Red Hair

Planning Ahead Pays Off

In this week's edit, I use an Edit My RAW submission to address skin tones. Balancing the needs of the image as a whole with our model's beauty, I use cropping and light to draw the eye to her eyes. I reference the Lab Color Chart to guide skin tones in light and shadow.
Treating the woman's image separately from the background, I find another use for compositing in the Watermark Module. I discuss prior planning throughout the image edit to make recombination a smooth and seamless process.

Original RAW
Base XMP
Model XMP
Landscape XMP
Compositing XMP
Final XMP
Thank you for the contribution Fernando 🙂

Complete Show Text

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Aloha everybody and welcome to another episode of Weekly Edit.

Oh, what a week it's been! My wife and I are building a studio.

It's going to be great.

It's right across from our house, adjacent to our greenhouse.

This week's RAW contribution is from Fernando.

Thank you, Fernando.

You brought up the skin tones and her hair.

When I saw this picture, I had some ideas in mind.

I hope you don't mind if I take a little creative license.

When I look at this picture, I see the tree as so bright that it's brighter than her face.

It competes as a primary subject.

I also want to see something, maybe over here, that is a counter-balance.

I'm thinking let's brighten these trees right here up a little bit so they pop from the background.

Let's make this a little darker and recover some of the shadows.

I really want to bring out her hair; it is absolutely gorgeous.

Let's start with the crop.

Where I'm drawn is this eye right here.

It is really looking at me, looking at the camera.

I want to see a flow that brings me like this; let's use a Golden Mean.

Okay, we've got a spiral here.

Let's bring that in.

Let's see: if we're around here, we lose a lot of this tree and the bottoms of these trees go missing, leaving them floating in the air.

Let's bring it down some.

Yeah; I'd like to include this little patch of green down here, so maybe this way, vertically, and then horizontally...

I like being able to see the end of the tree, but I feel like it's too far to the right.

Let's bring that in a little.

Okay, that's looking better.

This space over here looks a little large.

I'll bring it in too.

How about there, and there.


Now I've got these trees here, when I get them to go; knock down this tree so it's not competing with her; brighten her up a little and work on the hair.

I want to separate her from the background and do them as two separate edits because I think they require different care.

If I make changes that are based on brightness, it will be difficult to blend her and the background together.

But, if I make changes that are based on wavelets or on color, it will be a lot easier to blend them and a lot less noticeable.

First, we should do everything that will be common to both images.

We'll start with Demosaic-ing.

Let's see what we've got here.

I'm using the PPG because it's fast for previewing images.

Amaze certainly softens it up and gives us a little less color noise.

And the VNG really gets rid of that color noise, doesn't it? Is it too soft, though? Let's see.


It's hard for me to see a difference.

It looks like the Amaze is a little sharper, and the VNG gets rid of a little more color noise.

How about if we apply some color smoothing? How does that work? Is that too soft? That's the question.

Let's take a Snapshot.

We'll go all the way back to the PPG and compare them.

Yes, that looks pretty soft; I don't want to lose that much.

So, I'll just go with the Amaze.

Let's look at different color smoothing options.

This is with it off; I'll take a Snapshot.

Then we'll turn it on maximum amount: five times, and see if there's any noticeable difference.

I do see a difference.

And I don't feel like we're compromising sharpness -- OH, we are: in her hair.

Look at that: we're losing detail.

Okay, I'll turn the Color Smoothing down to 1.

How is 1? Okay, we'll just do that.

Color Smoothing: 1.

What's next? Base Curve.

We've got some options here.

There's a Nikon 5100, which is what this image is taken with.

Let's try that.

That's a little bright, so we've got to knock down our exposure.

There's the 5100, and Nikon Like.

Well, that looks a little contrasty, doesn't it? And the Like Alternate...

Now I've got to compare them.

So, this is the Alternate and this is the 5100.

Oh, the 5100 looks so much better! We don't have any blown-out parts on her face; we've got much smoother tones.

Alright, let's look at White Balance.

We'll take some samples.

This is in the sun; that's nice.

Add that.

I'm on Mean.

Make sure you're not on Min or Max.

And I always work in LAB Color.

