TK7: Update 2020

During the initial launch period for the updated TK7 panel there is a 25% discount on all products (panels and videos) using the following discount code: 25TK7. It works both on my Panels & Videos page and also on Sean Bagshaw’s website.

The updated TK7 panel is now available. This is a major update for 2020 that was released on July 1 and starts version 2.0 for the TK7 panel. A subsequent bug fix (version 2.0.1) was released roughly a week later (July 6 and 7) to provide a workaround for changes Adobe introduced in the latest version of Photoshop 2020 v21.2.

Previous customers should have received an email from Sean Bagshaw or me detailing update options and providing appropriate discount codes. These update emails were sent on July 1 and July 2. Be sure to check your junk/spam folder for these dates if you didn’t receive update information. My MailChimp server indicates about 20% of these emails are still unopened. If you can’t find it, contact Sean if you originally purchased from him or contact me if you purchased from me.

If you downloaded the updated panel from July 1 through July 6, before I fixed the bug, you were sent a additional download info for updating to version 2.0.1 on July 6 or 7. Again, you may need to check spam/junk folder. If you didn’t receive the new download link for the bug fix, you can also download again using your original download link. That original link now downloads the bug-fixed version of the panel, version 2.0.1. A fresh download will contain the new installer that removes your previous installation and installs the latest version of the panel. The Go module will say “TK7 v 2.0.1” if you have the most up-to-date version of the TK7 panel installed. I apologize for the inconvenience required by this bug fix, but it didn’t show up until Photoshop 2020 v21.2 was released on June 15, and since most people are unaffected by it, it wasn’t well reported until after the new TK7 update was released. Once I could predictably replicate it, I coded a workaround and released it as version 2.0.1.

panel with version number

Despite having to rectify an unexpected bug that showed up in Photoshop 2020, I’m still very excited about the latest update of the TK7 panel. In addition to keeping all the previous modules and features, it adds the new Go module for making pixel-based masks and several new features in the Combo and Cx modules. The videos at the bottom of this post review and demonstrate some of them.

The Go module is certainly the biggest change. It provides an entirely new way to make pixel-based masks, like luminosity masks. It’s still very fast at generating masks and it still makes 16-bit masks, but it has a new layout to simplify the entire process of generating, modifying, and then deploying these masks. Some of its features are listed below.

  • A distinctive interface for each of the different types of masks (luminosity presets, Zone masks, Infinity Color masks, Saturation and Vibrance masks, My Channels masks, and calculated masks).
  • New Zone masks that provide new ways to control zone width and brightness plus linear Zone mask presets.
  • Color presets for Infinity Color masks and a new method to adjust color mask brightness.
  • More output options on the main interface eliminates the need to open a menu to access common deployment methods. These now include the ability to generate common adjustment layers and also to quickly set up burning and dodging by painting through luminosity masks.

I see the Go module as an evolution of the RapidMask module. Go has most of the same functions, but with a simpler interface that’s easier to learn and navigate and with more core functions accessible directly from the front of the panel.

The Combo and Cx modules have also been significantly improved in this update.

panel with version number

New features include:

  • Live-clipping in order to view when highlights and shadows clip as you’re adjusting the image or when burning and dodging.
  • A dedicated “Apply” button for interfacing with the Channels panel to easily apply channel masks as layer masks or to load them as selections.
  • An image-mask toggle button to switch between viewing the image and the layer mask with no shortcut keys.
  • New actions: Soft Pop and Paint Contrast.
  • User actions that are easier to set up and access.
  • Buttons that can be reprogrammed and renamed to run the user’s actions instead of the button’s default action.
  • Color-tagging for buttons and menu items to help you find your favorites faster.

These new features in Combo and Cx will add improved capability and efficiency within your Photoshop workflow

The videos below review the new features and show how they work.

NOTE: I’ve been working on this update for nearly a year and could not have done it without the input and help from many people. These includes my affiliates: Sean Bagshaw, Rafael Coutinho, Antonio Prado, Roy Yuan, Isabella Tabacchi, and Andre Distel. Bruce Bartholomew was a major contributor in providing new ideas, proofreading, and suggesting improvement. Watching Steve Dell use the panel was also extremely useful in seeing how it worked for others and ways it could be improved. Email conversations with Gerald Vincent also led to improvements. In addition, there were countless emails, conversations, and YouTube videos that triggered new ideas that found their way into various parts of the panel. I am sincerely grateful for the network of photographers who use the panel and provide feedback on how to make it better.

TK7 update information

This is just a quick post to let you know that I’m in the process of releasing a major update to the TK7 panel. Over the next week I’ll be emailing previous customers with update options. Please watch for this information. It might end up in your junk/spam folder, so be sure to check there.

Unfortunately, my download server will likely NOT be able to keep up with all the requests for free updates. TK7 purchases within the previous 12-month period are slated to get a free update. That means, at least initially, there will be some days when you might not be able to get a free update once the limit for free updates is exceeded. If that happens, please try again the following day. I’ll apologize in advance for this inconvenience. I purchased additional server capacity, so it should only be for the first few days. Previous customers outside the 12-month free-update period will get a 50% discount. These will not be affected; only free updates are limited by the download server.

