosaic-ing algorithm does not allow you to apply a Mask to it; it applies to the whole image: all or nothing.

And that's just what it is.

Now, it looks like a little soft up here with three times Color Smoothing in the VNG.

I'm going to compromise between the darker and the lighter parts and go with the two times and the VNG4.

It's often a matter of personal choice.

Every image is going to require different types of thinking about it.

Alright: Chromatic Aberrations.

On the left is without Chromatic Aberration corrections and on the right is with Chromatic Aberration corrections.

Wow, it looks like there's a heck of a lot less noise, doesn't it? ...especially in the sky here.

Let's see what it does for the lightning.

The right hand side is with the Chromatic Aberration correction; the left is without.

Yup, that's right.

So, the left side: no Chromatic Aberration correction.

The right side: we get fringing.

Well, we certainly don't want that.

Even if we're losing some noise in the green, I can't really live with this.

And, it doesn't really allow you to use a Mask to apply it, so it's an all or nothing thing.

So, no Chromatic Aberration correction.

Next thing we've got here is we're going to correct for lens distortion.

That's important here, because I can see that this horizon bends up.

I'm going to put a Grid Guide and turn my Aspect Ratio to Freehand, so that I can move this up and down, and allow me to gauge where I'm at.

I do have a considerable amount of concavity there.

So, under Lens Correction...

Now, Darktable doesn't have my lens but that's fine.

I can just pick a Canon and put a 24mm F/1.4 on it, and it's going to come out very close to the geometry of my lens.

See that? It corrected it tremendously.

Without it, and with the correction.

This end came down, the middle came up: perfect.

I still need to de-rotate this; I can see that already.

There's my Grid, and I can see that, yup, I'm higher up here and lower down here, so I'm going to turn that a little bit.

Ah, there we go: split the difference.

It looks good to me.

Now, this is the part of the image where I would crop it if I was going to crop it, but, boy, I like the framing on this shot.

I mean, I don't really see a need to crop it.

I like that I got some foreground activity here.

It kind of takes the observer on a journey from this point all the way through, up to the lightning.

I like that.

I like the aspect ratio.

You know, if anything, it was just a little bit tall, but, look, my lightning's right in the sweet spot, here, so I like having this headroom.

Maybe we can take this into account and, when the processing happens, try and think in more macroscopic levels.

Try and create movement that goes from this point to this point, so that it follows these streaks of lightning and this line up here.

In order to do that, take this cloud and make it darker and stand out from the background so that you can see the lightning shooting out between this cloud and this cloud, and get this sense of motion.

Plus, I'll want to balance the tone so that the cliffs and the beach naupaka, the greenery here, and the palm trees are more closely matched to the brightness of the sky.

So, this would have to come up a lot brighter and this shouldn't get brighter in the meantime.

Maybe even get a little darker? I want to bring out more of the movement of the water by increasing the contrast, and get more shaping to the water, so that it looks like it's not all shiny and one layer: that you can see individual waves and things like that.

I love these clouds here and I really want to bring them out more.

They're going to be kind of tricky because, boy, there's not much tonal difference.

Plus, this part is brighter and this part's darker, so I can't just tell it to increase or decrease the brightness in one area because it's going to change as you go to the right.

This lightning: I love the lightning, and the lightning goes really far.

There's a little bit right here.

See that? And there's a little bit right here.

Boy, if I can bring out that stuff, this extra stuff, wouldn't that be cool? Well, I don't know how far we'll get, but we'll give it a shot.

This is going to be fun.

Alright, what have we got next: Noise Reduction.

We're going to start with the RAW Denoise Filter.

We're going to finish up with the Profile Denoise and a Lowpass Filter.

This is how I usually do it.

Of course there are instances where you have to deviate, because some circumstance requires it, but for a lot of my photos, this will suffice.

The worst parts are probably going to be in here, where we really increased the Brightness using that Global Tone Mapping and increasing the Exposure.

We probably see less noise up here.

Yeah, there's still noise in here.

Look at that, there's a lot of color noise.

I think the first thing I'm going to do is apply a little bit of the RAW Denoising.

The problem with the RAW Denoising is you start losing detail really fast.

Usually, it's just the lowest level: 0.001, but we'll start at zero and go to 0.01; okay, this is 0.001.

Well, it certainly is an improvement, isn't it? Well, it doesn't look like we've lost too much detail, but we have lost some.

Oh boy, okay, at 0.002, we lose a lot of detail.

Look, this all fills in.

Yeah, okay, so the lowest setting is the only one we can use.

That's the very lowest setting right there.

You can only apply this RAW Denoising when the image is a RAW image.

Once you export it as a TIF, you don't have that option anymore.

It's a pretty good one; I like it.

This one is phenomenal: this Denoising Profiled.

But, I know that I want to apply a Gaussian Blur to the Color Channel anyway, so I'm going to do that first so that I don't over-Denoise it with this if I don't need to.

I'm going to start that with this Lowpass Filter.

So, these two I'm doing in a little different order.

I'm doing the Lowpass first, and then the Denoise Profiled.

I'll take this all the way down and apply this to only the Color Channel.

So, this is a Gaussian Blur, and then I'm going to adjust the Radius, and that Radius is only applying to the Color Channel.

I want to bring it up...

See, I lost a lot of detail there.

I want to bring this Radius up as high as I can without losing too much detail.

At 2.25 pixels, it doesn't look like I lose too much detail.

Let's see over here.

Before, and after.

My edges still look fine.

I want to bring this number up as high as I can without losing edges.

Let's try it at 3.0.

Before, and after.

Oh, it's starting to get a little bit softer, but not too bad.

Let's see it in the lightning.

Oh, that has a pronounced effect on the inside of the lightning strike right here.

See this? That's with it on.

I feel like I'm losing some of the color.

Well, that sucks.

Alright, turn that down some.

1.65 pixels: it's a compromise.

So, I'm applying the color to itself, only on the Color Channel.

So, the L Channel, the Luminosity is not being affected by this Gaussian Blur.

That's why things still look sharp: because the L Channel still has that sharpness.

That means the L Channel still has the noise, too, but we'll see what we can do about that later.

Now we're going to come to the Profile Denoising.

I find I get the best results with this Nonlocal Means.

If I really really really crank up the Exposure, then I'll go to a matching ISO that's higher.

So, like, I increased this three full stops, and then it also has some Global Tone Mapping used to bring out the darker colors, the darker pixels.

Even though I shot this at 100, I don't think this is really accurate.

It should probably be turned up to more like 800.

That gets rid of the noise, but it's too strong.

So, the way I use it, is I use the Nonlocal Means turned all the way down and then I just turn it up until I get the result I want.

So, a little bit higher...

Boy, that lowest level, that might do it right there.

At the next level up, I lose some detail.

So, the lowest level.

Well, let's try it with the ISO of half that: 400.

See if we have a little more variability here on our strength.

That's off.

The lowest level we can see some noise now.

Before there wasn't any.


Well, that gives rid of the noise; I don't know if that gives us more detail.

Okay, well, here; we'll try an experiment.

We'll do it at 100, and we'll increase the strength until we get rid of some of the noise, and then we'll compare it with the one at 800 by taking a Snapshot.

Then we'll know which one to use.

Alright, we've got the 800 at the lower setting on the right, and the 100 at the higher setting on the left.

It looks like the 800 is the better image.

It's got a lot more detail.

Alright, 800 it is.

So, we're using a calculation based on ISO 800 even though I shot it at ISO 100, and that's based on the fact that I took the image and then amplified it, basically, with Darktable by increasing the Exposure and applying Global Tone Mapping.

I'm using the lowest strength though.

I'm trying to balance the amount of noise that's reduced by the size of the texture that remains.

Let's see what it does to our lightning.

Before, and after.

Well, it doesn't seem like it does anything detrimental, so I think this is our solution.

Alright, so we've done RAW Denoising, Lowpass, and Denoise.

Now we're down to Color.

Okay, here we go; we've got a fresh History.

Rock n roll.

Next thing: Color, White Balance.

I don't know what color this is.

I mean, it was a stormy night, and I don't know what color lightning is, and the ocean is reflecting the lightning, and there's also this diffuse lighting over here.

I don't know; it's kind of crazy.

I know what color the green is supposed to be.

