Unlimited Learning from $8.25/month Learn More
Master Luminosity Masks, Chapter 01 2 Videos (7:34m)
  • 01 - Introduction to Luminosity Masks
  • 02 - Luminosity Masks vs. HDR
Master Luminosity Masks, Chapter 02 3 Videos (45:11m)
  • 01 - How to Exposure Bracket: Expand the Dynamic Range of a Camera
  • 02 - How to Use Luminosity Masks with RAW and Smart Objects
  • 03 - How to Use Our Custom Luminosity Mask Action
Master Luminosity Masks, Chapter 03 5 Videos (2:36h)
  • 01 - How to Blend Multiple Exposures with Luminosity Masks
  • 02 - How to Add Realistic Color with Luminosity Masks
  • 03 - How to Recover Bright Skies in a Landscape Photo
  • 04 - How to Blend Shutter Speeds of a Waterfall Landscape
  • 05 - How to Blend Exposures and Color from Start to Finish

Home  >  PRO Tutorials  >  PRO Photoshop  >  How to Master Luminosity Masks in Photoshop

CREATE STUNNING LANDSCAPES WITH LUMINOSITY MASKS

ORIGINAL

Better than HDR – Master Luminosity Masks in Photoshop

Description

Have you ever tried to take a picture of a jaw-dropping landscape only to have the sky be washed out and overexposed or the ground be dark and without detail. Until now, HDR was the only option to get detail across highlights, midtones, and shadows but would often lead to exaggerated effects and unrealistic images. Our cutting-edge Luminosity Mask technique in Photoshop will forever change the way you combine exposures!

In this tutorial, we walk you through how to manually blend exposures using the power and flexibility of Luminosity Masks. You will learn to create selections based on light levels and then use those selections to paint detail back into your photos. Better yet, we have included a custom-made Photoshop Action that makes this powerful process faster and easier than ever!

What’s Included

10 Video Tutorials   |   11 Sample Images   |   Luminosity Mask Photoshop Actions

Get Started Here: Pick Your Option
Starting at $8.25/month – Unlimited Streaming
$49.99/once – Instant Download

Free Section – Luminosity Masks vs. HDR

HDR and Luminosity Masks can both expand the dynamic range of your image. However, only Luminosity Masks give you the ability to customize and refine exposures for a more realistic effect. Learn how they differ here!

RECOVER HIGHLIGHTS & SHADOWS

ORIGINAL

What are Luminosity Masks?

An uncommon Photoshop term with a simple definition, Luminosity Masks are tools that you can use in Photoshop to show or hide areas of an image based on the brightness of that area. Have an area that’s too bright? You can make a selection of only the highlights and then use a mask to hide and replace those areas with a better exposure.

Luminosity Masks vs. HDR

HDR is an automated process performed by a piece of software such as Lightroom or your smartphone’s camera application. Luminosity Masks are Photoshop tools which let you manually blend exposures together. While both can create great images, Luminosity Masks give you the ability to customize and refine your image, often yielding more realistic results. It’s sort of like comparing SpaghettiOs to your Grandmother’s homemade pasta. SpaghettiOs are nice (and sometimes necessary) but we would much rather take the trip to Grandma’s.

Fix Underexposed & Overexposed Photos

In this tutorial, we show you how to combine multiple exposures to create one seamless final image. Luminosity Masks allow you to combine exposures to recover information from the brightest highlights to the darkest shadows. This will ensure that your photos fully capture the depth and detail in a scene. We even show you how you can take advantage of Luminosity Masks when you only have one photo available!

ENHANCE COLOR WITH LUMINOSITY MASKS

ORIGINAL

Working With RAW

When it comes to making adjustments to an image, nothing comes close to working with RAW files in Adobe Camera RAW. Editing RAW allows you to edit and sculpt the original information captured by your camera’s sensor. This means changes that will look ultra-realistic in the final image. For an in-depth look at RAW workflow, be sure to watch our tutorial How to Master Adobe Camera RAW in Photoshop!

Create Stunning Landscape Photos

Shooting outdoors comes with its own unique challenges. You are often shooting an area that has a large, bright light source (the sun and sky) against an area that is much darker (the ground). Luminosity Masks are a phenomenal tool to help make the most out of your landscape images, allowing you to capture all the details of the sky and landscape below.

Color Adjustments

Luminosity Masks are great at helping us blend exposures but they can also be a powerful tool for coloring our images. By combining accurate selections based off of light levels with the flexibility of RAW, we can make dynamic changes to the color in our images that are both stunning and realistic.

IMPROVE DYNAMIC RANGE

ORIGINAL

RECOVER SKY DETAIL

ORIGINAL

Beautiful, Dramatic Skies

It can be tough to capture a bright, beautiful sunset and dark, moody clouds while still expecting your camera to capture all of the color and details. In this tutorial, we walk you through several examples where we take a boring sky and transform it into something extraordinary by combining multiple exposures of the same scene.

Working With RAW

When it comes to making adjustments to an image, nothing comes close to working with RAW files in Adobe Camera RAW. Editing RAW allows you to edit and sculpt the original information captured by your camera’s sensor. This means changes that will look ultra-realistic in the final image. For an in-depth look at RAW workflow, be sure to watch our tutorial How to Master Adobe Camera RAW in Photoshop!

Included Photoshop Action

By now, we hope you’re impressed by the potential of Luminosity Masks. But what if we told you that you can harness the power of these incredible tools AND make it happens in half the time? We have created a custom Photoshop Action that can be used on any image to quickly and accurately create several selections based on light levels in the image.

PERFECT FOR INTERIORS & ARCHITECTURE

ORIGINAL

Enhance Detail in Any Photo

While landscapes are a great use for Luminosity Masks, any photo can take advantage of this powerful tool. Shooting a portrait or other interiors against bright windows? You can use the techniques we teach to make sure your subject looks great while still bringing in some of the detail from outside.

Learn Photo Bracketing

Not only do we show you the post-production process for combining multiple exposures but we also provide essential tips and tricks for capturing all of the exposures you’ll need in-camera. Learn how to optimize your camera settings for photo bracketing and take properly exposed images for the highlights, midtones, and shadows.

Joshua Cripps

Landscape Photographer, Educator

Special thanks to Joshua Cripps for providing his incredible landscape photos in 16-bit RAW for download in this tutorial.

Not only is Joshua an acclaimed landscape photographer, he also teaches in person workshops and online tutorials.

Learn Professional

Photo Editing.Retouching.Compositing.RAW Processing.Photography.

Become the professional you have always wanted to be.

Unlimited Streaming from $8.25/month.

Reviews

  1. Rated 5 out of 5

    Another treat tutorial, one of the best I have ever followed, even in here. The way you presented the luminosity mask technique is quite understandable and make the approach much easier. Congratulations for this piece of art!

  2. Rated 5 out of 5

    yet again, another excellent selection of tutorials, to further my progress ,to become competent, in the use of photoshop

  3. Rated 5 out of 5

    This tutorial is very technical – not made for anyone looking for quick/simple editing solutions. However, it is GREAT! I had been looking for ways to control different lightings without creating a hallo effect… THERE it is! It’s time consuming, but worth it at the end!

  4. Rated 5 out of 5

    This was great. It was easy to follow.

  5. Rated 5 out of 5

    I have been implementing your tutorials for a long time. Your Tutorial(s) have expanded my abilities above and beyond and I feel very confident in all that I do in post. The only comment I have on this luminosity masking is that you never addressed actually making the masks themselves. You did give us an action but I would have liked to know how to create the luminosity masks themselves for my future reference. The other techniques you put forth along with this technique has once again really changed my work in Photoshop and my understanding of the whole process Thank you.

  6. Rated 5 out of 5

    Great presentation Aaron; everything we’d always wanted to know. I have one request. I find I’m stopping and starting frequently as I try to work along with you. I might re-run some sections two or three times just to get the hang of it before going on. What would really help would be some way to stop, start and rewind really quickly. Pressing the space bar generally will stop and start the video but the arrow keys do not rewind or forward as they can do on some You Tube videos. Right now, I have Photoshop on one screen and you on the other. Consequently, I’m diving from one to the other.

  7. Rated 5 out of 5

    I’ve been waiting for you to do luminosity tutorial for YEARS! I am serious! I think I even tweeted you about it once a few years back! Finally it is here! and it is great. All the other luminosity actions I bought were so convoluted and confusing, not fun! This is a simple approach that brings extraordinary results! I love HDR, but I hate the software… This is exactly what I”ve been looking for… Thank you!

  8. Rated 5 out of 5

    Incredible technique. I really enjoyed this tutorial!

  9. Rated 5 out of 5

    After never touching channels and dodge and burning by hand, the idea that i could get non-chunky selections from my channels in this way just blew my mind. I can’t wait to use this on my next set of photos to see how I can really push my images! Also the delivery and teaching style is so dang friendly and approachable, and I love that he even “messes up” sometimes as he experiments (much like I do) to find the path from A-B, it makes it so much more relateable.

  10. Rated 5 out of 5

    Absolutely brilliant. A must-have technique to get the most from any picture.

  11. Rated 5 out of 5

    There is not much to say that has not already been said! Luminosity masks were always something I know I needed to get into but any other tutorial just confused me. After going through this tutorial a light was switched on, the pace and the way the information was presented made everything much more clear. Thank you and keep up the great work.

  12. Rated 5 out of 5

    Hi Aaron, thank you so much for your tutorials and your advice to make better photos. Phlearn tutorials are outstandingly good.

  13. Rated 5 out of 5

    Love you tutorials and this one is fantastic: going in depth but keeping it light and down to the point. Continue with greatness!

  14. Rated 4 out of 5

    Another great tutorial. Really amazing the power of luminosity masking and the creativité it gives. Only one regret: I would have loved to learn how to record the actions you provide for luminosity masks (I think we can learn more by doing it by ourself). Thanks for your job Aaron

  15. Rated 5 out of 5

    This is another great tutorial from Phlearn! I’ve never used Luminosity masks before, but now im hooked!! I want to use them on every photo now! I can’t wait to take my photography to the next level! Onto the next one! 🙂

  16. Rated 5 out of 5

    I’ve been shooting for over twenty years and currently teach photography to grade school through college aged students. I love Phlearn and use it as an excellent resource for myself and my students. He is entertaining and makes the material approachable and fun.

  17. Rated 5 out of 5

    Excellent tutorial. This was just in time for learning the details of this technique as I was photographing a lake home with three levels of windows overlooking the lake. The inside light and outside light were very far apart, and luminosity masking brought the exposures together to make a natural looking image. In the processing of the job, I combined images of differing exposures and also created various exposures from one image file. I learned how to do that from this tutorial. When the magazine publisher saw the final images, she replied, “Stunning! Great work – so impressed!” Thank you for making this tutorial. I look forward to learning from many more. I would encourage others to subscribe to Phlearn. The value far outweighs the investment.

  18. Rated 5 out of 5

    This tutorial helped me more than any other information I have seen on this subject. Aaron’s passion for this art shines through brilliantly on this video.

  19. Rated 5 out of 5

    All the tutorials I’ve watched have been helpful to one degree or another but, as a landscape photographer, this is the one I’ve been waiting for. Thanks soooo much.

  20. Rated 5 out of 5

    Great tutorial yet again! I’m just wondering why, when I paint white on my black layer mask, I can paint outside the marching ants of my selected clouds when tryin to enhance clouds in my picture!

  21. Rated 5 out of 5

    Aaron, I have just completed your tutorial on luminosity masking and I am sitting here totally amazed! It took me a little time to grasp the fundamentals (this I put down to my 67 years of age). I went through the lessons slowly at first but soon got up to speed. The quality of your presentation made it so easy to follow the workflows involved ain all aspects of this course. From now it will be my first port of call in post processing. Astonishing is an understatement. You have made it so much easier for me to to make masterpieces (?) from my meagre Raw images. No longer do I have to sit looking at my my pics in ACR wondering what to do next. Much appreciated, cheers, Roy.

  22. Rated 5 out of 5

    Thank you so much for pulling this altogether. The actions are a gift that will keep on giving. As always, Aaron’s presentation is so simple and straightforward. I wish I had seen this before spending so much money on other systems and software . . . it not only is far less expensive, but it is easier and gives me much more control.

  23. Rated 5 out of 5

    What more can I say that has’nt all ready been sed. So clear as you went a long. Repeting thing, time again. Luminosity is my to go.

  24. Rated 5 out of 5

    Many thanks for a brilliant tutorial! So well explained and instructive.

  25. Rated 5 out of 5

    This is one of the best tutorial you have produced. A must for landscape photographers. Keep up the good work. BRILLIANT !

  26. Rated 5 out of 5

    Super job Aaron. Never left a review before for any tutorial but this deserves one. I have bought other Luminosity Mask panels (and their tutorials) however this is, by a distance, the best tutorial on Luminosity Masks out there. Clarity of explanation was super. Editing in time with you made a huge difference for me. 👍

  27. Rated 5 out of 5

    Brilliant tutorial. I have tried some other Luminosity Mask systems but the Phlearn one is so good because at the end of it I really understood how the masks are created and how they can be tailored to my own needs

  28. Rated 5 out of 5

    Great tutorial! Thanks, Aaron! You made it easy to understand. I had to replay parts to get it right, but now I think I have a good understanding of it, I just need to use it more on my own photos so it sinks in. I think this is your best tutorial so far, although I haven’t watched all of your Pro tutorials yet. Keep up the good work!

  29. Rated 5 out of 5

    Just watched Master Luminosity Masks, it was amazing. Love the actions. Aaron I have watched 2 other tutorials on this same subject an found them very complicated and learned nothing. I found your tutorial very easy to follow and because you went through the process a few times I had it down by the last example. I have practiced on a few my by old images and they came out amazing .. Thanks And Great Job Tony Mule

  30. Rated 5 out of 5

    Great tutorial! Explained the use of luminosity mask very in depth! Can you do a tutorial on selective colour? You used it in the first picture and it really brought out the greens! But I don’t get how neutrals effect the greens!🧐

  31. Rated 5 out of 5

    Aaron, excellent tutorial, for the first time I feel I really understand Luminosity mask and how to use them properly. Many thanks and keep up the great work.

  32. Rated 5 out of 5

    Great set of instructions. If you want to learn about luminosity masking, this is the instruction for you. Great job Aaron

  33. Rated 5 out of 5

    Hey Aaron, thanks for making this tutorial, I’ve been waiting for this one for a while as other tutorials on luminosity masking aren’t as exhaustive. I picked up some things and also learned more about how to incorporate luminosity masking into my workflow. The actions are also great as they give a quick way to get smooth transitions between tones. Thanks again!

  34. Rated 5 out of 5

    I’ve used these before, but walking through how to use them to great effect, and the easy workflow for masks, has been great. I’m really excited to use these on my own landscapes!

  35. Rated 5 out of 5

    I was waiting for this type of Tutorial! Thank you so much PHLEARN! <3

  36. Rated 2 out of 5

    Loved the Photoshop action. Love the info. But you say…OKAY! in a high pitch about 5-10 times a minute and it is exhausting. Please work on that…Okay?!….Great product…Okay?!…Keep up the good work…Okay?! Just for sh@ts and giggles have your editor just isolate the okay’s and make a compilation video. I think you’ll see what I mean. No offense intended. Peace and love…Okay?!

  37. Rated 5 out of 5

    Well that cleared up a lot for me… this may be one of the more useful tutorials Ive seen in awhile. Definitely beats having to manually mask out everything by hand or pen. As always, Aarons style is simple, direct & loaded with good info. Thank you for this one. 🙂

  38. Rated 5 out of 5

    Aaron, fantastic tutorial. I’ve been using Luminosity Masks but you have taken it to a whole new level. The actions are extremely useful! Thank you!

  39. Rated 5 out of 5

    THIS WAS EPIC!!!!!!! Blew my mind multiple times; holy cow, I’ve been doing things the hard way! Thank you Aaron for enlightening me. Alldaron

  40. Rated 5 out of 5

    Aaron, brillant these lessons, normaly I use Tony Kuiper Luminosity mask but your explanation is the best.

  41. Rated 5 out of 5

    I have been using Luminosity masks for some time and have to say I wish Aaron taught this a few years ago with his teaching style. I have learned some additional tips from this tutorial! I actually use a different action panel which had suited me well but this one is great start for beginners.

FAQ

This tutorial includes 11 sample images, 10 video tutorials, Luminosity Mask Photoshop Actions and Advanced Sharpening Photoshop Actions.

Yes! PRO Tutorials can be downloaded after individual purchase. All of our PRO tutorials are available for purchase in our Tutorial Shop.

Not only do PRO Subscribers get unlimited access to stream our entire library of tutorials, they also receive exclusive discounts when purchasing individual course downloads. Downloads are not included in PRO Subscriptions.

Yes! Any course downloads purchased individually are yours to keep forever!

Your download will always be available here at PHLEARN.com. We also recommend backing up the tutorial files somewhere safe like an external hard drive or USB drive.

PHLEARN PRO Subscribers can stream every tutorial on staging-phlearn.kinsta.com. Video downloads are available only after purchasing a tutorial individually. Any tutorial may be purchased in the Tutorial Shop.

We suggest using the latest version of Photoshop, but our tutorials are designed to be compatible with CS4, CS5, CS6 & Photoshop CC.

You’ll find answers to some of the most common questions in our Help Center. If what you need isn’t covered, you can submit a question to our all-star customer support team and they’ll get back to you right away!

Yes! In addition to being able to download individually purchased courses, you’ll receive full access to stream them via PHLEARN.com as well.

We start from the very beginning and cover all the tools and techniques you need .If you are new to Photoshop, we recommend watching the Photoshop Basics Collection and Photoshop 101-301 to familiarize yourself with all of the tools and capabilities that the software has to offer.