I’m really excited about this update and think you will be too. There’s more information coming soon. Releasing updates is a very busy time and there are always plenty of questions. I’ll post additional information next week once I’ve contacted everyone and am sure the download server is able to keep up. Please be patient until then and be sure you’re subscribed to get the latest information.

NOTE: To install the updated version, just run the installer file in the fresh download. It will remove the old modules and install the new ones.

Photoshop Essentials: A new course by Sean Bagshaw

Sean Bagshaw has released another excellent video series: Photoshop Essentials for Outdoor Photographers. This course looks at the tools, adjustments, filters, and techniques most useful when using Photoshop to develop nature and landscape images. It’s appropriate for many different skill levels. For beginners it unravels the complexity of Photoshop in order to start using it in an organized manner and to focus on learning those features most useful to outdoor photographers. For intermediate users it offers new ideas to get the most the out the different Photoshop functions and likely explores new ones. And by these criteria, I would have to consider myself only intermediate when it comes to Photoshop (at least compared to Sean) since I found this course full of things I didn’t know. A short list includes the adaptive wide angle filter, ideas for using smart objects, motion blur, highlight recovery with the shadows/highlights adjustment, and lots of new stuff relating to image transformations and perspective control. The bottom line is that you don’t have to be a beginner in Photoshop to appreciate this course. Even seasoned users will benefit from a wide range of new material they will likely encounter here. There’s also nearly an hour’s worth of actual workflow footage that strings together the methods taught in the different chapters so you can see how these techniques can be creatively combined.

I’ve had a close working relationship with Sean for many years and I’m happy to be able to offer this course on my Panels & Videos page. To a large degree, luminosity masks and the TK7 panel are directly built on many of the concepts Sean discusses in this course. Pixel-based masks aren’t all that hard to understand once you know how Photoshop works. So, for some photographers, this course might be an excellent prerequisite for successfully incorporating more advanced techniques, like luminosity masks, into their workflow. You can watch samples here.

Right now there is an automatic 25% discount for all customers when you purchase Photoshop Essentials on my website. This is a limited-time introductory offer. Previous customers should also check their email from last Tuesday, June 9 for additional savings.

I’m sure you’ll enjoy this course. Not only will you learn new ways to use Photoshop, but you’ll also likely be more excited to get outside and take pictures. Please contact me if you have any questions.

The Saguaro Project

NOTE: The images blow are linked to a second rollover image that shows the starting photograph. To see the starting photograph, simply roll your mouse over an image and a wait a few seconds until the second image loads. Then you can move the mouse back and forth across an edge to see the image switch rapidly between before and after.

While I love to photograph and process nature images, “photo fatigue” still happens. There are so many outstanding nature photographs now that I’m a bit overwhelmed by both the number and quality, and wonder if I have much to contribute to this already gargantuan collective body of work. Photography remains one of my passions, though, so I try to invent opportunities for exploring something different to keep me interested.


The Saguaro Project was an effort that combined my fascination with the Sonoran Desert that now surrounds me with the inspiration I’ve found in Club Camera Tucson’s Digital Art SIG. I wanted to take photographs of one of the natural icons in the region, the saguaro cactus, and transform the images into something less photographic. I wasn’t sure what that would be, but I started playing with Photoshop and eventually found the path I wanted to follow.


Before deciding to undertake this project, I didn’t have many saguaro images in my RAW file collection, so the first stop was nearby Sabino Canyon to take some. I was determined to use cactus images taken in any type of light and from the start I was thinking in terms of tight compositions. Isolating the subject and separating it from the surrounding terrain would create a sense of abstraction while still emphasizing the characteristics of saguaros that make them so unique.


After developing a few images I started see the direction this would go. In the end there were six criteria for each image.

  1. Use photographs that were taken in ordinary, unspectacular light.
  2. Have the cactus’ arms bleed off at least one edge of the frame.
  3. Use Steve Dell’s sketch action that he recently shared with me.
  4. Use luminosity masks in the development process.
  5. Use Photoshop’s “spectrum” gradient (the rainbow gradient) as the main source of color.
  6. Add an “orb” to the image in Photoshop to suggest the sun or the moon.

I also wanted to produce at least six images that fit these criteria so I could add a thumbnail gallery on my website that featured them.


One of the nice things about Steve Dell’s sketch action is that it evens out the light even for photographs with considerable contrast. As a result, the color added from the spectrum gradient was applied more evenly than the original lighting would suggest. Luminosity masks were also useful after the sketch action ran for selecting areas that would receive the gradient color. To a large degree, the processing changed the original photos into illustrations, which was sort of the intent given the influence of the Digital Art SIG. In some of the images, though, the underlying photographic starting point can still be easily recognized.


This project took around a month to complete and was a lot of fun. I was exploring photography and Photoshop in new ways, and each image was a new adventure. There was no preconceived idea of what the final images would look like other than it had to meet the criteria. There was lots of experimentation and the final images often required more layers than a “normal” photograph.


In the process of creating these images, I started to appreciate saguaros in new ways. They’re easy to take for granted given how numerous they are here, but they offer a lot of possibilities: an iconic anthropomorphic figure, wonderful textures from the ribs and needles, and lines and shapes that work well from many different angles. The light might not have been anything special when the images were taken, but this project made me realize that it’s more than light that makes saguaros special.