You are on page 1of 14

Photography | Embedded Imaging | Image Quality | Company

DxO Optics Pro


DxO FilmPack
DxO ViewPoint
Styles
Support
Tutorials
Gallery
My Account


In collaboration with Christophe Gressin
DxO Optics Pro 9 includes several image processing features, two of which are especially useful for dealing with tone: DxO Smart
Lighting and the Selective tone control. In this tutorial, we will leshow you how to use these two very powerful and easy-to-use tools to
correct dark areas and highlights.
Tone
Tone refers to the brightness and contrast in images and to the way in which light, dark, and medium areas interact and balance one another
within a photo to give it a naturally uniform appearance. Most of the latest-generation cameras have a large dynamic range that is, they
are capable of recording huge variations in brightness up to 14 stops! Still, photographers retain the freedom to combine the flexibility of
RAW file processing, the cameras intrinsic dynamic range, and the power of DxO Optics Pro to obtain photos with perfectly-controlled
contrast, regardless of the shooting conditions.
To follow this tutorial, you will need:
DxO Optics Pro 9, Standard or Elite edition (depending on your camera).
An image, preferably in RAW format.
Contents
1 - Brightening dark areas with DxO Smart Lighting
2 - Recovering clipped areas with the Selective tone tool
3 - Going further with Selective tone
TRY BUY
All tutorials
Mastering highlights and shadows with DxO Optics Pro 9 | www.dxo.com http://www.dxo.com/intl/photography/tutorials/mastering-highlights-and...
1 din 14 07.06.2014 14:47
1
Brightening dark areas with DxO Smart Lighting
In our first example, we see that our image has strong backlighting that drowns out all of the details of the subject in the foreground. During
shooting, the camera set its aperture and shutter speed based on the brighter background. Using DxO Smart Lighting, we will brighten the
foreground and thus restore the details to the underexposed subject in the foreground.
1.1 - The DxO default preset
In DxO Optics Pro, in the Organize tab, open your image by clicking on the folder in which it is stored in the Source browser, which
displays your computer directories and peripherals.
When you open an image, DxO Optics Pro 9 applies the DxO defaut preset. This is a full preset that automatically corrects the exposure,
color rendering, noise, distortion, and lens softness in order to obtain a balanced and fault-free image. These corrections are adapted to your
equipment so long as it is supported by the software.
The DxO default preset also corrects for Tone, with the DxO Smart Lighting mode set at Slight.
In our example, the stones have been slightly lightened without affecting the sky, which lets us preserve the natural backlighting of the
image. However, the results can be further improved.
1.2 - Change the intensity
Lets now go to the Customize tab, and then to Light and color > DxO Smart Lighting.
The DxO Smart Lighting palette offers two controls: a Mode menu for choosing among a certain number of presets, and an Intensity
slider to manually correct or adjust the results of the Mode preset applied.
Lets set the DxO Smart Lighting Mode to Medium: the details are already much more visible, the dark zones are lightened, and the
background is still balanced.
Mastering highlights and shadows with DxO Optics Pro 9 | www.dxo.com http://www.dxo.com/intl/photography/tutorials/mastering-highlights-and...
2 din 14 07.06.2014 14:47
Now lets try setting the DxO Smart Lighting Mode to Strong: the results are spectacular the dar areas are now completely visible
without making the sky appear unnatural.
1.3 - Apply a manual setting
Mastering highlights and shadows with DxO Optics Pro 9 | www.dxo.com http://www.dxo.com/intl/photography/tutorials/mastering-highlights-and...
3 din 14 07.06.2014 14:47
The Intensity slider lets you manually fine-tune the results to an even greater degree. By default, it is set at a particular value depending on
the correction mode you choose: 50 for Slight, 100 for Medium (the standard setting), and 150 for Strong.
Here we will lower the intensity of the correction by setting the slider to 130.
2
Recovering clipped areas with the Selective tone tool
The Selective tone sub-palette is composed of four sliders: Highlights, Midtones, Shadows, and Blacks. Each of these sliders acts on a
well-defined area of the image without affecting the other areas.
Tip
The Selective tone tool replaces the Tone Curve tool in an advantageous way, thanks to its ability to differentiate between areas in the
image and to its ease of use.
2.1 - Display the clipped zones
Returning to our first example, by clicking on the highlight zones visibility button in the Histogram palette, we can display any burned
values as false colors in the bright zones of our image.
Mastering highlights and shadows with DxO Optics Pro 9 | www.dxo.com http://www.dxo.com/intl/photography/tutorials/mastering-highlights-and...
4 din 14 07.06.2014 14:47
When luminance exceeds the most extreme values that the camera is capable of photographically reproducing, the blown highlights are
rendered as absolute white, and the completely underexposed areas are rendered as absolute black. Any pixels in either condition are
considered to be clipped (sometimes also called burned).
