Photo Lab 4 and flower photography

For the past several months, along with a good friend in India, I’ve been trying to capture photos of flowers. As I walk around, and I observe something especially colorful, or just an interesting shape or pattern, I usually take several photos of it trying to optimize my goals:

  • a) include flower and background “green”.
  • b) exclude anything else, one way or another
  • c) use enough depth of field so that the most important parts are sharp
  • d) also use depth of field to blur out anything else
  • e) time of day - it seemed obvious that direct sunlight would be good, except…
  • f) …don’t allow shadows to become annoying
  • g) I’m not sure how to do so, but I think it’s important that the colors represent reality
  • h) decide how much of the “surroundings” should be included
  • i) AFTER capture, how can I use the tools in PL4 most effectively

The only thing up above that is different from years ago is that last item, “i”, how to use PL4 to get me a better end result than other things I’ve done in the past. With such a wonderful control of color, I’m convinced that it can do work that is much better than what I already know how to do. For example, the sort-of-purple color in my photos looks too “flat”, while in real life, it is more “vibrant”. Can I use the PL4 color controls, and set them to a specific color, and ALL the purple color within the image would be adjusted simultaneously?

I’ll post two photos here from yesterday. I corrected most of my camera mistakes over the past few weeks, and the flowers are NOT in direct sunlight, which I think is good, but I’m wondering how I can make these images more like photos I see in professional magazines. One option I’ve thought about, but not tried, is using some kind of flash to illuminate them better - but then I get shadows, and other unwanted side effects. Maybe people can accomplish this from within PL4 ?

L1002168 | 2021-01-24-M10 boats at drawbridge.dng.dop (11.9 KB)

L1002174 | 2021-01-24-M10 boats at drawbridge.dng.dop (11.6 KB)

L1002168 | 2021-01-24-M10 boats at drawbridge.dng (26.9 MB)

L1002174 | 2021-01-24-M10 boats at drawbridge.dng (26.2 MB)

Thanks to the photo, I now know what kind of plant it is: Crinum Lilly.

Well, sort of. If you use Control Points in the local adjustments tool, you can get a result like this…

The .dop file is…

L1002168 | 2021-01-24-M10 boats at drawbridge.dng.dop (31,7 Ko)

Here are the control points for intensifying the flower colours…

(click on “Show masks” to see this view)

There a several “positive” points on various parts of the flower petals, to select those colours to intensify and lighten. Then there are a bunch of “negative” points surrounding the flower to minimise the effect on the background.

Here are the control points for the background…

This time, I used “positive” control points to select several different coloured parts of the background for darkening and desaturating and some “negative” control points on different coloured petals and the pistils to “protect” them from the effect for the background.

1 Like

And here’s the finished result for the other one…

L1002174 | 2021-01-24-M10 boats at drawbridge.dng.dop (22,0 Ko)


Joanna, that is not at all what I thought you were likely to suggest, but the results speak for themselves, and you’re using the tools I have already gotten familiar with. I’d like to say your way is “easy”, but that’s the wrong word - with control points enhance the flower colors, but use the opposite kind of control point to prevent them from working in places where this is inappropriate, and use control points the opposite way to dull out the surroundings, without changing the newly improved flowers.

Not sure what the right word is - “easy” isn’t really appropriate, as it’s a lot of reasonably precise work using control points, but “easy” is certainly the right word as you’re using standard (appropriate) tools built into PL4, and no “trickery”. Makes me think of the word “knife”, which can simply be used to spread butter, or in the right hands, to perform precise surgery - and just like with this example, the results do NOT depend on the tool, but depend on the skill of the person using the tool. It’s so wonderful that you are sharing all this knowledge with the rest of us!!! …as in ME.

I wil download and install your ‘dop’ files, look at what you did (which you’ve shown so well up above), and then take a new photo, maybe today, and try it on my own.

I’m only really just learning how to better use control points.

I used to think the they just “splurged” the correction everywhere within the circle.

In fact, as I am learning, they do apply the correction within the circle but only on the tonality where you place the point. For every tone of petal that I wanted to brighten, I added a positive point so that that tone would be included in the adjustment.

