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Thread: B&W Conversion with Raw Therapee

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    B&W Conversion with Raw Therapee

    Just doing a few experiments with creating B&W images using the Raw Therapee software.

    Not really sure of the outcome yet; and I still haven't totally got the better of this erratic and moody programme.

    So far I have only desaturated and adjusted the Channel Mixture. Eventually decided on 40-50-10 ratio for these trial images.

    Then just a slight tweak with Curves and a final sharpen with my normal editor. Haven't attempted anything fancy with RT yet.

    But I'm not sure if I am doing the Channel Mixer changes correctly. When I changed the RGB basic setting from R 100, G 100, B 100 to R 40, G 50, B 10 the image went very dark and needed an Exposure Compensation of at least +1.5 to brighten it.

    However, when I set that ratio into the RGB settings for each individual channel I appear to get a better image. For Example, I changed the Red Channel from R 100, G 0, B 0, to R 40, G 50, B 10 and the Green Channel from R 0, G 100, B 0 to R 40, G 50, B 10 and set the Blue Channel likewise.

    Previously when doing Channel Mixer Conversion I have only changed the 'headline' R 100 etc numbers to new values. But now I am manually setting the secondary values for each channel.

    Not sure if any of this makes sense because I don't really fully understand what I am doing myself.

    Anyway here are a couple of examples from last Sunday's Vintage Machinery Show.

    Loading the Cart

    B&W Conversion with Raw Therapee

    I know, I had too much sky and too little foreground in the original image so this correction crop is a little tight. Plus the pitchforker's hand moved slightly faster than my shutter speed.

    Adjusting the Plough

    B&W Conversion with Raw Therapee

    With this scene, I had to leave out one person who was spoiling the grouping; and wearing modern clothes which ruined the period atmosphere, so I've lost the end of the plough.

    When I get more time I will experiment further with the possibilities of RT. I know Donald used RT until he obtained something better; but is this RT conversion B&W going to be better than working with my normal software on a previously Raw converted basic image.

    Does any of this make any sense?

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: B&W Conversion with Raw Therapee

    Geoff

    Good on you for assessing and studying what you can achieve with RT. Maybe I wasn't patient enough.

    My biggest issue with it was, as you refer to above, not really understanding what I was doing. What I mean by that is that I could never work out what the various parameters were that allowed me to look at an image and say, 'Right, if I do A, B & C, I know pretty accurately what the result will be.' In other words, the processing of every image was trial and error and I found that very frustrating.

    As for your images - I love the subject matter.

    The first one maybe needs some work on the clipping points. Some work on a curve could maybe get more 'pop' into it.

    I prefer the second, notwithstanding the fact that you've had to lose the back end of the plough. I feel there's more 'action' in it and a greater sense of people involved in what's happening; i.e. there's more of a narrative in it. As well as the fact that used to drive a Fergie 135 when I was in my teenage years (a long, long time ago). But, with that one also, I think you could give it more pop with a curve and some Local Contrast Enhancement.

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    Re: B&W Conversion with Raw Therapee

    Yes those are basic conversions, Donald, without any extra 'clever bits' added. Just to show the 'starting point' of RT B&W so they are a touch flat at the moment. And they were just picked at random. I have about 50 photos from that event which I haven't even looked at yet.

    I have found, eventually, that it is quite easy to alter the WB and Tints to give extra boost to the conversions. It has it's own version of Local Contrast under the Shadows/Highlights controls although I haven't played with that yet.

    Here is an alternative image of the Tractor & Cart with just a little extra Tint setting included for added pop.

    B&W Conversion with Raw Therapee

    As you say, Donald, RT takes a bit of effort to find your way around and the 'How to do' instruction leaflet was written for the previous version.

    One other thing. I have been experimenting with the RL Deconvolution sharpening and I am beginning to like it instead of Unsharp Mask for Capture Sharpening on some photos.

    I sometimes find that Unsharp Mask can create harsh edges in unwanted areas, like around eyes when they are in partial shadow, and the correction I use is to sharpen on a layer. But a little RL Deconvolution sharpening to start with and just a little Unsharp Mask as the last tweak to an image appears to work better.

    But it does seem to work slightly differently from Unsharp Mask and isn't the best option for all circumstances.

