Coming Soon: “Making Better Prints” video series

Sean Bagshaw and Zack Schnepf are putting the final touches on a new video series that takes a close look at the process of printing photographic images. This video course is based on printing workshops they’ve conducted previously. Not everyone prints their images, but most of us enjoy seeing a hard copy of an image, perhaps hanging it on the wall, and possibly giving (or selling) copies to friends and customers.

Traditionally, prints were the only way to share photographs, and there is still something very satisfying about looking at actual prints compared to just seeing images on a monitor. I’ve printed my photos on a home printer for more than two decades and learned most of what I know through trial and error (and at least one costly mistake along the way). This new series significantly flattens the learning curve for those looking to start printing their images whether at home on a computer printer or through a commercial photo lab. It also contains many great tips for those already making prints so that the process is reproducible, efficient, instructive, and fun. The course covers workflows using both Photoshop and Lightroom.

Sean and Zack are allowing me to sell this course on my website. I’ll be emailing customers as soon as it’s available with additional details and special discounts (hopefully by Thursday). There will also be more information posted on this blog. For now, the video below will provide a brief look at what the new series is about.

Masking in Lightroom/Camera Raw: Two perspectives

The newest versions of Lightroom (Lr) and Camera Raw (CR) have significantly improved masking capabilities. There are options to make masks based on the subject and the sky, gradient masks, brush masks, and masks based on color ranges and luminance ranges. It’s an interesting and useful collection. In addition, there are ways to add, subtract, intersect, and invert masks, so the new masks can be combined in a variety of ways, similar to the Mask Calculator in the TK8 plugin.

There are lots of YouTube videos demonstrating the basics of using these new masks, so most readers are probably already familiar with their functionality. The two people I work closely with, Sean Bagshaw and Dave Kelly, have both contributed what I feel are some unique perspectives on these masks that I think are worth sharing.

Dave Kelly: Mask-the-mask in Lightroom/Camera Raw

Dave Kelly is someone who is good at taking a deep dive into almost anything and finding a few pearls that others have missed. His weekly “TK Friday” series on YouTube looks at using the TK8 plugin, and, to be honest, he’s pushes it further than I have when testing and using it. In doing so, he’s found new uses for TK8 and has also highlighted some things that can eventually be improved. I’m always glad (and somewhat relieved) to see that TK8 can keep up with what Dave is doing.

One of the techniques he’s demonstrated in various videos in the Friday series is the mask-the-mask technique in Photoshop. The way this generally works is to make an adjustment to the image through a specialized mask, like a luminosity mask or color mask, and then putting the adjustment layer into a group with a black layer mask. Painting on the group’s layer mask with white paint then reveals the adjustment in just those parts of the image where it’s needed. Luminosity and color masks are incredibly useful, of course, but they work on all similarly selected pixels in the image. The mask-the-mask technique allows the adjustment to be selectively applied to specific parts of the image. The process is easy and straightforward in Photoshop and produces a very targeted adjustment.

But, you might wonder, is it possible to replicate this technique with the new masks in Lr/CR? Well, thanks to Dave Kelly, we now know the answer to this question is “Yes,” and Dave shows how to do it in the video below. It’s not as simple as in Photoshop but appears to achieve similar results, namely restricting a color range or luminance range adjustment to specific parts of the image. It uses the Brush tool for making the final reveal, so that’s similar to the Photoshop method. However, it’s a bit more complicated before that. Still, it’s a very clever and insightful use of the new Lr/CR masks . . . and I’m not surprised Dave was able to figure out how to do it. For photographers working exclusively in Lightroom, Dave’s method will likely be a useful new tool in their workflow arsenal. NOTE: Dave doesn’t call this the “mask-the-mask” technique in the video, but, based on the end result, that’s essentially what’s happening.

Sean Bagshaw: Comparing Lr/CR masks with Photoshop masks

I’ve personally not worked extensively enough with the new Lr/CR masks to compare them with masks that can be created with Photoshop and the TK8 plugin, but Sean’s video below specifically undertakes this comparison. Some of the masks, like Select Sky, are basically equivalent in Lightroom and Photoshop according to Sean. Lightroom wins for gradient and radial masks, but Photoshop masks, like those made with the TK8 plugin, offer additional types of masks (saturation, vibrance, color brightness, and edge masks) and additional ways to modify masks. Sean also discusses using smart objects to be able to continually access the best of both types of masks from the two different sources.

The takeaway from Sean’s video, I think, is that there are some new and very useful mask options now available in Lr/CR, but that Photoshop still offers mask options and mask control, along with additional creative techniques not available in Lr/Cr, to continue to make it a valuable part of the workflow. In the end, everyone will use the tools they understand best and that produce the result they’re looking for. And that’s always been the best approach when working creatively with images.

