I’ve been an avid user of Tony Kuyper’s Luminosity Masks for several years now and have written about it several times (Luminosity Masks blog post, Saturation Masks blog post) so Tony sent me his new TKActions Panel to play around with. You can see the panels on the above and below images. If you want to skip ahead and see the final result the photo is at the bottom of this post.
Tony’s methods of post-processing have been quite influential over the past several years and on the cutting edge of how landscape photographers approach their work these days. The cool thing about this is that these are not your run-of-the-mill presets and actions that apply funky effects to your image ala Instagram filters. In-fact most of Tony’s actions do not alter anything in your images. They merely create masks based on tones and colors that you want to optimize. It’s up to you after this point to decide what needs to be done. For some people this is scary to have no roadmap for success but for others it opens up a whole new world of creativity. This is like comparing microwaved TV dinners to cooking original recipes with organic ingredients. There is nothing wrong with either one but when you cook your own food you control what goes in and what goes out.
The highlights are blowing out in the original image and there isn’t as much separation between the darker highlights as I wanted so this was tailor-made for a Lights Mask where I could then adjust the Curves Layer to tone down the highlights then further mask out areas I don’t want affected by the Curves. I also worked on the foreground as well because details in the grass was not coming through very well in the original so by adjusting Curves for the dark highlights in the grass it allowed me to create further separation between tones.
The beauty of TKActions is that the way I use TKActions is just my way of doing it. You can ask ten other photographers that use the same tools and you likely won’t find a consensus. For example, some photographers like blending multiple exposures (aka. compositing) by using luminosity masks to create clean masks for the dark and light exposures. Some photographers know every in and out of TKActions then spend hours just processing a single photo. I only do single exposures so my shooting and processing techniques revolve around finding the ideal light then pushing my camera to its limits in the field to get what I need out of a single frame then using techniques like Tony Kuyper’s Luminosity Masks to fine-tine certain parts of the photo.