Adobe Lightroom comes with a handy feature call “presets”. As the name suggests, presets allow you to save the settings for multiple effects, and then apply them all to a new photo with a single click (much like an Instagram filter). There are numerous sites offering Lightroom presets for free or for a price. What you may not know is that the free raw photo editor darktable has a similar feature: darktable styles.*
Creating darktable styles
If you want to export the darktable modules applied to an image as a style, go to the Lighttable view and select the image.
In the right hand side toolbar, you will see an option called “styles”:
Make sure the image you want is selected and click “create” in the styles box. A pop-up will appear that will let you name this new style, and give it a description. You can also select which modules you wish to include in the style:
Applying darktable styles
There are two ways to apply a darktable style to an image.
In the Lighttable view, click on a new image, and then double-click on the style that you just created. The style should now be applied! (This is the best way to apply a style to multiple images: just hold Ctrl or Shift to select more than one image before double clicking on the style).
Alternatively, styles can be applied to an image in the darkroom view. Make sure the lower pane is expanded (so that you can see the row of thumbnails). In the lower left you should see an icon with three circles and a triangle.
Click on this and the available will styles will pop up. Select the one you want to apply it.
Once a style has been applied, you can edit the settings for each module to tweak it for that image.
Sharing darktable styles
If you’ve created a great darktable style, or you want to apply one of the best darktable styles created by someone else, you can head over to dtstyle.net which acts as a free repository for darktable styles.
You can download any of these styles (or all of them at once using the link at the top right). Each style will be a ‘.dstyle’ file.
To add a downloaded style to darktable, click ‘import’ in the styles pane in the lighttable view. Navigate to the saved ‘.dstyle’ file and import it. You can now apply it just as you would with one of your own styles. Here is our alligator snap from above with dstyle.net’s “Lomo Style” applied:
You can save one of you own presets by clicking export in the ‘styles’ pane in the Lighttable view. Select the directory to save to, and you’ll create a file called “StyleName.dstyle”. If you think other photographers in the community could benefit from the style, upload it to dstyles.net!
* darktable also has things called presets, but these are a different concept to Lightroom presets (just to be confusing). darktable presets are module specific. Each module has its own unique set of presets that can be applied.