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The Best Photoshop Extension Panel you Don’t Know About

October 29, 2019

today I want to share with you what’s
probably the best Photoshop extension panel that you’ve never heard of as a
landscape photographer something that I tend to use quite frequently in
Photoshop are luminosity masks. luminosity masks allow you to target
different areas of your image based on how bright or dark those areas are so if
you look at this image for example I may want to target this dark area here and
increase the saturation increase the contrast in it to make the color stand
out some of the light areas for example though they may be a little bit too
bright and prevent you from seeing the detail in them so you may want to reduce
those now the problem of luminosity masks is that they’re not really easy to
create let me show you what I mean if I go to the channels window and I want to
create my first mask I could hold down my command key and click on the RGB
Channel and that will load the luminance values of that channel as a selection
and I can then save that as a new Channel and here we have alpha 1 if I
want to create a mass snow that targets even lighter areas but ignores the other
areas I have to know create a new mask from this and I can do that by holding
down shift alt and command and clicking on that channel this time if I save it
you’ll see that the areas that in the previous mask work live sort of mid told
and no darker meaning that they’re not selected and I can continue that process so each time on creating a mask that
targets a lighter and lighter areas in the image if I want to go and target
darker areas I have to create a new series of masks so let’s go back to the
first mask I created and we’ll load that again and this time I need to create a
new mask from it I’m going to invert it an immediate way I’ve done it wrong I’ve
created a problem because I didn’t remove my selection at the start so I’m
going to have to go back and undo that and now I’ll remove my selection then I
can actually invert it and now I can start the process again and so each of these masks will target
different areas of the image depending on their tones and that is a set of
luminosity mass and as you’ve seen it’s very easy to make mistakes now you can
remove some of that by creating actions that will automate it but that leaves
you with another problem you’ve got all these channels that exist then in the
image and they all add size and bloats to the image files the alternative
approach to creating masks is one of creating them on the fly you create the
mask that you need as you need it and this is where this new piece of software
comes in it’s called mask equalizer it has series
of sliders that represent the tonal range from darks through to lights and
then you’ve got these sliders that you can move up and down now as you move
them up and down what you’re doing is you’re creating a mask so here I’ve got
a selection of the very darkest tones in the image and also the ones that are
almost as dark now that I’m moving these sliders around is creating a mask for me
on the fly and you can see that here the darkest tones are now black and the
lighter tones are white in the mask now that’s probably the reverse of what we
want for selecting these areas here in this area but all we have to do is click
on our mask and use the properties window and invert it and now we’ve got a
selection at the very darkest areas in our image now let me just load that mask now when I add a new adjustment the mask is now added to that adjustment
and now I can actually target adjustments on to the areas that we were
looking at now the darkest areas of the image have now got this very strong
contrast adjustment and I’ve applied to them so you can see that the area here
has become intensely red and contrasted because of the adjustment in the curves
layer and the sames also happen to them the foreground here which now appears
sharper and it really is as simple as that if I find that I want a different
mask I can go back to eat my mask and now I can go back to my mask equalizer
and this time I could use maybe different selections here and I’ll use
that to select the lighter areas of the image and then we can target those with
an adjustment as well now the thing is I don’t have to just use the luminosity
values it gives me access to go for the red green blue or even saturation of the
image and that will allow me to create these masks and you can turn a mask
preview on or off as you’re creating them as well as turn on the effect I’ll
turn off the effect then you don’t even have to use the sliders individually as
I have here you can go for one of these presets so we’ve got the shadows we’ve
got mid-tones we’ve got the highlights or we’ve got the very useful shadows and
highlights and of course once you’ve created one of these masks you can
either use it like that or you can go to your properties window for the mask and
then you can invert it and you can feather it and you can change the
density interestingly though the mask equalizer
itself will actually also give you some of those features if I pull down here
you can see we’ve got the ability to adjust the contrast of the mask and
we’ve got a feather option and we can reduce the density of the mask so all of
these things are easily available in that very very simple interface and
that’s what I really like about this it’s a simple interface that gives you
access to very very powerful masking features straight away you don’t have to
go through the complicated process of creating masks or have lots and lots of
masks in your channels window you only have the mask that you’re actually
working on personally I find this a great improvement over creating all
those luminosity masks and channels and the ability to target individual tones
in this way is very very flexible and powerful and if you want to know the
company that’s behind this mask equalizer I’ll put the details down
below in the information I’ll also stress that I’m in no way connected to
the company and I’ve paid for and bought this software myself I actually bought
it as part of a bundle didn’t think I was going to need this masking tool and
when I tried it I was simply blown away by how useful it was I hope you found
this interesting I’m Robin Whalley you’ve been watching the lenscraft I’ll
see you next week for another video


  • Reply Jorge November 28, 2018 at 4:04 pm

    Thanks for a good/informative tutorial Robin. In my view, if I were to invest in a luminosity extension panel, I would go with Lumenzia. The price of both tools is roughly the same but as you pointed out Lumenzia is more powerful and apparently simple to use. However, On One Photo Raw, Luminix and Affinity Photo now have powerful masking functions, hence I question if an extension panel for Photoshop would be money well spent. Jorge.

  • Reply John A November 28, 2018 at 5:43 pm

    Thanks Robin, an interesting plug in which is possibly easier to use than the well known luminosity mask plug ins.  Is 'Mask Equalizer' self feathering like Tony K's etc. or do you need to always apply a feather to the masking in order to prevent artefacts?

  • Reply Andrew Kinsey November 28, 2018 at 6:47 pm

    Thanks Robin, an interesting piece do software that I must admit I am not familiar with. It seems a bit clunky and you have to make lots of selection to refine the area you are interested in. For my money you can't beat Blake Rudis' Zone System Express, it is also a PS panel / plugin and if far easier to use with much greater control over the areas you need to mask / select. I'd urge you to give it a try. Many thanks for all your videos as you are one of my first places to go for good photography information over a wide range of topics – keep up the good work.

  • Reply jay ward November 28, 2018 at 9:05 pm

    good video asalways. the plugin is a bit pricey however. cheers

  • Reply mstphoto99 November 29, 2018 at 12:59 am

    Cheers Robin.
    An interesting tutorial and well explained.
    For LM, I use Jimmy McIntyre's Raya Pro 3 – a very powerful plug-in and quite easy to use

  • Reply R Garlin November 29, 2018 at 6:07 am

    Thanks for the exposition, RW. I too have Rudis' and McIntyre's plug-ins – oh and Benz's too (can't resist these tools…🙄). I can see how this Mask Equalizer simplifies things… time to crack open my piggy-bank, I guess.

  • Reply Steve McKenzie November 29, 2018 at 10:05 am

    Thanks Robin. The company produces some interesting plugins. Can I ask what bundle the Mask Equalizer panel came with?

  • Reply William Petit November 29, 2018 at 5:43 pm

    Can you do this in Affinity photo?

  • Reply CastalianVisions December 16, 2018 at 12:51 pm

    I personally find those panels that can do about everything – excepting perhaps make a good cuppa tea – too complicated. Too mucg click here, and next click there if…, etc.
    That's what I like about this one: it does what it claims it can do, and nothing more.
    I purchased the Mask-Frequency Separation Pro bundle for, including Eauropean VAT, less than 70Euro.
    These two plugins are very easy to use – I do have Greg Benz' panel also for more complicated situations and real Zone Masking.
    Thanks a lot, Robin (we never met but it's Internet habit to call one-another buy first names, just like old friends). This is, for the money it costs, a real time-saver, and, indeed, one of the best-kept secrets in the Photoshop world.

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