Another sample.

And another.

So, around 70 on our L Channel; around 12 on our A; it looks like our B Channel is hovering around 20.

If we look at our chart here: Medium, Fair, or Tan.

So, Medium: if we're around 70 on our L, then our A should be somewhere in the high teens, and our B should be somewhere around 30.

Oh, it looks like our B is way low.

Yeah, we don't have anywhere around 30.

Everything else looks like it's good.

So: Temperature.

Let's turn up our Temperature.

Okay, this looks better.

It looks a little yellow.

We're pushing above 30 here, and she's looking a little yellow, so I'll bring that down.

Okay, this looks good.

Now, parts of her are in the shade.

Let's look at some samples there.

This is in the shade.

And, this is in the shade.

And this is in the shade.

Okay, what's our formula here? Shade should be less L, and A should stay about the same, and there should be less B.

So, we've got obviously less L, and the A DID stay the same.

Okay, that's good.

And there IS less B.

Maybe we don't need to make changes based on tone.

I was concerned that light was bouncing off the tree or off the ground, and that the shadows were a different hue, but I think we're all set.

Now, let's look at Denoising.

I see that this was shot at 320, so there's bound to be a little bit, but probably not too much.

I don't want to lose detail in the hair.

Yeah, there's a little bit of noise in here.

It's a pretty clean image.

The old go-to: the Profiled Denoising is awesome when there's not large amounts of noise.

Let's turn that on and see.

Oh, that really cleaned it up, but we lost detail in here.

I'll bring down the strength.

That looks good.

Before, and after.

I don't think we lost too much detail in the hair.

Yeah, this looks good.

So, I'll go with the Profiled Denoise, just keep it on Non-local Means, but half strength.

The whole image has abrupt shadows and highlights, so let's use the Shadows and Highlights Module.

First, I'll switch it to Bilateral Filter.

I want to bring up the shadows a little.

Okay, that looks good.

And, my Highlights...

Okay, that looks good.

Now, my Radius: if I bring it up, it will miss working in the finer areas.

And if I bring it down too far, everything looks a little crunchy, too contrasty.

So, I'm looking at these smaller shadows to find a good setting where I pick those up and brighten them a little, but I have a large enough Radius that I get a natural look to her hair and the tree.

See, this looks good with her and the tree, but I'm not picking up some of these darker places.

I might just have to forget about that.

So, I ended up at 57.

And then, the Compression.

If I turn up the Compression, it only works on the darkest and the lightest spots.

So, areas like her hair here and these trees are too light to be enhanced by the Shadows slider.

So, if I bring it down, it will start picking those up, like that, but I don't want to go all the way down, because now it thinks everything needs to be brightened up.

Right about there looks good.

Here's our before and here's our after.

The whole effect is a little strong, so I'll use the Opacity slider to bring it down a little.

That's off, and that's on, so right about there.

Before and after.

I like doing the Shadows and Highlights before I de-compose the image into multiple parts because brightness changes like that will really show up when you combine things back together again, and I'd rather work just on the color.

I want to pull out some of the more faded color and get rid of some of the color noise, like on her skin and in the sky.

One of my favorite techniques is to just take my A and B Channels and give them a little steepening here.

Then I'll apply this to only the areas that don't have much color to start with.

So, I'll use a Parametric Mask based on the C Channel: maximum effect on the parts of the image that have no color channel information.

Then bring this down so I exclude the areas that I don't want to include.

Like, her hair was getting ridiculously saturated there...

We can turn on our Mask Indicator and see.

As I bring it up, I include more and more saturated parts.

So, if I don't want to include parts of her hair, I can go like this.

The areas that have more color aren't getting steepened.

Here's our before, and here's our after.

Let's see what that does for her face.

So, this is nice.

The fact that it's applying in some areas and not others, and it looks a little blotchy: that will help equalize the color noise because these areas that are more colorful won't be enhanced.

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

You can see it right in here.

There's a little bit of a color change here.

And before, it actually shows up stronger.

See this? It's a little yellower down here, and a little less yellow up here.

If I turn it on, now it's more equal.

Okay, I like it.