I mean, in the daytime, the green is 1 Green and 2 Yellow -- about.

Things that are a little more yellowish, like this beach naupaka would have a higher than 2:1 ratio.

Maybe the palm trees would be right around 2:1.

So, I'm going to sample that.

That will give us a starting point.

I can see that we have equal amounts of Green and Yellow.

This is in LAB.

This is Luminosity, A Channel, and B Channel.

I'll give you a quickie here.

Luminosity, you can see the darker parts of the image on this side and the lighter parts of the image on this side.

Like, this is where that lightning strike is.

You can see that right here.

And there's all this dark cliff over here.

Anyway, this is the A Channel.

Okay, the idea here is that this mid-point lets you keep the image having the same -- like, your Greens stay green even if you change this color here, okay, they still stay green and your Reds stay red, but you change the amount of green.

So, all you've got to do is keep this mid-point the same and you can rotate your colors around it.

It's a way of thinking about color that's different than Red, Green, and Blue.

You're thinking about, here, the difference between Blue and Yellow, and you're thinking about, here, the difference between Green and Magenta.

If you're new to LAB, look it up; there's a lot to say for thinking in that way when you're processing photos.

So, here we are.

We've got this one spot in the beach naupaka.

Instead of having Green be half of Yellow, it's about equal.

I'm going to add it to our Live Sample here, and make sure I'm on Mean instead of Min or Max, and it displays this value here as I make changes.

So, let's make some changes.

First thing we're going to do is we're going to try some White Balances and see if we get lucky.

First thing is just Spot Balance the whole picture.

What do we come up with? Well, it didn't improve it much.

A little bit less Green, a little more Yellow than what we had when we started, but it's still an awful lot of Green.

So, let's look at a smaller area.

It looks like these clouds should be approximately grey, right? Let's sample those.

Well, we still have a lot more green than we should.

Let's look at these clouds.

Boy, it's tough to come up with it, isn't it? Okay, so this was the closest for us.

Why don't we start with that and then work on our own.

So, one of the things I see here is that this is a little more Green than Yellow.

But, another way of thinking about this is that it's a little bit less Yellow than normal.

If it's night-time, I would expect things to be a little more blue.

If you remember, in your Tone Curve, your Blue and your Yellow are on opposite sides.

So, maybe this actually is a good color for this.

Let's bring our temperature up a little bit.

Let's get our Yellow and our Green so that they're more closely aligned to that 2:1 ratio, and then let's make it a little bit cooler, a little bit more Blue because it's night-time.

So, we'll bring our Temperature up a little bit and bring our Green down a little bit.

Okay, now we've got our 2:1 ratio with a little bit more Yellow.

So, now let's just take 150 degrees off the Temperature.

That just cools it down a little bit.

That will be our starting point.

Okay, what else do we have? Tone Curve: A and B Channels.

So, we look at the image, and we're like, well, how does it look? Well, it looks to me like -- I really want to see some color in here.

I mean, it looks like there's some color in these lightning strikes already, and it looks like there's some color in the sky here and here too.

I really think that, through our whole process of processing this image, if we can start with a little bit more color in here and here, then as we work, it will come out even more.

Let's check that first.

We'll go to our Tone Curve and we'll use the Eyedropper Tool and grab a sample right in here.

Alright, it's right here.

Let's also change it to an Area, and let's look at some of these lightning strikes and see what kind of colors we've got going on there.

It's about in the same area, but it's over a bit of a range, isn't it? From down here to up here.

How about these? That almost looks Blue, doesn't it? It's certainly more toward the Blue area.

So, maybe we don't want to increase the whole of the Yellow; maybe we want to steepen it from here to here.

Let's try that.

We'll bring this down a little bit, and then we'll bring this up so that this section's a little bit steeper.

Okay, before, and after.

Yeah, now we're getting kind of an electric feel here.

Let's try that again.

Before, and after.

Okay, I like that.

Now, up here, what's going on? It's almost kind of got a redder hue.

Let's see; it's up here.

The stuff next to it: boy, is there much difference? 4.6; 9.5; Yeah, there is.

Okay, so we'll steepen this curve too.

We'll bring it down a little bit, and we'll bring it up a little bit.

Before, and after.

Now we've got a little more going on here, and we've got a little more going on here.

That's kind of nice.

How about down here? I kind of like this glow from Hilo.

It kind of adds a counterpoint to the brilliance of the lightning.

I'm going to apply these changes primarily to the top, because I don't really want it to mess with this stuff down here.

I like how this red comes out down here; it makes it feel like the light's coming from behind this whole cloud.

Remember, we said we wanted to separate this cloud from this area here, so we're doing well.

I'm going to open another Tone Curve.

This time, I'm going to be looking down here.

I want to get this whole thing.

So, I want to see these clouds and this glow a little bit more.

Alright, here's my A Value and here's my B Value.

It looks like it's a little more B than A.

Oh, maybe they're close to equal.

And how about next to it? Okay.

So, let's bring this up a little bit, and let's bring this up a little bit.

Before, and after.

Hey, look; now we've got a nice glow going all the way over to here.

That is sweet.

Let's take a Snapshot and look at that.

On the left is before and on the right is after.

Yeah, I like what it does underneath these clouds.

Now, just like before, I don't want to apply that everywhere, so I'm just going to use a Gradient Fill and apply it to the bottom.

It looks a little yellow to me.

I'm going to pull this down a little bit.

Where is that yellow? Right there.

There we go.

It's important to notice that I'm not just lifting this up or down; I'm increasing the steepness of this section.

I'm trying to create color separation here.

I don't want to just make it yellow or make it red.

I want to create areas that are yellow, and areas that aren't extra-yellow, so that we're separating clouds and glow from each other.

We have Tone Curve: Balance C Channel.

Well, I'll tell you what I mean about that.

Parts of this image have more color and parts have less color.

The amount of saturation, I guess, is one way to think about it.

So, I want to add more color to the places that have less color, to kind of bring them up to speed with the rest of the image.

One of the advantages that we'll get from that is there's some color variation in the sky here where you've got green and red patches.

Applying this color so that the lower-color areas get the boost is going to actually equalize this a little bit and give us a smoother gradation.

Plus, it will enhance the colors in places that are subtle, and hopefully will keep it in control in places that might go ballistic on us.

Here we go.

Okay, once again: A and B Channels.

We'll steepen them.

We're going to steepen them quite a bit, and we can attenuate the effect later, but let's give them enough steepness so that we can see what's going on.

Now these areas are getting too much effect from up here, over here, over here, this green, and this cyan.

It looks like too much.

Also in here.

I think that we should apply it so that the amount of the effect is a lot less in these areas, and see how much we get in other places.

We'll use a Parametric Mask for that, and we'll use this Chromacity Channel.

This is the amount of Saturation here, so I'm going to turn on the Mask Indicator and we'll turn this all the way down.

And then we'll bring this one down until we're just including the things we want.

Like, this green here was pretty darn green, so not including it is good.

The places where the yellow is, is where we're going to steepen these channels, and the places where there isn't yellow are places where it won't have much of an effect.

Now, see this mottled look, here in the sky? This is that part I was talking about.

See, these areas here that already have some color? They won't get any steepening to their A and B Channels.

So, when it's all said and done, this should self-right itself and make this even more even than it was.

Let's give it a shot.

There you go: nice and smooth.

See that? There's a little bit here, but boy...

That's what we started with.



For that reason, I don't use a Mask Blur at all when I'm doing this steepening here to balance the C Channel.

Let's see how we look down here.

It looks like we've got a little bit of color in the sky and a little bit more color in the ocean, but the rest of it looks like it's fine.


Yeah, and a little more color around the edge of the lightning and up here too.

I think that turned out okay.

If we want to add a little bit more color, the way to do it, and I know this is a little tricky, but you want to just take this top one right here and move it over.

Right now it's at zero, so that means the little slope of how strong this effect is being applied goes from here to here, so everything that's closer to this zero isn't getting really very much of the effect -- maybe a quarter of it.

If we bring this value up to 1 or 2, we get a lot more color.

See? So a lot of these areas that weren't getting it now are.

I'm going to do that, and then I'm going to attenuate it a little bit with the Opacity.

Okay, I like that.

What do we have next? Color Balance.

Color Balance is a cool tool.

