There might be as many ways to post-process an image as there are camera brands on the market. One technique that has been getting popular in the last few years has been using luminosity masks. If you search YouTube, you will find numerous videos on the subject. You will also see that there are several options when it comes to luminosity panels on the market. One of those panels is the Lumenzia luminosity mask panel created by Greg Benz. I have it and love it.
WHAT ARE LUMINOSITY MASKS?
Before we can dive into what Lumenzia is, we need to know what luminosity masks are. Simply put, they are a selection of a digital image based on tonal values. These values are separated by lights, mid-tones, and darks. In the case of Lumenzia, the panel can narrow these selections down by color also. In the time that Lumenzia has been on the market, Greg has continued to upgrade the ability of the panel to be very selective of the area that is chosen.
WHY LUMINOSITY MASKS?
Several years ago, the term HDR became a dirty word within the photography industry. Software packages like Photomatix came online so photographers could blend several images. The purpose was to display the dynamic range of a scene that could not be captured in one shot.
The fallout though has been tone mapping. One of the downfalls of blending several images into a single one is the loss of contrast. A user could add contrast back to the image. The problem was these programs could add so much contrast that an image could be turned into a mess. This look, in turn, resulted in a lot of
Using Luminosity Masks to blend several shots of differing exposure together to cover a scene’s dynamic range has been around for a while. In the last few years though, as landscape photography popularity has risen, so has this technique. The thing about using Luminosity Masks though is doing masks manually is a time-intensive task. Along came panels that allow us to select sections of an image based on the tonal values and mask it in or out.
The key quality of the Lumenzia luminosity mask panel over other panels on the market is denoted by their operation. Most other panels, when the user starts making selections, the file size gets larger and larger. Lumenzia though keeps the file sizes at their original size. This feature alone is pretty attractive to a lot of users. Face it, a lot of photographers are using machines that are woefully underpowered for what we do. My computer fits that category. Hopefully, I will be looking at replacing it in the near future.
Some of the features that I am drawn to include the Dodge/Burn selection. This particular feature will create two masks, one for dodging and another for burning. It is fast and easy. Embedded within the same button is also the Sponge option. Just like the original Photoshop tool, the user can add or remove saturation from the image.
One feature that has been added to Lumenzia that has drawn my attention is the Sharpening feature. I cannot describe this and do it any justice, so here is a video that Greg did that highlights it:
I have messed around with it a little bit using the deconvolution method. To my eyes, it does a cleaner job sharpening.
WHY USE LUMINOSITY MASKS FOR MILKY WAY PHOTOGRAPHY
Luminosity masks have a reputation for being for landscape photography only. While the vast number of users stick with that philosophy, there is a small group that uses them for portrait photography. I do not really know many photographers who use luminosity masks for Milky Way photography. I will use them from time to time.
We do not think of a Milky Way image as having a wide dynamic range. Most of the scene will fall to the left of the histogram. Look at the stars though, they are the highlights, no pun intended. The core of the Milky Way can probably be considered falling into the mid-tone category.
With all of that being said though, I would not say that using luminosity masks for Milky Way photography is a must. From time to time, I will open up Lumenzia to select some parts of an image, say the stars, and give them just a little tweak to make them a hair brighter than what they really are. I might even select parts of the core with Lumenzia and tweak the mid-tones. If there is any type of image where “less is more” fits, it’s Milky Way images.
USING LUMENZIA FOR MILKY WAY POST PROCESSING
A few years ago, when the Lumenzia luminosity mask panel was on Version 4, I created a series of videos of my post-processing some imagery with Lumenizia.
Needless to say, you can really get selective with Lumenzia. The current version of Lumenzia is even more powerful, allowing the user to be even more selective.
Creator Greg Benz has been the consummate professional when it comes to Lumenzia. He fully supports the product and creates great content to compliment his product. The other great thing about Lumenzia is that with each release, the panel becomes more powerful and the gains are usually monumental.
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Thanks for this article! My goal this week was to finally understand the mystery that is luminosity masks. Edited my first image using this method – and holy crap, the results are much more natural.
You’re welcome Marybeth!
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