Make-It-Glow: A favorite TK7 action

The TK7 panel isn’t just about luminosity masks. There are also several actions to enhance images during processing. One of my favorites is Make-It-Glow.

The Make-It-Glow action is like the Orton effect in some ways except that it produces no noticeable blur. The color is blurred a little to help create the glow effect, but the detail and texture in the image remains unchanged. In addition to the more diffuse color, saturation is also enhanced, like with the Orton effect, so it’s important to use Make-It-Glow on images that can handle a little extra color saturation. I often use it near the start of the Photoshop workflow. This is often a time when the image can use a little boost in color saturation. The effect generally looks quite good, so it can help set the tone for further development. Below is an image before Make-It-Glow was applied. Roll the mouse back and forth over the edge to see the difference running the Make-It-Glow action can have. NOTE: The image is not visible on the email feed, so please visit the blog to see this. Also, the rollover image might take a few seconds to load.

Make-It-Glow actions

It’s not an overly dramatic change, but it works extremely well on this image to saturate the existing colors in way that looks natural. Photoshop’s Vibrance adjustment layer can have a similar affect on color saturation, but it tends to add saturation to cool colors more than warm colors, and this is the opposite of where glow usually looks best. Make-It-Glow has no color preference; it just works with whatever colors are present in the image. So compared to Vibrance, warm colors get a better saturation boost with Make-It-Glow. In addition, Make-It-Glow blurs the existing color a bit, and this provides a better sense of glow that a Vibrance adjustment layer can’t replicate.

Still, it’s important use Make-It-Glow in the right situations. Here are some that I’ve found useful:

  • Low-saturation images.
  • Intimate landscapes−those with land but no sky.
  • Autumn foliage.
  • Rocks, like sandstone and slot canyons.
  • Grand landscapes with lots of clouds, like stormy or overcast skies. NOTE: Clear skies sometimes get over-saturated with this technique.

The Make-It-Glow action is found in the “Color” section of the menu opened with the “TK►” button on the TK7 Combo and Cx modules. It has only one user input, and that’s a Gaussian Blur pixel radius. This blur radius determines the color diffusion for the effect. A radius that equals the megapixel count of the image is a good starting point, and this is what is calculated and suggested by the panel.

Gaussian Blur window

In addition to the blur radius, there are ways to customize the effect after the actions completes.

  • Run the action a second time to enhance the effect.
  • Adjust the layer opacity if it feels too strong. This is potentially useful if running multiple Make-It-Glow actions on the same image (which sometimes works quite nicely).
  • Add a layer mask to the Make-It-Glow layer to fine-tune the effect. The video below shows several methods to do this.

Of the various techniques that help improve the color in my images, Make-It-Glow is at the top of the list. It plays a role−sometimes a very large role−in determining where the image goes color-wise. It’s also a bit of a safety valve when I’m creatively stuck. Once I see what Make-It-Glow does, I can often find a way forward with the image.

Watch the video below for additional tips on using the Make-It-Glow action. View it full-screen in order to see the subtle changes from the action and the masks.

Stunning shadow and highlight details with the TK7 Triple Play

You’ll never outgrow luminosity masks or the TK7 panel. There will be lots of new opportunities once you become comfortable with pixel-based masks. Even I don’t know it all. Occasionally someone writes me with a method for using the masks and the actions in the panel that would never have occurred to me. Something that was not intended at all when I coded the panel, but once I try it I’m like: Wow, how did I miss that!?

Actions menu

The technique that follows (and also explained in the video at the bottom) was one of these and is provided by my friend Daniel Anderson. He was an early adopter of luminosity masks. When I released the Triple Play actions sometime around 2008 or 2009, he wrote back almost immediately excited about what they did for his images and said that he used them on almost every single one. The Triple Play eventually found its way into the panel and I recently connected with Dan and ask him to explain in more detail how he uses this particular action. I decided to try what he suggested am now using it regularly using it too. When properly applied, it indeed makes every image look better. Tonal separation is enhanced in both the darkest darks and lightest lights and details in these tones stand out much better also. The effect allows images, even jpegs viewed on the web, to show wonderful texture in areas where detail is frequently lacking.

