ON1 Photo RAW Luminosity Masks

by Aug 25, 2021Photo Editing Tutorials

Robin Whalley Landscape Photographer

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ON1 Photo RAW Luminosity Masks

A great strength of ON1 Photo RAW, when compared to its competitors, is its masking tools. In this tutorial, we take a detailed look at how to use the ON1 Photo RAW Luminosity Mask. But the advice isn’t limited to ON1 Photo RAW. You will find the same Luminosity Mask tools in other ON1 Software like ON1 NoNoise AI.

At the end of this tutorial, you’ll find a video demonstrating ON1 Photo RAW Luminosity Masks and tools. I recognise not everyone learns in the same way so hopefully this video will help make everything clear.

If you don’t already have ON1 Photo RAW but are think it may be an option for you, it’s worth downloading the trial version first. If you do decide to purchase the software, be sure to use my discount code LENSCRAFT for a 15% discount at the checkout.

Where to Find Luminosity Masks in ON1 Photo RAW

You will find the Luminosity Masks in the ON1 Photo RAW Effects section. After switching to the Effects module in ON1, you need to add a filter effect to the image.

Luminosity Mask Location in ON1 Photo RAW

Each filter you add in the Effects Module acts like a layer and comes with it’s own mask. This mask controls which areas of the image are affected by the filter adjustment.

You will find the filter mask to the top left of the filter. Initially it has a small icon showing a grey rectangle with the black circle on it. After clicking the icon, it changes to show a thumbnail of the mask and the masking tools appear below it.

ON1 Photo RAW Mask and Masking Tools

Creating Luminosity Masks in ON1

Creating Luminosity Masks in ON1 Photo RAW is very easy. You only need to click the “Lumen” button in the masking section of the filter. This creates the luminosity mas, and you will see the mask thumbnails update to reflect this.

Creating the Luminosity Mask in ON1 Photo RAW

Notice how the Luminosity Mask looks like a black and white version of the image. The dark areas of the mask hide the effect of the filter on the image whilst the white areas allow it to be seen. It’s also possible to invert the mask to reverse it’s effect by clicking the Invert button.

If you would like to see the luminosity mask more clearly, click the View button. This replaces the image preview with a preview of the mask, which can make refining the mask easier.

When adjusting the luminosity mask, you may have times when you need to start again. You can do this by clicking the Lumen button which recreates the luminosity mask, replacing the existing mask. It’s also possible to return to an empty white mask by clicking the Reset button.

Using the Density Slider

The Density Slider has a scale of 0 to 100 with the slider set to 100 on the right side by default. This slider controls how dark the darkest areas of the luminosity mask are.

Think of the luminosity mask as being made up of pixels which can range from black to white. When the Density setting is 100 the darkest pixel in the mask is black. But if we move the Density slider to the middle where it has a value of 50, the darkest pixel in the mask becomes a midtone grey.

Using the Density slider on the Luminosity Mask

When we use the Density slider to lighten the darkest pixels in the mask, we also lighten the other pixels (except for white ones). Ultimately, if we move the Density slider all the way to the left where it has a value of 0, the mask turns white.

Using the Levels Slider

The Levels Slider is like the Density slider in that it has a range of 0 to 100, but it has three controls, and you can’t see their values.

The left slider or level controls the point at which the pixels in the Luminosity Mask turn black. As you move the slider to the right, it progressively turns the dark grey pixels black. By the time the slider is in the centre, all the mask pixels darker than a midtone grey are black.

Controlling the luminosity mask with levels

The White Level slider at the right side controls the level at which the pixels of the mask turn white. As you move the slider to the left, it makes the lighter pixels white. By the time the slider is in the centre, any pixels lighter than a midtone grey are white.

Notice in the screenshot above, there is a hard cut off between the black pixels and grey. This is caused by the middle level not having been adjusted. If we were to move the middle level so that it’s between the black and white level, we see the transition between pixels blend better as in this screenshot.

Using the middle level to blend the luminosity mask

Here you can see the white level is in the centre meaning any pixels in the luminosity mask lighter than a midtone grey are now white. The middle level is then positioned between the black and white level to help the blending in the mask.

Using the Window Slider

The Window slider is used to control the tonal range affected by the filter. By default, the two sliders are at either end of the control. This means the range of tones affected by the mask runs from black to white, but we can reduce this. For example, moving the left slider to the centre restricts the range from a midtone to white. If instead you move the slider on the right to the centre the tonal range or window is from black to a midtone.

When you move the Window sliders, they affect the mask so that areas outside their range turn black as in this example.

Effect of the Window sliders on the luminosity mask

Unfortunately, there is a problem you can encounter when using the Window control on a luminosity mask. I explain more about this using an example in the following video. The video also explains the tools described about and provides an example of using them with filters.

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You can also watch this video on my YouTube channel. I publish a new video every week, often based on subscribers’ requests and feedback. Subscribe to my YouTube channel now and be sure not to miss future videos.

ON1 Photo RAW Luminosity Mask Summary

Although the ON1 Photo RAW luminosity masks are more basic than most Photoshop masking tools, they are still very capable. It’s simple to create the initial mask which you can then refine using the Density, Levels and Window sliders. And as demonstrated in the video, you can combine the Luminosity Mask with other ON1 selection tools like the Brush and Gradient filter.

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