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Luminosity Masks: The Definitive Guide – Part 2

Creating Luminosity Masks - The Manual Method Explained

Keyboard Shortcuts

CMD + CLICK = select

SHIFT + CMD + CLICK = Add to selection

OPTION (ALT) + CMD + CLICK = Subtract from selection

SHIFT + OPTION (ALT) + CMD + CLICK = Intersect (multiply) selection

1. Creating a set of masks for Lights

Lights level 1

  1. - In the CHANNELS panel, CMD + CLICK on the RGB channel thumbnail.
  2. - The marching ants indicate selection (based on the RGB channel).
  3. - To save the selection, click on the MASK icon.
  4. - The new channel appears at the bottom of the CHANNELS panel, and it can be selected and then used as a layer mask to perform adjustments in the image.
  5. - Rename the first mask “Lights 1.”

 

This is pretty general mask that includes a wide range of tones. To make more precise selections and narrow down the range, we will intersect the mask.

Lights level 2-7

IMPORTANT: Do not deselect!

  1. SHIFT + OPTION + CMD + CLICK on the “Lights 1” thumbnail.
  2. Click on the MASK icon to save the INTERSECTED mask and rename it “Lights 2.”
  3. Repeat the process - SHIFT + OPTION + CMD + CLICK on the “Lights 2” thumbnail.
  4. Save the INTERSECTED mask as “Lights 3.”
  5. Repeat the process and create 6-7 channels for Lights.

 

By intersecting the first generic channel Lights 1 with itself, we kept narrowing down the luminosity ranges of consecutive masks. This allowed us to create  a set of 7 luminosity masks with different luminosity ranges for lights. As you can see, starting from initial generic selection (Lights 1), which includes very bright highlights and quite a lot of midtones, we keep going until we finally end up with a mask (Lights 7) that includes only a narrow range of very bright highlights.

LIGHTS_lm_set_preview

2. Creating a set of masks for Darks

Darks level 1

  1. CMD + click on the “Lights 1” channel, Menu Bar > SELECT > INVERSE (SHIFT + CMD + I).
  2. Save the inverted selection by clicking on the MASK icon.
  3. Rename the mask “Darks 1.”

Darks level 2-7

  1. Now we will be intersecting the mask with itself and creating consecutive masks - narrowing the luminosity range for Darks, the same way as we have worked to create a set of luminosity masks for Lights.
  2. SHIFT + OPTION + CMD + CLICK on the “Darks 1” thumbnail.
  3. Save the INTERSECTED mask as “Darks 2.”
  4. Repeat the process SHIFT + OPTION + CMD + CLICK on the “Darks 2” thumbnail.
  5. Save the INTERSECTED mask as “Darks 3.”
  6. Repeat the process (create 6-7 channels) for Darks.

3. Creating a set of masks for Midtones

Midtones are the range of tones between dark shadows and bright highlights. Midtones 1 are all the pixels that weren’t selected in Brights 1 and Darks 1.

Midtones level 1

  1. Click on RGB channel, select everything by hitting CMD + A.
  2. Next, subtract highlights and shadows from the selection.
  3. OPTION + CMD + CLICK on “Lights 1” thumbnail.
  4. OPTION (ALT) + CMD + CLICK on “Darks 1” thumbnail.
  5. Save the channel by clicking on the MASK icon and rename it “Midtones 1.”

To create consecutive masks for midtones, repeat the same steps, but subtract Lights and Darks Level 2, then Level 3:

Midtones level 2

  1. Click on RGB channel, select everything by hitting CMD + A.
  2. Next, subtract highlights and shadows from the selection.
  3. OPTION + CMD + CLICK on “Lights 2” thumbnail.
  4. OPTION (ALT) + CMD + CLICK on “Darks 2” thumbnail.
  5. Save the channel by clicking on the MASK icon and rename it “Midtones 2.”

Midtones level 3

  1. Click on RGB channel, select everything by hitting CMD + A.
  2. Next, subtract highlights and shadows from the selection.
  3. OPTION + CMD + CLICK on “Lights 3” thumbnail.
  4. OPTION (ALT) + CMD + CLICK on “Darks 3” thumbnail.
  5. Save the channel by clicking on the MASK icon and rename it “Midtones 3.”

Midtones level 4

  1. Click on RGB channel, select everything by hitting CMD + A.
  2. Next, subtract highlights and shadows from the selection.
  3. OPTION + CMD + CLICK on “Lights 4” thumbnail.
  4. OPTION (ALT) + CMD + CLICK on “Darks 4” thumbnail.
  5. Save the channel by clicking on the MASK icon and rename it “Midtones 4.”
MIDTONES_lm_set_preview