Lumenzia Action Panel Review

Premium photohop plugin for luminosity masks

By Black Mesa Images in Columns on Dec 29, 2017
Lumenzia Action Panel Review

In my previous article, I introduced you to Lumenzia, a Photoshop action panel that automatically creates luminosity masks. The panel can be purchased from creator Greg Benz' website. In this second part, I am going to show you how I utilize Lumenzia in my workflow and several things you can do with Lumenzia.

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If you are not familiar with luminosity masks, here is a quick rundown (refer the prior article for more details and examples). A luminosity mask is a selection of an image based on luminosity values. The values range from darks (shadows) to lights (highlights) with mid-tones in the middle. In the not so distant past, the task of creating luminosity masks was tedious at best and took some time. Now the market has several different options for action panels that simplify the process.

Creating a series of luminosity masks manually is a series of complex tasks that will take you several minutes.  With Lumenzia, or any luminosity panel that I have familiar with, the user can choose a particular tonal value, click on the button and the selection is made.  Ten seconds is what it took my 6-year-old custom built PC to create one mask.   If I want to fine tune that mask, I might spend a couple more seconds, and maybe a few minutes completing the task.  

So how do I use Lumenzia in my workflow? I primarily use it for astrophotography and landscape images, but I also use it from time to time for portraits. I shoot environmental portraiture occasionally and I try to treat those shots like I do landscape images. For the purpose of this article, I am going to show several different examples of how I utilize Lumenzia and its luminosity masks in my post-processing workflow.

When you are running through the buttons for lights, mid tones, and darks, a preview mask will appear when you click on a button. The white portion of the mask will be the area that will be selected, while the dark areas will not be selected.  The screenshot below illustrates what I am talking about.  The white areas will be selected for my adjustment, while the black areas will not be selected.


Example luminosity masks: light areas will be included in the adjustment

The first example is using Lumenzia to blend two exposures together. One exposure is dedicated to the highlights, while the other is dedicated to the shadows.

The process is pretty easy. Load the two exposures into Photoshop as Layers. I like to place the dark layer on top. I will then create a black mask over the dark layer, hiding it for the time being. I will then use Lumenzia to select the bright areas that I want to be masked out. You might have to fine-tune the selection a little bit, but using Lumenzia will help you create a true High Dynamic Range image with full control.

Here is a short video showing the process:

The second example I am going to use is a night image of the Milky Way. I am also going to use this image to show several other things within Lumenzia to help you make a good selection.

When I first started studying the art of Milky Way photography several years ago, I came across a Photoshop action created by Dave Morrow. The action did what Lumenzia, except that channels are used, enlarging the size of the file being worked on. That is fine for those that have computers with a lot of horsepower, but for a large segment of the photography community, they might not have the power to breeze through post-processing with ease.

Using Lumenzia on the image, I want to select just the highlights, which in the case of images of this nature, are more than likely mid-tones. I want to select just that particular area of the image so I can use a Curves or Levels adjustment to make it pop, or stand out.

When I am out on location shooting a landscape, I will always bracket my shots, so I make sure I get home with the entire dynamic range covered; but for the most part, I end up using just one image and utilizing Lumenzia in my workflow to make the adjustments that I want.

Again, I created a video showing this process in action using the Milky Way image. You can use the process for any image:

There are other features packed into Lumenzia. One feature is the Dodge and Burn feature. Just a quick click of the Dodge button and Lumenzia will create two adjustment masks that the photographer can use. Within this feature is also loaded a Sponge action.

Another way Lumenzia can work is making selections based on the luminosity values of certain colors. In the case of this Milky Way image, the greens were not only too saturated for my tastes, but they definitely were not that saturated with color in real life. I used Lumenzia to make a selection of most of the greens in the image so I could tone them down just a tad. As you can see in the video, part of the sky was selected also. I left it in the video, but in the next paragraph, you will read how you can mask the sky out of the selection.

The last thing I am going to cover about Lumenzia is the mask adjustability. When you select a particular luminosity value to mask, there will be a Layer Group created. Within this group will several different layers to include several adjustments and a mask called “BRUSH”. These particular layers can be used to fine-tune the final adjustment mask.

TIME SPENT

Like I mentioned above, using Lumenzia, once I start the process, I can have a luminosity mask within 10 seconds and just a little longer if I fine tune the mask.  Overall, I can spend anywhere from 5-20 minutes on an image using luminosity masks.  Of course, with everything being somewhat subjective, your mileage may vary depending on your tastes and how in depth your post-processing process is.

PROS AND CONS

PROS CONS
SPEEDS UP THE PROCESS

CAN BE CONFUSING FOR THE FIRST TIME USER

AFFORDIBILITY HARD TO CHOOSE A SPECIFIC PANEL
DOCUMENTATION IS IN DEPTH IS LIMITED TO PHOTOSHOP ONLY

EXAMPLES

Here are two examples from my library where I used Lumenzia. In this image, I used Lumenzia to blend together two images, and from there, I used Lumenzia to make selections so I can adjust curves, and dodge the elevators just a little more.

Image A
Image B

Where Lumenzia really helps me out is with my stormscapes, or weather images.   With weather photography, a lot of images I have captured are around sunset.  Furthermore, one of the preferred shooting positions is southeast of the storm, that is if the storm is tracking northeast like they usually do.  With the sunset, shooting position and storm structure, it all adds up to a true high dynamic range image because the sun is going to peeking through the break in the clouds.  So I will have one side of the image bright, while the right side will be darker.   Many folks who photograph weather are content with blowing out the highlights.  I am a dynamic range junkie so I cannot stand to have blown highlights, although it happens.   Another characteristic of weather photography is a white balance all over the place in the same image.

Here is one of my 2017 weather images that I used Lumenzia on.  Once I made some simple adjustments, I used Lumenzia to select various parts of the image to change white balance, bring up the shadows and in the case of this image, the blown highlights on the left side and bring those back a little bit.  I also used the panel to select the darker areas of the image so I could dodge and burn to bring out the structure of the clouds.

Image A
Image B

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, I cannot possibly cover everything there is to cover about Lumenzia. To sum it up though, Lumenzia is a powerful tool that can be used to create adjustment layers within Photoshop using a variety of luminosity values without being held hostage by your computer's power.  If you would like to find out more about Lumenzia and possibly purchase the panel, head over to Greg Benz Photography.

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