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Luminosity masks are a fantastic way to start creating top quality, clean images. They allow you not just to blend exposures much more cleanly than HDR software, but also to take control over your entire workflow. This beginner’s tutorial will show you the basics of exposure blending, how to layer in Photoshop and which exposures to use in blending. You will also see the Easy Panel used in creating ideal 16 bit masks. You can download my example images here to follow along:…

22 thoughts on “Essential Luminosity Mask Tutorial For Beginners – Photoshop Guide

  1. CJ L says:

    Thank you so much for this amazing tutorial. I couldn't understand luminosity mask until I watched your video. You are a wonderful teacher!!! Thanks!!!

  2. JosanAlonso says:

    Hi Jimmy!
    I see the first time you create the masks (you choose mask 6), is from the brighter "layer 0", (minute 10:30), but the two last ones you create them ( you chosse mask 1 and mask 2), you do it from the darker "layer 1"…. (minute 12:44 and 13:50). Why?

  3. Norbert Cini says:

    Thanks Jim, your tutorials are excellent.

  4. thanks Jim and more tutorials on easy panel landscape, thanks very much

  5. Alan Alain says:

    Seat belt newbies…

  6. What a fabulous tutorial. I have always been mystified by luminosity masks and afraid to even try them, but you really broke it down in an understandable fashion. Will definitely be looking at your software! Thank you.

  7. Dzengiz Tafa says:

    Amazing tutorial. @ 15:10 you mention the black edging around the trees & said that it's easy to fix, but you'll keep it for another tutorial. Do you already have a tutorial like that or can you point me in the right direction to fix those issues? Really learned a lot from your tutorials. Keep it up!

  8. how to instal the easy panel on a Mac? since you using a Mac

  9. mfstudio says:

    JImmy thank you for a great tutorial!

  10. This is amazing, Thank you Jimmy.

  11. Harry says:

    Thank you for the video. Is the Castle image at 21:04 is your final edit or still some works need to be done.

  12. If we got a bracketing of the scene I see the advantage of using the luminosity mask applied to one of the exposures with the base exposure in the bottom. However, many times we have one exposure and some tutorials generates the different exposures based on copies adjusted with curves. In such cases, is there any difference if I just apply the masks of luminosity to a series of curves and test each one adjust better the photo? Usually, I create 6 curves with different luminosity masks levels and looking at the curves PS adjust the curve showing the levels only for the pixels after applied the mask indicating the luminosity level region that curve would adjust.

  13. Brett Voss says:

    I am a 100% self taught photographer and I have found my 10+ year journey to be a series of 'lightbulb moments' but these lightbulbs only turn on when I'm ready for them. I have visited this topic, and this particular video, in the past but put it all in the too hard basket. Lately I have found myself wanting to revisit luminosity masking but I was still struggling… until today. After watching this again, the 'lightbulb' has turned on big time and it all makes perfect sense. I am now excited for the next part of my photographic journey and I would like to say a HUGE thankyou for sharing your knowledge.

  14. Just ordered Raya Pro 4 plus the course. A friend recommended your approach for Astro. I’m looking forward to trying it on some bracketed landscapes from the last. Thought I’d check you out first and you’ve sold me within the first couple of minutes of your video, just your easy way of explaining.

  15. Phil Caffrey says:

    Hi Jimmy. I like this tutorial – thanks. I have been thinking about the question you pose at around 14'25" relating to the ability within PS to make multiple passes of the brush to reinforce the effect of brushing in the selection. In my experience, this is related to relative "strength" of the selection made from the luminosity masks. In other words, if is use an LM where there is a sunset, with lots of highlights in the sky but also a good deal of darkening sky, and very heavy shadows in the foreground for instance, I find I can quickly recover the highlights with one pass of the brush and further passes don't have any impact, but that the darker sky will continue to be affected with multiple passes irrespective of the flow setting on my brush. I think of this almost like the LM's degrees of greyness being the driver of this behaviour – where my LM starts off the most white (in the channels panel rather than in the normal layer mask – this is the key), the brush has an instant effect, but as the degree of greyness (in the mask) increases across the sky, more brush strokes are needed as the pixels are covered by grey. It's like the LM is a neutral density filter. As the grey on the mask darkens, it becomes harder and harder for me to brush away the mask with my white brush but I will still be able to do it for any selection that is anything other than black on the LM (in the channels panel) as when the selection is loaded into the layer, only those pixels which are 100% black in the original LM will be the ones in the selection. This hypothesis is supported by your tip in the tutorial to pick a mask that is going to do a good job of grading the transitions – these are the masks with the greatest control, but some care is still needed and in some cases, with an LM that was a bit less contrasty to start with, there may be a need for some careful brush work after the selection has been deactivated. LMs are fantastic, and this tutorial is one of the best – thanks for your work.

  16. Polyktor says:

    Hey Jimmy,
    I'm a huge fan of all your tutorials and panels! thx!
    at 14:15 you said, that you are not sure, why it is possible to reenforce the selection by multiple times of painting over. Isn't that just the case because the selection is like 60% in that region. So even a brush with 100% opacity&flow is just applied with 60% strength (based on the selection 'strength' locally) and thus it leads to a 60% grey on your mask? and if you paint over a second time, you just add a bit again? (opacity is 100% so it keeps adding the color of your brush until you hit 100% black)
    greetings from Germany!

  17. Helheimr says:

    Ok, you convinced me, i bought the raya pro 4.0 and the exposure blending course!

  18. Regan Neale says:

    Amazing video. Very well conveyed and informative! I now have the confidence to try this myself.

  19. Dave Metcalf says:

    Just giving the easy panel a test drive… this along with your helpful videos has opened up a new world! Thank you 🙂

  20. Thank you for the informative tutorial. Will be using for my future projects.

  21. Thank you sooooooooo much for sharing such priceless tutorial

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