Luminosity masks: why raw HDR is the best HDR

Luminosity masks: why raw HDR is the best HDR

Common questions about raw HDR and luminosity masking


Are there any pitfalls I should be aware of?

Err on the side of over-lightening shadows and pulling back highlights a bit too far. The darkest shadows will be preserved in the highlights edit, and the brightest highlights in the shadow edit, so if need be you can reveal them when you combine the images.

It’s best to stick to Exposure adjustments, and Blacks for your shadows version, then make further edits to the composite image if desired.

You’ll be starting with an optimised exposure, and you shouldn’t need to make more than a few minor tweaks, so image quality shouldn’t be an issue.

Any tips for creating the luminosity selection?

The lighter an area is in the mask, the more that part of the layer will be revealed. The key point here is that we’re not creating a hard-edged selection; the ‘marching ants’ selection border is actually the 50% point of the selection, not the limit.

Areas outside the border are still selected, but to a lesser degree, which is why this technique is great for subtle graduated edits that would be impossible to create in any other way.

How do I edit the luminosity mask?

You can edit the luminosity mask to adjust the balance between shadow and highlight areas. Click the mask thumbnail and apply a Levels adjustment directly.

Drag the midtones Input slider to the right to darken the mask and reveal more information from the shadows layer, or left to lighten the mask and reveal more of the highlights layer.

Drag the black point slider inwards to make more of the mask black, or the white point slider in to make more of the mask white. You can also touch-up the mask with black, white or grey brushes.

PAGE 1: How to get the raw HDR look with luminosity masks
PAGE 2: Common questions about raw HDR and luminosity masking


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