Editing with RawTherapee

Those who prefer optimal control over their photographs, will photograph using RAW formats, instead of JPEG. To see an article on this, click here. Today, we will be learning how to use the best free RAW editor for Windows (I prefer Raw Darktable on Mac and Linux), which is RawTherapee. You can download RawTherapee from their website, at rawtherapee.com. I would suggest you do this, install it, and experiment with RawTherapee as you go through this tutorial. At the very bottom of this post, is the link to a Raw file. Please keep in mind, the photograph is another's property, and is to be used only for practicing your skills in RawTherapee (as licensed from the photographer).

First of all, RawTherapee's primary purpose is to convert from RAW to other formats. I prefer to do the in depth editing with GIMP. However, RawTherapee has quite a few tools, to do the basic editing. Below is a screenshot of the file browser on RawTherapee with a couple titles. Keep in mind, as with all of the images in this tutorial, you can hold down the control key (Ctrl) on your keyboard, and left-click with your mouse on the image, which will enable you to view the image larger.

Most of this page is self-explanatory. However, I'll explain the straight line rotation. After you have the image mostly rotated, you can select the straight line rotation tool, and drag along a straight line, like your horizon. This tool will rotate and crop the image, so that line is portrayed as straight. Try it! Also, for the white balance, check out this article.

If you double left-click on an image in the "File Browser," it will open the image, for further editing. Again, most of the tools are self-explanatory, but I'll explain two of the exposure options for those who have not done much image editing. Just keep in mind, for the Exp. Comp., Brightness, and the Contrast sliders, I would be careful how much you adjust, as adjusting these to far, will cause increased noise (graininess) and reduced image quality. The black slider, increases the amount of black in the photograph. This is one of my favorite ways to increase contrast.  Also, the Saturation slider adjusts how much color is in the photograph. Now we will move on to the color tab (On the image above, it will be found on the 'image options - navigation'). Here we can edit the overall color of the image. As you probably have noticed, the color on the image above is pretty bad! That is because when you photograph in RAW, you decide the white balance of the photograph, not the camera. I had not set the white balance for that photograph yet. To set the white balance, I typically set the white balance method to auto. Sometimes this method works better than other times. Then, if I'm not pleased with the automatic method, I will adjust the 'temperature' and 'tint' sliders to get the final white balance. Most likely, it will take a little bit of work and experimentation for you to grasp how to use these two sliders, and the colors which they adjust. Don't get frustrated. It is definitely worth it! The final function of RawTherapee that we'll discuss today is the processing queue. In the navigation tabs at the top, it is called the "Batch Queue." After making all your edits on a picture and adding the image to the processing que, you can go to the Batch Queue, set the folder location and file format you want to save it in, and click "Start Processing." Congratulations! You now know the basics of how to use RawTherapee! 🙂 Notes - For a detailed tutorial that is extremely easy to understand, click here. If you have tiny black speckles on your finished photograph, make sure that you have impulse noise reduction enabled under the "details tab." While you may prefer to use RawTherapee's normal noise reduction and sharpening, I prefer to do this on GIMP, as I think GIMP does a better job at these two tasks. RAW Files (see http://rawtherapee.com/blog/rawtherapee-play-competitions for more) http://www.rawtherapee.com/shared/play/playraw21_drslony.pef After clicking on the link, if you get gibberish, on your browser in the top menu, select file, and select "save as" and save it in your desired folder. Then, open it with RawTherapee.  

6 Responses to “Editing with RawTherapee”

  • Sir, I have downloaded latest version 5.0-r1-gtk2. When I try to save an image after some manipulation, it gets saved with .NEF.pp3 extension if it is a RAW (NEF) file and .JPG.pp3 if it is a JPG file. These formats are of course not recognised by Windows and the manipulated image cannot be opened. Can you help me out?

    Also, I tried to use GIMP. There also the image gets saved with some extension not recognized by Windows. How to save the file in Windows recognizable formats?

    It is because of these issues at the very starting step that I am not able to use any of these excellent programmes. Kindly help if you can.

    Thanks and regards.
    Sincerely yours,
    Ravindra Kathale.

    • Daniel Hancock

      Hi Ravindra,

      Raw therapee uses non-destructive editing. It does not apply your changes directly to the file, but instead saves them in the side file (pp3). There are plenty of articles available on the benefits of non-destructive editing. In order to save the file as a jpg, you need to either save it directly, or add it to the processing que (see the second image on this article). GIMPs default format is .xcf. The benefit of saving in this format is you can save masks and layers and come back later. However, if you’re done editing and are ready for the jpg, you’ll need to export. It can be found in the menu under File>Export As. I hope this helps!

      • Great! Thanks for replying superfast! I got replies to both of my questions. Now it will be possible for me to freely experiment with both the software. I will need to find out which one of them better converts RAWs to B&W images

        I also invite you to visit my blog at http://www.ravindrakathale.in, where currently I am doing a series on places of interest in the southern part of India. This may come handy for you when you visit our country, to which you afe always welcome.

        Once again thanks and regards.

        Sincerely yours.

        – Ravindra Kathale.

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