2.2 - Fine-tune the tonal ranges
We will now correct the brightness in the different tonal range areas of our image.
By moving the Highlights slider to the left, we can recover the information and the details in the brightest parts of the image, notably
the sky, so as to bring out some contrast and depth.
By moving the Midtones slider to the right, we brighten the midtones (represented in the central section of the histogram).
By moving the Shadows slider to the left, we maintain some of the dark zones in the image so as to avoid an artificial-looking HDR
effect as well as keeping the proper shape of the subject.
By moving the Blacks slider to the right, we reveal the different levels of black and make them brighter (the extreme left of the
histogram moves toward the left and leaves no information in the darkest or densest parts of the image).
Note
Here are the slider values that we have set for our image:
Highlights: 75
Midtones : 10
Shadows: 15
Blacks: 10
Mastering highlights and shadows with DxO Optics Pro 9 | www.dxo.com http://www.dxo.com/intl/photography/tutorials/mastering-highlights-and...
5 din 14 07.06.2014 14:47
Here is our image with the details restored in both shadows and highlights in just a few clicks!
3
Going further with Selective tone
Correcting dense images
In the two following steps, we will see how the Selective tone sliders work to correct an image that is both dense (in terms of shadowed
details) as well as a bit too bright.
In our first example below, the subject is backlit by a sky that is cloudy but still very bright. The goal here is to bring out the details of the
subject in the foreground while maintaining the details in the background.
Mastering highlights and shadows with DxO Optics Pro 9 | www.dxo.com http://www.dxo.com/intl/photography/tutorials/mastering-highlights-and...
6 din 14 07.06.2014 14:47
As there are very few highlights, we are first going to slightly darken the brightest areas by setting the Highlights slider to 15, and then
setting the Midtones slider to 30 to give more presence to the gray clouds.
Mastering highlights and shadows with DxO Optics Pro 9 | www.dxo.com http://www.dxo.com/intl/photography/tutorials/mastering-highlights-and...
7 din 14 07.06.2014 14:47
These two actions have had virtually no effect on the abbey walls, which we are now going to redress by setting the Shadows slider to 45.
The principal subject is now lighter without affecting the brightness of the sky.
Mastering highlights and shadows with DxO Optics Pro 9 | www.dxo.com http://www.dxo.com/intl/photography/tutorials/mastering-highlights-and...
8 din 14 07.06.2014 14:47
Brightening the dark zones has resulted in a loss of contrast, which we will compensate for by setting the Blacks slider to 3. The result is a
photo that is much more balanced, with better contrast lending more depth.
Mastering highlights and shadows with DxO Optics Pro 9 | www.dxo.com http://www.dxo.com/intl/photography/tutorials/mastering-highlights-and...
9 din 14 07.06.2014 14:47
Give more substance to an image
In our second example, the image is a bit too bright and lacks contrast. We will see how to restore the balance.
Mastering highlights and shadows with DxO Optics Pro 9 | www.dxo.com http://www.dxo.com/intl/photography/tutorials/mastering-highlights-and...
10 din 14 07.06.2014 14:47
First we will deal with the color density of the clouds and the surface of the water. Setting the Highlights slider to +45 and the Midtones
slider to 20 will subtly improve the contrast in the sky.
We will reinforce the overall contrast, particularly with respect to the water and green spaces, by strengthening the Blacks; we will set its
slider to 30.
Mastering highlights and shadows with DxO Optics Pro 9 | www.dxo.com http://www.dxo.com/intl/photography/tutorials/mastering-highlights-and...
11 din 14 07.06.2014 14:47
Finally, to restore some luminosity to the entire scene, we will increase Shadows to +20.
Here again, the resulting photo is better balanced and shows good contrast, all without distorting the original very sunny scene.
Photos credits: Christophe Gressin
Mastering highlights and shadows with DxO Optics Pro 9 | www.dxo.com http://www.dxo.com/intl/photography/tutorials/mastering-highlights-and...
12 din 14 07.06.2014 14:47
Want to try out these tips?
Discover the latest version of DxO Optics Pro: push the limits of your camera and automatically improve the quality of your images!
Photography
DxO Optics Pro
DxO FilmPack
DxO ViewPoint
Styles
Try
Buy
Resellers
Software registration
Forum
Contact
Embedded Imaging
Image Signal Processor (ISP)
Computational Photography
Services
Scientific publications
News
Events
Contact
Image Quality
DxO Analyzer
Customers
Partners
Services
Scientific publications
News
Events
Contact
Company
About DxO
Our offers
Contact
Institutional support
Press Lounge
Follow Us
Facebook Twitter Google+ YouTube

Copyright 2003-2014 DxO Labs
All tutorials
DISCOVER ALL THE FEATURES BUY DOWNLOAD THE TRIAL VERSION
Mastering highlights and shadows with DxO Optics Pro 9 | www.dxo.com http://www.dxo.com/intl/photography/tutorials/mastering-highlights-and...
13 din 14 07.06.2014 14:47
Legal
Mastering highlights and shadows with DxO Optics Pro 9 | www.dxo.com http://www.dxo.com/intl/photography/tutorials/mastering-highlights-and...
14 din 14 07.06.2014 14:47