The Triple Play is accessed by clicking the “TK►” button in the TK7 Combo and Cx modules to open the Actions menu. The “Lights TP” affects the light tones and the “Darks TP” affects the dark tones. I generally use the Darks TP first since my images tend to have a lot of darker midtones in the final image. And sometimes I only use the “Darks TP” since the amount of lighter tones in my image may be extremely small, so the effect would be minimal. However, if there are obvious light tones in the image, you’ll definitely want to give “Lights TP” action a try.

The Triple Play uses luminosity masks (some of them blurred) and blend modes to achieve its effect. The first step is to choose a pixel radius for a Gaussian blur. A dialog window opens to ask for this.

pixel radius dialog

I use 20 pixels for the Darks TP and 15 pixels for the Lights TP. Dan uses 20 pixels for both. You can experiment, but these numbers would be a good starting point.

Darks Triple Play

The Triple Play action then creates a set of Curves adjustment layers set to Screen or Multiply blend mode that are masked with the Dark-series luminosity masks (some of which are blurred using the user-entered pixel radius). The adjustment layers aren’t meant for adjusting, though. The desired Triple Play effect is achieved simply by turning ON the visibility of different layers and letting the blend modes either lighten or darken the image. Initially, the visibility of all layers is turned off, so there is no effect on the image until the visibility of different layers is turned on.

For the Darks Triple Play, I turn visibility ON for:

  • the “(S) Darks-4, blurred” layer, which lightens the image because it is in Screen blend mode, and
  • the “(M) Darks-4, no blur” layer, which darkens the image because it is in Multiply blend mode.

This combination is known as an S-4/M-4 adjustment. Dan says he starts off with S-3/M-3, but that effect usually feels a bit strong for me in the image’s dark tones. NOTE: The lower the number, the stronger the effect. S-3/M-3 has a greater effect than S-4/M-4 because the Darks-3 masks reveal more pixels than the Darks-4 masks. Many times the S-4/M-4 combination of layer visibility works perfectly and I call it quits. Other times, I might try different layer combinations or adjust the group’s opacity. But I don’t do any actual Curves adjustments. I only turn different layers on and off to find what works. What I’m looking for is better detail separation and better contrast in the darkest tones in the image without too much clipping (though a little clipping might occur and generally looks OK for dark tones).

Lights Triple Play

Whether or not I run a Lights TP depends on the image. For many of my images, the Darks TP is all I do, but if I have some strong white tones in elements that would look better with enhanced detail, I try a Lights TP too. Running a Lights TP is just like running a Darks TP. Choose a pixel radius (15-pixels is a good starting point), let the actions create all the layers, and then turn on the visibility of the ones that produce the best effect, i.e. increased tonal contrast in the very lightest tones without blowing out the brightest values. I usually start with S-3/M-3 since fewer light tones in my images usually means I need more revealing masks to see an effect. However, I’m also more likely to pull back the effect since clipped highlights tend to bother me more than clipped shadows. I’ve found a midtones mask on the “LIGHTS Triple Play” group a good way to insure my whites remain within range. Watch the video below for details.

Here are some important things to know and keep in mind about the Triple Play.

  • It should be LAST step in the workflow. The Triple Play is most strongly affecting pixels at the extreme ends of the tonal spectrum. When you stop and think about it, these are areas that are somewhat harder to adjust. Much of our workflow is focused on the midtones. Midtone adjustments can have a significant and positive effect on the image, so this is where we normally concentrate our efforts. The Triple Play is a chance to get into the darkest darks and lightest lights and make them look equally good. However, once you run these actions, it’s time to quit with the adjustments. Additional processing could run the risk of more noticeable clipping unless you’re really careful.
  • But there is a little flexibility. Dan applies his Triple Play actions after sharpening for print. I apply mine before. By including the Triple Play as the last step on my master file I get the benefit of seeing its effect in both my down-sized jpeg images for web presentation and in the final upsized sharpened prints. I find it scales pretty well, although I may pull back a bit on the amount of web-sharpening if the images look a little too sharp. However, the increased punch in both the light and dark tones is usually apparent when you compare jpegs with and without the Triple Play.
  • Zoom in to see what’s happening. Depending on how many light and dark tones are in the image, it may be difficult to see the effect the Triple Play has on a monitor-sized image. I generally zoom into at least 50% and maybe 66.7%. It’s much easier to evaluate what’s happening and decide which layers to turn on when you can see the details in the image better. I work to get the effect right at this magnification rather than relying on getting it right in a monitor-sized image. Also, be sure you’re viewing a dark part of the image if adjusting a Darks TP and a light part of the image when adjusting a Lights TP.

