Off-Topic - advice, experiences and examples, for images that will be processed in PhotoLab

During the past four versions of PhotoLab, I’ve had questions that related to the use of PhotoLab, but which could easily be called off-topic. This thread is being deliberately started as OFF-TOPIC, as while these discussions were mostly about how to get the most out of PhotoLab, many of the questions and comments were mostly about photography in general - cameras, techniques, presentation - with the common thread being they were all being edited using some version of DxO PhotoLab.

Posting a photo here is highly recommended - one picture being worth a thousand words. How to get the most out of these pictures is the goal of this topic. For anyone posting an image here, please expect others to reply with their views, which may be complimentary, or negative. Speaking for myself, I may or may not agree with comments/responses, but I always learn (often a lot) when people suggest ways they think the image could have been improved.

The common goal is how to get the most out of PhotoLab, which starts before an image is even captured, long before the editing. It would help if people posting an image in this thread would say something about what they were thinking when they took the photo, and what they were hoping to show others. It would also be helpful to try to explain what someone tried to do with PhotoLab, and needed help on how to do it better.

This thread is for new “off-topic” questions or discussions that don’t fit into the existing discussions.


I’ll start this off with a photo I took a few days ago.

I wanted to capture a photo from inside one of the Miami Beach trolleys, and got a lot of feedback on my first attempt. Several objectives:

  • Show the wooden inside of the trolley (most important)
  • Show a pleasant scene outside the trolley (important)
  • Include the driver in the photo. (In retrospect, very important)

I tried sitting in the front, middle, and rear of the trolley. The only images I liked were when I was up front. The exposure was difficult, until this last shot where sunlight from my left helped light up the inside of the trolley. The driver still didn’t show up, so I used the PhotoLab tools to help make him show up better.

I almost got what I wanted, but I’m concerned that the driver does not look “natural” to me. Maybe that is partly because of the bright sunlight coming into the trolley from the left side. At this moment, the trolley was going “West”, and for all my other photos the sun was behind us as we drove North, not helping with the inside lighting. In my photo, the driver’s face looks like the color of the wood that the trolley is made from. It’s the best photo I’ve taken so far, but I don’t think it is finished. With PhotoLab, I was able to bring up the speedometer and other controls, and get some details into the shadow areas.

Any advice?

Leica M10, Voigtlander 28mm lens.

L1004582 | 2022-11-03.dng (24.2 MB)
L1004582 | 2022-11-03.dng.dop (15.4 KB)

Hello Mike,
I just changed the white balance so that the wood is a little less red

I looked at your image on my tablet so no rawfile.
First glans it’s HDR oversharpenend, like those HDR artistic images.
Second look, at the drivers head/hair i see glare. Sign of over brighting shadows.
And the hair/driver looks a bit like a computer ainimated computergame shot.
If you masked him turn it down a bit. Lower sharpnes.
He’s drawing too much attention.

And to end with positive vibe great image.

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  • My first impression that the driver’s face which didn’t look natural is certainly improved.
  • My second impression is that the wood is less red, which after re-considering things, is probably closer to the true color of the wood.
  • My third impression is that the leaves on the trees lost a lot of their green.

Can you please upload your .dop file, so I can see exactly what you did?

I think I can give my trees an injection of ‘green’ using the HSL tool, which I need to re-learn how to use.


Nothing is HDR, it’s just an edited image from my M10. Agreed about the way the hair appears, but that wasn’t from anything I deliberately did - but it very well might be from something I over-did.

If I “over-did”, I can adjust. When I click on the COMPARE tool in PhotoLab, it’s hard for even me to believe I’m looking at the same image.

I created a Virtual Copy, which should allow me to individually un-do each of the changes I made, and find which one is turning the driver into a ‘cartoon’ character. @Joanna would probably know this instantly, but for me it’s going to be trial and error.

I’m completely happy with the final image, with the exception of the driver, which as you noted is drawing too much attention. He is important to make the full image, but he’s not supposed to be the focal point of the image. I guess I just “over-cooked” the image, without realizing it?

Did you apply a lot of ClearView Plus? That would create the overcooked-HDR look that’s affecting the driver’s appearance and some of the other features of the photo. Anything else that applies a lot of microcontrast or fine contrast could do the same.

