Image Processing B&W with PhotoLab 2, getting blue skies dark

I am a bit new with DxO and would like some recommendations for processing a raw file to Black and White. Most images are no issue but what I am having trouble with are images with blue skies, which I want darkened. My previous image program had sliders for Red, Green, and Blue, which I would use by reducing the Blue and increasing the Red. This would darken blue skies and make the clouds look great. There is a lot of control with these sliders as they act like full filters. If all sliders are brought to zero, the image is completely black. Is there a way to do this in PhotoLab 2?

Also, I am in the trial version of Filmpack, which has a tab called Channel Mixer, which one would think would act like full filters but they don’t. If all sliders are moved to the left, the image remains.

Any ideas would be appreciated. Thanks!

What software are you using that works the way you describe. The only tool I know of that works that way is a color picker where each primary color goes from 0 to 255 and when the three primary colors are moved to zero you get black and when they are all moved to 255 you get white. Microsoft Paint 3D and other paint programs have a color picker like that,The color sliders in all the post processing software with which I’m familiar don’t use just primary colors, and they do not work like that. Moving all the color sliders to their minimum position produces monochrome.

That’s where the FilmPack’s color mixer comes in. First convert your image to Monochrome . You can do that by minimizing the saturation or preferably setting Style Toning to B&W. or you can use one of the B&W presets that come with PhotoLab. Now you can play with the Cyan and Blue sliders of the Channel Mixer to darken the sky. Not enough? You can darken it further by applying a negative value to the highlights slider or by playing with the Smart Lighting feature or even Clearview plus, Finally you can apply local adjustments to the sky. using a graduated filter, control points, or by painting the sky with an automask. In local adjustments you can also add microcontrast and sharpening to make clouds pop.

There are plenty of ways to reach your objective. You need to learn the tools and experiment to determine which tools, or combinations of tools, will give you the results you are after in each situation.


As a complement to Mark’s suggestions…

One of my favorite “go to’s” for enhancing blue skies (B&W) is using the “Color Rendering” > “Category: Black and White Film” > Rendering: “Ilford Delta 400”. This particular rendering has great balance of contrast and grain.

Then use the “Channel Mixer” to darken the blues. (BTW: I’m using FilmPack3. I assume there are still the same type of settings for v5.)

The rendering type used in Filmpack will have a significant impact on your results… Experiment!

Different renders - same “Blue” channel mixer adjustment…

Agfa APX 100

Ilford Delta 400


Thanks for mentioning that. I totally forgot about the film emulations as yet another option to consider. Don’t know where my head was at. And, of course, If he also has the Nik Collection, there is always Silver Efex Pro.


FilmPack also has ‘filter’, which replicates lens filters and could be useful.

The program that has the three channel sliders is Lyn, a basic Mac picture sorter. With the Red, Green, and Blue all at zero, there is a black image. So it seems to be a total filter. The Channel Mixer sliders work, but still let some light in when brought to zero. Not a big deal, but I was just questioning whether I was using it correctly.
Results below with Ilford Delta 400 and it is quite nice. Thanks.
I have not experimented with filters yet.
Is there a DxO tutorial video specifically on B&W processing?


You are using it correctly. I’m not familiar with Lyn, but having three primary color sliders which will take you from all black to all white is not typical in feature rich post processing software. There are many other ways to accomplish your goals. And you’ll find lots of tools which will allow you to do things you couldn’t do in basic PP software. There will be a learning curve.

I like your image, by the way.


Thanks, that was in Elby WA. Leica M9 with 35mm Summicron.

Joe, keep experimenting with your software. The Channel Mixer in FilmPack 5 is much better than software with only RGB sliders. The six sliders of FP cover both the primary additive colors and their complementary colors. Select one of the presets in FP, then use the Channel Mixer sliders and other controls to refine your image. The Elite version of FilmPack processes raw files without having to go through DxO PhotoLab.

If you use PhotoLab, another option would be to export the PL-processed file to Nik Silver Efex Pro. There you’ll find those six color filters for global changes and control points to localize those alterations.

Experiment and have fun!


New on PL.
Maybe I misunderstood, but if you needed global adjustment to the blues.
Can’t you just use the right Hsl slider, or the blue channel of the tone curve?

As a film photographer, as well as digital, I can advise the most dramatic results are easily achieved with very little adjustment.

The key to “dark skies” has always been a red, orange or yellow filter, depending on the tonality required. Using infrared film also accentuates that effect because of its lack of sensitivity to blue light.

The golden rule, for affecting the tonality of colours for a B&W image, is to use a filter that is complementary to the colour you want to darken.

Here’s a “normal” image adjusted for Fuji Neopan Acros 100 (my favourite B&W film), followed by one adjusted for Kodak HE filtered (High Speed Infrared) plus a red filter - both from the FilmPack.

As you can see, it is possible to create a very dramatic effect by mixing infrared film with a red filter. Normally, unless you want such a strong effect for artistic reasons, you would reduce the filtration used here.


I can’t seem to get the HSL sliders to get the blue out as easy as easy as selecting a film and then using the Channel Mixer.

Joanna, nice work. Yes, that is what I’m after. I have not experimented with using a red filter on my digital camera while taking a raw image. I’m sure that would work fine if I know the image will work best in B&W.

But I still don’t understand why when one slides the channel mixer of everything but red to the left, the blue sky does not get very dark. Can anyone explain this? I would think that if all channels are slid to -100 the image should go black. Try this on an image with a blue sky. Select B&W and then try to remove all of the blue to get the sky dark.

…sort of: It’s just like PhotoLab sliders work. It is how it is. Color filters also work differently from what you’d expect. DPL is just not up to expectations YET.

When I said about the red filter, I meant in DxO, not on the lens.

When using the channel mixer, for blue skies, you need to minimise blue and cyan whilst boosting the opposing colour, red and possibly orange.

But the red filter in FilmPack works better than the mixer.

What you are used to are RGB sliders which are only three colors, red, green and blue,. Most post processing programs do not use RGB sliders, which are very limiting and do not give you the best control. over color. it has nothing to do with PhotoLab not being up to expectations yet. It is highly unlikely that PhotoLab will ever have RGB sliders to correct color, although they might decide to use them as a color picker if they add functionality to paint in replacement colors using local processing.


you most likely used “red filter” to darken sky as we used to do in real analog photography.


I just realised that it seems you assumed I had used real film and a filter on my camera for the effect I show in my images.

This is not the case. I used the IR film effect I mentioned, and the red filter - both from FilmPack. I did not use anything apart from a “naked” Nikon D810 camera in RAW mode to take the picture.