lightening bolt button

  • Choose your subjects. Some elements, like soft clouds, won’t necessarily look better with the Triple Play. Too much detail in the highlights of clouds can look unnatural. Harder subjects, like the European cathedrals in Dan’s images, would be the ideal subject to experiment with the Lights Triple Play, I think.
  • There is a lot going on in the background when the Triple Play actions run. For a large image or a slow computer, it might take a few seconds for the TP actions to complete. There are 11 layers, 10 masks (all 16-bit), and one group needed for each Triple Play action.
  • You don’t need to keep all the Triple Player layers. Once you find the layers you need to be visible to create the proper effect, click the lightning bolt button on the Combo/Cx module. It quickly deletes all the hidden (not visible) layers and makes your Layers panel feel normal again. You can also close the TP layer groups to make the final result more compact.
  • If you want to read about the Triple Play in detail, open the Settings window on either the Combo or Cx module and click the “TK” button. This will take you to a website where you can get a free download that includes a somewhat lengthy “Luminosity Mask Triple Play and Advanced Masking” PDF on how the layers and blurs are created.

Like Dan, I’m using the Triple Play as the last step on every image now. Even when I think I’ve done a good job processing, the Triple Play (especially the Darks Triple Play) makes the image noticeably better, for both the print and the jpeg, every time. There’s better separation in the dark areas of the image, and when you look at the print there is a surprising amount of detail in what would normally be very dark parts of image that lack it. I will definitely keep trying it on all my images in the future.

The video below is a quick review of applying Triple Play to some images. It’s best to view it full-screen since some of the effects are subtle. I really do like this technique and hope you’ll give it a try.

Sean Bagshaw’s TK7 workflow

“It’s not as hard as I thought.”

That was the reaction of a friend in my local camera club after he bought the TK7 panel and watched Sean Bagshaw’s TK7 Video Guide. Earlier he had told me the panel looked too complicated, but after watching Sean’s videos, he definitely seemed more confident that he would be able to use it successfully

I think this is a normal thought process many photographers go through when they first encounter the panel. They’re curious about luminosity masks, but also a bit anxious as to whether they can successfully integrate them into their workflow. And the panel with all its buttons can seem a bit daunting initially. It’s sort of like the first time you get a computer or a smart phone. There’s some apprehension just looking at the controls, but once you start using it, it quickly starts to make sense. The TK7 panel is pretty much the same. It can be a bit intimidating to look at, but with a little practice, you realize it offers a lot of control over what you want to accomplish with your images.

Sean Bagshaw has been helping photographers feel comfortable with my luminosity mask panels for over six years. His videos break them down button-by-button with expert commentary and demonstrations as to how everything works. And his measured style is just like your favorite teacher who took the time to make sure you understood a concept before moving onto a new topic.

The video below is the portion of his complete workflow chapter from the TK7 Video Guide series where he uses the TK7 panel to finish an image. In addition to showcasing Sean’s teaching style, it also demonstrates some important concepts about using the panel.

  • It integrates easily in to the workflow at many different levels. It makes complex masks but it also efficiently executes basic Photoshop functions.
  • You don’t have to use every button to use it successfully. There is a lot of functionality in the panel, but you can choose just those features you need for your image.
  • Not all experiments are successful. The panel is a great way to try different things with with masks, but, if something isn’t working, well, no problem. The panel also makes it easy to try something else.
  • You’ll never outgrow it. As your skills improve, the TK7 panel will continue to provide new opportunities to explore different ways of using pixel-based masks in your workflow.

If you haven’t seen this video yet, I think you’ll enjoy watching Sean use it on an image. And while he’s certainly an expert at using the TK7 panel, this level of proficiency is easy to attain. With just a little practice, anyone can be a luminosity mask master.

The TK7 panel and the TK7 Video Guide are available on the Panels & Videos page.

The TK7 panel for Photoshop CC

I’m happy, excited, (and somewhat relieved) to finally announce the release of the TK7 panel for Photoshop CC. This is a major update to the TKActions V6 panel and there are lots of improvements. New functions, new actions, new buttons, new masks, new workflow possibilities, and new options for creating, modifying and outputting masks. But perhaps the best news is how little the panel has actually changed visually. The V6 architecture is a robust platform, and all the new TK7 features fit on it easily. If you’ve been using the V6 panel (or even the free Basic V6 panel), then it will be easy to adapt to the TK7 panel. Most buttons, menus, and functions are still in the same place. They have just been upgraded and enhanced with the new TK7 functions.

