Luminance Masking

March 18, 2004

Over the years I have been frustrated by the limitations imposed by film and digital single lens reflex cameras (DSLR's) in recording scenes with wide dynamic ranges. Many of the medium format (MF) digital backs are capable of recording a full range of tone in scenes that challenge film and DSLR's.

Not all conditions lend themselves to bringing along a MF digital back, nor can the relatively high cost be justified for some users. Since we have limitations imposed by the other tools, I've looked to techniques in Photoshop that can mimic the contrast masks that have been employed in traditional darkrooms.

With the power of Photoshop, we can now easily create masks based upon the luminosity of the image. The advantage of deriving these masks from the image is that they will appear far more realistic than drawing a mask by hand. It is also much faster. Letís use a shot of a scene with fairly high contrast.


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