Need help recovering blue sky - saturation/lum. not working either global or local

When photographing birds against a blue sky I need to increase exposure to avoid losing detail in the darker bird. But when I do this I’m finding that I can no longer recover the blue of the sky with DPL7.5. This is despite the sky being far from blown out (ca. 200-220 on the Histogram). I recall being able to increase vibrancy and lower luminance to get the desired result. Or, worst case, select the sky in Local Adjustments and increase saturation and lower luminance of the sky alone. Now these changes have little effect.

See the 4 attached images taken at +1.3 EV on a blue sky day. The first (filename ending in _DxO) is generated with the standard PL7 presets, but with highlights lowered to -26 and shadows increased to +34. The second (filename ending in _DxO-1) has the same settings, plus the eyedropper (18 px in diameter) was used to select the sky (resulted in a blue wedge), and saturation was increased to 100. The sky is only very slightly more blue. The third (filename ending in -2) has the same settings as the previous version, plus luminance was reduced to -100 (Vibrancy is greyed out). No change from the prior version that I can see. The fourth (filename ending in -3) has its global saturation and luminance set back to zero, and local adjustments enabled. I selected the sky using a series of control points with the chroma selectivity adjusted to isolate the sky from the rest of the image. The blue color wedge was still selected from when I had made the global color adjustments. I then set the local saturation to 100 and the local luminance to -100. Again it seems to have had little or no effect (also, +100 saturation was no different with 0 Luminance).

I also tried reducing the saturation and saturation & luminance of the green and red channels with little or no effect in improving the blue of the sky.

I’ve attached the raw file as a point of reference. What am I doing wrong?

P3100005.ORF (18.6 MB)

Here is my very quick and dirty take on this image. Since it is an extreme crop the resolution is very low. You may not care for my color or sharpening choices but fixing the sky color is very doable. I used a control line and luminosity mask for the sky and I also have attached my .dop file. I attempted to have the bird pop a bit more than in your versions so the finer details did not get lost due to the low resolution. If were to take the time and do it again I would probably make different choices. As I said, this was quick and dirty.

The whole effort from cropping the original raw file, up to and and including the export using DeepPRIME XD, took around 5 minutes on my Windows 10 desktop with an RTX 4060 graphics card.


P9142563.ORF.dop (8.9 KB)


Thanks for the quick reply and the work you put in to get what I am looking for. I have to confess that I don’t know how to apply your .dop file to my image. I thought that I could just make a copy of the original .orf file and change its name to the name within your dop file (P9142563.orf). Then copy the downloaded .dop file into the same folder and see the result.

Unfortunately that doesn’t seem to have worked. Neither did refreshing the folder. Or copying them both to a newly made folder. I was left with the original image and edits that I had done (no control line local adjustment, no DeepPrime XD).

I did one more thing and got the result I wanted, though. I applied a control point mask using multiple points to select the whole sky, and then lowered the white balance color temperature slightly and adjusted the tint to eliminate the slight magenta caste. The result was similar to the sky in the image you generated. So thank you for showing me that it could be done, and triggering me to look for another way to get the result I wanted.

Now I have to go off and find out how to properly apply another’s dop file to an image of mine .

Did you adjust the white balance to get your result, or were you able to use the eye dropper on the sky to select the color, and adjust the saturation and luminance to produce the deeper blue (as I tried to do unsuccessfully).

I think I adjusted the color temperature of the Luminosity mask. I know the tools well and really do not think much about the process while I edit an image. I am usually on auto pilot with a lot of muscle memory. I have been using PhotoLab almost daily for over six years. As I said this was quick and dirty.


HSL colors will not work on grey.
The original sky is nearly grey, so to make manipulations work, you have to add some blue by lowering the sky temp. to 5200K or so, as Mark did using luminance (or whatever, if you don’t have FilmPack license) mask. On the inverted mask you can then apply some ClearView, Vibrance, etc. Start with fixing light and contrast.

I have only PL7 (no FilmPack or other add-ons). But I could select the sky using control points or a control line and it allowed color temperature adjustment of that local area to restore the blue color of the sky.

The ineffectiveness of HSL due to the grayness of the sky was one of things I tried to test for by selecting first the red channel and lowering its luminosity and saturation, and then the green channel and doing the same. Then selecting the blue channel and raising its saturation (and testing both raised and lowered luminance).

I thought that lowering the red and green channels would cause the sky to become bluer, and then I could adjust the blue channel’s saturation and luminance from there (since the sky was no longer gray, but now blue). But changes to the red and green channels didn’t have a material effect. I had expected the sky to turn blue once the red and green channels were reduced, but it didn’t. And the red and green channels on the Histogram weren’t really changed in intensity by my changes in their saturation and luminance. Clearly I am misunderstanding the function of individual color adjustment using the HSL tool.

Keep in mind that FilmPack and Viewpoint are not really add-ins. The functionality of both of them is already built into PhotoLab. While both also come with standalone versions, with regard to PhotoLab, all a license does is unhide the features that are already there. No installation is necessary.


This is just another area where DXO falls short. Using a free on line photo editor, which there are numerous to choose from, it took seconds to replace the sky in your image. I did no other processing, just replaced the sky. Don’t limit yourself in using just one editor to solve all your processing needs or you will be constantly wasting time and/or using workarounds to do things that are built into other applications. You could make the sky just blue without clouds if that is what you prefer.


Congrats on acquiring an RTX 4060! I want one too! I guess your workflow has speeded up considerably.

@bkspero Here is another try on your bird picture. I did basically the same thing that @mwsilvers did, cooled down the temp on sky, then went to Nik Color EFEX 6 and added a blue filter. Just took me a little bit longer than 5 minutes. But it is quite easy to do(remember to use the WB locally on the sky).