Those are the changes I want to make to the whole image.

We should add Chromatic Aberrations too.

There we go.

Then I'll Export this and make a copy of it.

Then I'll work on her, and work on the background separately.

Let's do that.

Here's my directory that I'm working in.

I'll create a 16-bit TIFF, full size; I'm working in Adobe Color Space.


And, one more time.

Now we have two.

First we'll work on her.

We'll take care of blemishes.

I'll use a Drawn Mask.

Right around here and here.

I don't want to lose detail, and I don't want to make them too soft because I want her to look human, but I just want to knock down some of the contrast.

So, I'll use a Lowpass Filter.

I'll turn the Radius all the way down so I can see where I'm drawing.

I'll work up here.

And here.

Over here.

Turn on our Mask Indicator.

Give our Mask a little Blur.

I always like to add my Blur before I add the effect because when you increase the Blur, it actually increases the transparency and decreases the opacity even in the middle.

so, if you want to know how much of the effect is being applied, do the Mask Blur first and then determine the parameters.

So, I'm going to turn my Blend Radius up.

Okay, there we go: around 17 gives us a nice effect, but it's a little strong.

It looks un-natural.

If I take my Blend Mode and change it to Lighten only, that gives us some of our detail back but softens up the contrast.

That looks good.

Maybe a little bit of extra softening right in here, because we've got this shadow here that's a little strong.

I'll add another one, and maybe even lighten it a little.

There we go.

Turn my Radius up a little bit; not too much.

We've got 3 pixels.

Then increase my Brightness a little.

Before, and after.

It still looks natural.

Okay; I like it.

I want to bring out her cheekbones and her eyes.

I'll use a Lowpass Filter with the Softlight Blend Mode.

I'll turn my Saturation down to zero.

That lets me see these different tones.

Bring our Radius down.

If we bring it down too far, we see more detail than I wanted.

This is nice; it gives her face a rounded look and gives us some detail here and on the sides of her mouth and on her nose.

That's around 8 pixels.

We'll apply that with the Softlight Blend Mode.

It looks a little contrasty.

We'll take our Contrast down and our Brightness up.

And attenuate our Opacity a little.

This is none of it.

That's all of it.

So, maybe right about there.

Before, and then after.

It makes her face more dramatic.

It also brings out her hair.

I want to bring out her hair even more.

I don't have a way to break that apart, and I don't really need to.

I can just draw a mask.

Bring my Radius down.

I'll start working on her hair right about here.

Increase the Blend a little...

I want to be sure I don't get too strong of shadows on her forehead, so I'll pull this up a little.

I'll turn down my Saturation and bring up my Radius to get these nice tones in her hair.

It might be a little dark.

Once again, bringing the Contrast down and the Brightness up...

I'll apply that with the Softlight Blend Mode.

Before, and after.

It is still a little dark.

Bring my Brightness up a little more.

That brought it up quite a bit.

Before and after.

Yes, that's what I'm looking for.

Now her hair looks 3-dimensional.

In here, these parts get accentuated.

We've got these deep shadows in here.

Bring down the effect with the Opacity.

This is none of it; this is all of it.

I'll slide that back and forth until I find just the right place.

I want to emphasize her eyes.

Let's see what a Highpass Filter does.

Bring that up.

A Softlight Blend Mode.

And bring our Opacity down, and up just a little.

Before, and after.

Oh, that's nice on her eyes.

And on her lips, and on her nose.

I like it.

I don't want to apply that everywhere.

It's too much, especially on her clothes and the bottom of her hair.

I'll just use a Drawn Mask.

I want to pull my attention in, though, so I'll fade it in from a large area.

There, now the focus draws me in.

I'll do final sharpening on the entire image, so I'm not going to worry about sharpening her eyes yet.

Do we need to whiten them? No, not really.

I want to increase the brightness, but I don't want to do that on individual components, so I'll do that after I combine the entire image back together.

I'll stop working on her here, and switch to the woods.

So, I want to brighten these trees.

I don't have to be very accurate with this for it to look nice.

It's more important that I stay inside the tree than that I get all of it.

I don't want it to have a halo, though.

I want to get this, too.

