5 Reasons to use Luminosity Masks in all your Processing

5 Reasons to use Luminosity Masks in all your Processing

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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


Conclusions

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


Straight to the Sun – Cilento Sunset

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While I was hiking near a promontory in the Cilento area I came across this splendid view of the sea, with a practically perfect sunset with the sun going falling down between two mountains in front of me. Despite the beauty of the place, however, shooting here was very challenging

There was to consider that I was shooting in the direction of the sun, so in a situation of great contrast, also I had to capture all my shots with focus stacking to contrast the wind that came from the sea made all the leaves that I had inserted in composition

For this reason I captured a series of bracketed shots to save the sky and be able to retrieve the information I needed in processing and in addition to this I captured another series of focus stacking shots to save some elements of focus

I am satisfied with the final result even if the processing that I report below as usual was quite long and complicated 😅

WORKFLOW EXPLANATION

I started working on my image with TTS Pro with I digitally blended all my shots to obtain a balanced image with all the informations recovered in the sky. After this I go through focus stacking technique to save focus in the foreground around the leafs, to make this I used a couple of shots more

Once I obtained the image I started working on it with luminosity masks to recover the highlights in the sky, contrasts, blacks and shadows. I correct color cast in the image, than I fixed again the luminosity of the sky, after this I applied a orton effect to increase the sense of glow warm coming from the sun, I added details, sharpness and increased vibrance

I removed some unwanted spots in the water and reduced the photo noise, created by the shots I used for focus stacking that were captured with high ISO to avoid long exposure

As last touch I fixed lights and I created a manual vignette to emphatize the light source from the sun

TECNHNICAL STUFF

Camera: Nikon D850

Nikon 14-24f/2,8 (used @24mm)

Focus Stacking Serie

ISO: 80 f/22

Software: Photoshop CC2021

Plugin: TTS Pro 2.0


Returning to Sand

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A new photo from the Cilento coasts which represent one of my favorite places to take seascapes in Italy. In this place beyond the mountain in the evening it often clouds up, giving very suggestive points of views. Here many beaches have interesting rocks to approach and take pictures with interestng foreground elements with which to make compositions

I took this photo using the focus stacking technique, for this I captured a series of exposures to capture as much diversity of focus between the various areas of the image. To this series of photos I then added another series of long exposures to capture the water with greater movement

WORKFLOW EXPLANATION

After completing the blending of the images with focus stacking I make anther blend for the sky and for the long exposure of the water. All the blend for the sky and for the water was done with the help of luminosity masks and paintbrush

With a final blend image I used TTS Pro to lauch more details on the picture, I also increased vibrance, added some cold filters to highlights and shadows. I fixed contrast and I used dodge and burn around the rocks on the foreground

As final step I sharpened the image and I created a vignette to make the scene more dark and with a mysterious style

TECNHNICAL STUFF

Camera: Nikon D850

Nikon 14-24 f/2,8 (used @16mm)

Focus Stacking Serie

ISO: 80 f/11

Software: Photoshop CC2021

Plugin: TTS Pro 2.0


The Cliffhouse

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Anyone who has been following me for many years knows that this place is one of my favorites for capturing seascape images. I come back here on this cliffhouse annually… if only for a short time to enjoy the beauty of the area as well as being able to capture images of long exposures on these cliffs

This place has the distinction of having often beautiful sunsets beyond that small house built on the rocks. Here I made a focus stacking between the rocks that were lower down and all the other elements of the photo

For the sea, I captured various long exposures with a ND filter -3 stops, to keep the water with some textures, I waited here all the golden hour but it is during the blue hour where the colors of the sky literally exploded … with colors that went from yellow to blue passing through purple

I captured all the shots that I then blended in Photoshop, the detail below

WORKFLOW EXPLANATION

I blended the image using focus stacking technique, it was necessary just a couple of images to make focus stack between the first rocks and the background, the shooting position was in fact not too close as the sea was strong enough I kept away from it 🙂

After realizing the focused image with the help of TTS Pro panel, I digital blended the images to benefit for the best sky and for the best long exposure on water. About this the water is the result of 2 images of waves crashing on the rocks an another one for the rest of the sea

After increasing details and fixed contrast around the rocks, I fixed sky tones and highlights using luminosity masks. I launched a cold filter for the foreground and a soft warm filter for the sky

I also increased the whole colours vividness of the whole image using my panel and I softly retouched some rocks with dodge and burn. As last steps I removed some distracting elements on the frame especially for those was in the corner

TECNHNICAL STUFF

Camera: Nikon D850

Nikon 14-24f/2,8 (used @24mm)

