Since I started editing my first images the main goal was always to make targeted and selective edits in my images. At first time I relied on third-party software for post processing, so I enjoyed their HDR tone mapping features to edit all my landscapes and cityscapes with good results

Over the years I realized that the tone mapping process and the presets I used were too limited and that to improve the image quality and my post processing I needed to do more, that’s how I discovered luminosity masks. In the following article we will talk about how this become over the years my main post processing method

1. Image Quality

Going back to the introduction, the HDR images were always too saturated or too noisy due to artificial and confusing processing that affect image quality

With luminosity masks instead you will work only on the raw file and you will only affect the values you want. The result will be a high quality image with the ability to manage lights, shadows and details like an HDR

2. Full Control of Editing

With luminosity masks you decide which area of ​​the image want to affect and on which image work, by selectively deciding the various points of the shot. With third-party filters and softwares you cannot always decide how and in which points to work your photo

3. Digital Blending

If you use luminosity masks and you capture bracketed shots you can easily digital blend your shots into a single perfectly balanced image. Personally, during my processing I edit almost all my images in this way because it gives you a great control of all processing. By selecting the appropriate luminosity mask and by choosing the opacity of your tool the precision of the changes you can make are awesome

For example in the image below, I used digital blending only to take advantage of the details and colors of the sky of the darkest exposure. To make this I used a brush with a 50% opacity to benefit only of information from the sky I need without making it too dark

4. Choice the Mask for your Needs

The selections made through the luminosity masks are specific, moving through the selection of masks is like choosing an area from the smallest to the largest for that type. Whenever shooting in high contrast situations (such as in the same direction of the sun) selecting the specific area of ​​light to decrease or shadows to increase becomes a great help

5. Speed up Processing

Since I use luminosity masks, the time spent editing images has been significantly reduced. Digitally blending images with luminosity masks is quick and easy, imagine doing the same job manually by selecting each area manually before blending it… it will take a long time

In the past I’d upload brackets in Photoshop and play with some sliders on the whole image, wasting a lot of time to adjust contrasts, lights and shadows always different

Now my processing is fast and fun and mainly consists of painting or applying some filters to the various exposures. At the end of the process I feel a sense of achievement to give to the image my desired design


Luminosity masks aren’t for everyone. They take a little time to understand and learn about it. They’re certainly more difficult to master than third part software and filters, but I assure you that once you master them you will never be able to go back. In my opinion, regardless of the quality of the third party software, nothing can give you control back than digital blending using luminosity masks

If you don’t know where to start, I have created a specific course on luminosity masks where you will get all the tools to start working using them and with pratice become a master

My free Luminosity Masks Resource

I created a panel to easily launch and select luminosity masks, the panel is the TTS Fast Panel and it’s completely free. With this panel you can manage the luminosity masks like a pro and benefit of some filters created by me and that I use very much in my processing

Don’t forget to give me a feedback about it in comments