An Easy Way to Create Luminosity Masks

In a lot of genres, particularly landscape photography, luminosity masks are some of the most useful tools you can employ to make selective edits. This helpful video will show you a quick and effective shortcut for creating your own customized luminosity masks.

If you're not familiar with the concept of luminosity masks, they're pretty simple but tremendously powerful in the editing specificity they allow you. Landscape images tend to exhibit a ton of dynamic range, and because of this, photographers often want to segment their editing based on different brightness levels in the image, adding different toning to the highlights and shadows, etc. This is where a luminosity mask comes in, as it tells Photoshop to create a layer mask based on a certain range of brightness (or luminance) values in the image. In this helpful tutorial from Unmesh Dinda of PiXimperfect, you'll learn an alternative way of creating luminosity masks from the standard Channels method. I actually prefer the Color Range method, as it affords you a bit more control over exactly which luminance values are selected. It's a powerful technique that can really up your landscape editing skills, so give it a try!

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10 Comments

François Guillemin's picture

Great tutorial that made me think of using this method for sky replacement and it's probably the best and fastest way to do it. Thanks

Alex Cooke's picture

It's what I use for sky replacement the majority of the time.

Ignace Maenhaut van Lemberge's picture

Great technique and very well explained! Thanks Alex.

Sandro Loos's picture

Great video and techique. But i have a little problem with following it. Either i am somewhat blind or miss something.
If i go to color range and choose for example Highlights, i dont get the sliders for Range / Fuzziness. They are there but grayed out so i can't use them. Maybe anyone here can help? Thanks in advance.

Alex Cooke's picture

Kind of tough to know without seeing your work space. If you can post a screenshot somewhere, I can probably help.

Doesn't seem like it should take 32 minutes to demonstrate "an easy way to create luminosity masks." I like this guys techniques but he leans toward verbosity.

Unfortunately verbosity is the norm for those trying to sell and teach things today, especially online like on YouTube and in social media, where everyone wants to be a star.

Alex Cooke's picture

Did you actually watch the video? He spends about 90 seconds explaining the actual technique. The rest is covering the theory and purpose of luminosity masks, an example edit, variations on the technique, etc. It’s meant to be a complete lesson that conveys a deeper understanding, not a “parrot my technique” video.

I was going to but didn't have half an hour to spare. I get your point but I already understand the theory and purpose of luminosity masks. Oddly enough, rather than "A comprehensive discussion on the theory and purpose of luminosity masks, an example edit, variations on the technique, etc...", I was expecting, "An easy way to create luminosity masks". :-)
It seems to me, someone looking for an easy way to create anything, probably knows something about what they want to create. :-/
And what do you have against parrots?? ;-)

Edit: So I scrubbed past the luminosity theory and watched the technique. Pretty darn cool! I even watched some of the variations but started to drift off at 24 minutes so, hopefully, I didn't miss anything. :-)

Mike O'Leary's picture

That's Eagle's Nest mountain in Killarney National Park, Ireland. It's 30 minutes from my house. There, now you can sleep tonight.