Focus Stacking Serie

ISO: 80 f/11

Software: Photoshop CC2021

Plugin: TTS Pro 2.0


Illusion of Time – Tre Cime

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I come back after several years to Tre Cime of Lavaredo, an incredible and beautiful place known wordwide. Unlike last time I took the typical shot of the view of the Tre Cime closer to the blue hour

At that time some clouds were also rising that, few minutes later, covered the whole view in white, luckily I was able to capture the last images of the day of the visible peaks before they were covered

I take the shot using the focus stacking technique, focusing first on the small flowers in the foreground, then in the central part and then on the peaks. I taked some shots based on the alternation of the clouds on Tre Cime waiting to capture the shot that would make them visible at best, the result of 9 total photos is what you see in the image

WORKFLOW EXPLANATION

As mentioned I made this shot using focus stacking technique, I made it blending all the shots avaiable captured here, 9 shots with different focus parts included the image used for the peaks. I don’t use digital blending here because I don’t captured bracketed shots, the management of so many shots with different focus and also with different exposure would have created an incredible and not so usefull job to do in post

Therefore I edited the image using only luminosity masks and my panel TTS Pro, as usual we see the main steps of the workflow:

I added details and contrast to the whole frame, I fixed colours, than glow using orton effect . With the help of dodge and burn tool I lightened some darker part of the foreground and on the clouds

I increased the blue tones of the image adding a cold filter applied to highlights than shadows, I also used light bleeding to add some lights to the sky and colours to the clouds

I desaturate selectively some blue tones of the sky and as final step I added a soft dark vignette to the frame

TECNHNICAL STUFF

Camera: Nikon D850

Nikon 14-24f/2,8 (used @16mm)

Focus Stacking Serie

ISO: 100 f/14

Software: Photoshop CC2021

Plugin: TTS Pro 2.0


Antorno

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The small but beautiful lake antorno is located on the road that leads from Misurina to the Tre Cime of Lavaredo, just before the toll road for the park of “Tre Cime”. It is a must for all those who go to the famous park in question but the small Antorno lake deserves a careful visit, especially on sunset

Although its best view is opposite to the sunset, the colors of the mountain that lights up as the sun goes down gives beautiful reflections into the water. I composed this photo with the help of this bush on the foreground and I used it to realize a focus stacking through the element of the frame.

WORKFLOW EXPLANATION

To begin with I stack the images into Photoshop the focused image in all the element of the frame, I used the other expoures to realize a digital blending and create a balanced image. With the use of I launched details filter to increase details on the main spot, than I correct colours and contrast

With the help of  luminosity masks applied to TTS Pro filters I warmened the sky and I increased the dark mood of the image, I also created a orton effect to mitigate the details effect and create a soft glow dreamy feel. Using dodge and burn I gived some last touches to the image, going to increase/decrease lights in the main area of interest

TECNHNICAL STUFF

Camera: Nikon D850

Nikon 14-24 f/2,8 (used @24mm)

Three Shots (-1; 0; +1)

ISO: 100 f/11

Software: Photoshop CC2021

Plugin: TTS Pro


Stronghold Temple

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Starting to travel again, I also had the time to spend a night in a village of my old acquaintance from where my family originates, this place is located a few kilometers from my home and I know it very well

Here I spent many years of my childhood and growing up I transformed a lot of my knowledge of the place into a photo scouting. It is here where I soon will organize a full workshop program for explore all the surrounding area

This is one of the spots I planned for the workshop, very nice for both sunrise and sunset. I combined the two moments of golden hour and blue hour waiting for the public lighting to start to create a better mix between the two moments and also benefit from some small light trails as seen below left

WORKFLOW EXPLANATION

I blended the shot using digital blending with my panel TTS Pro, than I recover some dark shot to add lights and light trails to the image. I made the major adjustments using using luminosity masks: create contrast, decrease luminosity, add some warm colours to the sky

With orton effect I added some glow light at the scene and with dodge and burn I recovered some area in the village. As final steps I added details to the whole frame and I decreased a bit the luminosity

TECNHNICAL STUFF

Camera: Nikon D850

Sigma 24-70 f/2,8 (used @32mm)

Three Shots (-1; 0; +1)

ISO: 100 

Software: Photoshop CC2021

Plugin: TTS Pro


Arms of the Earth

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I returned as a sure shot in this wood that I know very well, in a location not far from my hometown. I come here many times since I was a child but only recently I discovered the photographic potential of this place

Here I begin to know the trees and their peculiarities like this trunk with a particular shape that seems to remember that of two limbs facing the sky behind a gorgeous mid-afternoon light.