    When (if) I get more time, I will try to understand RT a bit better. At the moment, I think that I am getting better fine detail in RT B&W than doing it with my normal editing software; although the methods are basically the same.
    Last edited by carregwen; 18th August 2010 at 09:30 PM. Reason: removed surplus IMG tags

  4. #4

    Re: B&W Conversion with Raw Therapee

    Quote Originally Posted by Geoff F View Post
    Not really sure of the outcome yet; and I still haven't totally got the better of this erratic and moody programme.

    B&W Conversion with Raw Therapee
    Geoff

    I love that line. The idea that something inanimate such as software can have emotions and moods. I think Photoshop is wily and emotionally complex (but CS5 is also seductive). Photomatix is alluringly sexy, but ultimately flawed, and Vista needs to see a therapist.

    I like shot #1. A very nice scene. I don't have RT, but if you want to post me the RAW or original JPEG I will try it through Power Retouche BW studio, and also Silver Efex, so you can see the difference. Post here and send me the link to download - if you want to. http://uploading.com/signup/

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: B&W Conversion with Raw Therapee

    Quote Originally Posted by carregwen View Post
    I love that line. The idea that something inanimate such as software can have emotions and moods.
    It does sound a little 'different' perhaps, but I think I instinctively felt and understood what Geoff was saying (EDIT - or maybe he wasn't meaning to convey that). And maybe that's something to do with the creative nature of the activity we're engaged in.

    I certainly don't think about DxO and the GIMP in the same way that I view 'Word' or 'Excel'. The former are friends that I work with to try and craft something that gives me, and hopefully others, some stimulation and pleasure. It's also about how we 'connect' with the tools we use (now, he's getting really touchy/feely!!). Geoff is 'connecting' with Raw Therapee in a way that I didn't/couldn't. On the other hand, DxO now (because it didn't the first time we met) makes total sense to me and when I'm working with it, I do feel as at one with it. (Try not to worry. I think I am still sane. I am harmless.)
    Last edited by Donald; 18th August 2010 at 09:48 PM.

  6. #6

    Re: B&W Conversion with Raw Therapee

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald View Post
    I certainly don't think about DxO and the GIMP in the same way that I view 'Word' or 'Excel'. The former are friends that I work with to try and craft something that gives me, and hopefully others, some stimulation and pleasure. It's also about how we 'connect' with the tools we use (now, he's getting really touchy/feely!!). Geoff is 'connecting' with Raw Therapee in a way that I didn't/couldn't. On the other hand, DxO now (because it didn't the first time we met) makes total sense to me and when I'm working with it, I do feel as at one with it. (Try not to worry. I think I am still sane. I am harmless.)
    I think you put your finger on it there. The software itself doesn't possess emotions, except of course that the designers imbue something of themselves into it, and how it 'works'. But the manner in which you as a user interact or connect with it develops in your mind the impression that it does possess something other than some bytes on a disk. We do the same with animals, and I bet the guy in that tractor shot has a name for it, and considers it to have certain 'characteristics'

    What a load of old waffle....

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    Re: B&W Conversion with Raw Therapee

    Well my main editing software (Serif Photo Plus) is just a programme; something that I have become familiar with using, it always works the same and is very understanding when I do something incorrectly.

    But RT certainly has it's own personality and when it has a 'bad day' it becomes impossible to work with. I do everything the same but it just won't cooperate and keeps crashing without any obvious reason.

    Then I shut it down and threaten to delete it from my hard drive. When I restart RT it will work for a period of time without any problems until it gets another moody period. I've even thought about putting Evening Primrose Oil into the computer!

    You have to be firm with RT, it will take advantage of any weakness or indecision. When making adjustments, you can't fiddle with the sliders otherwise it just stops working. You have to firmly enter the correct number into the required 'slot' and click Enter. That way it does appear to be 'tameable'.

    However, I think the basic Raw Converter which comes with Photo Plus is rather poor and I am getting better results with RT. Although I haven't tried the new Serif PP X4 yet.

    I was thinking about getting another converter but don't want to start learning something new until those dark winter days; and I don't want to be beaten by RT either!

    But to return to those sample photos. I'm about to place the colour image of the plough onto the Mini Competition so do have a look at it. If I can think out the best option I will also try to send an original Raw.

    The photos I included here are just basic conversions to show the 'no clever stuff included' starting point. When I get time I will have to readjust them with 'all the stops pulled out' to see exactly what RT is capable of; but it would be interesting to see how other programmes deal with the same starting photo.

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    Re: B&W Conversion with Raw Therapee

    And here is my attempt at using the extra RT tools

    B&W Conversion with Raw Therapee

    I also tried it in Photo Plus, still using Channel Mixer plus the old trick of adding a Hue/Sat adjustment layer under the Channel Mixer layer to adjust the Tint.

