Now with Quicker Edits

Let’s get a little artsy

I've seen many requests for quicker edits, and now that I've covered many of the skill sets I use in my work, I'm going to do more editing with less explaining. The goal is to keep the videos under 30 minutes (I know we all have busy lives... right?).

In the first edit I make strong use of the equalizer to do various tasks, including adding shading, contrast and subject isolation. In the second video I use the tone mapping module combined with the profiled denoise to produce an Illustrator style.

This video builds on knowledge from previous videos, running full-tilt through tools and methods to achieve the edit. For fuller explanations, return to the Home Page and scroll down to Topics Discussed or Modules Used on the right-hand bar. Click on any of these, and we assemble a complete playlist of every instance for quick review right here on the site.

Waterfall RAW
Waterfall XMP - base

School RAW
School XMP

Complete Show Text

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(lava ocean entry, Kamokuna, Hawaii)
(Hurricane Pass, San Juan Mountains of Colorado)
(seashore near Pahoa, Hawaii)

Alright, everybody, this week we've got a couple of shots here.

Frank sent this first one.

It's a frozen waterfall.

It's interesting.

This week, I want to be a little more artistic than usual, get a little outside my comfort zone with a more artistic interpretation.

I'll push my colors and my contrasts a little and see what we come up with.

First, I need to decide what it is that I want to look at in this picture.

I've got this cliff edge here; I've got interesting branches down here; I've got this waterfall and these rocks.

I keep looking up towards these rocks here.

For me, this is the main subject; they look like they're overlooking the scene.

I like the rocks.

I'm leaning towards a pretty aggressive crop.

Let's see what we can do.

Something like that feels better.

Let's try a 4:3 ratio, and things seem like they're tilted to the left a little.

That might be too much.

Okay, there we go; that looks better.

I like this line going up towards the corner; that's pretty cool.

And this line down here.

Let's see what happens if we go a little larger.

There we go.

Oh, I'm liking that.

Okay, what kind of camera was this shot with? Olympus.

Let's look at our Base Curve for Olympus.

Okay, there's one Base Curve.

Here's another.

Well, I like the first one better; it keeps our highlights in control.

Okay: Shadows and Highlights.

Let's see what our shadows look like.

Oh, there we go.

I don't want this to be too dark here; it kind of pulls my eye away from this interesting stuff here.

And, if I turn my Compression up just enough to catch the areas I want -- that's good.

Oh, that's right about where it started.

And, my Highlights: I don't really need to knock them down.

They all look good.

So, if I set that to zero, I think I'm fine.

Let's change this to a Bilateral Filter.

Look, our Black Point is way over here.

Let's see if we can bring that in.

I'll give us a little bit of a gamma adjustment.

Okay: color and contrast is where I'm headed with this shot.

I'll use the Equalizer tool.

I'd like to talk about the difference in Blend method between Screen and Addition.

They're very similar, except Addition adds two pixels together in such a way that you can get too bright.

This is adding it to itself.

See, there's the original.

If I turn it to Normal, it looks like this; it's just the same.

So, if I add this to itself with Addition, then whatever values there were become twice as high.

The whites really get difficult to control right away.

Screen, however, is very much like Addition, but it keeps your highlights in check, making sure you don't get too crazy.

That's what I'm looking for in this instance.

So, I'll use Screen and use the larger features here because I want to bring out these rocks on top and the contrast in the waterfall.

This is the kind of look I want: high contrast, and get the colors going.

Okay, maybe smaller colors.

Oh, there we go.

I love the way this looks on top, but I'm losing too much detail down below.

I'll use a Drawn Mask to isolate this effect.

Blend this out.

And turn down the Opacity.

It's still an abrupt transition here.

Oh, hey, that worked.

I want to pick up some detail down here.

I bet I can do that with the Equalizer.

Let's see: Equalizer, and let's use a Drawn & Parametric Mask.

We'll see what we can do about the ice.

Turn on our Mask Indicator.

Get rid of the darker things to concentrate on the ice.

Then for our Blend Mode, we'll use Darken only, and I'll work on these smaller features here.

Let's see what they do.

That really brings out a lot here, but only a little bit down here.

I'll back this off a little, like that, and then apply it a second time, but just down here.

Duplicate Instance.

Then we'll get rid of this and make a new Drawn area.

Okay, that's getting better.

Bring that down.

I'm starting to like this.

A little more color, a little more contrast: we're getting close.

I want to make the tree trunks and these rocks more shaded so they look more 3-dimensional.

I'll use the Lowpass Filter for that.

Turn my Saturation down to zero and bring my Radius up just enough to catch those items.

Now I've got nice, rounded edges here and here.

Softlight Blend Mode, and we'll bring it down a little: not too much, because I want it strong.

Then I want to add some more color; I want even more saturated colors here.

I don't want to just do that across the board.

I'll sample these leaves here.

Where are we at? Bring those up.

Then I can concentrate on this area and feather this out.

Oh, that might be just a little too much.

I'll bring this down some more.

Oh, I like that.

It feels a little low-contrast on this side of the image and this side looks good.

I don't want to raise this up and lose detail here, so I want to be careful about my high end.

Look, I'm losing a little down here too.

Maybe I should pull this end up, and bring that down.

Hmmm, that is a challenge.

What can we do about that? We could start by reducing the brightness of the entire image and then work on the contrast on this side.

Let's try that.

Oh, there we go.

That's looking better to me.