TK8 Update: Version 1.0.3 now available

Photoshop 2022 is scheduled to be released this week in conjunction with Adobe’s annual creativity summit known as Adobe MAX. Unfortunately, new versions of Photoshop can also introduce new bugs that can affect the app in different ways. This Adobe Tech Blog from mid-October indicates that Adobe is aware that Photoshop 2022 has the potential to create problems with UXP panels, like the recently released TK8 plugin. I’ve been monitoring the situation closely and testing with Photoshop (beta) to get a sense of how TK8 might be affected. NOTE: Photoshop (beta) is available to anyone via the Creative Cloud Desktop app and is already at version 23.0.0, which denotes Photoshop 2022. Overall, it looks like TK8 will still work in Photoshop 2022, though I have some concerns given the nature of the problem outlined in the article. The one interface issue I’ve noticed (that’s not addressed in the article), is that the mouse cursor sometimes doesn’t properly display the diagonal arrow when it’s moving over TK8 buttons. It might be a double-arrow grabber or even the current tool icon in Photoshop. Weird behavior, for sure, but relatively minor compared to the issues that were occurring in earlier versions of Photoshop (beta).

Based on the Adobe Tech Blog, I’ve made a number of changes to the code for the TK8 plugin to help insure there is less of a chance of serious problems when Photoshop 2022 becomes available. I hopefully even fixed the weird cursor issue as that was particularly annoying to me. As a result, there is a new version of TK8 available at the download server—TK8 version 1.0.3. You can always tell which version of the plugin you have by looking at the bottom right of the Preferences interface, which is accessed by clicking the “TK” button on any module.

The new version of TK8 also fixes some typos and tooltip issues that were brought to my attention. There are no new features or functions. The new version is just an effort to correct problems expected when Adobe releases Photoshop 2022.

Recommendations:

  • Update your TK8 plugin to TK8 version 1.0.3 by downloading again using your original download link. The download server has been sending out version 1.0.3 since yesterday (Saturday). Running the installers in a fresh download will overwrite the current version with version 1.0.3. Search your email for “client@e-junkie.com” (the address used by the download server) or “Tony Kuyper” (if you purchased from my website) to find your original download link. NOTE: Using your original download link is the preferred method for updating.
  • If you can’t find your original download link, watch your email for how to get a new one on Monday, October 25. I’m planning to send a MailChimp campaign to TK8 plugin customers on that day, and it will include information for getting a new download link if you can’t find yours. So, please wait for that email instead of contacting me today.
  • Download and install TK8 version 1.0.3 even if you don’t plan to install Photoshop 2022 right away. TK8 version 1.0.3 works in Photoshop 2021 and corrects a few minor bugs. So it is fine to install it and update to Photoshop 2022 later. The old version of TK8 will also still probably work in Photoshop 2022 based on what I’m seeing in Photoshop (beta), but TK8 version 1.0.3 will work better, and I recommend installing it.
  • When you do update to Photoshop 2022, keep your eyes open for other problems. I hope I have corrected everything in TK8, but Photoshop updates are unpredictable. For example, there are reports of user-specific settings for plugins (like personal actions you’ve added to the Combo/Cx modules or color-tagged buttons or menu items) being lost when updating to a new version of Photoshop. So be aware that this may occur, although this is not something I can fix. Retaining your Photoshop 2021 preferences, if given the option when updating to Photoshop 2022, might help prevent losing the user-specific settings.

It’s unfortunate that Photoshop updates are sometimes accompanied by new bugs. Adobe actively monitors things and sends out fixes periodically between the yearly releases. Yes, it’s frustrating, but it’s not the end of the world. Software is complex, and it’s almost predictable that bugs will occur. The Adobe Tech Blog indicates that Adobe is working hard to correct the current problems. However, the UXP architecture is still evolving, so there may be additional surprises in the future. I’ll try to stay on top of things and issue updates to TK8 when necessary. Be sure to hold on to your download link as it will always allow you to get the latest version.

If there are additional issues uncovered when Photoshop 2022 is released, I’ll post information here. Also, if you notice any issues specific to TK8 when working with Photoshop 2022, please contact me so I can investigate.

Finally, I am a “silver” sponsor at this year’s Adobe MAX event. If you attend, please stop by and visit the “TK Luminosity Masks” sponsor site. There will be a video on using luminosity masks and special MAX discounts available for items on the Panels & Videos page.

