Local Adjustments
with DxO PhotoLab

Enhance the visibility of your photos

"Discovering DxO PhotoLab" tutorial presents the development procedure for
users who already have experience with other software.

"Efficiency with DxO PhotoLab" details the specific functions of DxO PhotoLab for global corrections.

remarks and comments are welcome: tuto.dxo [at] free.fr
Pascal PELÉ - March 2018
With participation of John Morterz and Endre Tollar




Retouching - the Equalizer

Masks creation - the Brush

Create a mask - Delete a mask or all masks
Brush settings - Practice the masks

Auto Mask


The Eraser tool - The Eraser mode

Graduated Filter

Adjustment of the mask border

Control Point

Local Adjustments palette

Local Adjustments in PhotoLab process

Stack of actions available after disabling LA
Diffuse (copy) Local Adjustments

A pratical case

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Local Adjustments are a means for the photographer to enrich his images.

The development of photos with PhotoLab is based on the Global processing of the image. The most powerful tools then make it possible to carry out most of the photo processing. The photographer implements the Local Adjustments for adding desired creativity or improved readability. This procedure can be confusing for the user coming from other software.

PhotoLab Local Adjustments offers four types of masks:
* Brush is used to paint the retouching mask
* Auto Mask is used like the brush while detecting the edges of the subject
* Graduated Filter simulates the effect of graduated filters placed in front of the optics
* Control Point makes touch-ups on similar pixels in the collected area

* as well as Eraser
* the "Complete Reset" command removes ALL masks
* and a help window with the central "?"

Create a mask:
- Click on the "Local Adjustments" icon in the top toolbar to start the function
- Right Click on the image opens the radial menu which gives access to the selection of mask type
- Choose the brush to create a first mask
- Paint an area to correct by holding down the mouse button
- Release the button, the marker mask symbol appears
- The equalizer is available - see illustration 2 in the next chapter

- ENTER key to validate the images editing and leave the function

document www.dxo.com

Retouching - the Equalizer

Retouching are complementary to already made Global Corrections  but limited to the mask. When a layer is active, the equalizer provides access to retouching functions.
Each correction is accessible by a single cursor and the indicated values are relative (except color temperature).

The equalizer settings are organized in 3 groups (illustration 1).
- Click to switch from one group to another: Light / Color / Detail
- Ctrl + Click to open the next group

* Exposure: adjusts brightness within limit range ± 4 EV (global AND local corrections)

* Contrast and MicroContrast

* ClearView: removes the atmospheric veil and reduces the mist

* Tone - Highlights, Midtones, Shadows and Blacks

* Vibrancy and Saturation

* Temperature and Tint adjust (raw only): these adjustments are applied from the global correction but the indication is the absolute value (degrees Kelvin and drift)

* Hue: Color shift of a given angle on the color wheel (± 180 °)
PL3: This correction benefits from the new color adjustment algorithm.

* Sharpness: Enhances or reduces the sharpness enhancement in addition to the Global correction applied by the Lens sharpness or unsharp mask functions.

See the tutorial "Efficiency with PhotoLab - Lens Sharpness control"
Beware of over-emphasis which happens very quickly !
The result is visible on the screen only at a zoom value of at least 75%.

* Blur: This exclusive feature to local adjustments applies a blur effect.
It is very interesting to simulate the shallow depth of field of large aperture lenses.
PL3: The new opacity slider of the palette adjusts the power of the effect.

PL3: Each mask is invertible, ie the effect is applied to the rest of the image.

- Drag the effect sliders to edit the area (illustration 2 - Click on to enlarge it)
- Low-velocity by first dragging the mouse horizontally - Windows only

To reset, Double-click in a correction gauge bar
- Click on the circular arrow at the end of the equalizer to reset all mask corrections

* Equalizer can be hidden / shown with the E / I key
* Move the mouse away from the main window to temporarily reduce all the tools and see the final effect
* The current mask can be hidden / show with a button - Mac only 

When the image is magnified beyond Fit-on-screen, ability to pan around the image using click + drag is no longer available. Press and Hold the spacebar to access it.