It makes you think about your color in terms of a curve.

And the curve, the Black Point of the curve would be this top value here, and then the White Point of the curve would be down here.

For instance, your brighter yellows would be here, and your darker reds would be here.

Then this one, the Gamma, this is whether your curve is concave or convex: whether it slopes in or slopes out.

For instance this green here, whether it's the right color or not, it feels a little blue to me and I want it to be more yellow.

So, what I want to do is take this and figure out how dark it is and then decide what to do over here to try and balance that a little bit.

We'll grab our Eyedropper, add that here, and we see that we've got back to almost equal Green and Yellow.

We really do want a lot more Yellow there, but we don't necessarily want a lot more Yellow in the rest of the scene.

I look at this number here, and I see it's about eight.

Eight is a really low number; that means it's really dark.

And I know it looks dark, but it's always good to look at these.

Things look different to your eye than the way they are.

You'd be surprised.

So, we've got an eight here, we know it's dark, and we know that we've got a little more Green than we want, and we've got a little less Yellow than we want.

Well, the nice thing about this tool is that it's set up exactly like LAB -- because you've got Green vs.

Magenta, and you've got Blue vs.


Not at the Bright end, at the Dark end over here, we decided that we want a little bit less Green, okay, so we're going to go towards the Magenta.

We'll go two clicks.

Same thing with the B Channel: we wanted a little more Yellow and a little less Blue, okay so two clicks that way.

Well, our numbers are a lot closer.

And how does this look? Well, it looks closer, but I don't think we're there.

So, let's do a little more.

We'll do two more clicks and see where we're at now.

Well, I'm liking this better, and I'm liking these numbers more.

I think I went a little bit too far, and I also think that now I've got this Magenta hue everywhere.

So, maybe instead of moving it from Green to Magenta, I should be thinking about just moving it from Blue to Yellow.

So, let's bring that Green back a little bit, okay, because that was getting a little out of control there, and bring ourselves more Yellow.

How does that look? Oh, here we are; down here.

Oh, it looks like we could stand a little more Yellow.

Now, don't forget: it's a night scene.

We wanted the whole thing to be a little bit cooler, so we're going to shoot for a little less than 2:1 Green:Yellow.

That looks like something I can live with.

Now, what does that do for the rest of the image? it makes it a little bit yellow up here, doesn't it? Once again, let's apply it with a Drawn Mask.

Reverse the direction of that.

I don't know; it's kind of an odd transition in here.

I think I'm going to combine this with a Parametric Mask so that it applies more to this, and less to the sky especially because of this crazy yellow here.

So, let's combine that with a Parametric Mask, and we'll look at the color of this yellow here.

Where is that? It's right there.

So, I'm going to make it so that there isn't very much of the effect that's occurring there, and there's more of the effect that's occurring further down.

There, we got rid of that yellow.

The way we did that -- here's the Mask Indicator.

See, it's a lot lighter there now.

As a matter of fact, if I turn this down, there we go.

Okay, and off, and on.


Okay, so our greens look better, it's not a dark blue back here, we got rid of our yellow, our cyan is still good.

What have we got next? Channel Mixer.

Okay, this is like a cheat.

If you want to do changes to RGB in Darktable, this is a cheat you can use.

You take your Channel Mixer here, and it says Red.

You can take this and you can apply it with a Parametric Mask based on the L Channel.

Like, for instance, if I slide this over, this means all the effect on the brighter pixels and none of the effect on the darkest pixels.

And scale it proportionally.

If I did that and then I scaled back my Red, you'll notice that the Histogram up here, the brighter Red moves a lot, but the darker Red doesn't move very much at all.

That's because I'm applying the effect based on this L Mask.

So, if I had brighter Red that I wanted to reduce, and I had darker Green that I wanted to enhance, then I could use this tool and these Parametric Masks to make that happen.

For instance, if I just want to control this Red a little bit so it doesn't get out of gamut as I make the image brighter, I could just use this Parametric Mask and this tool right here and bring it down a little bit like this.

So, before and after.

We haven't really changed the hue down here, but on the brightest parts in here, where we could get out of gamut and we could have some color shifting because of that, then this keeps us at a safer place.

That's not a bad application of that; we'll do that.

I don't really want this area to get any darker though, so I'm going to use the Eyedropper tool to figure out where that is and just exclude that.


What have we got next? This is in places where we have blown-out highlights, like we may have some areas where we've lost data here, in the lightning strike.

Boy, not really, though; that looks pretty good.

Even the brightest parts of the lightning strike, it feels like we've got color in, although this color doesn't look like it's the right color.



I think these two brightest places -- I mean, I'm splitting hairs here; it's not that big of a deal, but if we take our Threshold and turn it down, then we can include that area.

See, it samples the area around it and filled it in with that color instead.

So, that's before, and that's after.

And that did correct it.

I think I'll leave that.

So, it is a good thing.

If I want to get colors from farther away, or from closer, the Spatial Extent is the answer to that.

All these hues are about the same, so it doesn't matter to me.

I just don't want to sample too close and end up with this blue fringe.

That would be bad.

And then, the amount I want to extend into the lightning strike would be the Range Extent.

The only reason I'd want to limit that is that if you go too far you bleed over into the other side.

For instance, we are getting a little bit of bleed-over.

So, if I take this Range Extent and turn it down, that gets rid of that entirely.

See, it was starting to halo a little bit there.

And I turned it down to 7.6 from 10, and that got rid of that.

Okay, so we'll leave our Color Reconstruction.

We did have some blown-out areas.

What else do we have? We're going to work on Reconstructing the L Channel.

Well, we've shifted our focus from Color to Tone now.

Tone is what's light and what's dark.

One of the reasons I want to reconstruct the L Channel is I want to separate the clouds from the background as much as possible.

I would like this cloud to look different from this and this because I want these large shapes to show through.

I want these clouds to separate from this background.

I still want to bring out these clouds.

Boy, they're going to be tricky though; they're not much different from the background.

They're hard to pick out.

The first thing we should do is start another Channel Mixer.

Go to our Lightness Channel, take a Snapshot, put it in the middle, Reconstruct the L Channel from the Red, the Green and the Blue Channels, compare each of them and find what information we find.

Okay, so we'll turn up our Blue.

Right now I'm only constructing the L Channel (lightness).

I'm only constructing it out of this one color: Blue.

I'll bring up the Blue so that it matches the Brightness, about, and then we'll move it back and forth and see.

Did we get more separation? Less separation? It looks like we got less separation.

I mean, there's less difference between this and this, and between here and the background Like, that didn't help us at all.

It may have actually enhanced this a little bit, though.

Not much.

It made the landscape have more tonal variation; that's kind of cool.

You know, I kind of like what it does on the lower part of the image.

Okay, enough of the Blue; let's look at the Green.

Well, the Green gives us more separation.

Look, this cloud is really starting to pop now.

And there's a big difference between the lightning and this cloud.

It also enhanced the separation for this and the background dark.

Looks like it helped us out down here a little bit.

Boy, it made the Green go ballistic though.

I don't like that at all.


And the Red.

Well, the Red is dangerous in here.

Look how bright that gets.


And it looks like we're losing some detail in this cloud.

It doesn't really do anything down here, and it makes the green look terrible over here.

So, I like more of the Blue Channel for the bottom and more of the Green Channel for the top.

When we start, we're about a third of each -- not exactly, but pretty close.

So, what I'm going to do is I'm going to do these two separately, with a nice soft transition.

So, the top part is going to be mostly the Green Channel.

We'll go with .6 of the Green Channel, and we'll bring up the Red and the Blue until we're happy with that.

I'm looking at this Histogram right here to make sure I don't go out of gamut.

It seems to me the amount of Red vs.

Blue is going to determine how bright the center is.

And I want the center to be a little bit bright, so maybe a little bit more Red.

There we go.

Like that.

That gives it a kind of a glow.


And now, the bottom part.

We'll start another Channel Mixer and we'll reverse the direction of the flow.

Use the Mask Indicator to see it's going to the bottom.

Now, on this one we like the Green and the Blue the most.

Actually, the Blue did pretty well with these, and the Green was terrible on the grass.

So, let's do mostly Blue and a little bit of Green and Red.

So, we'll go to Lightness, and mostly Blue, and then a little bit of Green, and Red.

