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Alex Hare Photography

Tony Kuyper’s Luminosity Masks V4 Panel
Post Production & Digital Imaging Techniques

Jul 8th 2016

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Tony Kuyper’s Luminosity Masks (LM) Action set is now in its 4th Edition; the V4 Panel.  This post is a summary of why I use it and why I think it’s the best on the market.  There's also a introductory video I've made on using the panel which offers a visual demonstration of what a Luminosty Mask selection is and how to make one with the V4 panel, just click here.

Why Do I Use Them?

I think Tony’s actions are invaluable and I use them in my landscape photography post production work.  For the modest fee he charges I think they offer incredible value for money plus he gives very good email support for queries on using them. 

​When you buy the actions, Tony supplies a complete user guide with detailed written instructions on using them. Additionally, fellow photographer Sean Bagshaw has invested significant time in producing an excellent set of ‘How To’ videos demonstrating how the actions work and are used in a post production workflow.  For German speakers, Andre Distel has produced a set of videos too and these are all availble from Tony's site too.

As LM’s are fairly advanced, both conceptually and in using them, the videos are immensely helpful and they use Tony’s V4 Panel, rather than those of any other supplier, which makes them a good companion guide.  Sean’s background in education makes his explanation of how to use these Actions very accessible and I think, together, they offer a lot of value for money, especially given the price of other post production software/plugins with much more limited scope for transforming our image worksflow.

Why Tony's Actions and not anyone elses?

Other LM action sets are out there so why have I settled on this offering from Tony?  I’ve had a cursory look at other, similar actions available from other suppliers and, put simply the V4 panel offers the most functionality and the broadest application of all the most useful functionality that Photoshop offers the photographer.  Let me explain.

Most of the functionality a photographer needs in Photoshop is distributed amongst a variety of windows, menus, sub menus, some bits in Bridge (or Lightroom) and of course all the various adjustment layers and selection tools.  There can be a lot of skirting around with the mouse and masny, many clicks here and there to achieve what you set out to do with your image.

Tony’s V4 panel centralises all this functionality into one place, putting it on a top level on our screen so that everything we need (from all the basic functions Photoshop offers through to his complex masking actions) is immediately accessible to us in one single panel.  It’s this broader application and functionality of the V4 Panel that makes it head and shoulders above other LM action sets as these tend to confine themselves to just LM’s only as opposed to also centralisng all the most common tools we need in Photoshop.

Why I like the latest Panel

the Version 3 panel was good, but this V4 Panel is even more user friendly and packs even more funtionality into it.  From handy web resizing actions through to complex masking, it's all their in one place.  

Specifically, the new panel has a great feature called ‘View’ where you get a red toned overlay on your image which shows exactly which bits of your shot are being selected.  The more red you see the stronger the selection.  Here’s an example:

If we switch to the more regular view of a selection, Photoshop will indicate pixels selected (but only those that are more than 50% selected) via the traditional 'marching ants' indicator:

The marching ants show pixels that are more than 50% selected, the question is which other pixels are being selected (albeit less than 50% selected) and where are they in my image?  Any adjustment I make will affect them too, after all.

Here we see the familiar marching ants for a Lights 5 selection.  What we dont know is where all these 'Lights 5' pixels are in the image; there's lots of stuff that is 'light' so it's handy to see exactly where they are before we make any adjustments and to check our selection has targeted the tones we want to adjust.

So, we press the View button and we get the red overlay which shows us all the lightest pixels in the image and how strongly they are affected.  It helps ensure you don’t brush into any areas you don’t need to and also to be mindful of changes that may occur in areas you’d prefer to leave alone.  It also reassures me that my selection is a good one for the sun because this is completely red so my adjustment will have a strong impact on this area but leave everything else alone, such as the surroiunding sea which I dont want to affect when I do something to the sun, such as make it less bright, for example.

Other great features are the colour selection options, whilst not as sophisticated as LM selections they are handy when you can see a colour (blue sky for example) and want to make adjustments to it based on a selection all the blues in the shot.

I also find the new design layout much more intuitive-the tone gradient behind the buttons helps give a visual reference to what each button/selection is doing tone wise and it’s easy to move from the various ways of making a selection (LM, zones, or subtracted masks) to settle on the right one for the selection you’re trying to make. 

Summary

So even if you've never used a Luminosity Mask, the V4 panel would still offer a multitude of basic Photoshop functionality for speeding up your workflow.  For example, calling up a Curves adjustment layer requires 2 clicks in Photshop whereas with Tony’s panel it’s one click.  Doesn’t seem like much but it’s actually 50% quicker, which when you extrapolate across all the hundreds or thousands of clicks in a complex image's post production workflow it does make a big difference!

A detailed summary of all the buttons is something you can read in the user guide Tony supplies.  To help better understand LM's for those new to it I’ve made this short video on how the panel works in practice and also what a LM selection is and how we can use it in our photography.

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