Get Ready to Fly
If you've made it this far, hopefully you have a better appreciation, and perhaps some excitement, about what luminosity masks can do for your pictures. I encourage you to experiment and play with the techniques discussed here and hopefully find some new ways to develop your images.
Since it takes multiple mouse clicks and keystrokes to actually create luminosity masks, automating the process in Photoshop is the logical next step. Once you understand the concepts behind the masks, Photoshop can do all the hard work of making any mask or even multiple masks easy and efficient. Experimenting with luminosity masks becomes a natural part of the developing workflow when Photoshop does all the heavy lifting. It's also a lot of fun to see what these masks can do once you have them readily available.
The Panels & Videos page has a couple of free options to help you get started. For Photoshop Elements and pre-CS6 versions of Photoshop, there is a set of actions that can be downloaded and installed to make all the masks in this tutorial. But to make the process even easier, I've also created a free Photoshop extension panel for Photoshop CS6 and Photoshop CC. This panel generates luminosity masks with a single button click. There are also output options programmed into the panel to make deploying the masks into your workflow a one-click process. If you really want to dive into luminosity masks, the extension panel is the best option. When you're ready, the Panels & Videos page also has more comprehensive panels and videos available to makes sure you can make the most of these exciting techniques.
Since writing this tutorial, I've never stopped experimenting with luminosity and other pixel based-masks like saturation, color, and channel masks. These masks have changed the way I approach images both in the field and in Photoshop. The image below is a more recent example that was processed primarily with masks generated from my latest extension panel. If you roll the mouse over the image, you can see the unprocessed RAW file. As with luminosity masks, creating images like this takes some practice initially, but once you get a feel for what these masks can do, you'll continually and confidently find new ways to make them part of your creative workflow. These masks will change the way you process images, and in doing so, you will create truly signature pictures that reflect your personal approach to photography.