The video at the bottom is a broad overview of the TK7 panel and covers many of the new features. Some of the most important improvements are listed below.

ALL MODULES

  • Automated installation−Manual installation no longer required. There are installers included in the download folder to properly install the different modules on your computer’s hard drive.
  • Easy update−Many of the user-saved values, like language choice and user action names from the V6 panel, transfer automatically to the TK7 panel.
  • Buttons are 20% larger.
  • Rollover help is accessed by holding down the ALT button (Mac: option button).
  • Smart blur−The panel calculates what it thinks is an optimal feather or blur radius for many actions (but users are still given the option to change it if they want).

COMBO/Cx MODULES

  • Several new and/or improved actions−Spotlight, Freehand Vignette, RGB ↔ Lab , Dehaze, and Add Color
  • Multi-dimension web-sharpening. (This has been added to the Batch module also.)
  • New buttons: Content-Aware Fill and disable/enable layer mask.
  • CTRL/command functions have been added for several buttons to provide alternate placement for the new layers the buttons create.
  • The adjustment layers menu is easier to open so that new adjustment layers can now be accessed with one-click.

RAPIDMASK MODULE

  • Rapid Mask engine generates masks approximately 20% faster.
  • New Color Zone masks.
  • New CMYK masks.
  • Single-slider modify option to “infinitize” any mask using an on-module Levels adjustment.
  • New modify functions−Camera Raw filter, black brush, white brush, burn, dodge, Brightness/Contrast, and mask-the-mask.
  • “Keep Channels panel clean” option automatically removes the channels used to create masks.
  • “Quick Paint” buttons make mask painting faster and easier.
  • “Auto-hide selection edges” option so you don’t have to deal with marching ants when preparing to paint through a luminosity selection.
  • CTRL/command options to provide alternatives in layer placement when outputting masks.
  • Filter Mask option for applying masks to smart object layers with smart filters.

Sean Bagshaw has created a new TK7 Video Guide to walk users through all the functions of the TK7 panel, old and new. The video series has new videos, new techniques, new demos, and new sample images for users to practice along. If you’re familiar with Sean’s teaching style, you know how good he is at explaining everything. There’s a lot of functionality packed into the TK7 panel, and Sean’s new videos cover it all. Watch samples.

You can get the TK7 panel and the TK7 Video Guide on the Panels & Video page, and right now there is a 40% discount programmed into both items. Simply add the items to the shopping cart and the discount is automatically applied. The introductory discount makes this a good time to purchase or upgrade to the new panel. I hope you’ll give it a try.

In addition to Sean Bagshaw, I’m also fortunate to be working with Antonio Prado in Spain, André Distel in Germany, Isabella Tabacchi in Italy, Rafael Coutinho in France, Roy Yuan in China, and Luca Libralato in developing the panel and creating educational materials for it. Their photography is inspiring and their expertise at translating the panel into their native language has opened these techniques to a much larger audience. There are links to the versions they helped create on the products page.

Linked vs. unlinked smart objects

In his recent video release of Sean’s Favorite Photoshop Techniques, Sean uses the TKActions V6 panel to duplicate a smart object layer to make unlinked smart objects. This allows the smart objects in these layers to be independently manipulated to achieve different results on the different layers. Because unlinked smart object layers can be so useful, I programmed this as the default for the “Duplicate Layer” button on the Combo/Cx modules when it is used to duplicate a smart object layer.

For anyone used to using the V6 panel who has gotten used to this behavior, it’s easy to forget that unlinked smart object is NOT the default in Photoshop. The Photoshop keyboard shortcut to duplicate a layer, CTRL/Command+J, produces a linked smart object instead. So does the menu command Layer > Duplicate Layer… In the video below, Sean goes over the difference between linked and unlinked smart objects. It’s a bit complicated, but an important distinction to keep in mind when working with smart objects.

Personally, my use of duplicate smart objects is similar to what Sean shows in the video to double-process a single RAW file. That’s why the default for the “Duplicate Layer” button is to create unlinked smart objects. Hope you agree with this choice and will give this feature a try if you’ve not already done so.

