We discuss improved image reconstruction and segmentation in a framework we term model-controlled flooding (MCF). This extends the watershed transform for segmentation by allowing the integration of a priori information about image objects into flooding simulation processes. Modeling the initial seeding, region growing, and stopping rules of the watershed flooding process allows users to customize the simulation with user-defined or default model functions incorporating prior information. It also extends a more general class of transforms based on connected attribute filters by allowing the modification of connected components of a grayscale image, thus providing more flexibility in image reconstruction. MCF reconstruction defines images with desirable features for further segmentation using existing methods and can lead to substantial improvements. We demonstrate the MCF framework using a size transform that extends grayscale area opening and attribute thickening/thinning, and give examples from several areas: concealed object detection, speckle counting in biological single cell studies, and analyses of benchmark microscopic image data sets. MCF achieves benchmark error rates well below those reported in the recent literature and in comparison with other algorithms, while being easily adapted to new imaging contexts.