The size of the mask creation tools is insensitive to the zoom magnification ratio.
- Increase the size of the tool to increase the area of recovery
- Zoom to reduce it and gain precision
... and the opposite

When Local Adjustments feature is enabled, the COMPARE button (Ctrl + D / D) toggles between the image with applied Local Adjustments and the image corrected with global settings only.

For the record, in the Global environment, the default comparison is made from "no correction".

The preview window can also be split in two (llustration 3).
- Click the split icon on the upper toolbar on the right of the COMPARE button (Ctrl + T / C)
- Double-click the central cursor for horizontal split

illustration 1

illustration 2

illustration 3

Masks creation - the Brush

The brush is used to create a mask totally independent of the image (no relation of content). It is the universal tool, simple and basic.

Create a mask:

- Radial Menu: Brush
- Paint the area and make a first change with the equalizer (illustration 1)

If the requested correction is too subtle to judge the application of the mask:
- Strongly correct exposure (or give a color to a washed-out sky)
  PL has no way to control the painted masks

The blue mask
can be hidden / shown with the M key / Shift+ M.

This toggle does not work if any correction is requested.

A layer may consist of several areas - illustration 1.
- Start a new brushstroke elsewhere to complete the mask with a new zone

Likewise an overflow can be erased or canceled.
- Press in Windows the ALT key / Mac OS X: OPTION
key which change the tool temporary to Eraser and "clean it"
- Get back with Ctrl + Z / Cmd + Z or restore with Ctrl + Y / Cmd + Y

Delete a mask or all masks:
- The DELETE key deletes the current mask (all zones)
- The "Complete Reset" command in the Radial menu removes ALL masks

Brush settings:

* Size (Ctrl+ / Cmd+ wheel) is the diameter of the brush (illustration 2)

* Feathering is edge diffusion of the brush (Shift+ wheel)
A value of 50% allows maintaining precision without marking the border.

* Opacity is the correction efficiency applied to the mask
requested exposure correction +4 EV will be limited to +2.4 EV with an opacity value of 60%.
PL3: The new opacity slider of the palette adjusts the power of the effect after realisation.

Illustration 3 shows four masks.
! When overlapping opacity masks to 60%  the corrections add up.

In practice, the blur editing is too aggressive. It should be applied on a very subtle mask of opacity 10% max to control the effect smoothly.

In the current version the opacity value can not be modified on a mask already created.

Masks may overlap to e.g apply different retouches:
- A first opacity mask 100% to apply a ClearView correction
- A second mask with the same coverage but with an opacity of 10% for a Blur effect

* Flow is the paint load of the brush at each pass
Flow value determines the paint load in proportion to the requested opacity.
Set a lower value for flow than that of the opacity.

- Pass one or more times on the erea
Make sure NOT to release the mouse button when creating the mask in ONE time!

! The progression is not linear (13% + 13%> 26%).

Illustration 4 shows five vertical bars painted in 1 pass, then 2, etc.
! The fourth bar reaches the maximum value asked to 50%.
! The fifth is a painted indicator with a 100% flow.

The effect will be mastered with a reduced flow value. The opacity will be weaker as the border, the edge of the area to be corrected in the image, is blurred. E.g a tree.

Practice the masks:
Only one mask is active at a time. It is spotted by its marker.
- Click the marker disables the mask, the marker is dimmed
> it is then possible to create a new mask

- Click the marker of an existing mask to reactivate it
> modify the editing
> take up the zones with the equalizer (illustration 5)

The type of mask selected with the Radial menu determines the behavior when activating an existing mask: Complete or Start a new mask.

Activate an existing mask:
- If the active mask type is the same as the mask selected in the Radial menu
> this mask is completed with a new zone
- If the active mask type is different from the mask selected in the Radial menu
> a new mask is created

The equalizer is often (badly) placed on the area to be retouched. Its location and that of the mask marker depends on the first brushstroke.