Sean’s Favorite Photoshop Techniques: A new video course from Sean Bagshaw

I recently finished watching Sean Bagshaw’s new video course, “Sean’s Favorite Photoshop Techniques,” and have written a review below. For those familiar with Sean’s videos, it will come as no surprise that the series is very good. I am pleased to be able offer this course on my Panels & Videos page, and Sean says I can give readers a 15% discount code. Here it is: Bagshaw15. Enter that code in the PROMO CODE field in the shopping cart to save 15% when purchasing this item. (NOTE: If you are a previous customer of mine, I likely sent you an email with an even better discount on Tuesday or Wednesday, January 29 or 30. If you missed it, please check your junk/spam folder. Contact me if you can’t find it. Include the email address you used for your previous purchase, and I’ll privately email you the other code.) Sample videos can be viewed here. The review below will give you an idea of what to expect from the new series.

workspace menu button

Sean Bagshaw has put together another excellent video course focused on the Photoshop workflow. “Sean’s Favorite Photoshop Techniques” covers a lot of territory, but instead of concentrating on developing just one image, like in his other recent courses, this one takes a closer look at several different methods that can be used on almost any image. He explores these techniques in a way that helps you understand how he’s able to achieve the rich color and perfect balance that characterizes his images.

Three main categories of techniques that are discussed and demonstrated:

  • Color Palette
  • Exposure and Tonal Balance
  • Light Sculpting

These are broken down into chapters that show multiple ways to achieve a specific image developing goal, like color-grading, tonal balance, and midtone boost, to name a few. And while this isn’t a sequential image developing workflow course, my sense is that the chapters are more or less arranged in a start-to-finish order. The early chapters will generally work best near the start of the Photoshop workflow and the later chapters will be more relevant near the end of it.

While I consider myself pretty adept at Photoshop, I once again realized I still have a lot to learn after watching all these videos. For example, color-grading with hue, saturation, and lightness isn’t really part of my workflow, but I can now see the advantage of using it near the start, maybe even in LR/ACR as Sean demonstrates, to set the overall color foundation for the image. I’m also thinking of trying to do more with split toning after watching the videos to see what it might add to my landscapes that have a wider perspective.

Not surprisingly, luminosity masks are a powerful tool in Sean’s techniques arsenal, and he makes good use of them in the Exposure and Tonal Balancing chapters. Luminosity masks aren’t just for exposure blending, and Sean shows the many ways they integrate into the workflow to create the right balance of light and contrast throughout the scene. And, while this video series isn’t a course on how to use the TKActions V6 panel (Sean also shows the menu commands called by the panel’s scripts), it’s obvious watching Sean work that the panel can play an important role in the creative process by short-cutting many Photoshop functions and by providing a rapid method to create, modify, and deploy the necessary luminosity masks. Sean is very familiar with the panel, uses some of its advanced features in the videos, and shows how it improves workflow efficiency.

The Light Sculpting section is probably my favorite part of the course. It starts off showing basic and advanced burning and dodging and how it can be used to reveal the contours of light in the scene. The “Digital Light Painting” chapter, however, takes these concepts to an entirely new level. The image Sean had been using to demonstrate different burning and dodging techniques is totally transformed into a completely new image with this light-painting process. Sean describes it as “re-imagining the light,” and it is indeed this and much more. It’s also a challenge, I think, to look deep into your images and find a personal light in them that only you, as the individual photographer who took the picture, can see. Sean shows what’s possible when you engage in this re-imagining exercise and does a great job explaining how to do it. It’s up to you to decide how far you want to take it.

The last two chapters in the Light Sculpting section cover vignettes and spotlights, and this also had a lot of new info for me. Sean shows how this process can be much more than just making the edges of the image darker or the interior lighter. Many of the techniques discussed in the previous chapters are put to use. Color balance, brightness, contrast, clarity, and various adjustment layers are all employed to enhance the light in order to focus the viewer’s eye. The last section of the vignette/spotlight section is essentially another digital light painting demonstration. It’s nice bonus to get to see how this magic works again, and the results are equally impressive the second time through.

Don’t expect to absorb everything in these videos all at once. Sean’s teaching style has the perfect pace, but these videos are information-dense. They cover a lot of ground, and you’ll likely want to work along with him on the practice images for some of the less familiar concepts. I can almost guarantee you’ll learn several new and very useful techniques while watching this course and practicing along with Sean. Hopefully you will also discover how to find some new light in your images as well. By the end, you should be better equipped to express the art and beauty you find in photography.