Here’s a series of screenshots, one after each point is added. When you click on the “Show masks” box, you get this representation where the lighter the tones that you see, the more effect the adjustment will have.

Then you add negative points on wherever what you don’t want to include, that appears bright, until those areas appear dark.

Without having done the background, this is what that gives…

But you will. notice that possibly, in this version, the yellow pistils are too intense, so you would need to remove them from the main set and add another set of control points just for them to make them less so.

The first thing you wrote is how I assumed this worked. Since what you refer to as the “tonality” isn’t uniform, I should place positive points on each one? In other words, the exact spot where the point is located, and it’s best to place points on other similar locations in the image.

Like most things in life, when I think I understand something, I find out there is still a lot to learn, to really understand how this works.

None of the training videos, and not even PhotoJoseph have explained this.

Just to confirm, when I place a “positive point”, not only does PL4 know “where” that point is, but it also knows the “tonality” at the specific point. That’s not obvious.

…and you are saying that if there happen to be five slightly different shades of “purple” in the flower, I should make sure to drop a point directly on each one of them - and to do so very precisely?

Well, sort of but not quite :wink:

  • When you place the first control point, it will adjust the tone under the point, wherever it finds it within the circle.
  • When you place a second control point, it will add the tone under that point to the list of tones to adjust.

So, here…

… I want to adjust the tones for everything that has tones similar to the points where I have drawn the two cyan circles…

So, switching to the mask view, I placed the first point on the red petal (viewpoint tool) and the second on the pale pink petal (red circle)…

At this point in time, the settings for the point are irrelevant, you are just trying to select the areas that you want to adjust.

As you add points, you see the areas under those points become lighter. This is the signal that they have been selected. You will see the not just the petals immediately under those points become bright but, also, anything of the same tonality within the radius of the circles from those points.

I then continued to add control points to other parts of the flower head that I felt needed to be part of the selection to be brightened.

No, it isn’t obvious, which is why it has taken me some time to get to grips with it myself. But, as soon as I saw that, I suddenly realised just how powerful control points are!

If one shade shows bright in the mask and the others show duller, then, yes, you should continue to add points to other colours or shades until they all become the same brightness in the mask, indicating that they have all been selected.

Then, turn off the mask and start playing with the adjustments on the equaliser.

As I have said, this is relatively new to me but, now that I’ve found how to make it work, it has changed how I edit “complex” images like yours.

So is DxO deliberately keeping this a secret, or will they eventually ask PhotoJoseph to pass it on in a webinar? Maybe DxO haven’t yet realized how powerful this can be.


Of course DXO is not deliberately keeping this a secret. It is one of the many idiosyncrasies of using Photolab. It is not unlike using Lightroom, Photoshop, Affinity Photo, and all the other post-processing programs out there where people are always experimenting and discovering unique ways of using them to further enhance their images.

Experience and practice yields superior results and potentially allows us to enhance our images using Photolab in ways that even DXO may not be aware of.

It takes a lot of time, and a lot of effort to acquire the experience needed to get the most out of Photolab. Unfortunately, you can’t get that kind of experience just from watching videos or posting here. It takes many, many hours of effort to learn how to use all of Photolab’s features properly, and many more hours of practice with different combinations of controls to understand the relationship between them. There is no fast track to that level of expertise.



Well, all this is wonderful.

I didn’t mean “keeping it a secret” in a bad way - it’s one of the things DxO could use as promotion, maybe along with other things that have yet to be discovered. Or, maybe DxO sees it as a tech feature, and it takes until an artist, like Joanna, comes along and discovers how to use it. It’s great when already excellent software turns out to include even more features that were previously unknown.

Hopefully people at DxO are paying close attention to these discussions. :thinking:

I took this photo yesterday - it was too pretty to just walk by. When I looked at it, the colorful center was overwhelmed by the bright green leaves all around it. So, using control points, I darkened the leaves, but varied the size of the control points, and emphasized the center part.