Illustration 6 shows how the starting point of the brush is essential.
- Start to the top left is a natural state
- Start to the bottom right of the area to retouch is a gesture to acquire 

Put the marker on a neutral zone
is radical solution.
- Give a slight brushstroke outside the area
- Start a second brushstroke which becomes in fact the main zone
- Erase the first zone, the marker will remain at its location

illustration 1

illustration 2

illustration 3


illustration 4

illustration 5

illustration 6

Auto Mask

Auto Mask automatically determines its border within the painted area by contrast detection (color or density).

The tool is looking the form of two concentric discs.
* The painted zone by the inner disk will necessarily be contained in the mask
* The painted zone by the outer disk (with a diameter five times larger) will be subject to contrast detection

The central disk, marked with a cross, must never extend beyond the
retouched area.
There is no
distinction mark in the bluish representation of the mask.
The remedy is very simple; Just switch to eraser mode (Win: ALT / Mac: OPTION) to delete the unwanted territories and repaint more precisely until correctly determine the border.

On the other hand some
neighboring areas of densities are not considered. it is necessary to insist again - see the eraser on the shoes at the end illustration.
Use the largest brush diameter possible to avoid this effect, then tweak with a smaller brush.

The Auto Mask has only one parameter: Variable Size with Ctrl+ / Cmd+ wheel

According to my practice, this is the most effective type of mask.

The Eraser

Eraser is comparable to the brush in its handling. It has the same settings.
There are two ways to activate the eraser.

The Eraser tool:
A mask must be active to use the eraser.
- Choose the eraser tool from the Radial menu
- Activate
a mask if necessary

To erase a "Graduated Filter"
type mask, see the following chapter.
The "Control Point" type mask does not erase. Delete it.

Eraser mode:
It is possible with Brush and Auto Mask type masks to go straight to the eraser mode by holding down the key Win: ALT / Mac: OPTION.

- Define feathering (100%) and a very weak flow.
- Increase brushstrokes on the area. The opacity
rate, generally strong, varies according to the nature of the desired border.

Often release the mouse to check the erasing
- Cancel (Ctrl+ Z / Cmd+ Z) if too much area erased
- Resume the erased areas by mistake with the mask tool - see the end of the illustration

When resuming an existing mask the eraser mode is accessible only IF the Radial menu type of mask fits to the current mask.

Graduated Filter

Graduated Filter is a mask that separates the image into two areas. It is determined by two parallel straight lines delimiting the transition zone of the retouch, from 100% opacity to 0% on the other.

This mask is done in two steps.
- Click on the image to determine a point of the border 100% opacity (continuous line)
- Hold down the mouse button and drag the second line
- The movement places the second boundary, at wich 0% opacity applies (dotted line) and orients the whole

When the orientation of the straight lines is close to horizontal or vertical, the system has a floating moment indicating a precise positioning.
To change the
lines position without reorienting them, simple click on one of the line, except the handle.

Adjustment of the mask border:
This mask is perfectly suited to the sky who can be darkened, saturated or warmed up.

However, the border is not always the horizon. It can be adapted to the image:
- Activate a previously created "Gradient Filter" mask
- Choose the brush with the Radial menu and complete the mask
- Choose the eraser with the Radial menu and blend the mask - see the end of the illustration

The equalizer can prevent access to the handle when the lines are oriented to approximately 45°.
- Hide it temporarily (E / I key).

Control Point

Control Point mask radically is different from others by nature.
It takes into account density - brightness and color - of a group of
pixels covered by its crosshair to apply the correction only to the pixels  that have the same characteristics within the selection disc.

Unlike other masks that apply corrections throughout their area of influence, the control point isolates silhouettes within its circle of influence.

A single disc may be enough: collection in the center and editing in the disc.
Generally this mask is done
in two steps:
- First click on the image to put the crosshairs on the reference area
- Create multiple application
retouching discs

The counterpoint - or Protection Point - allows you to restrict the effect of retouching inside its influence disc.
- Press the ALT key when put the protection control point

Press the M
key / Shift+ M  produces a grayscale rendering to appreciate the mask's coverage.

Only the active control point, represented by a continuous circle, can be moved, modified and deleted.