Fixing dark prints with a Darks-1 luminosity mask

I recently acquired a new Epson SureColor P800 printer. My old printer had started to leak from the print head. I primarily use Moab Lasal paper with a luster finish, so I went to the Moab website to find a color profile for the new printer/paper combination, and was pleased to find that one existed. I loaded it on my computer and did a test print. The color match to my monitor looked great. There was a problem, however. The print seemed dark and heavy overall because the shadows were blocked when viewed in ambient room light. Looking at the print under a brighter light source, I could still see the shadow separation that was apparent on my monitor, so it hadn’t been lost entirely. It just wasn’t printing well. I don’t normally view my prints under strong “gallery” lighting and want them to look good even in ordinary room light. So based on this initial test, I would need to find a consistent way to lighten them. The fact that there was NO color shift in the print meant that the profile I installed was doing a decent job in that important category. Brightness was the only thing that required adjustment.

I experimented with a few more prints that had Curves and Levels adjustments added to the sharpened image, but these ended up with obvious shifts in contrast and color saturation. I then decided to see if a luminosity mask could help. Since the image’s dark values were blocked, a Darks-series mask would be a good place to start. But how to use it? Curves and Levels adjustments hadn’t worked, so I needed an alternative for that also. In the end, I decided to still use an adjustment layer, but instead of adjusting the properties for the layer, I simply changed the layer’s blend mode to Screen, which lightens the image, except for pixels that are completely black.

Bingo! This approach worked well and next print looked much better. Here’s the steps I used:

  1. Create a Darks-1 luminosity mask of the unsharpened image. (See NOTE at the end of this blog for methods to make a Darks-1 mask.)
  2. Sharpen the image using the normal sharpening method.
  3. Create a Levels (or Curves) adjustment layer at the top of the layer stack above the sharpening layer(s).
  4. Set the adjustment layer’s blend mode to Screen.
  5. Apply the Darks-1 luminosity mask created in Step 1 as a layer mask to the adjustment layer.
  6. Lower the layer’s opacity to between 25 and 50 percent.

The image below shows the final layer stack with the print adjustment layer on top.

workspace menu button

Not hard at all, and my image now matched my monitor in color, contrast, saturation, and brightness. In retrospect, this is sort of an obvious solution. The darks were blocked and Darks-series masks specifically targets these dark values. Screen blend mode is also a somewhat obvious choice since it provides an automatic, consistent lightening adjustment that keeps 100% black pixels 100% black, so there is a bit of a black anchor for the blackest blacks in the image. Screen blend mode also seems to lighten with less contrast and/or saturation shift that sometimes accompany adjustments to Curves and Levels using the Properties panel. So the overall effect was to create an automatic lightening effect restricted to just the dark, blocked tones in the image.

Subsequent tests showed that the optimal opacity of the added adjustment layer ranged from zero to 50 percent. It turns out that the value is easy to predict based on image’s histogram.

For images with prominent areas that are very dark or completely black, an opacity setting of 50% is needed.

workspace menu button

For images where there is plenty of dark colors, but still excellent detail in these dark colors, an opacity of 25% works well. This histogram shape is common with many of my images, so an opacity setting of 25% is frequently my starting point when making test prints.

workspace menu button

For images that are composed almost entirely of midtones and/or highlights with very few dark values, no adjustment is needed. There are essentially no dark values that are getting blocked in this situation, so the adjustment isn’t necessary.

workspace menu button

While a custom profile might have been an alternative to consider, the fact that the colors were matching so well with the paper manufacturer’s profile meant that I wanted to continue to use it if I could. So far I’ve made prints of about a dozen different images using this method, and opacity settings of either 50% or 25%, depending on the histogram, have worked every time.

I’m not sure how widespread this problem might be. A member of the local camera club mentioned he had the same issue, so I’m sure I’m not the only one. It’s certainly an easy fix to try if your prints are looking too dark.

NOTE: A Darks-1 mask can be made and applied with either the TKActions V6 RapidMask2 module or the free Basic V6 panel. You can also make a Darks-1 layer mask using Photoshop’s Image > Apply Image… menu command using the settings shown below. Be sure to check the “Invert” checkbox in the dialog window to get a Darks-1 mask instead of a Lights-1 mask.

workspace menu button