    All in all, I think RT has better detail; although I may possibly have slightly overdone the Local Contrast adjustment.

  9. #9

    Re: B&W Conversion with Raw Therapee

    Quote Originally Posted by Geoff F View Post
    And here is my attempt at using the extra RT tools

    B&W Conversion with Raw Therapee

    I also tried it in Photo Plus, still using Channel Mixer plus the old trick of adding a Hue/Sat adjustment layer under the Channel Mixer layer to adjust the Tint.

    All in all, I think RT has better detail; although I may possibly have slightly overdone the Local Contrast adjustment.
    Pretty good Geoff. You have quite good contrast there. I did a quick edit using Silver Efex. I added a slight vignette to give a period feel, and used a sepia tint for the same reason. Hope you don't mind. I thought your grass was a bit bright so I put it in the CS5 RAW editor first and darkened the grass with the grad tool.

    B&W Conversion with Raw Therapee

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    Re: B&W Conversion with Raw Therapee

    Actually, Rob, the grass is very bright because it is wheat stubble not grass.

    I'm not sure if adding a coloured tint is possible with RT. Maybe that is something for me to think about as an extra Photo Plus addition. And any of those other crafty bits which you have used will also require a different programme. I will have a think about how that might be possible with PP.

    I'm attempting to send you the original image but keep discovering snags. Eventually, I put the file into that uploading address and it appears to have disappeared but I don't really know what is happening to it. I couldn't really understand that site.

    As I have said previously, I easily get confused with this internet stuff!

  11. #11

    Re: B&W Conversion with Raw Therapee

    Quote Originally Posted by Geoff F View Post
    As I have said previously, I easily get confused with this internet stuff!
    Don't worry about that. I have spent the last two weeks installing my neighbour's laptop and my new desktop. It's made me realize I don't know as much as I thought I did! We are all on a learning curve.

  12. #12

    Re: B&W Conversion with Raw Therapee

    Geoff

    Thanks for sending the RAW file (nice shot). I ran it through CS5 RAW edit and applied a grad tool to darken the grass. Then through Silver Efex Pro using the standard setting but I boosted the 'structure' button a bit and aplied a slight copper tint. Then applied a high-pass sharpen. About the best I can do.

    B&W Conversion with Raw Therapee

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    Re: B&W Conversion with Raw Therapee

    Well I have converted all the photos of that event and made B&W versions of the most suitable images. And I have learned a lot more about using RT at the same time.

    Tints, like Rob's example, don't appear to be possible with that programme; although I managed to produce some different effects by desaturating at 95% and altering the WB tint.

    When, or if, I get some spare time I will try a few examples of B&W with the Serif semi auto B&W settings plus my normal methods and see how they all compare.

    And, after finally working out how to use it, I have bookmarked that uploading site for future use.

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    Re: B&W Conversion with Raw Therapee

    Geoff - I've been working with RT for some time on and off - it's certainly quirky, but the more I've worked with it the more I can see its strengths. Regarding the desaturation to monotone I would put all (definitely ALL) the sliders in Channel Mixer to 100%. This should give a monotone image with whatever exposure settings you have set. Now, if you want a sepia (slightly more in Red Channel, slightly less in Blue Channel), increase the red slider in the Red Channel (say from 100 to 125%) and decrease the red slider in the Blue Channel (say from 100 to 75%). Leave the Green Channel alone as you don't want that to change. I think this will work, but you need to know what general values you will need for, say, blue, rose, platinum tinting etc.

    If this does not work let me know and I'll think its through again.

    Cheers

    David
    Last edited by David; 28th August 2010 at 01:19 PM. Reason: clarity

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    Re: B&W Conversion with Raw Therapee

    I have spent a few more hours experimenting with tints using RT, David, But I can only get some form of result by not fully desaturating the image.

    With this example, I have used Colour Boost at -85 and set the RGB Channels to R 160, G 70, B 70 (instead of all at 100) plus the WB Tint to 0.5.

    B&W Conversion with Raw Therapee

    And this example is using the Photo Plus semi auto conversion.

    B&W Conversion with Raw Therapee

    If I played around with the settings on this image I might make a few extra changes but I have just done a quick example here.

    But, in all honesty, messing with Colour Channel settings is a bit beyond my computer understanding, and I am really just making random entries without much idea of what I am actually doing.