Illustration 1 shows the
tool behavior  :
- M
ask influence on squares of neighboring color (bluish)
- Display of the mask (M /
Shift+ M) for the perception of its cover
- Exclusion with a counterpoint (ALT key)
- Diffusion on the salmon color square
- Changing the diameter of the selection disk

The reference pixels are considered to 
each crosshair center. The initial correction is here requested on the blue color. Creating a second disk extends this correction to a new reference.

Illustration 2 to understand the crosshair placement:
- Put the center of the crosshair accurately in the image
- Flip in mask mode (
M / Shift+ M) holding down left mouse button to move it. A concentric grey circle is fit instead of the blue circle (that disappears). This cirle is used for feathering purposes
- Moveing it around on a hard color edge, the mask area change when the grey circle crosses the edge wile its
"eye" is still completely inside the hard color

The correction diffusion depends on the environment. It can be very wide on an uniform density area. It makes delicate the control of its application.
Illustration 3 shows three identical diameter
discs where correction power decreases.
This behavior is the same for the collection of reference pixels discussed above.

Illustration 4 is a concrete approach of tool usage:
- Lightening of an image
- Scattering retouching to other points
- Preserving the sleeve of the brown sweater with a counter-point (ALT key)

This original feature from Nik collection, bought by DxO, needs to be tamed. There is a room for improvement to Control Point tool in the ease of use of the original. For the moment there is no parameter. A feathering adjustment would be the minimum. In the present state of this first version, I do not use this feature very often.

illustration 1

illustration 2

illustration 3

illustration 4 (PL realease 2)

Local Adjustments palette

PL3:  Addition of a dedicated palette. Local Adjustments are a tool in the "Essential Tools" palette.
Masks are visible individually. They can be inverted, their action applied to the rest of the image.

Masks are displayed by order of creation
A- Enable / Disable Local Adjustments effect (like any other setting)
B- Enable / Disable Local Adjustment tool
   - Select a mask

Easily identify each mask when tool (B) is active.
Control the display of the masks, the tool (B) is deactivated.
- Modify the opacity of each mask independently
- Show / hide each mask
- Invert the influence area of the current layer
- Delete the layer

When inverting the mask, the behavior of the U-points is specific:
* Upon inverting a layer, each points can still be removed, moved around and modified
* But it is not possible to add another control point in an inverted layer
> Invert it again to get back to the "original state"

The illustration (click for animation) shows a deliberately overexposed image to keep details in dark parts at the limits of clipping.
- Create a mask on the cottage and reverse it. By decreasing the exposure on the mask, it is actually the whole landscape that is darkened
- Create a second mask on the small cottage. The opacity of the effect is diminished.

Local Adjustments in PhotoLab process

DxO PhotoLab is parametric software. The Local Adjustments feature can be implemented and modified at any point in the development process.

Masks are independent of the image.
If a geometric correction (modification of the horizon and the functionalities of ViewPoint) is applied after the creation of the mask, it is necessary to retouch it by erasing one side and completing the other.
These corrections must be made before the implementation of Local Adjustments.

Adjustment of global corrections is allowed without leaving the Local Adjustments function.
It is possible to mix both types of corrections. Image editing is applied as supplements to the global corrections made and those being developed.
In the same spirit, switch to another picture by pressing the Right or Left arrows without leaving LA function.

Illustration shows a retouching process:
- Graduated filter to blur and lighten the (ugly)
background - Local Adjustments
- Repair function to remove cranes - Global corrections
- Improved local adjustments - Local Adjustments
- Selective Tone function on the entire image, including retouched areas
- Global corrections

Along the same lines, switch from one image to another by pressing the Right or Left arrows without leaving the Local Adjustments function.  

Stack of actions available after disabling Local Adjustments:
The same stack of actions are available during the activation of the LA when these have been validated we return to the global editing of the picture.

- Go back with Ctrl+ Z / Cmd+ Z or restore with Ctrl+ Y / Cmd+ Y

See the tutorial "Efficiency with PhotoLab - History of corrections".

