Making Photoshop Luminosity Masks Easy with Lumenzia

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As you advance with your photography, you may want to edit your photographs with more precise control. In this article, I discuss how to use Lumenzia Luminosity Masking Panel to easily edit sections of your image using Luminosity Masks in Adobe Photoshop.

These masks allow you to control different aspects of your image without affecting others. You can manually create these luminosity masks, or you can use a product such as Lumenzia to make them for you automatically, as well as applying many commonly used adjustment layers in Adobe Photoshop.

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Hoar Frost on a River Stone after Using Luminosity Masks

Lumenzia is a luminosity masking panel that is an add-on application that works within Adobe Photoshop. It allows you to quickly create and efficiently use a wide range of luminosity masks for your image editing. To understand how Lumenzia works, because it is a little technical, you need to understand how Photoshop layers work.

Lumenzia, in its most basic terms, is used within Adobe Photoshop to allow you to manipulate images with layer masks. For this article, all the references and images are for Lumenzia V6.0.  Lumenzia appears as a panel within Photoshop.

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Lumenzia Panel

Luminosity Masks

Luminosity masks, also known as Luminescence masks, are a way of making advanced selections in Photoshop based on luminosity values. This method is particularly useful for images with a high dynamic range.

For example, let’s say we are looking at the hoar frost ice ball image. It is a bright object on a dark background, where the exposure is likely to have been selected for the darker areas rather than the ice ball, making the ice ball more gray than white. The image is uneven because the white section (the ice ball) is underexposed. We could make a second exposure, this time exposing to account for the ice ball and then smoothly blend the area of the ice into the darker background.

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Underexposed Original Hoar Frost Ice Ball

There are many ways to make selections in Photoshop, but in this particular example, Luminosity Masks would allow us to select the over-exposed area because it targets luminosity values (i.e., the brightness of an area), and smoothly blend in the darker exposure. The image below shows the luminosity histogram for this image.

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Ice ball histogram

Luminosity masks are incredibly powerful because you can manipulate specific parts of your image. As with all masks, the key to remember is that white reveals and black conceals. There are multiple uses for these types of masks including fine-tuning images, highlight recovery, HDR images, black and white imagery, and general masking uses.

Lumenzia is an add-on product for Photoshop CC that allows for the automation of using Luminosity Masks. The limits of what you use this tool for is related to your imagination and how far you want to manipulate images.

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Bonavista Harbour at Night – High Dynamic Range

What is a Luminosity Mask?

In general, there are two fundamental characteristics of the data contained in the photographic information in digital form: Chromatic (color, hue, and tint) and Luminosity (brightness). Luminosity masks focus on using the brightness of the information contained in the image data to allow you to manipulate portions of the image selectively.

There are some other great articles on dPS regarding Luminosity Masks. This being a fairly advanced concept, understanding how layers work in Photoshop is vital, or you may not understand much of this article.

Why use Luminosity Masks?

In times past and to this day, many photographers use techniques such as a white seamless background behind a portrait subject to allow for the background to be changed in post-production. Some other photographers use color to allow the background to replaced.

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Cute Puppy on White Seamless Background

The distinction between the two backgrounds is that the white background has different luminosity levels, making it easier to mask out the background manually. Colored backgrounds can create problems due to the color of the clothing worn and color from the background affecting the edges of the subject in the foreground. The lighting on the subject can also affect this. The colored background is a chromatic mask rather than a luminosity mask. Luminosity masks are used to solve this issue.

Again, layer masks always work on the premise that white reveals and black conceals.

Let’s look at three masks for the Ice Ball image:

  • ‘Lights’ (L2) Mask (just from the high end)
  • ‘Mid-tone’ Mask (just from the middle)
  • ‘Darks’ mask (just from the darker end)

It’s the same image using the different masks. By using these masks, you can modify the image in those specific areas. The white areas are the selected areas of the histogram and the further you get from the selection, the darker the mask is. For the ‘Highlights,’ only the light values are white. For the ‘Mid-tone’ selection, only the mid-range values are white, making the highlights dark as well as the dark range. Finally, the ‘Darks’ selection shows the dark range in white.

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Lights 2 Mask

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Mids 2 Mask

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Darks 2 Mask

How do you create Luminosity masks?