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I have been using the GIMP application for things like replacing the sky, but am not familiar with online editors. And insofar as GIMP is concerned, either I’m not doing it to its full potential or it isn’t able to do a good job isolating the foreground objects. Where your image shows a sharp transition from the sky to the objects, when I try it in GIMP there is always a pixel or 2 of transition around the objects.

What online photo editor did you use?

If you Google 'free online sky replacement" you will get a large list of applications. I believe i used Snapedit for the image I uploaded. I tried a couple others and the results were pretty much the same. Unless you’re entering a contest that forbids alterations to images, it’s much easier to replace the sky rather than stick with an off purple-blue rendition that you’re seeing here. To me the image with the replacement sky looks much less manipulated than what’s coming out of the photolab examples. It’s extremely fast and of course free. If you are using Gimp, you can use the image you produce online as a color layer and keep the original resolution of your image.

Of course you are assuming that the inability of PhotoLab to create a composite image with a sky captured by someone else is a short coming. I don’t agree. I have software that has that capability but never use it. Your fluffy clouded sky replacement actually distracts the eye from the main subject. A solid sky does not.

I have very little interest in composite images in general. I have absolutely no interest in creating composite images with significant components captured by someone other than myself since I cannot legitimately claim such images to be my own. Additionally, too often overly dramatic replacement skies become the main focal point of an image which in my opinion is disingenuous as well as distracting. Others can do what they wish, of course.

The original question was how to get the sky of the original image bluer. That is easily doable without replacing the sky and takes less time as well.




… but Mark, @Louie just gave @bkspero an example - an idea of how to solve it when Photolab couldn´t in a sufficient way. It might not suite either me and you but might help others. We have to be able to be that open at least to give room for both general advise and personal ones. Without that kind of space it will be difficult to have any open discissions about our various problems at all.

Thank-you to all for the help.

I would have found that quite acceptable if he had merely presented it as another option. However, what he said was “This is just another area where DXO falls short”, which in my opinion was an unfounded criticism.

On top of that, the clouded sky that he presents as an example is not an improvement over a solid blue sky as the clouds create a visual distraction. Since I have a license for a mostly unused version of ON1 PhotoRAW 2024 I experimented a lot with sky replacement out of curiosity. Some of it looked acceptable, most of it did not, and none of it was mine. I could never in good conscience distribute an image with a sky captured by someone else as my own. I could never feel any pride in a photo in which a significant part was not captured by me. I don’t understand how anyone could.

Just because software is now readily available to change skies at the slightest whim, and is becoming very popular, doesn’t mean it is necessarily a good thing for photography or photographers and will likely be overused just because it is available.

So, what’s next? Unhappy with your photo of the Eiffel Tower? I’m sure software will be able to replace it with a better version taken by someone else. Unhappy with your version of a famous seascape because you failed to capture some of it properly? I’m sure that software will be able to fix that by integrating a similar shot taken by someone else. Unhappy with part of the image you captured of the Taj Mahal? Hey, just integrate that portion of your image with which you are unhappy with someone else’s version.

Enhancing an image is one thing, replacing significant portions of it with other images taken by other people is quite another. At what point is your photograph no longer your photograph? Why not just let software create pleasing photographs for us and bypass the camera altogether.




Hi Mark,

I think that everybody is entitled to treat/process a image the way he or she wants!

I also want to remind you of the fact that working with layers is possible for years now with Capture One that I use as well.

So it’s not more then true that DXO falls short here!

Please don’t behave like the DXO Forum Police that lurks around these forums every day!

Just a tip!

David :wink:


Of course everyone is entitled to treat an image anyway they want. That is why I said earlier, "Others can do what they wish, of course, "

I’m not sure what the ability to work with layers in Capture One adds to this particular discussion but I am well aware that Capture One has that capability.

I am absolutely not being the DXO forum police. I have no objection to anyone posting their opinion. However I also have the right to post a response to the opinions of others especially when they are presented as facts. I have been on this website every day since I joined it in early 2018 and I am not aware of DXO forum police lurking around here everyday. Your accusation reads more like you’re taking on that role by suggesting what I posted is inappropriate.

I have been here for over 6 years. I have created almost 6,000 posts and received over 4,300 likes. To the best of my recollection you are the first person that has suggested I’m acting like the forum police.


Sorry that you feel offended by my statement. Photolab does fall in performing simple tasks that as I stated even a free online editor can do better. As for the cloudy sky, I also stated that it was just as easy to make the background blue which is what I assumed you were trying to accomplish with Photolab. You got yourself stuck on photo manipulation when I even mentioned there are times when this is not feasible. There is no doubt by reading any of your 6000 posts, including the last ones that you are a DXO “do or die” user. But, there are other applications available that are superior in other ways in processing photos and I don’t think that information should be policed off of the forum. The poster asked for a solution to a processing problem. He even asked a follow-up question in reference to the software I used so I would assume he was interested. You stated, “The original question was how to get the sky of the original image bluer. That is easily doable without replacing the sky and takes less time as well.” If any examples of an acceptable blue sky were posted, I would never have suggested an alternative application.


I took a stab at this as an almost brand new PL user, and I think I’ve done the best job! My sky looks natural, and fitting for what I expect the day could have been like.

My process (other than some typical tonal work) was to add a small touch of FilmPack’s Cool Tone Filter to the overall image, then mask the sky out using Control Lines. You can see the mask in the second uploaded pic.

From there, I brought the temperature of the sky down using White Balance, blasted it with some ClearView+, then brought the Luminosity down a touch using the Blue HSL channel. While I added some Uniformity, this isn’t necessary.

Of course, the fringing is wild it seems, and I didn’t look to sort that too much – the sky was my focus.

I’m afraid I can’t upload the .dop as a new user, but I am happy to send it to you if you wish.

…and the edit details:

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