Oops, that’s an oversight on my part, sorry.
L1004582 2022-11-03.dng.dop (17,1 Ko)

Here’s my take. I’ve binned all the emptiness on the RHS and made the driver the subject.

L1004582 2022-11-03.dng.dop (9.7 KB)

No, @Joanna scolded me so much I don’t think I will ever use ClearView Plus again. I thought it was great, but it made things look so terribly fake and un-realistic. Any doubts left in my mind vanished when I viewed my “beautiful” edit at 100%. Yikes!!!

You gave me a wonderful new idea for the History section in PhotoLab - The tool could open the original image, and one after another, apply the editing tools I used. With that, I could watch this “video” and see exactly where I made a big mistake, and which tool caused it. I guess I could click on each listing under “history”, but it would be enjoyable and informative to see the whole process, almost like a “time lapse video”.

That makes for a different view, but my goal was to take a photo of the trolley from the inside.

So sit further back and get more of the inside of the trolley in the shot.

I took photos from up front, from the middle of the trolley, and from the rear. This is an un-edited image taken from the middle of the trolley, which I like because it shows so much more of the trolley, but the outside area is so over-exposed I doubt even @Joanna could make it look good. I sort of like this image, but I didn’t think I could ever make it look like a nice photo - maybe with better lighting… I did get the driver, in the rear-view mirror. I’m surprised the image is as sharp as it is.

L1004552 | 2022-11-03.dng (28.3 MB)

I take lots of “trial” photos, and this one felt like a dead-end street. I suppose I could try it again before sunrise or after sunset, and maybe there will be enough inside lighting to get me something interesting.

If any of you want to try to turn it into a real photo, you have my full permission, but I don’t think it is possible. :frowning:

@mikemyers , we already worked on this image…starting here:

The image we worked on before was from my M8.2 camera, and I gave up on that camera for several reasons, one of which is that it needs some attention from Leica Tech Support.

This image is from my M10 camera, with 24 meg images and in full-frame, no crop factor.

After all my frustration with the M8.2 camera (from 2008) I put it away for a while - after it is repaired, I’ll use it for photography within its limitations.

No matter what tech you used, it’s the same situation and most of the hints we gave can be applied to this image somehow…

Yes, they were!! I applied everything I learned in the previous discussion to this new image, and it helped tremendously. That’s how I got to where I was when I posted the above image. I like the fact that I got as far as I did, and the previous help was a HUGE help. I think one of the goals of the forum is that as we learn how to improve, our future images continue to improve. What you wrote last time helped this time. :slight_smile:

It’s not the “same” situation, but it is a very similar situation.
All the hints and suggestions last time worked even better this time, as I’ve learned a lot.

I think forever, for me, there will always be new stuff I need to learn…

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This is my quick edit of of your image :slight_smile:

L1004582 2022-11-03.dng.dop (14.6 KB)


Either you did a very nice job of making the driver look natural, or you un-did whatever I did wrong that made the driver look awful. Very nice. I’ll check out your .dop file later tonight. Excellent!!

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I didn’t load up your dop file, just the original DNG and started afresh.

For this image I felt that PL Smart Lighting ‘Slight’ (my default setting) over cooked things, so I brought that down a little - to 13 in fact - this value was chosen for no reason other than I felt this gave a nice balance to the image and kept the tones and colours looking natural.

Then I dropped several local adjustments in around the image to balance out the highlights and shadows, all the while trying to keep it looking natural.

For the the drivers face I utilised a method I use on a regular basis. Place a local adjustment on the edge of the face facing the light source, and then lighten it - this brings up the area of the face facing the light, so keeps the result looking natural (imo).

I often place one local adjustment over another (I don’t think I did for this though) - with one adjustment being quite large (in size) to adjust a large area in one way, but then a smaller one within that large adjustment to bring a smaller part of it back to its previous state. Proabably a technique that won’t appeal to everyone, but it often works for me :slight_smile:

Edit: as well as the exposure alteration on the driver’s face, I also took the vibrancy down a bit, and removed some yellow (at a guess, all those wood panels would have reflected a fair bit of unwanted colour cast onto his face).

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