There are three ways to create luminosity masks. Firstly, you could create your own (time-consuming) and then automate this process. Secondly, you could purchase Lightroom or Photoshop presets that have someone else create an automated process for you. The third way is an add-in product that works within Photoshop. Lumenzia is an add-in product that works well.

There are two issues with the first two methods of generating Luminosity Masks; the time it takes to set up and automate them and the size of the files that have them applied with layer masks. Using presets or actions to generate Layer Masks can significantly increase the size of the files within Photoshop because each layer is effectively an image. This process takes up hard drive space and can place extra processing power on your computer.

Lumenzia uses Vector Masks instead of Layer Masks to rapidly create the Luminosity Masks. It allows for the rapid manipulation of images and discarding of masks is easy. All while keeping the image size smaller and more flexible.

How does Lumenzia work?

Lumenzia is an exciting product on its own as it allows you to efficiently control and automate many tasks related to Luminosity Masks. It integrates into Photoshop CC as a panel with simple button commands – many of which have instructions as you hover over them.

It is a powerful tool, and while the initial concepts are simple, the learning curve for using the product efficiently may be steep for some. Luckily, there are also integrated video tutorials that are launched from within Photoshop directly from the panel (you require an internet connection for these to function). The purpose of this review is to give you a bit of an overview of how it works so you can see if it’s right for you.

The Lumenzia Panel

The majority of the panel shows the selections of the luminosity ranges you need – once you understand how to select the various luminosity levels. To illustrate, consider a standard histogram for an image.

The RGB histogram shows the distribution of all the luminosity levels from pure black on the far left and pure white on the far right. The Lumenzia panel is divided up into sections. The top portion of the panel is the luminosity mask selection and preview area that allows you to see what you have selected.

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Selection Portion of Lumenzia Panel

This top section divides up the luminosity ranges based on the ranges you are looking to use. Visually, the buttons give you a clear idea of the luminosity range that the buttons select. The buttons can be combined and inverted.

Once you press a selected range, a temporary selection appears and the layer buttons show.

Look at the luminosity histogram and notice the buttons visually show (on the same horizontal line) an approximate distribution of the luminescence values being selected.

The line of numbers (0-10), just above the bottom, is the zone values that Ansel Adams made famous as part of his processing technique.

Once you select a range, a preview appears with a set of orange tabs. These are just temporary to show you how the mask looks.

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Orange Preview Tabs

The second section is the ‘Apply Panel.’ This panel allows you to use the mask on a common set of adjustment layer commands within Photoshop, such as curves, levels, contrast, brightness, HSL, and selective color. It applies the masks you have selected by creating an adjustment layer with the layer controls set up from the mask. The properties of the adjustment layer can then be modified.

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Lumenzia Apply Panel

The third section is the ‘Refine Panel’ for refining the mask you have selected. It allows you to group and combine your selections as well as work with edge refinement. This section of the Lumenzia panel is suited for more advanced users.

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Refine Panel

Conclusion

Once you get familiar with Lumenzia, creating adjustment layers that work on your images with precision is fantastic. The online tutorials provide a wide array of examples of how to control all aspects of your images. The panels mentioned come with the full add-in program ($39.99 US), but there is also a basic free panel that helps you get a feel for how it works. The Lumenzia website can be found here.

Using Lumenzia to control your images can help you produce dynamic results for your images.  Happy processing!

Have you tried Lumenzia? What results have you had with it? Please share with us in the comments below.

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Wansford Bridge

 

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Mark C Hughes is a photographer, writer, educator, and engineer that specializes in both portraits of people and pets but also creates stunning landscape and nature photography. He’s an accredited professional photographer (PPOC) and has won awards, including one from National Geographic. Mark has exhibited works and has testified as an expert witness in a trial as a photographer. He has taught photography for a variety of groups and skill sets.

  • Nancy Giambani

    If I understand well Lumenzia is compatible only with Photoshop CC.
    Is there another Luminosity Masking Panel that works with Photoshop CS4 and most important can be downloaded for free?

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  • Lumenzia is compatible with CS6 and all versions of CC. CS4 is very limited for extension panels, but I do have a set of luminosity actions (that come in the same download for my free panel) that will work on CS4. https://gregbenzphotography.com/luminosity-masking-tutorial/

  • Nice article!

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