Alright; let's look at what we ended up with.

On the left hand side is before we created a different L Channel for both the top and the bottom, and on the right hand side is with the new L Channels.

Oh, it looks more dynamic, doesn't it? The cliff has got more information; I like the lightning strike; the clouds got more separation.

Okay, that looks good to me.

Next thing.

What have we got here? Graduated Density Filter.

Well, this looks like the kind of shot that a Graduated Density Filter would help.

Now, this is just like a Graduated Density Filter on your camera.

It starts off one full stop darker on top than the bottom in a pretty smooth gradation.

That's too dark, so we're going to bring that down some.

There we go: 0.4 Stops.

That looks better.

And this can come down farther.

But, now it's starting to make this darker.

So, let's turn up the Compression.

See, if we turn the Compression all the way up, you'll see that line.

See the line between one side and the other? There's the light side; there's the dark side.

So, we don't want that much of a line.

We'll turn our Compression down a little bit to smooth it out, but we want to bring this closer down to here.

There we go.

Okay, that looks good to me.

The nice thing about the Graduated Density Filter is that they've calculated in some changes in the way that it looks, so it's not just the same as changing the L Channel.

It has a nice effect.

They wrote some nice code.

Okay, the next thing here is Vignetting.

I use this, and I have set one up for this 24mm.


What I did is I messed with it after taking a bunch of shots, and came up with a Scale, a Fall-off Strength, a Brightness, and a Saturation that increase as I go out to the edges, so that it balances out shooting through more glass at a steeper angle.

Without it.

And with it, you'll see that that pretty much does it.

See, this is the natural darkness from the lens, and this is with the correction.

Boy, this is too much here, though.

That's way too bright.

Okay, so we don't want to apply this effect here.

What we'll do is, we'll do a Drawn Mask and we'll Exclude that, there.


Okay: Lowpass, Reverse Overlay.

One of my favorite things.

What this does: it's a lot like the Shadow and Highlights Tool.

What I'm going to do is I'm going to adjust this Radius.

What I don't like about this tool is, one, I don't like that they put Shadows and Highlights together.

They're completely different things, and I think of them differently.

But, also, I don't like that I'm kind of flying blind on this.

I kind of have to guess about the Radius and the Compression, where they're at, and it makes it harder for me to control where it is.

I mean, I can kind of slide it and look at it, and look for what has the best effect, but...

Well, here; let's give it a shot.

Okay, so we'll turn this on and look.

It's enhanced this nicely, but look there's a halo: all around the trees there's a halo and I don't want that halo.

That looks bad.

And, it's here along this cloud, too.

Okay, so we can get in there and we can try and eliminate that halo.

So, let's turn our Radius down.

We'll set it pretty darn tight.

There we go.

Now the halo is gone.

This Color Adjustment is nice.

It gives it a little color boost so you don't lose saturation.

It may have been a little bit too much, so let's bring it down some.

Oh, a little more.

And then, this Compression.

This says, what does it include and what doesn't it include.

So, it's brightening up this part here.

I don't know if I want that part brightened, because when I do that I have less contrast now.

And I wanted that contrast to get these elements.

So, I'm going to add Compression, and that's going to exclude all but the darkest things.

So, now we've done that.

Now it's brightening up this nicely.

See, without it, and with it.

We still have our contrast here.

How are our halos doing? They're fine; they're not back.


Our Highlights.

It's got it knocked down 50, but I don't think we need to knock it down at all.

If we just set it to zero, we're fine too.


Because we don't need that; that's okay.

Alright, so the Highlight Color Adjustment doesn't do anything because we're not using Highlights.

The Shadow Color Adjustment, we adjusted to give us a little bit of saturation, even though we're increasing the Brightness.

We've got our Radius set so we don't have a halo.

Our Shadows: that's too much; that looks pretty good.

Okay, that is my best attempt at the Shadow and Highlights Slider.

So, I'm going to take a Snapshot of this, and then we're going to turn that off, and we're going to try using this Gaussian Blur.

We'll give ourselves a nice big Gaussian Blur, but we don't want any Saturation.

We'll just turn that off right now.

Take this Radius and just increase this bad boy, like that: like that.

Because I don't want to see the individual lightning strikes.

If I do, it's going to make the lightning strike darker, because I'm going to do a reverse on it.

So, here's the brightest parts of the image, and here's the darkest parts.

I'm going to take the Contrast and reverse it so that these become the brighter and these become the darker.

I'm going to use the Blend Mode called Overlay to do that.

As you can see right now, this went exactly the opposite way.

The darker things are even darker, and the lighter things are even lighter.

So, take the Contrast and turn it all the way down, and then start turning it negative.

See, I'm at -21 here.

See how that lightened up this stuff? And darkened up this, but didn't darken up the contrast between the lightning and the background.

It darkened up this large area here.

See? So, it gives us more even tones, but we still have our contrast because we did our Blur large enough.

Let's compare that with the Shadow and Highlights Slider for the best option.

Well, there's more detail in the Shadow and Highlight one, that's for sure.

I like them both; I think they have their advantages.

I'm going to use a little bit of each.

I'll take this one and I'll turn it down to around 40%.

I'll take the Shadow and Highlight one and turn it down to about 40% also.

Alright: on the right hand side is both of them, and on the left hand side is none of them.

Hey, I think we're okay.

We've got a little more definition up here; we've got a little more brightness in the cliffs, and we didn't screw anything up.


So, what do we have next here? We've got Tone Mapping, Fill Light, and Zone System.

I can look at my Histogram here, and I know that Tone Mapping is not going to help me at all.

The reason it's not going to help me is because I don't have anything on this side of my Black Point.

So, compressing what's here is just going to make the dark parts darker; it's not going to lighten anything.

This is not the right place for Tone Mapping.

Fill Light.

Fill Light's cool.

Okay, let's talk about the Zone System and Fill Light.

Let's look at an example.

Let's say I want to bring out these clouds.

There are some lighter parts and darker parts in the clouds, but there's not much difference.

So, I'm going to take a sample of the clouds and then look at my graph here.

It says that it goes from these dark to these light.

Let's say I want to increase the contrast to differentiate more between the background and the clouds.

So, I'll increase the Light and I'll decrease the Dark.

But, this is a little tricky, pulling these very carefully in and out like this, especially when they're close together.

Also, look at how it deforms the space on either side of it.

It doesn't to it linearly; it's got a steep curve at first and then it gets better.

Same thing here: it's got a steep curve at first and then gets better.

So, this part stays steep, and then this part's compressed.

You're going to get less contrast.

I mean, look how far you have above the Midpoint here; that's a lot to pay for, just to increase the contrast in one area.

To do a similar thing to this, this Fill Light -- well, okay; I'll show you it this way.

If we take our Tone Curve and we turn it all the way down to zero, and we take our Blend Mode, and we can change it to Addition, but I find I get even better results with Screen.

So, you take it to Screen, and here's our Histogram, and here's this area we're sampling.

We want to increase the contrast.

So, we can take the lower part of it and just pin a point right there.

It's real easy because it's on the baseline.

And then we can take a point on this side.

Then in the middle, we can lift it up.

And that creates contrast like that.

But this is kind of a pain.

And this stuff's hard to grab.

So, what the Fill Light does is it says 'give me a point.' So, you take the Eyedropper, and you give it a point right there.

And it says, 'ah, that point's right here.' So, I take my Midpoint and put it right there.

Well, that's the top of this line.

And then it says,'what do you want the Exposure to be?' Well, the Exposure Compensation is the height of this little triangle here.

So, if you take this and turn it up, then you're increasing the height of this little triangle.

If you take it down to zero, it doesn't do anything; it's just what it was.

Then how steep this curve is from here to here: that's this width, okay.

Wider, it affects more area; narrower it affects a narrower area.

So, you could really pick out these clouds, but it's at the expense of adding too much noise to the sky.

These clouds are just too similar in tone; it's a fool's errand.

I'd love to show them more, but the cost is too high.

I don't want to add this much noise, so I'm not going to do it.

Anyway, that's the Fill Light; that's how it can be visualized.

The Zone System is nice, but for things like this, it's tough.

The reason it's nice is it gives you a linear, like this, a linear effect afterward, as opposed to this, when you turn it up, and you've got this less linear effect.

