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Half Moon Bay Nikon Photography Photography - Nikon D600 Photoshop

The Wonders of Luminosity Masking in Photoshop

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I’m increasingly using the techniques originally pioneered by Tony Kuyper known as “luminosity masking” when editing images in Photoshop. The basic idea behind luminosity masking is to take advantage of the luminosity levels in an image and to use that information to enable much more selective editing of the image.

Imagine, for example, dividing the range of luminosity levels into 10 ranges – from pure which to pure black. Tony’s techniques allow you to easily isolate each of those luminosity ranges so that you can make adjustments to just that portion of an image. Tony’s got some free tutorials on his website and also sells a set of Photoshop actions and a panel that make using his techniques much faster and easier. Along with his stuff, Sean Bagshaw has worked with Tony to create an excellent set of video tutorials that shows how to apply these techniques. Sean’s a great teacher – and the videos are crisp and to the point – also highly recommended!

Here’s an example. Earlier today I visited the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve in Moss Beach just north of Half Moon Bay along the great Pacific Coast south of San Francisco. It was a drizzly wet day on the coast today – and that’s what I was hoping for.

The image above is straight out of the camera (a Nikon D600). Using just a few simple steps applying Tony’s actions, I edited the image into the version below. The tonal contrast is so much better – and it’s also a bit sharper thanks to Don Margulis’ excellent Sharpen 2013 actions (part of his Picture Postcard Workflow). I’ve titled the image “Fallen” – if you look closely you’ll see why – and that’s what caught my eye while walking by this morning.

Fallen - Fitzgerald Marine Reserve - 2013