Luminosity Masks

Horseback Riding in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.

Horseback riders this past fall in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.

If you followed the link in yesterday’s post on saturation masks, you will realize Tony also offers actions for something called luminosity masks as well.  This is another subtle, but powerful tool that frankly I haven’t mastered and rarely utilize, but I plan to spend more time trying to master them over the next month as we begin to adjust our autumn photos.

So why discuss it if I don’t use them yet?  Well, I have recently discovered another use for these masks that make them much more valuable, but I will save that for the next post.  Again, this is a relativly advanced topic that won’t interest everyone.

I should begin by saying, to find the actions along with a very detailed description, you are probably better off going directly to Tony’s Luminosity Mask page.  For these actions, or the saturation mask actions, Tony asks for a small donation at an amount you decide.  I think it is money well spent.

What Tony’s actions do is create an curves adjustment layer along with one of 12 different masks – these masks affect just a certain portion of the image based upon its tonal value.  Now I have long recognized the benefits of a curves adjustment – adding a little contrast to an image can give it a real boast.  With these actions, you can now adjust the contrast via curves for a certain tonal range giving us far more control then we ever had before.

As I mentioned, the masks come in about 12 different flavors, with one revealing only the “Super Lights” on one extreme, down to the “Super Darks”  on the other extreme, with about everything covered in between.  It is probably easier to show you what I’m talking about, rather then trying to explain.

Here is the mask for “light lights”

light lights mask

Remember, black blocks and white reveals.  So you can see, any curve adjustments made with this mask will largely only effect the light portion of this image – in this case, the trees.

Here is the “dark darks”:

dark darks masks

Now you can see if I make curve adjustments with this mask, I will primarily effect the far hill-side and not the trees.

I must admit, this was a low contrast photo – probably about the worst one I could have used to demonstrate the differences in these masks, but even so, I think you get the idea.

One of the beauties of these mask – since they are derived from the actual image, they are completely self-feathering.

Tony’s mask are really easy to use – they automatically create a curves adjustment layer along with the described mask – from there it is up to the photographer to experiment!

In the next post, hopefully by Monday, I will share with you why I’m really excited about these masks.

Comments 2

  1. Tony

    Luminosity masks is an exciting technique! I find it gives me total control over the light levels of an image. It is a bit like ‘Curves on Steroids’. Thanks for sharing!

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