How to create an HDR in Darktable: Sans-BS

A quick guide to creating High Dynamic Range images using Darktable. In this example, the camera was locked on a tripod. One image was taken at 0ev, one at +2ev and one at -2ev.

Normal Exposure: 0EV

Normal Exposure: 0EV

Darker exposure: ~-2EV

Darker exposure: ~-2EV

Lighter Exposure: ~+2EV

Lighter Exposure: ~+2EV

Images were then transferred to the computer and the following procedure was done:

1. Launch Darktable.
2. Import the three images
3. In Lighttable mode all images are selected
4. On the right under ‘selected images’ click ‘create HDR’
5. A new image with a .dng extension appears.

lighttable mode

lighttable mode

6. Double-click the new .dng image to enter darkroom mode.
7. Apply the lens correction module to fix fish-eye
8. Apply the shadows & highlights module and increase the shadows to ~90
9. Apply the contrast brightness saturation module and reduce saturation to ~-.10
10. Apply the white balance module and reduce temperature to ~5745

Darkroom Mode

Darkroom Mode

Export as an 8-bit .jpg (or whatever format you like).

The finished product.

The finished product.

That’s it. You’re done. With one application, no compiling, no standing on one foot while waving a rubber chicken, no BS.

 


Notes:

I screwed around for about five hours with Luminance HDR and couldn’t get anything even close to what I did in Darktable in about five minutes, yet I got good results using it’s predecessor qtpfsgui. Go figure. Perhaps it will work better with another set of photos.

Darktable has two modules ‘global tonemap’ and ‘tone mapping’, neither of them yielded desired results. Perhaps those will work better with another set of photos.

These photos were just a quick experiment. Ideally, shoot five images for a scene with contrast like this and use a fixed white balance.

Many how-to guides and cameras built-in HDR mode use three-shot bracketing at 0ev, +1ev and -1ev using the light meter. I’ve had better results using my eyes and +/- 2ev.

So far I’m not seeing much difference using raw or jpg mode to create HDR’s. With HDR, we’re getting the dynamic range via multiple images of varying exposure as opposed to trying to eek a bit more out of a single image.

These Darktable settings worked for these images. I like the warm glow. You may need to change them for your images or to suit your tastes.

 

— Kenn Ranous

 

 

Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: