The power of Luminosity Masks | Before and After

I've always been a fan of Minimalist Black and White Photography. In the past I've been using a combination of HDR Techniques, Nik Silver Effex Pro 2, and obviously Dodging and Burning. Recently, my friend Nolan Lister introduced me to Luminosity Masks, which John Onderstall a.k.a the Fox has been telling me about for some time. The concept behind LM's is that you break up the complete dynamic range in your image across numerous channels. Most people use a total of 18 - 21 different channels. I prefer working with 18, which means the 6 Highlight channels, 6 Mid-tone channels and 6 Shadow channels. By selecting a specific channel you can selectively increase, or decrease, the contrast for that channel only. This means improved contrast, which works great for black and white photography. 

After watching endless videos, and reading a book about Luminosity Masks, I decided to give it a try and nearly gave up on it! It is a fairly difficult process. Fortunately, I pulled through and was astounded with the result. One thing I've learned was that you have to have a vision on what tones you need to pop. It is not a mere software process, where the software does everything for you, and you hope for the best. This means complete control and endless masking and jumping between layers and channels. It is fun though!

We will be incorporating this system into our Architectural and Interior Photography Workshop as well as the Fine-Art Architectural Workshop. We're still working on the latter though. 

I am posting a before and after image. 

BEFORE 

This image is straight out of camera and then converted to black and white only. No tricks, apart from added exposure and contrast. As you can see it is really FLAT! 

AFTER 

To create this image, I used my standard workflow, which involves Lightroom Preparation, Nik Color Efex Pro, Dodging and Burning, Nik Silver Efex Pro II, and obviously improving the contrast using Luminosity Masks. The final image pops after selectively improving the contrast of specific elements. It is on the Money! 

SIDE BY SIDE

Penny for your thoughts

Have you tried out Luminosity masks before? Do you think you can use it in your photography? I would love to hear from you so leave your comments below...

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Comment by Kevin Richards on January 7, 2015 at 10:33

Impressive stuff.

I found the following link which although does not explain in detail how they work, it at least makes getting going with LM's a little easier: LM Tutorial and Action Set

Worth a look, but I would suggest reading some more in-depth material first/as well. I am definitely going to explore this technique.

Comment by Manie Groenewald on January 7, 2015 at 9:28

Hey Danie, This is awesome. You can even virtually redirect the direction of the light source.

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