The branches need more discrimination between them and the background.

And I want these rocks to stand out even more.

That's two things.

Okay, we'll use the Equalizer again.

We'll get these rocks; I love these rocks.

We'll use large-sized controls here.

It's getting a little dark.

I'll apply this with a Parametric Mask so it doesn't affect the dark parts so much.

There we go.

That's kind of contrasty; I think that's what I'm looking for.

We want to avoid the very brightest areas too.

Let's see where we're at.

Yes, that looks good.

It emphasizes the rocks.

I don't like these darker areas here.

Maybe I need to paint these a little better.

I don't want to mess with those tree trunks.

Add a little Mask Blur.

Then, on top, I want to get these branches to stand out a little more.

They're smaller, so they're probably down here.

And some edges, and I think I want some edges on these rocks too.

The whole image looks a little dark to me, especially in this direction.

Ah, there we go.

I like that, except I still want more color.

What is the best way to add color? I don't want the sky to be much bluer, so let's steepen our green and red a little.

We'll leave our blue in essentially the same place.

Yeah; I think that's exactly what I'm looking for.

This log and this trunk are a little bright.

Let's isolate those.

We'll just knock that down a tiny bit.

It looks a little cyan, doesn't it? The whole thing is just a little cyan, especially the brighter parts.

We'll move from cyan to red a little here on the brighter ones.

Okay, there we go.

I need to sharpen this.

Look at that: absolutely.

We'll use a two-pass sharpening.

We'll look for edges with our Highpass Filter.

What kind of edges can we discriminate? That's about it, right there.

Yeah, that gets us some nice edges: not too much.

Overlay Blend Mode to find your edges, and bring it down a little bit.

Then maybe a little unsharp Mask.

There we go.

That pops better.

Okay, we're done with that one.

I'm ready to get on to the next picture.

Thanks, Frank! I'm looking at this one, thinking about an architectural look, like an illustrator.

This is a different style for me, but let's give it a shot.

I want to straighten this out.

What kind of camera is it? It's a Nikon.

Shadows and Highlights.

We'll bring our shadows up a little.

I'll have to Compress that more.

Bring our Shadows up and our Highlights down.

Okay, Bilateral Filter.

Oh, that looks better.


Tone Mapping.

This really compresses a lot of data; I think that's exactly what I'm looking for.

I want to get rid of the detail on the street.

This look like it came out of a vector program: that's what I'm shooting for everywhere.

Let's see: Spatial Extent.

We'll bring that down.

It's got a little bit of a cartoonish look.

That's what I'm looking for.

Now, I can really make things look simpler by taking noise reduction and kicking the ISO up a little.

Let's go to 400 ISO and switch this over to Wavelets.

Then we can just crank up the Strength.

Look at that: beautiful.

It gets rid of all these bricks, but it maintains these straight lines, and they stay nice and sharp too.

Isn't that cool? We have all our sharp lines, but all the details have just disappeared.

It wasn't enough to knock down all the detail in the street here: we still have a bunch.

So, a Duplicate Instance.

This one I'll apply with a Drawn Mask.

Oh, that knocked it down a lot.

We've got some really bright colors in here and here that I want to knock down too.

Yeah: those.

Okay, give it a little Mask Blur.

Knock these down.

We've got this bright red here and these bright leaves here.

That knocks down the colors but keeps the brightness the same.

Now I want to increase the duller colors so there's less variation of color.

I'll use the C Channel again, but this time set it up to create more of a gradient.

Okay, the items showing up here are the ones with the most saturated color.

I'll go like THAT.

Now the least-saturated ones are getting the most of this.

Then I'll give these a little steepening here.

Then I'll use the Opacity to set it where I want it.

Now things that had duller colors have more saturated colors, and things that had more saturated colors didn't see much change.

This is a lot of what I was looking for.

What else? It could use a little brightening: a gamma adjustment.

Maybe this -- hmmm -- these look darker than they should be.

Okay; yeah, that's the same place.

Okay, the last thing I want to do: I want these architectural features, these straight lines, to be more accentuated.

I'll use the Lowpass Filter for that.

Turn the Saturation all the way off and take my Radius right about there.

Then I'll set this to Overlay Blend Mode and bring it down, then gradually bring it up.

27% Before, and after.

It gives things just a little sharper edge.

Thank you, Allan, for this shot.

It was fun.

When you first sent it in, I wondered what you were shooting for, but when I saw these leading lines here and the reflection of this guy here, and this interesting lighting, I said, "Actually, this is a hell of a shot." Thank you, Allan.

(Mouse's Voice) Oh, that was fun! Allan, that scene reminded me somehow of my grade school; it was like stepping back in time.

And, Frank: Brrrr.

I'm cold just looking at that shot.

Thank you both for submitting them.

We've gotten a lot of questions this week.

We're very excited about that.

We love talking with you folks, so keep them coming! Thanks for joining us, everyone! We'll see you next week.

A hui hou.

2 thoughts on “Now with Quicker Edits

  1. Pingback: Traitement par darktable 25: traitements rapides – darktable FR

  2. Hello Harry,
    Thanks for your work with the Darktable edits. I follow along with your method and have learned a great deal.
    I notice that in some edits you get to a certain stage and then export and work on the TIFF. Is this to reduce the CPU load of process complex edits? Is there a sensible way to decide when it is time to save the image out before working further?

    Thanks again, I like the technical side of your work and your style of presentation is very pleasant.
    Alex from Australia

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