Highlight Recovery in PL7

For years now, folks have asked about highlight recovery without much success.

I think I have stumbled on a method, in PL7, using a Luminosity Mask.

  1. The wing appears to be fairly much blown and I had to reduce the top of the Tone Curve to avoid warning markers.

  2. Add a Luminosity Mask by placing the pipette on the wing and then adjust the “wedge” to select, as near as possible, only the wing…

  3. Erase everything that is masked that is not the wing.

  4. Hide the mask and adjust things like the Highlight Selective Tonality, a little Exposure, and a tad of Micro-contrast.

  5. Disable the Local Adjustment palette to see the final result…

Now, this might not be exactly as you would do it, or the result you would want but, I was surprised at how effective it was at pulling something out of nothing.


Thanks for sharing this. Whereby the most helpful part for me is that you can fine tune with the eraser. I use it far too rarely. Or rather, it hasn’t occurred to me yet with this mask. Although the luminosity mask is now actually the one I use the most.
But it is indeed amazing what you can still get out of the details.

I tried with a photo from a swan, it looks promising to use this technique. Thanks Joanna.

2404_FruehlingamUemminger_00115.NEF.dop (70,6 KB)
2404_FruehlingamUemminger_00115.NEF (25,2 MB)

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Nice method. Also useful is using smart lighting with spot weighted fusion to target any area dark or light and it produces nice results.

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Well said…appears to be…

If highlights are blown, there is no way to recover.
If they’re not blown, “recovery” is just undoing what PhotoLab has spoilt.


Nevertheless and in comparison to OpticsPro and early releases of PhotoLab, DxO has improved highlight handling indeed.


It still irks me that Luminosity Mask is not in PL Elite where it belongs but rather still in FP which I have no need for! Yes there are other tools that people use but I have not needed them either.

FP should be for film simulation, and adjustments tools should be in PL.

Sorry for hijacking your great thread @Joanna


Does the classic way of Smartlighting boxes and some highlightrecovery in tone en highlightcontrast combination and top it of with some local masking the same or is luminosity masking stronger?

I am going today to https://assen.supercarmadness.com/
Lots of sun today so i think i get a lot of high contrast images.
So i can test out this methode.

Well, they are different tools. – As you know, smart lighting works globally and as such affects the entire image, while luminosity mask selection can be more local.

Play with the nice example by @J3rry , which shows bright & not blown out highlights, that (otherwise) couldn’t be recovered.


What can we do in the absence of FilmPack?


The screen shows everything I did, but here’s the .dop sidecar. Beware: this .dop does NOT include the things delivered in @J3rry 's sidecar.
2404_FruehlingamUemminger_00115.NEF.dop (13.1 KB)

Note: Micro contrast set to its max revealing the otherwise hidden dirt. Also tried DxO ClearView Plus, but it did not do any good in this case.

In place of a luminosity mask, one can try control points or control lines, which can have their influence fairly easily contained to the subject. These don’t require FilmPack.


Thank you @J3rry and @Joanna, very useful. I quickly tried the swan in Topaz AI to see if I could quickly select the swan and adjust the lighting and see how it looked, the selection process in Topaz is definitely nice, see the other AI masking thread; ) However the .dop in Photolab 7 certainly looks a lot better !

It seems that PL as problems when dealing with highlights:

That was about a bug with Nikon Zf and (maybe) some Sony cameras, which was fixed.

There is more common problem that software has to deal with, like with the @J3rry photo. It was taken with Exposure Comp. = -0.7, 14-bit RAW, and only 24 pixels above 6738 (a loong way before blowing anything out) in the RAW data. Most RAW vievers will show it underxposed but still lacking details in the wings. Hence if you want to “restore” some details in the swan wings you have to use some kind of microcontrast,
e.g. standard PL microcontrast or PL/FP highlight contrast. What @Joanna has shown, was a standard workaround, but I think @J3rry photo is a good example for DxO (and others) to think about.

@Joanna , great hint, thank you very much!