Where there's a difference between here and here it still remains steep, and between here and here it still is less steep, instead of being the same all the way across.

With the Zone System, when you compress it one way or another, you get a linear effect on both sides.

So, if you're looking for that, this is the right tool.

You can increase the number of Blend locations, but still, there's rarely enough for my tastes.

For instance, if I want to differentiate these, you'll see that the whole area here gets lit up.

So, it doesn't make much of a difference.

It's increasing the dark and the light areas; there's just not enough of these little bands.

But, if I want to do something big, like the lightning here vs.

the background, then I could probably find that.

See, I'm looking at this yellow up here.

So, that lets me separate the lightning from the sky.

Like that.


I use that sometimes.

Because it's not very granular, I really use it exclusively for times when I want a linear modification to the tone.

Okay, here we go: Hot Pixels and Spot Removal.

We're screwed on Hot Pixels; that can only happen when it's a RAW file.

There are not really any Hot Pixels in here anyway because I shot at 100 ISO and it was only for 10 seconds.

I should have moved this higher up my pixel pipe, my workflow, because I did a Save after I did my Denoising, so it's now a TIF and I don't have the option of removing hot pixels.

Spot Removal: yeah, there's some detritis in the park.

Here, let's get rid of that.

That shouldn't take but a sec.

Here we are.

There's one.

There's one.

Here's one.

Okay, there's some kind of car hood or something over here.

I don't know what that is.

It's like a light on somebody's house maybe.

Is that it? There's something white here that I find distracting.

I don't like distracting stuff.

and this little light in Hilo is distracting.

I'll have to be a little trickier with this one.

That looks good.

That's it.

Alright, here we are: the artistic part.

Oh, boy; this is the fun part.

I'm looking at this image and I'm looking at the Histogram and I feel like I need to do a couple things before I move forward.

One is that this line, which is the darker parts of the image: this is so steep that it's hard to do anything with.

You can see that here, where there's not much definition.

You can't really make out the individual plants and you can't really see anything in the cliffside.

I want this to go from here and be at a more shallow angle.

Another thing is that this is more shallow than it needs to be.

It could be a little bit steeper.

I'd like for this and this side to be a little more similar, and this point here where a lot of the information is, that needs to be a lot closer to this Midpoint in order for the Tonal Blend Modes I'm going to be using, in order for them to work properly.

They'll treat information on the right side or the left side of this Midpoint differently.

So, I need to move the peak that way.

So, less shallow, more shallow; move the peak that way.

I am going to do that with some Tone Curves and Gradient Fills.

First thing I want to do, though, is get a handle on this magenta issue.

This has been cropping up throughout this process.

Let's just take care of it.

So, first thing: the magenta issue.

It looks like there's not a problem over here and it's a big problem all the way down over here and in here.

So, all of the effect will be here, and it will transition over that area.

I'm going to go to my A Channel.

I don't want to pull my Slider down because if I do, my greens are going to change.

Let's see what my greens look like.

Yeah; our greens look good, so I'm just going to leave that Midpoint there.

I want to make sure my greens don't move, so I'm going to place a point right here to kind of pin it.

Then I'm going to take these magentas here and just move them down.

There we go: done.

A couple of Gradient Fills: one from here down to here -- let's lighten this up-- and then one from here up to here -- let's make the contrast be a little bit steeper.

We'll work on this upper part first.

It looks like our issue starts right about here.

So, let's go like that, and then take this and come down with it.

I'm looking at this line right here.

See how it went from here all the way out to here? And now, it goes from here to here, so it's a little bit steeper; that's nice.

And our Midpoint: is that where we want it? It looks like there's no best place because it's a little too strong.

So, there; we'll lighten it up a little bit.

That looks good to me.

Now, down here.

I don't really want to change the ocean and the sky.

Those actually look pretty good to me.

We're probably going to just need to isolate these dark parts from it.

We'll look at a Parametric Mask first, and it will be a combination of a Parametric and Drawn Mask.

First off, we'll turn on our Mask Indicator and turn down the brightest parts of the image.

We started excluding these parts of the plants, so I've got to bring that up a little bit until they're included -- and then we're getting this ocean and sky.

We don't want that.

So: Drawn and Parametric, and we'll use a Bezier Curve.

Bring that in a little bit.

There we go; I'm happy with that.

I don't know how much of a transition I need.

That's adjusted with this Mask Blur.

We'll zoom in and see what we look like.

Okay, turn off my Indicator.

Let's use our Eyedropper Tool.

See where we're at with our information.

Zoom in here.

Okay, well, that's actually brighter than I thought.

Look, it's all the way over here.


Well, it certainly lacks contrast.

So, let's bring this up and slide it to the left a little bit.

Well, that's as much as I can bring out the rocks.

Now, this is terrible, obviously.

Let's see what we can do about that.

Did that handle it? What does that look like here? Uh-oh; we've got halos.

We can't have that.

Let's see what the Brightness is of this.

Oh, that's way over there.

Good, we can isolate that.

Our point is here, so let's start bringing this down.


Oh, good.

Now, I want to have the bottom of this graph come back towards the Black Point.

Remember, I don't want to just make this brighter; I want to make this less steep, and it's still really steep.

That doesn't work.

So, we're going to pin this point, right here, so it doesn't move on us.

That's right here.

Then we're going to take our Black Point and we're going to bring it in just a little bit.

There we go.

See, now we've got a more shallow line.

That's what I wanted.

And now I've got more information in here.

And now when I work with my Tones, I've got something to work with, and not just black cliffs.

How are we doing with halos? I don't think we have any.

I think with all our work, we've managed to avoid them.


I'm going to Save this.

We'll get started again.

These were just corrections.

Alright; here we are again.

Hey, I can work with that.

First thing I can do is actually bring down my White Point and make the image brighter because we've got some room over here.

I don't want to do that too much because we're going to want to make sure we don't get out of gamut here on the inside.

Sorry about the helicopters.

Everybody's going to see the lava because it's so exciting.

It's not always this active, but when the lava gets active, everybody wants to go in the helicopters and watch it going into the ocean.

What I'm using here is the Lowpass Filter, which is a Gaussian Blur, and I'm using it with my two favorite settings here: Contrast at 0.93 and Brightness at 0.03.

The reason I use these settings is that when I move my Radius up and down, it doesn't really make the image much brighter or less bright than it was.

It just changes the Blur Radius.

I've got my Saturation down to zero because I don't want it.

I'm just applying Tone; I'm not changing the color.

What I'm going to do with the Radius is I'm going to move my Radius so that I get larger features, like I'm working on these clouds right now.

I want to see the overall shape of the cloud plus some of the bubbling detail, so I'm going to bring my Radius down so it starts to show me that.

Like there, see? It's looking better.

I've got a little rounder edges here and up here.

That right there: I've got my best Tones.

So, I'm going to take that and I am going to apply that to the underlying image with the Soft Light Filter.

This is without it, and with it.

See how it adds all these contours now? I don't want things to get too bright and too dark, and I only have a certain amount -- look, we're already getting pushed towards the edge.

This is why we got all that Midtone information in the beginning.

So, I'm going to have to attenuate the effect with the Opacity Filter so that I can apply other...

I mean, if I just wanted to use this one and then call it good, then, yeah; I could just do that.

But I want to use other passes with the Lowpass Filter too, so I can't use up all my tonal range on one module.

So, I'm going to bring this up until it looks pretty good.

I'm not going to try and get everything out of my first pass.

Okay, that looks good.

I'm going to do it again.

Once again with these settings: 0.93 for Contrast; zero for Saturation; Brightness at 0.03.

I'm going to use my Radius.

I'm going to look at that.

I want to bring out this larger area here, and I like this because this was looking a little flat.

At this Radius, I'm getting a nice, darker area here to make that cloud look a little more 3-dimensional.

Before: see, this cloud looks a little flat.

And then, when I bring it in, that really makes this part look closer to you.

But, once again, I don't want to use it all on one module, so I'll take some of it and apply it like that.

We've got to watch our edges here; we're getting towards the edge already.

Now, the two things I did, these Lowpass Filters, I was looking at the clouds; I wasn't even looking down here.

So, I'm going to apply them with a Drawn Mask.


I want to exclude these little clouds down here, because I want to deal with them separately.

I'm still hoping to get something out of them.

