Luminosity Masking in Photoshop®

 

Lesson Info

Class Introduction

(students applauding) Alright, luminosity masking, how many people have heard of it? Okay. How many people are afraid of it? Alright, even better. I hope you're really, really afraid, because I'm going to make it a little bit easier. It's just like when you're trying to each your kids not to be afraid to go to sleep at night because of the boogeyman, well, that can sometimes be luminosity masking. It's not really as scary as it sounds if we break things down and we actually think about what luminosity is or the luminance values of our image. So, you're going to hear me a lot saying things like highlights, midtones, shadows. Highlights, midtones, shadows, I'm going to say it a lot. Those are all things that are involved in the luminosity masking. So, sometimes it's easier to just think about them as clever tonal masks rather than luminosity masks. Because that word is a stifling, stumbling block for some people sometimes. Let's just get down to the traditional what is a luminosity mas...

k. It's any mask created from the selection of the present luminance values in a photograph. Easy enough, right? Let's put it in layman terms, okay. Masks that are made from precise selections of tones, that's really what they are. So, you can have this overarching large idea of what a luminosity mask is based off of precise and precision, and all these different surgical terms for creating masks, that's essentially what we're getting to here. The big question that comes into this now is that, okay, we talked about highlights, midtones, and shadows, Blake. Well, highlights, midtones, and shadows are also in Adobe CameraRaw and Lightroom, and just about any other raw editing software on the planet. Then you think to yourself, okay, if he's talking about highlights, midtones, and shadows, why don't I just do those things in Adobe CameraRaw and Lightroom and call it good. Sounds good, right? It'd be a great place to just leave it so we do have to do the film masking thing. Well, then, I wouldn't have to be here telling you why they're so important. The tone sliders in Lightroom and Adobe CameraRaw are really good, but they're predefined, already built luminosity type settings. You just don't see it. It's something called an algorithm. If we're afraid of math, we run from that, as well. It's just like the boogeyman, okay. So, when someone says the highlight algorithm for the X-Y-Z excess, phhht, whatever man, just give me a slider. That's the whole idea behind this. The problem with these highlights, midtones, and shadows is they can show you as you move them whether things are blowing our or clipping. You've probably heard those terms before. They can show you that with these flashing warnings. But they cannot show what a highlight is. They can't physically show you what that highlight is. They can't physically show you what the midtone is. And they can't physically show you what the shadow is. They just can't do it, it's not there. It's not defined in the algorithm to show you what that thing does. It's built to be kind of dumbed down. So, you move that, you make that highlight darker or you make that highlight brighter. What luminosity masking does is it allows you to see all of those things. It allows you to make a precise selection for just the luminance of, let's say, the highlights. Or the luminance of the midtones or of the shadows. And at any time you can see and you edit within them. They segregate things out. They separate it to a point where, and this is something that I would also urge you to try in Adobe CameraRaw or Lightroom, too, is when you manipulate those sliders, try to see what exactly a highlight is. That's me, I'm like, if I move this highlight, I know you're adjusting my highlight, but do you know what a highlight is or what is a highlight. But when then when you look at a highlight and you start to see what the highlights are, the highlights don't really even touch the lightest lights. They're just in between the midtones and the lightest lights. The shadows are in between the darks and the midtones. Somewhere in that range, that's where they play, but we can't see those things. When we do luminosity masking, we specificially segregate a specific area and say nothing can happen to you, or I'm only allowing this to happen to you, based on luminosity masking. So, if you saw the other course I did on Blend If, you might scratch your head and say, well, this sounds a lot like Blend If. Because Blend If can segregate the highlights, midtones, and the shadows, right? Well, again, another little math thing for you. We see the square of Blend If and the luminosity mask of the rectangle. When I was a kid, I know this has changed because I said this on YouTube once and some guy was like, well, technically speaking, dah, dah. When I was a kid, Pluto was a planet, number one. Alright, I'm just gonna leave that here. Also, a