    In fact, due to my abysmal lack of any computer knowledge especially anything connected to the internet, this is my third attempt to write this post.

    Everything worked OK until I went to the image library to copy my second image. Then I couldn't find what I had previously typed. So I'm adding this extra image, etc, by way of an edit; and I don't have much confidence in this working either!
    Last edited by Geoff F; 31st August 2010 at 07:46 PM.

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    Re: B&W Conversion with Raw Therapee

    Maybe RT is not the easiest for B&W. Another freeby download that might help is here.

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    Re: B&W Conversion with Raw Therapee

    Geoff - I should have asked what version of RT are you using. I've reverted to v2.4.1 as I can't get the latest one to work properly. Also, and I don't know if this can be done via the email, if you could send me a RAW file I could see what I can do. I agree that RT is an infuriating piece of software at times, but it can produce some good results..
    I agree with Peter that OptikVerve, his link, is excellent.

    Cheers

    David

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    Re: B&W Conversion with Raw Therapee

    I have played around with both versions of RT, David, and found them to be equally unstable. But I like the way version 3 works and have eventually (to some degree) managed to tame it's tantrums.

    I will see if I can get that upload site, which Rob recommended, to work again and send you a full colour Raw to play around with.

    And I will have a good look at the site which Peter suggested.

    Recently, I tried the Scarab Raw Converter but found that although it was fast and stable it just didn't have enough features for me.

    At the moment, I don't do much B&W and there are several totally different methods which I can use with my Photo Plus programme. It was more a case of trying to see how RT would perform when I pushed it towards something different.

    Actually, thinking about that, I haven't tried the Channel Mixer or Gradient methods of producing B&W with the new Photo Plus X4 yet. That might be worth an experiment to see how it performs, especially as I have already found one production bug with that software!

    But my main photo work is macro insects and I'm still running about a week behind with my editing. And identification of those subjects creates another headache; plus it looks like the next few days will be good insect weather so time may be a bit short until we get some more rain!

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    Re: B&W Conversion with Raw Therapee

    Quote Originally Posted by David View Post
    Geoff - I should have asked what version of RT are you using. I've reverted to v2.4.1 as I can't get the latest one to work properly. Also, and I don't know if this can be done via the email, if you could send me a RAW file I could see what I can do. I agree that RT is an infuriating piece of software at times, but it can produce some good results..
    I agree with Peter that OptikVerve, his link, is excellent.

    Cheers

    David
    I understand RT Version 3 is still an Alpha Version (a work in progress). I tell my students to use Version 2.4.1 until all the bugs have been ironed out.

  20. #20

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    Re: B&W Conversion with Raw Therapee

    David. Here, if it works, is the original Raw file for you, or anybody else who would like to have a play with RT etc for B&W conversion. Download RT test image.CR2 for free on uploading.com I picked this one because the exposure is a bit tricky so it should be a decent test.

    ps. Do not click the advertising links which just go on and on with salestalk.

    Yes Peter, RT 3 is still undergoing trials but after some experimentation I eventually found that it works better for me than the earlier version.

    There is an additional file available from the RT website plus some other independent versions; but I have failed to get any of them to appear on my computer. That, however, may well be due to my lack of understanding about how to load and run anything which doesn't have Auto Install or something very similar.

    My experience of RT 3 is: After selecting the required folder (containing the downloaded Raw files) you must let the entire folder install into RT before attempting to do anything; watch the blue progress bar in the bottom left corner.

    If scrolling through the loaded folder by click and mouse drag, do it quite slowly and stop occasionally for RT to 'catch it's breath'.

    Double click the required preview image to see the higher quality workspace image and resize if necessary.

    Be careful when making adjustments using the slider bars. Moving them back and forwards a few times is guaranteed to cause a crash. I prefer to select the required area and type numbers for new settings values using my keyboard. Only enter one at a time and always press Enter afterwards.

    When converting a number of files, you will find that details of those already converted will appear along the top toolbar. Do not allow these to build up. Delete them all after every 4 or 5 images. Wait a second or two between each deletion (once again RT needs time to think about what it is doing) as rapid deletion will always crash.

    There are a few other items but those are the main areas that I have found to be problematic. And so long as I don't rush or confuse the software with multiple instructions it appears to be reasonably responsive.

    I will not be beaten by RT; I will not be beaten by RT; I will not be . . .
    Last edited by Geoff F; 3rd September 2010 at 05:14 PM.

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