So, we haven't touched this, and we've done two Lowpasses to the top.

So, this is what we started with, and that's where we're at now.

I want to bring out more of the detail in the clouds, the finer details: these wispy ends, this contrast in here, the difference between this and the lightning behind it.

A good tool for that is this Highpass Filter.

If I bring my Sharpness way up, way, way, way up, I can start to see some differentiation in here.

Let's see: Sharpness down, it's kind of flat, and then you get to see some contours, and now some more contours.

If I bring my Contrast up in addition to my Sharpness, I get even more.

Now, look at this, now I'm starting to see stuff in here.

And up here.

This almost looks like the Milky Way; it's kind of wispy.

So, once again, I'm going to apply that with the Soft Light Blend Mode, and then I'm going to have to turn that way down, probably right about there.

Things start looking over-sharpened with the Highpass Filter.

I like the way that looks.

So, I'm going to apply that with the same mask.

Now I'm going to worry about the bottom.

So, we'll do the same thing with the Lowpass Filters to get more tones out of the hillside.

Like, see, this is a little bit taller than this, but it kind of all looks flat.

I'd like for it to look like rolling hill here, and I want to see more differentiation between the individual palm trees.

And there's noise in here, quite a bit.

Maybe by adding larger-scale contour toning to it, we can make the noise less visible.

I'd also like to bring out the ocean a little bit here because it looks a little bit flat to me.

It looks a little flat all the way out to here.

And, of course, I want to work on these clouds, because I'm really happy about those and would like to see them become part of the image more.

Okay, once again, we're not going to apply it to the whole image.

We're only looking at the bottom here, so...

You know, I'm going to deal with these clouds here separately, so I'm going to make a Contour that does not include that.

I am including the ocean over here on the right, though.

I don't want to get a halo on the ocean here, so I'll use this Midpoint here in the Blend so that it only gets half the effect, because the effect will fade out there.

Same thing with the trees.

To avoid halos, I'll go ahead and bring this down so they get some of it, but only half of it.

Then I'll just re-use this shape for subsequent passes.

Turn that off.

Set my Saturation down to zero.

Contrast to 0.93; Brightness up to 0.03, and then adjust my Radius.

See, now that's too far; everything's flat.

All this is the same and this is all the same.

So, we'll bring our Radius down.

Maybe if I zoom in, it will be even clearer.

Bring my Radius down a little more.

Okay, now we're starting to see these kind of contours in here, and also smoothing out some of this noise in the cliffsides.

This area here might get too dark, and right here, see that? So, I might have to use a Parametric Mask combined with this to have less of the effect in these really dark areas.

First, we'll just try it, and then we'll see if we have to include that Parametric Mask.

And we can attenuate it with the Opacity.

I'm looking at the beach naupaka and I'm looking at the palm trees, and -- boy-- I can turn that up quite a bit and it still looks good.

Same thing with the water, but you remember me mentioning don't try and do everything all at once.

So, I'm going to only take it up to about 50% or so.

Then, this is getting too dark, look.

And, it's almost to black right in here and up here.

So, we don't need it down here; it's not helping us.

Combine that with a Parametric Mask and bring this up: probably just to 1 will do it.

Let's see: yeah.

See, now we're excluding these little areas.

Okay, that makes me happier.

Hey, that's our first pass: nice.

Let's do that again.

As a matter of fact, so we don't lose our Parametric Mask information...

Well, you know what, we're actually going to have new inputs, so we'll start over.

Okay, but I will use the same Mask.

Not the Highpass Filter; the Lowpass Two, that's the one.

Set my Saturation at zero; Contrast 0.93.

I'm looking for a little bit finer detail this time.

I don't want to bring out this noise, but I'd like to see individual plant parts instead of just a sea of green.

Also, I want to bring out some of this detail in the ocean a little more, and along this edge I want this effect to happen more to the brighter parts.

See, I really want it in here where the long exposure made it look like there's almost a mist because the wave came in and it's a 10-second exposure.

In these brighter parts here, I want more of the effect, but less of it here.

I'm going to use my Parametric Mask not just to exclude these darker parts, but actually to attenuate it so that the greatest effect is in these areas.

So, this is the Radius I liked.

I'm going to change it from Drawn Mask to Drawn Plus Parametric.

I'm going to use my Eyedropper Tool and change this to Area and find out what my brighter points are here.

Okay, they're up here, so I want the maximum effect there.

What I'll do is I'll just grab that and bring it there.

Then we'll change this to Soft Light.

Then we'll attenuate it with the Opacity.

Before, and after.

See, you can see more of these plants and stuff.

Look, these cliffs are looking pretty good.

I don't know if you remember, but in the beginning, they were pretty darn dark.

Now, one last thing.

We're going to do the Highpass here to try and bring out the finest details.

If we look at it and there's no way to exclude the noise, we just won't use the Highpass Filter Boy, I don't see where that's helping.

Bring up my Contrast.

Well, that's kind of useful, a little bit, up here.

Boy, if we add just the tiniest amount of it, like just a few percent.

Yeah, yeah; let's do that.

Okay, once again with the Soft Light, and then we'll take it all the way down and just add a few percent: 5%.


That gives a little more definition in here and a little more action down here.

Good: 5%.

Okay, these clouds: what can I do about those? Well, let's isolate them with the Drawn Mask.

We'll see if we can increase our brightness a little bit.

Take our Saturation down to zero, zoom in, increase our Contrast.

Take our Radius down.

Alright, there we go: there you guys are, hiding back there.

Increase our Saturation a little bit.

Bring our Radius up just a little bit.

I think that's really about all I can ask for.

Alright: Soft Light.

Before, and after.

Okay, we're too dark up here.

Look at that; we've got this transition now.

Let's bring our Brightness up a little more.

There, now we fit into the background better.

Oh, no we don't.

Look at that; that is lousy.

Still a little bit dark.

Alright, I think that's as much as I can expect from that tool there.

Next thing we've got here is Equalizer.

It's a lot like using those Lowpass Filters We can look at different items based on size.

This Luma Channel here: there's a difference between light and dark, and that gets increased locally based on the size of the objects.

This does the same thing but with the Color Channel.

And this Edges increases the steepness of the Contrast that is applied with the Luma.

So, one of the things I like to do is just go down the line and see what shows up and what doesn't.

Let's zoom in just a little bit.

Now, I'm only working on the top, so I'm not worrying about the bottom.

We'll just go down the line and see what...

Okay, so this gives more information about the clouds and gives a little bit of macroscopic contrast there.

Oh, that just confuses things; I don't like that at all.

Okay, that helps a little bit.

That too, okay.

That brought up the lightning too.

And that brings up the lightning, a little bit.

Okay, now this here: see, these vertical bars say I'm not zoomed in enough to see the effect from these, so, theoretically I moved these and I don't see any change over here -- unless I zoom in further, and see when I zoom in further, these bars move over.

What they're basically saying when they move over is now you can see the effect in these areas.

So, yes, I can see that effect here at this level on these very fine items.

But that's not what I'm looking for right now; I wanted to do the stuff with the clouds.

My two favorite settings were right about here and right about there.

So, I'm going to increase those a little bit, and bring this up a little bit, and bring this up, right here, a little bit.

Let's see what that looks like.

Yeah, that makes this stand out a little better, it does a nice job on this cloud, and it brings out more detail in here.

See, here's before, and there's after.

Once again, I wasn't doing it down here, so I'm not going to worry about that.

I'm just going to exclude it.

How is that affecting these clouds? Oh, I don't see it hurting.

Okay, so I'm only going to exclude this area.

Invert that.

There we go.

I'm going to use the Equalizer again, this time for a different purpose.

I want to bring out more of these lightning strikes.

If I recall, that was right around, between these two.

So, here and here.

Yeah, look at that.

Before, and after.

Oh, but we're getting halos.

Look at that; see, it's darker here, and it's darker here.

We don't want the halos.

It's also hitting these brighter parts too much.

I'm going to do a couple of things.

One, I'm going to be a little more aggressive with it.


Two, I'm going to exclude the brightest parts with a Parametric Mask.

And, three, so I don't get the halos, I'm going to apply it with the Lighten Blend Mode instead of the normal Blend Mode.