Diffuse (copy) Local Adjustments:
- Copy (Shift + Ctrl + C / Shift + Cmd+ C) corrections of an image

- Paste Local Adjustments only (Shift+ Ctrl+ L / Shift+ Cmd+ L)

If the model image does not have one, those of the target image are deleted.

For the record:
- Paste all the corrections (Shift+ Ctrl+ V / Shift+ Cmd+ V)
- Paste global corrections only (
Shift+ Ctrl+ G / Shift+ Cmd+ G)

Local Adjustments are storing in personnal presets.
it should be created a partial preset.

See the tutorial "Efficiency with PhotoLab - The Presets". 


A pratical case

Processing an image with DxO PhotoLab

A- Retrieve the image atmosphere when shooting

This image has undergone a classic development in PhotoLab 1.0 and perspective has been changed with the DxO ViewPoint 3 plug-in.

B- Apply Local Adjustments 

In this state, the picture corresponds to the mood of that day. But its low contrast drowns the subject. It is best to blur the background.

1- Darkening the sky > Graduated Filter inclined according to the roof pitch.

- Start the tool "Local Adjustments" in the top tool bar
Right Click to open the radial menu and choose Graduated Filter (A)
- Held Right Click on the handle (1) from the dotted line to adjust the angle.
> Exposure -4 EV (2) allows you to emphasize the effect.

Erase the mask to the head of the statue and the wall on the left
- Right Click to open the radial menu and choose
Eraser (B)
  Feathering 60% Flow 50% Opacity 100%

With full Opacity (3) to ensure erasure.
On the other hand, a l
ess value for Flow (3') to allow brushstroke application.
Feathering at 60% (3") to allow brushstroke application without over-marking the border.

> Refit the exposure (2) Graduated filter à -1.5 EV

2- Blur the terrace too apparent> Brush (C) Flow 100% Opacity 10%

Choose a lower Opacity value because the blur cursor works very fast
On the other hand, Flow
is on the maximal value to avoid brushstroke difficult to control with this Opacity rate.
> Set the Exposure sliders at-4 EV and Blur at 100% to control the mask application.
Back and forth between brush and eraser are needed to protect the boys and the statue:
- Hold down the "Alt" key
(4) switch between the Brush tool and the eraser
- Work with a high zoom ratio and move through the image:
  Hold down the space bar and drag with Left click
held down.
- The apparent diameter of the brush is kept when the wheel is activated  to change the zoom ratio
Ctl+ wheel change brush diameter
- Shift+ wheel varies the
feathering brush ratio

!! Brush values are kept for each tool.

> Exposure -3,5 EV (5) … but to one-tenth power!
  Choose a zoom value at least 75% to assess blur quality
> Blur at 25% (6)

Erase once again this mask at the street level to give a more natural transition. Decrease Opacity.
> Eraser Flow 75% Opacity 50%

(D) (Ctl+D Win / D Mac) Local Adjustment application throughout the process

3- Darken the chrome and bike can is too bright
> Control point

The Control point principle changes the equivalent pixels (brightness, contrast and color) in the circle to those of the crosshair (7).

- E: Right Click to activate radial menu and choose Control point

Create a Control point group all responding to the same correction:
Right Click on the can (7) and then 3 others clicks on highlights areas. Active Control point is a circle with a solid line > Exposure -2 EV (8)

  A Control point (CP) from the group can be suppressed
- Press the "DELETE" 
key for the current CP
- An inactive CP, such as (9), cannot be deleted

All masks must be inactive to create a new one
   or Click
"New mask" (F)

4- Desaturate the red jerseys that draw attention>
Control point > Contrast -70% Saturation -45% (10)

5- Give "pep" to bronze statues that do not "crunch" enough.
> Auto Masque to automatically cut out the statue

This tool delimits its border according to the contrast.

> Sharpness +50%
ATTENTION: This effect is only visible at a zoom value of at least 75%!

- Close the "Local Adjustments" tool with the upper toolbar button or the "ENTER" key


The image is ready, the subject  is reinforced.



DxO PhotoLab 3-0 - Pascal Pelé - October 2019

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