We're almost there.

Oh, a little bit more.

The trees are smaller up here, so I'm switching to the Bezier Curve instead of the Paintbrush.

Make that nice and small with my mouse wheel.

I want to include this branch too.

And these areas here: I want them to have a little bit of a blur.

It looks like we are right in this range.

So, let's bring that up a little bit.

Oh, I'd like to catch this branch too.

I think that's exactly what I had in mind.

It's a little strong down there, so I'll take that off.

And these brighter parts have gotten too bright.

I'll knock them down a little.

Now I'll pick up this one separately.

Okay, this tree is too bright.

It's competing with the woman.

This might be a little too bright.

I'll bring it down.

Use the Opacity to bring it down.

Okay, this was before the changes; and after.

Before, and after.

Oh, that does it: that makes her and these trees more balanced and makes them more primary in the image.

That looks good to me.

Let's look at the sky.

We've got some fringing.

I see some green, and around these edges, our colors are off a little.

I think the sky was very bright and we lost color information.

First I'll turn on the Defringing Module -- which seems to make a difference.

Let's see if I use the other operations.

I'm looking at things like the green around these edges.

I'm not seeing much difference between...

Oh, yes; the Static Threshold really made a difference.

Before, and after.


Now I want to work on enhancing the color, but I want to enhance the color so that there's spatial separation.

There are a couple ways to do that.

We can use the Equalizer Module.

Let's try that.

We'll bring up certain sizes.

I want to see what sizes I'm going to bring up, so first I'll brighten the whole image a lot.

Then I'll take the Equalizer Module, go to the Luma Channel, and change my Blend Mode to Difference.

As I raise these, I can see different sizes of details.

That's getting closer.

This is getting closer to the scale that I want to change the color on.

And so is that: that's nice.

And that's smaller than I want.

Okay, so this one and this one.

So, I can change my mode back to normal and take off my curve.

Go to the Chroma and increase my Color Separation.

Here's before, and there's after.

So, it's making these greens pop more and it's giving me more color in the woods, but it's also giving me some spatial separation.

What if I bring that up a little more? Well, that's too much, but it's too much mostly in the darker areas, so I can apply that with a Parametric Mask.

I'll apply most of it to the brighter parts of the image, not the darker parts.

Here's before and there's after.

Oh, and that hits the sky too hard.

So, let's bring this down so we make sure we're getting these areas.

We'll use our Mask Indicator to show us where we're working.

Bring this up.

And bring our levels down.

Okay, that's not hitting the sky too hard and we're getting some nice imaging here.

Let's try another technique.

Take the Lowpass Filter, but instead of using a Gaussian Blur, I'm going to use a Bilateral Filter and change my Blend Mode to LAB Color.

There we go.

Then I can take my Saturation and turn it up here.

This gives me some spatial separation also.

I'll increase my Radius a little.

If we turn this to normal, we can get a better idea of what it's doing.

See how I'm getting blotches of color? This is that spatial separation that I'm looking for.

So, go back to LAB color.

Here's our before and here's our after.

I like what that does in the woods.

Okay, this is with the Lowpass.

And this is with the Equalizer.

I think I'll use the Lowpass.

It makes this and these trees pop from the background a little better.

I like what it does for the texture in the tree.

Now that I've mentioned those, I'll go back so you can see the other.

Yes, I get better separation with this and these with the Lowpass and the Bilateral Filter.

So, that's the way I'm going to go.

I'd also like to get some separation of different elements based on tone and size, so I'll do another Lowpass Filter, but with this one I'll use the Gaussian Blur.

I'll turn my Saturation all the way down to zero.

I'll be using the Overlay Method, so I need to turn my Contrast down because it will be way too much.

Then I'll determine which elements pop from other elements with the size of the Radius.

I'm really looking for these trees to separate because I want them to be a counterbalance to her.

That looks like a good size to me.

That's around 21 pixels, so I'll apply that with an Overlay method and then attenuate it.

Oh, that's nice.

Okay, that gives me good separation here.

Here's our before and here's our after.

I'll take the Brightness up a little.

I want to bring out some of the roundness of these trees also.