What that does, is it says that if there's a pixel before the Equalizer was applied that was lighter than after the Equalizer was applied, then use that old image; if the new image after the Equalizer was applied is brighter, then use it.

So, what ends up happening is where it was making the darker parts increase the contrast along the edge, well, that was darker so it didn't use that.

But, where it brightened it in the middle, it continued to do so.

Here, we'll look at it with Normal, take a Snapshot, and then look at it with Lighten.

Oh, I didn't give it enough time to re-set when I took my Snapshot.

Okay, Normal, Snapshot.

Getting impatient there.Okay, see these parts along the edge got darker, but on this right hand version it's 'Lighten only' so this dark part isn't being used but the lighter part in the middle is exactly the same.

Wonderful; that's what I wanted.

Ooh, look; our lightning's really starting to come out.

We're getting these little tendrils too.

This is nice.

We're just going to apply this to the lightning; we don't need it everywhere.

So, Drawn and Parametric, and we'll take our Bezier Curve and go around the lightning.

And, what the heck: let's try it again and see what happens.

I don't know if that's going to be too much or not.

Is it getting a little too contrasty in there? It's adding noise to the sky a little bit here.

I don't think so: we won't do that.

We'll just do it once.

I want to do something down here with the Equalizer.

I want to bring out a little more detail here and in the cliffside, and we've got some Midtones to do it, so let's do it.

We'll re-set this; we'll draw a new Mask.

We'll include that too.

Maybe it will do some good for it.

Then we'll go through here and change different sizes and find out what we like.

I know we don't want this finer stuff because that's just going to increase noise.

We'll start here.

Okay, I think I should take a Snapshot.

There we go.

Oh, hey, look at that.

That's pretty sweet.

How about in the water? Not so bad in the water either.

Alright, well let's go the next size up.

Oh, it makes things kind of fuzzy, doesn't it? A little bit of contrast, but a little bit of fuzzy.

I think we want a little bit of that.

Let's bring this down to about there and bring this one up to about there, and then see what we've got.

Oh, you know what? I think that enhances the image, and it certainly isn't hurting with these clouds back here either.

Are we getting halos over here in these trees, though? Yeah, we are; look at that, right along that edge.

Right along that edge.

Okay, what if we change this Blend Mode to Darken only? Then, we shouldn't get this light halo, right? Yes, that completely got rid of that halo, but we're seeing less of the effect.

We're only seeing half of it now because it's only darkening.

Well, maybe we can increase our Contrast a little bit then.

Okay, so we'll go with a little bit more because we're Darken only.

Hey, look at that.

It seems to do pretty well in the water too.

I don't think I want it much more contrasty than that in the water.

And we're getting good detail in these rocks too, but we're controlling our noise.

Yay, this is going great.

So, Fill Light and Color Zones: I would use that, like, maybe the green is a little bright, so I'll go over to my Color Zones and I'll work with the Lightness.

Take a reading on this green here.

Where is it? It's right in there.

Right in here.

See it? It's moving between there and there.

So, I'll move this Slider over, and I'll center these two, and then I'll make my Selector really small because it wasn't moving much at all.

I'll bring that down and make these a little steeper.

Well, now it looks a little over-saturated because I decreased the Lightness, so I'm going to decrease the Saturation just a tiny bit there.

Okay, that's better.

I hadn't really thought of it before, but to some extent, this does give me the ability to work with color like the Fill Light.

I just wish it was the A and B Channels instead of the spectrum that it is.

Our Tones are looking pretty good.

We wanted this over-arching theme in the beginning, with these lines coming this way and the lightning being clearly between these two clouds, more differentiation in this cloud, and some counterbalance to the action here in the corner here.

I think I could stand a little more Contrast here.

I'm going to take care of that right now.

There, that looks more balanced to me.

I feel like my Black Point's a little high on the whole image, but that's fine; I can always adjust that at the end.

I want to work on Color, but we implemented a lot of Equalizers and Lowpass Filters, so I'm going to Save it and then start over again.

That's really going to slow down our pixel pipe.

I noticed that just drawing the Tone Curve down took time to process.

And I'm going to get frustrated, so we'll Save.

Alright, here we are.

Now we're going to work with Color: Tone Curve, Equalizer, Split Toning, etc.

Tone Curve: first thing, I need to set this Black Point, so let's do it.

Okay, that makes me feel a little better.

Let's add a little depth to our color here.

What I did is I used the L Mask, Luminosity, so that most of the effect is occurring at the brightest pixels and less of the effect at the darkest pixels.

Then I'm going to just take this image and its standard A and B Channels, the image, and subtract it from itself.

I'm going to use the Opacity to increase the effect.

I start with zero, because it comes on way too strong, and then I'll increase it until I get what I'm looking for.

What I'm looking for is I want this to look like night time; I want it to be moody.

I want to enhance the colors.

So, that's what I'm shooting for.

Here we go; I'm increasing the Opacity of the Subtract, and we're getting our moody tones here.

We're getting some more color.

That's looking pretty good right around there: 26.

Boy, I feel like I could get a little more of it down here in the darker parts.

What I'm going to do is I'm going to apply this twice.

The first time I won't use a Parametric Mask at all.

I'll just apply, like, a few percent of it.

There we go, like 2%.

Then I'll do the same thing, but this time with the Parametric Mask.

There we go; now it's getting into the darker tones a little more.

That's what I wanted.

Okay, that looks pretty good.

I'm going to try and add color to the lightning with the Equalizer Tool, and also get a little more color contrast in this area.

Let's see: our lightning was between these two, and this is our Chroma Channel, so we'll bring this up.

We can probably bring it up just a little bit more.

Before, and after.

That adds a lot of color to the lightning.

I don't know if you can see that.

Before and after.

I'm going to put a Drawn Mask around this and just select the lightning.

Then, I'm going to try applying that one more time.

As a matter of fact, I'm going to apply it with a Soft Light Filter.

Then we'll have to turn it down; there will be too much of it, but I think this is going to really enhance our colors a lot.

Bring this down.

Give us a little bit of Mask Blur here.

It looks like I'm going to have to combine it with a Parametric Mask.

Before, and after.

I'm happy with that.

I was going to increase a little color contrast down here too, but I don't want to introduce noise.

We'll avoid the finer detail parts of the Equalizer Tool.

Maybe down here too.

I'm having a little less of the effect down here in front.

Now we'll go in and increase our color contrast.

No; I don't want it to get blotchy.

I think that's about it, right there.

Once again, what if we apply this with a Soft Light? And then attenuate that, significantly.

Before, and after.


I like what it did here.

We're getting a lot closer.

Split Toning: there's nothing I want to do on this with Split Toning.

Color Zones: you know, if there's anything, I wouldn't mind a little more color down here, but I don't know that I care that much.

I think I'm going to leave it.

Color Correction: no, I'm pretty happy with everything.

Color Balance: once again, I'm pretty happy with everything, so I'm going to leave that.

We're going on to Shapes and Edges.

We're going to separate the background objects from the foreground.

I want to make sure that the Parametric Masks I use for the incoming stuff haven't been affected by these previous tools, so I'm going to Save it and start over again.

Here we are.

Now we're at Separate Subject and Background, and then Enhance Edges.

We're looking for large scale things: these clouds from the background, these clouds from the background, the lightning from the background, this.

We're going to go to Luma, and we'll go down the line and see what effect things have.

As a matter of fact, let's take a Snapshot.

This is the largest.

Oh, I like what it does to the cliffs, and I like what it does to the clouds.

That worked out pretty well.

Okay, next size down.

Oh, I like what that does to the clouds underneath.

It's pretty good on the cliff.

It gives us a little bit of halo, though; look at that.

And it makes the lightning a little too bright, and makes this kind of crunchy.

So, I'm not so crazy about it up there, and down here it seems to help some.

Next one.

Now, that looks a little too contrasty up in here.

I like what it does to the bottom of these clouds and to these clouds, and it adds too much contrast here.


Maybe not so much.

Oooh, that's interesting.

Look at what that's doing.

Oh, I like that.

And I like what it's doing down here, too.

So, this area: I'm interested in this, no; not that: this and this.

And then, down here, (you see I included these clouds twice) I'm interested in this and a little bit of this.

Oh, we're starting to see these clouds; that's what I wanted.

Cliffs are looking better.

This is looking pretty good in here, isn't it? This looks good.