In this place together with other spots that you will see in the next posts that I have in mind to create the next photographic workshop to discover these places with you there will be developments in the coming months in this regard 🙂

WORKFLOW EXPLANATION

I realized this capturing the images using focus stacking and bracketed shots in order to create easily digital blending with my panel TTS Pro. I fixed the lights and shadows using luminosity masks, I increased contrast and darkened the scene to emphatize lights

I launched a dark orton effect and I correct some lights using dodge and burn, as final step I created a vignette to increase the dark mood of the image

TECNHNICAL STUFF

Camera: Nikon D850

Nikon 14-24 f/2,8 (used @16mm)

Focus Stacking

ISO: 100 

Software: Photoshop CC2021

Plugin: TTS Pro


7 Tips for Better Sunset Photography

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As everyone knows, the best moment to capture the best light is during sunset, this time of day coincides with the best softest light and which gives better colors in the sky and lights. This time of the day is generally between golden hour and blue hour to achieve the best light in the day

Nowadays everyone knows this simple but basic rule of photography, but so how to go further? How can be more professional in this field? Let’s find out in this article through these 7 tips for better sunset photography

1 Scout the Location Before Shooting

Scouting of the location is the requirement of a professional photography, as regards the main difference is made to arrive early and leave late the location. This simple advice will drastically increase the possibility of returning home with a shot of greater interest

Arriving earlier helps to find the right position of the photo, going away late helps to find the right light you are looking for in the shot you’re making. Sometimes it happens that the best moments for shooting are moved from the canonical moments of the golden and blue hour, this is because they are strongly conditioned from weather and location

2 Know the Sun Spot

This is the primary tip for a professional photo, knowing the sun’s position increase the chance to create impactful images. You will understand what the light will do and consequently what your image will look like, in this way you will be able to adjust your photo according to your needs

To find out this position you can help you with many apps, for example I use Photopills that have a very intuitive sun spot section

3 Shoot into the Sun direction

When it is possible I love shooting landscape into the sun direction. Taking the shot into the sun direction greatly increases the possibility of creating impactful images because it includes an important point of energy in the frame

Shooting into the sun direction also allows you to play with the sun’s spikes when it “lands” on some element of the frame, a condition that I love to capture in my landscapes

4 Always Bracket your Shots

When shooting towards sunset the possibility of having images with a great contrast is very high. Usually high contrasted images are very difficult to manage and for this reason I always shoot using bracketing mode

The bracketing mode grants to obtain a wide dynamic range of the scene through a series of exposures, furthermore, this guarantees an excellent result for digital blending of the image in Photoshop

5 Try Differents Focal Lens

As a landscape photographer I have always captured many photos using my wide angle, but during time I learned the importance of experimenting with other points of view and other focal lengths to achieve best results


In some cases, using different lenses instead of wide angle can give better results, it all depends on the location and situation, it is the case of the gallery below that I took in the mountains or in the hills. At a distance I had points that hit the eye with a wide angle it would not have been the same results

6 Focus on Composition

Everything said above is important but it is nothing compared to a good composition, this is the main tip that allows you to create an impactfull landscape. Don’t always focus yourself on shooting at eye level, include the right portion of the sky / foreground in your photo and balance the elements for a perfect composition. On this topic I have written a specific guide that I recommend you go and read called 7 Composition guidelines for better landscape photography

7 Luminosity Masking

Luminosity masks are the best way to bring out the best on your sunset images, using luminosity masks and digital blending can easily include in your image all the main elements of your shots and create a balanced images with a full dynamic range

You can read more about luminosity masks in many articles of this site and you can take a look better at them on my dedicated guide mastering luminosity masks. Don’t forget to going deepen downloading my FREE panel for Photoshop and if you want to go deepen you can discover TTS Pro for easy and professional digital blendings


The Hills of Val d’Orcia Pt.2

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This week I continue with a collection of images captured in the suggestive Val d’Orcia in Tuscany. Side the images published last week are added these, some taken in very famous locations in the area and also many of these captured with a telephoto that in this area helps a lot to exalt the beauty of the place and his landscapes

This second collection it is entirely captured from the top of some hills, details of some very suggestive farms at various times of the day, I love the alternation of light and the contrasts that are created by playing among the details of the hills and trees

WORKFLOW EXPLANATION

This series is composed by single shots so no digital blendings was done for this images. As the previous post I applied the same “treatment” for these shots: increase details, applied a warm filter and decreased some highlights in the sky

For some shots I also applied a soft orton effect, I increased a little bit contrast and fixed colours using my panel TTS Pro. As final step I applied a soft vignette to all the images to give more prominence to the main subject

TECNHNICAL STUFF

Camera: Nikon D850

Nikon 70-200 f/2,8 

Single Shots

ISO: 100 

Software: Photoshop CC2021

Plugin: TTS Pro


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Hi, my name is Giuseppe Sapori, a professional photographer and author of this website, created by yours truly to show my work and share with you the techniques I use. My expertise is in the field of Landscape Photography... (Read More)

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