My test for when to stop was the COMPARE button. When I view this on my ASUS with the calibrated screen, it looks just the way I wanted it to, but on my iMac, surrounded by the huge white border, it looks darker and not as brilliant. The Croton plant stands out the most, but that’s what attracted me to the scene in the first place.

If I tried to do this a few days ago, I’d have done it very differently. Using control points allowed me to fine tune the end result - to my eyes, I’m quite pleased with it. …but I often feel that way until new things get pointed out to me…

L1002221 | 2021-01-25-M10 Lincoln Rd, boats.dng (29.9 MB)

L1002221 | 2021-01-25-M10 Lincoln Rd, boats.dng.dop (11.4 KB)

Ha! I won a bet with myself. As I was reading @mikemyers post I was thinking, I bet @Joanna will have already weighed in with some insight. Only I could be considered to have lost the bet on the word “some”. :laughing:

I, too, didn’t realise the power of control points for a long time, though I still find in some situations they are hard to… pardon the pun… control. It does depend on how tonally similar two things are and often where you want to specifically pick out something it is because it is tonally similar to what surrounds it. But each photo will be different and it is always worth trying and always worth turning on “Show masks” to see how it’s going.

One resource I would recommend is a gentleman I came across years ago when he had a website mostly about Apple Aperture, which I was using at the time. I lost touch with his work over many years but stumbled on his latest work recently because he does sponsored videos for DxO.

I’ve never watched him live, but he takes questions from the audience and I find that this helps round out his videos really well, plus I like his easy going style. He doesn’t just cover DxO so there may be other stuff you find value in, too.

Did you type in “controlpoints” in the searchfunction?
Your not the first nor the latest who needs a bumb.
Use mask “m” and desaturate compleetly in control menu to see and understand selection. Move the controlpoint around, enlarge or shrink the outer circle see what happens.
That’s the only way to learn how and when to use.

Unfortunately Mike, there are absolutely no local adjustments at all in this image…

Also, I just tried playing around with this image. If you are trying to do something to the central plant without affect the surrounding ones, you are going to be hard pressed to make any distinct change, mainly because of the variegated leaves having so many different tones and colours that also exist in the surrounding area.

However, here is an attempt at saturating the central plant more and desaturating the background. It is far from perfect and deliberately over-exaggerated to show that a difference has been made. I just wanted to demonstrate just how many control points I had to add to try and get most of the colours in the variegation to react to the adjustment equally. Please note this is not the kind of finished result I would normally try to achieve.

L1002221 | 2021-01-25-M10 Lincoln Rd, boats.dng.dop (56,8 Ko)

Oh, and my CPU fan went into overdrive whilst editing all those control points :flushed:

Of course, if you really want to isolate the plant, then forget about control points and take the time to create an auto-mask for the flower, then duplicate and invert it for the background and desaturate it…

L1002221 | 2021-01-25-M10 Lincoln Rd, boats.dng.dop (2,0 Mo)

1 Like

Yes. This is probably what I would have done as well.


Hmm, this is confusing. I clicked on “Local Adjustments”, then selected the appropriate one for control point, then made and used control points to darken the outer areas. You are telling me that there are no local adjustments. This is confusing - if I click on local adjustments, and do something, when I’m finished isn’t that a “local adjustment”?

Also, how can I access that tab “search for corrections”?

If you go back to that image do you see those local adjustments listed?


For isolating the plant, perhaps for an article about the plant, what you achieved here is perfect. For me, I didn’t want anyone to suspect that the image was manipulated, so I slowly didi what I did, until I liked what I saw while using the Compare tool.

To me, the original image is real, regardless of how it looks, but the surrounding green is so bright, the Croton plant fades into the background, which is where it really is. The editing I did, following your suggestion, and with “show masks” turned on, looked like I may have already gone too far, but it’s believable. The image you’ve just created gives away the fact that it has been manipulated.

My control points were in no way as uniform as the image you show here, but to me that makes the image look more plausible.

I used to “over-do” things all the time. I’m still trying to break that habit, and create an image that doesn’t “look” manipulated. Your thoughts?