Archive for August, 2013

Darktable – Pimping clouds

Saturday, August 3rd, 2013

What can you do to make the clouds “pop” out of the sky? Do I hear “Buy polarizing filter”? Yep, it is kinda solution, but not in every case. Polarizing filters have some good effects:
– darken the blue of the sky and sharpening the clouds
– increase the saturation of blue and green
– reduce glare from leaves and other surfaces

And some bad sides:
– make water “transparent” and eliminate reflections – seriously, who would erase a beautiful reflection? I mean fishermen wear polarized glasses exactly for that reason – to see fish. But are you fishing or shooting? A good reflection is always good for the photo.
– polarizers work in specific direction – 90 degrees away from the sun. If you point it in any other direction it just won’t work.
– and because of that, forget using polarizers with ultra-wide angle lenses. Their field of view is 90+ degrees, so part of the frame will have the polarizing effect and other part will not. If you use it for a sky shot, one part of the sky will be darker than the other.

So, let’s see how we can recreate the advantages of using a CPL in Darktable. I will use this photo for demonstration:

I will use my favourite module “Color zones” under the “Color group”. Just drag the lightness of the blue to the ground. Optionally you can increase saturation of blue and green.

If you wish to make clouds more dramatic, you can use the “Local contrast” module under the “Tone group”. Usually I increase Detail to about 0.5, but here I have dragged it a little more to add pop.

And here it is the photo after these edits:

View from before and after:

This is part of the Darktable tutorials series.