Luminosity Masking and Image Recovery

by Joe Bridwell

Six years ago, I took 6 HDR shots with a 6 megapixel Nikon D70. At the time, Lightroom was doing 2003 raw conversions. Photoshop masking with the selection tool created a poor black/white mask. I was quite frustrated with masking trees against the skyline. So this HDR image sorta went by the wayside… The tools were not adequate to address neither its richness nor complexity!
With Luminosity Masking, you examine every pixel in the HDR result to create a grayscale mask. You get tree edges against sky. You also get automatic self feathering – which adds strong drama.
I’m now on a very interesting path. I’m redoing all my classic landscape images with Tony Kuyper’s luminosity masking actions.
I resurrected the original HDR images. I submitted them to Nik’s HDR Efex Pro 2. I took that HDR image and began applying luminosity masks.
Finding incredible detail in Cave Towers is like landing on the moon.
Your eye glories in a forgotten cornucopia of color, texture, and detail!

CaveTowers 2013©Chopawamsic LC

Cave Towers 2013©Chopawamsic LC

Thank you, Jesus…

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Masking a Luminosity Mask for Local Curves Adjustment

by Joe Bridwell

When Jack Houser first looked at my LastEoL image, he made a comment, “Reflections in a pond are always darker than the sky!” Time has clearly taught me; when Jack makes a color or textural remark, I’d really better pay heed…
So here’s the workflow I devised for modifying luminosity masks to darken the pond. Before I could make any progress, I had to study Sean Bagshaw’s luminosity mask tutorials regarding local adjustments, based on Tony Kuyper’s luminosity mask work.
Beyond that, I faced this fact; skies had been color coordinated over time lapse of these photos. So I had to be quite careful to make similar darken pond ranges in luminosity and texture. Here’s the workflow to create that subtle difference…
Bagshaw defines both Custom Masks and Local Adjustments. His videos carefully work you through each workflow step. Under custom masks, he covers magic mid tones, increasing tonal separation, burn or Dodge a mask, and painting on an enhanced mask. For localized adjustments, he covers painting a mask, masking the mask, and luminosity painting. Here, we create a Local Adjustments mask atop a luminosity mask.

Preliminary Steps to Create an Expanded Mid Tone Mask of the Pond

Preliminary Steps to Create an Expanded Mid Tone Mask of the Pond

Preliminary Steps to Create an Expanded Mid Tone Mask of the Pond

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Color Synchronizing Sequential Luminosity Mask Images

by Joe Bridwell

In a recent blog, I presented an Edge of Light view of Red Mountain 1 near Silverton, Co. In reality, I actually shot 3 HDR images showing a motion time lapse of that edge of light moving down the mountain.
The most noteworthy image occurs when the edge of light moves down to tree line. We choose that final image and developed it with luminosity masking steps.

Red Mountain - First Edge of Light 2013©Chopawamsic LC

Red Mountain – First Edge of Light 2013©Chopawamsic LC

Here’s the final image…

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Red Mountain – Edge of Light

by Joe Bridwell

Twice each day, the cool, blue light of night interacts with warm tones of daylight.  For a full hour at either end of the day, colors of light mix together in endless combinations, as if someone in the sky were shaking a kaleidoscope.  

Magic Hour is that hour around dawn and dusk. The Edge of Light occurs when cool, blue light of night interacts with warm tones of daylight. This effect takes place, not directly where the sun rises or sets, but where sun’s rays bring warm, direct light onto parts of land and sky also lit by cool, reflected light of evening.

The most interesting parts of the natural world are these edges.  Places where timberline touches the heights, where bare mountain peaks touch the sky. Landscape photographers shoot light itself! When Magic Hour arrives, I search for perfect light. Then, I hunt for something earthbound to match.

Galen Rowell, Mountain Light, 2011, 3rd Ed.

Red Mountain - No Edge of Light 2013©Chopawamsic LC

Red Mountain – No Edge of Light 2013©Chopawamsic LC

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Eye Candy and Triple Play Luminosity Masking

by Joe Bridwell

Well before dawn, rain’s patter on the tent’s tarp seemed endless. But water was so precious in the dry sparse desert. I thought no more – sleeping on. Next morning’s wonder – rain drops formed a delicious reflection pool.
Not just any bland pool, but one whose still, glassy sheen repeated a prominent soliloquy of red and white sandstone. Mother Nature, conspiring with water and ancient sand, had capriciously melded red and white sandstones in a piquant spire – a candy snow cone. The shadowed gray companion seemed pale in comparison. Yet its contorted shape added mystery. She also knew a photographer would innately respond to such dramatic beauty.
This transient scene lasted several hours before the last drop of water fed that thirsty sand. The lone spire, now bereft of reflecting cohort, stood in elegant majesty – as it had for millennia…

Eye Candy 2013©Chopawamsic LC

Eye Candy 2013©Chopawamsic LC

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