I'll do another Lowpass, but this time with the Softlight Blend Mode.

So, I'll take my Saturation down to zero and bring my Contrast down a little, and Brightness up a little.

I'll look at my Softlight Blend Mode and adjust my Radius to get right around there.

That's too big.

We start losing detail here instead of gaining it.

And this is too small: it looks contrasty.

So, right around there: right around 18 pixels.

We get a nice, rounded look on these trees and in the texture here.

I want to bring that down; I don't want it full strength.

Right around there.

That looks good.

Lastly, I want to bring out more detail in the trees and in the texture of the leaves and so forth.

I'll use the Highpass Filter based on the L Channel.

Bring out the texture I want there.

I know it's a little strong.

I just won't use much of this.

Okay, Parametric Mask.

The brighter parts of the image get more of the effect; the darker parts get less.

Change this to a Softlight Blend Mode and attenuate it with the Opacity.

So, that's none of it, and that's all of it.

Probably right about there...

That's what I wanted to do for the woods.

So, let's combine these images.

I'll export this one.

I have a pre-set here I call Watermark.

It puts the image in this directory: .config/darktable/watermarks/ I've got a default set to a JPG, image quality 93.

We'll see if that works or not.

I'm staying in Adobe, and I set my sizes to zero and zero so it doesn't scale at all.

I'm going to over-write my previous one so that I don't have a bunch of temporary files.

I've got a little script that I wrote, which you can find on my website.

It looks like this.

It just looks for the most recent file and converts it with Inkscape to an SVG.

So, it will tell me if the file size is right.

Okay, here we are.

So, we'll go to the Watermark Module.

Look for tmp.svg That's our background.

Okay, there's our woods.

And we want to exclude the model from the woods.

I'll draw that on.

Hopefully, we haven't made such significant changes that the blending is a problem.

So, we'll exclude her from the blend.

So, now the part that's been added is the woods that we worked on, and we have the original version of her.

Let's see how that worked out.

It worked out fine.

See, as long as we don't worry about the tone too much, it seems like it's just fine.

We don't have to be so critical when we're just dealing with color.

I think that turned out just fine.

So, we've got the woods and we've got her, and I want to brighten the image and do some final sharpening.

If you notice, the Watermark Module is at the very end of the chain.

Anything that includes what was added -- the woods and her combined -- I have to export this as a TIFF and then work on that.

So, we'll do that.

Alright, now everything is in one image and we can work on it all at the same time.

Let's bring up some of these colors a little.

There we go.


And I want to protect these shadows, but I want to give a little more punch to these darker areas, so we'll bring this down a little.

I like that.

And some final sharpening.

This is an Unsharp Mask.

It gives the same effects I get in the GIMP with an Unsharp Mask.

And I want to check my colors one last time.

Let's see, we've got her skin tones here.

And skin tones in the shade.

Okay, it looks like we're just a little yellow, based on our channels here.

So, I'll bring down the yellow a little in both the brighter and the darker areas.

So, I will use the White Balance and bring down the Temperature a little.

Okay, those numbers look good.

A little more neutral tone there.

It looks like the image gets a little dark as it goes up this way, so I'll give that a little more punch.

Alright, that's what I came up with.

Oh, what fun that was! Thank you so much, Fernando, for the contribution.

I really enjoyed it.

I feel like I've been doing a lot of compositing recently.

I would love it if there was somebody out there who is versed in Lua and working with Darktable.

Maybe there's a way to have a non-destructive path to enable compositing.

Can SVG files and original RAW images with sidecar XMP files be archived? With maybe a tarball? Or some kind of versioning control? I think there's got to be a way this can be worked out so the non-destructive nature of Darktable can be maintained while enabling compositing of multiple images together.

If you are so inclined, please drop me a line.

I'd love to work with you on this.

I have a lot of ideas.

I will see you all next week.

Thank you.

Thank you so much for watching and commenting, and all the Likes and the shares.


2 thoughts on “Red Hair

  1. Hi,
    Thanks for your interesting vidéo.

    One question, previously, i have saw somewhere the “color lab reference” but i don’t remember where.
    Can you share it or give a link to this ?
    thanks in advance

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