Channel Mixer: is there any part we want to make darker or lighter based on color? No, not really.

Do we need to use our Color Zones or our Tone Curve? I wonder if we can add a little bit more contrast in here.

We'll see what we get after we Enhance our Edges.

First thing, we're going to do a Highpass, and we'll look for edges with our Highpass Filter.

So, we can look for edges in here too.

We'll bring this way down, like that.

See how we've got different tones? There's light and then dark and then darker and then darkest.

If I can get it down to just two tones, that would be the best, because I don't actually want tones; I just want to have a Light and a Dark; I'm just looking for edges.

So I'll bring down my Contrast.

Well, I've got less colors, but I also have these areas that lost definition.

So, maybe if I bring my Sharpness up and my Contrast to some magic point, maybe I can get a little bit of both.

The least number of colors but the most contrast between adjacent areas in the smallest grain.

I think that was it; that was as good as I could do there.

I'm going to apply that with an Overlay because I use that for edges.

That should be giving me these strong edges here now.

See, look at that.

That looks pretty good here.

Are we getting halos from it? A little bit in here.

Let's bring it down some.

I mean, I like the effect, but I can't live with the halos.

Now, how are we doing up here? Let's see: 45 is where we came to at the bottom.

I don't think we're getting any problems at 45 up here.

Before, and after.

Oh, it helps this too, doesn't it? Nice.

Hey, this is starting to come together.



Once again, we're back to the Equalizer, but this time we're looking at these much smaller-grain details.

Let's see what we can do with that.

Go in here like this.

Yeah, just like that.

Before and after.

We've got a tiny amount of halo but I can live with it.

No, I can't.

Okay, we'll change this to...

we'll just make it smaller.

Do I want to use Sharpening? Do I want to use Local Contrast? Well, what do I want to accomplish? This already looks too contrasty.


Or it's just right, I don't know.

But I don't want to increase it there.

These are cool.

I wonder if there's a way to bring them out more.

And, of course, I'm interested in this.

Okay, well, let's try those areas with those tools and see if we can get a little bit more out of them.

Our Radius: right there we're getting our greatest effect.

And then we'll change our Amount and our Threshold's all the way down.

So, this is as much as it could find.

I'm getting this here.

We're adding a lot of noise.

Look at all this noise.

Before, and after.

It's making these a little bit brighter, isn't it? Okay, well, we have to turn our Threshold up because we can't deal with all of this noise in here.


And, if we increase our Amount, well, we can live with that.

And our Radius: what gives us the most effect? Right there.

What does that look like? I'm not seeing it enough to make a difference.

I'm just going to take it off.

Local Contrast.

Let's see what we can do with that.

Set our Contrast up, then mess with our Coarseness and our Detail, and see if we can get more of the effect.

Like that, right there.

But look at all this noise.

What can we do about that? Wow, it's increasing the noise as much as it's helping us here.

And it's giving us a little bit too much in here.

Let's attenuate this down a little bit.

Before, and after.

Yeah, it's just adding more noise in here.

Let's see what our lightning looks like.

Is it worth it? Is it worth the extra noise? Boy, it does bring out these edges, doesn't it? Look at how much better we're doing on these.

Those didn't even show up before.

But these brighter areas: look, now they're looking too contrasty.

This Local Contrast is not good for that.

I'm turning it off.

I do think this area's too contrasty; I'm going to fix that right now.

But I still want this part to pop a little bit, so let's see where that is.

Right about there.

We'll bring that up a little bit.

There we go; now we still have a little glow there.

I want a little more glow.

I'm going to output this to the GIMP and set my Blackpoint in the GIMP and steepen my color curves in RGB, and then scale it, do final sharpening, and output it to a JPG.

Here we go.

Here we are in the GIMP.

I've imported it and I am now going to do some final adjustments.

In my Curves, I can set my Blackpoint, I can set my Gamma, and I can set my Whitepoint.

I'm afraid if I move my Whitepoint at all, that stuff's going to be blown out, but let's give it a shot.

Oh, yeah, look.

Look, it's already starting to bleed over to the sides.

Okay, so we can't touch that; that's maxed.

Now, obviously I'm still interested in these.

Let's adjust our Gamma centered on that point.

Okay, and then our Blackpoint needs to come down.

That looks better.

A little bit too much Gamma.

Alright, let's look at our Red, Green, and Blue.

There's our Red.

We're going all the way out to each edge; that's good.


And Blue.

Well, let's see what we've got in the sky here.

Let's bring that up a little bit in the Blue.

And then this Green: let's see if we can get a little more impact out of it.

Now, the foliage is green and yellow, and it's 2 yellow:1 green.

Yellow is made out of Green and Red, so this is going to be a lot more Red than Green.

So, we'll bring up our Green a little bit.

Right here, right? Yeah; we're centered there.

And then we'll bring up our Red.

That will make our yellow stronger.

It also is making our Red stronger in here, so we should move our center point up a little bit for our Green.

There we go.

Okay, that controlled the Red in here.

This is looking a little more vibrant.

I still think the Blackpoint could be down a little bit, but we're going to add Sharpening, so that's going to change the Blackpoint too.

I'm going to do it; I'm changing the Blackpoint.

I'm bringing it all the way over, a little bit.

Where are we at? Blackpoint, RGB Curves, a little bit of Dodging and Burning.

Dodging and Burning: what could we be doing here? This looks a little bit bright down here, and this is just a little bit bright here.

This is a little bit bright.

I don't know that I want to touch this much; it's looking pretty good.

This might be a little bit bright here.

Right here, too.

Well, let's do it.

Let's do a little Dodging and Burning.

Turn our Opacity way down, turn our Size up, and our Hardness way down.

Maybe a larger size even.

We're going to Burn this a little bit, and here's the part I'm missing: Range.

So, we want to Burn the shadows, and that will increase our contrast instead of decreasing it.

The size is just a little big.

There we go.

Now, we'll go through and do that.

Oh, hey; I like that.

And maybe a little bit here too.

And then a larger Size and a little lower Opacity and we'll go up here and hit this area.

Right in there.

A little bit right here, and a little bit here.

Alright, I'm ready to Sharpen.

First thing we're going to do is Scale the Image.

I'm scaling it to 1280 because it's for Facebook.

Then I'll go in to my Filters and the Unsharp Mask and bring it way down, and then slowly bring it up, and look at areas to make sure that we're getting what we want: the right amount of Sharpening but without halos and without over-sharpening.

We don't want to introduce noise.

I'm just going back and forth and looking all over the image.

I'm looking here, I'm looking up here, I'm looking here.

I see some noise popping up, but maybe that's okay.

I think this is where I settled, and now I'm going to Export it.

For Facebook, you can export it as a PNG, which is really nice because you get a higher quality output.

Another thing you can do is you can export it as a JPG.

I don't know which one ends up being better; it depends on the circumstances.

Here's why: the PNG, you have more information but you have a larger file, so Facebook sees that larger file and compresses it.

When Facebook tries to compress it, it comes up with things like these color shifts and artifacts.

See? This is a highly-compressed version of this file, but if you turn the quality all the way up, you don't have as much of that, but your image file is too large.

The question is, then, do you trust Facebook to do the compression, or do you want to do the compression and then hope that Facebook doesn't touch it afterward.

What I'll do is export a PNG and I'll do my best on a JPG, and upload them both to Facebook, and look at them to see which one I like better, and then ditch the other one.

My Advanced Settings: I often use a little bit of Smoothing, but if I'm losing contrast and definition, I'll get rid of it.

Here's a circumstance where I was, so I got rid of it here.

I take my File Size and my Quality and what I'm seeing on the screen all into account, and I come back and forth until, if I take it way down, I can see obvious artifacts.

So, if I bring it up and those artifacts start to go away, at some size you may see them re-appear and then go away again.

You'll have to find the magic spot.

The nice thing is that what you're seeing is what you're going to get.

So, when you find your magic spot, you don't have to hope that it stays there when you export it.

That's looking pretty good.

That's only 66K, so I'll export that and then I'll check both on Facebook and go with the one I like.

It's been a long time, and this was a long edit.

I hope everybody enjoyed themselves; I sure did.

This was an exciting evening, and I wanted to come up with a dramatic photo.

Thanks for coming along for the ride.


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