square by definition could be a rectangle. But a rectangle by definition could not be a square. So, I'm not going to bore you with the definitions of a square and a rectangle. You're dying to be just like, no, and prove me wrong. So, the idea here is that Blend If can do the things that luminosity masking can do, but luminosity masking cannot necessarily do the things that Blend If can do because they are different. They are separate and they are different. Both very powerful but different. Blend If is kind of like a luminosity mask but defined through sliders. Whereas luminosity mask is defined by a very specific selection. So, it makes that selection, it restricts that selection into something like a mask. Which can make it sometimes easier to manipulate and to play around with. So, just to give you a for instance here, in this image if you're wondering what is a highlight, if I was to edit this in Adobe CameraRaw or Lightroom and move the highlight slider around, I might see some things back here moving around. But when I use luminosity masking, it actually shows me. And I can make it show me in any color I want where that highlight is, or where that shadow is, or where that midtone is. Here's some best practices for understanding luminosity masks. What I want you to take away from this is that this is not any different from what you've known from masks before. What is white in the mask is where that desired effect is going to take place. So, if you have a curved adjustment layer and that mask has white in it, anything you do to that curve that's what going to be affected is in that white area. And anything that's black is not going to be affected. So, whether you're using a curves adjustment layer, a color grading layer, a hue saturation, it doesn't matter what it is. The masking concept doesn't change here at all. We're just changing the way we make that selection for that highlight, that midtone, or that shadow. What is black will not receive that effect. Again, because if we think in terms of the masking that we do, traditional masking where you paint with a black brush to remove that effect, or you paint with white to pull that effect through. It's traditional masking concepts and always keep those in mind. So, outside of the idea of the word luminosity masking, it's just clever masking. We can call it clever mask. What I'm going to do is teach you this, kind of for like the layman concept. Now, I know that there's going to be battling and conflicting fields about how I'm going to teach you luminosity masking. I already know that and I'm already ready to face it, okay. Put it on social media, I'll go in front of the press. Let's just talk about Photoshop in general, first of all. Photoshop, in general, is a very convoluted program. We are here for an entire week to talk about Photoshop. And I guarantee we will only scratch the top of the iceberg, not even get even close to the water. That's how thick Photoshop is, it's deep. So, if you have a convoluted program like Photoshop because you don't what you're doing where and how you're doing it, and then you take a concept like luminosity masking, which can be very convoluted, now you've just made a convoluted topic more convoluted. And you've made it to a point where you're definitely going to run, hide, and be afraid. So, what I'm going to do, I'm going to do this the traditional way and show you the breakdown of all the masks from highlights, midtones, and shadows. But then I'm going to show the Blake way. And I'm pretty sure you're going to prefer the Blake way. because it's just, it's awesome.

Luminosity Masking has been the talk of the town for a while in the photo industry—and for good reason. It’s one of the easiest, most effective ways to create striking images that cover a wide range of levels of light. The idea is to separate the luminance data from your image, make a mask and edit the data independently. Blake Rudis will begin by walking you through the basics of Luminosity Masking, and then will address some of the more advanced uses. Once you master this awesome tool, you won’t know how you ever got by without it.

 
 
 
 

Reviews

  • Wow, Best class to start off Photoshop Week! Blake made me see the light (luminosity) and how easy it is to make selections with this tool and also be selective in the masks. Can't wait for the landscaping class.
  • I had to bail. My brain was going to explode. To much lengthy, off-tangent jabbering and no real-life useable information.
  • This class blew my mind! I do a TON of masking in my workflow, and Blake Rudis just shaved hours off of my post-processing! Luminosity masking is so incredible, and Blake walks you through it every step of the way. I will be re-watching this class over and over as I edit. It is a fantastic investment for pennies on the dollar, with zero regrets! Thank you Blake for taking an intimidating concept and making it easy to understand and apply!