TK8: New features list and videos

As mentioned in the previous post, launching the TK8 plugin encountered some major issues. They have been taken care of now and the sales page and download server are working properly. Thank you for your patience during this unfortunate event. I’m staying caught up on email for the most part now and the feedback has been mostly positive. I’m happy to hear that the transition from TK7 was straightforward for most users and that the interface, especially the Multi-Mask module, is easier to navigate. As a reminder, the discount codes sent to previous customers are good until October 22, and there is also a site-wide 25% discount on everything using the code: TK25off

There are a lot of new and improved features in TK8. I wanted to take it well beyond what TK7 offered. I know no one will use ALL the buttons and functions in TK8, but hopefully there will be enough favorites for everyone to make the plugin an important tool in their Photoshop workflow.

It would nearly impossible to cover all the new features in detail in one blog post, but I did want to provide a list so readers have an idea of what to look for and what to expect. Below this list are several videos (in different languages) that review some of the new features.

All modules

  • Tooltips are persistent unless turned off, but even turned off, holding down the “ALT” key on Windows or the “option” key on Mac displays them when moving the mouse over a button.
  • New selection indicators are more prominent, easier to see, and less likely to be overlooked.
  • Improved error message alerts for when user does something that could cause an unexpected result, and these are now translated into different languages.
  • More icons/fewer words.

Multi-Mask module (replaces TK7 Go and RapidMask modules)

  • New smart-phone-like interface for accessing different types of masks and functions.
  • Color-wheel-based color grading (like in Camera Raw).
  • Edge masks that find edges in the image.
  • Edit selections as masks.
  • Workflow extras which include sketch actions and gradient actions.
  • One-click add-adjustment-layer buttons at the bottom of the main interface for quickly making favorite adjustment layers.
  • Layer Mask mode with changeable luminosity masks (Lights, Darks, and Midtones) for quickly testing the effect of different masks on the image.
  • 2-UP mode also returns to Layer Mask mode.
  • Real-time Levels and Curves modification for any mask.
  • Mask calculator has been moved to the output section and has bigger buttons.
  • “Paint Color” output option for adding color to the image through a mask selection using Linear Light blend mode for the layer being painted.

Combo/Cx modules

  • Many new buttons: Linear Light blend mode at 15% fill opacity (replaces Hard Light)Merge Visible is now Stamp Visible (CTRL+click on Windows/command+click on Mac moves it to the top of the layer stack)Select SubjectSelect SkyFeather SelectionExpand SelectionContract SelectionFree TransformExport As…Gradient and Solid Color adjustment layer options added to the Adjustment Layers menu.
  • New “TK” actions: Fill TransparentAlign+FocusFill Edges check boxCTRL/command+click on the Clarity action runs it without the result being turned into a smart object.
  • Expanded web-sharpening options including presets, file-naming, and file-saving.
  • Add your personal watermark/logo with ease.
  • Smart object indicator visually specifies the contents of smart objects.
  • New, easier method to add user and button actions to the module.
  • Ability to add unlimited user actions to the User Actions list.
  • Preference available to NOT close “TK” and “User Actions” menus automatically.  This makes it possible to use Combo or Cx module with an alternate interface (TK or User actions) and thereby use both modules with one set to an alternate interface.

New feature videos

Several of the affiliates I work with have recorded videos discussing the new TK8 features. I’ve linked to them below. Some are in languages besides English.

Sean Bagshaw is basically the Dean of Luminosity Masks. He probably knows the TK8 plugin better than anyone (except maybe me) and has the skills to explain it so that photographers get the most out of it. His TK8 Video Guide is the definitive guide to TK8 for the English-speaking world. In the video below, he reviews his five favorite new TK8 features. Sean’s YouTube channel has a TK Quick Tips playlist.

Dave Kelly is basically an enthusiastic lab assistant at Professor Bagshaw’s Luminosity Mask University. Dave does a weekly series (“TK Friday”) where he focuses on explaining different features in the TK8 plugin and applying them to various images. Dave’s actually a student of many different photography techniques and enjoys sharing what he learns with others. In the video below, he too looks at some of his favorite TK8 features. Dave’s YouTube channel is here.

I’m not a big video maker, but I usually try to make one when updates are released. Below is the video I made for Sean’s, Antonio Prado’s, and André Distel’s video guide courses. It goes over where to find the new features in the TK8 plugin.

Antonio Prado is the Spanish world’s leading expert in everything TK. He too has a very deep understanding of the different pixel-based masks made possible by the TK8 plugin and explains everything in his Videoguía TK8 series. In the video below, in Spanish, he goes over the new features, and only he could cover this much territory in such a short amount of time.

Rafael Coutinho was a major source of ideas for TK8. He was constantly asking for new features and refinements, and they were all good, so I kept adding them. It’s great to have someone like this to prod me into constantly making a better product. In his video below, in French, he also covers the new features in TK8.

Isabella Tabacchi has been working with and teaching about luminosity masks for many years. In the video below, in Italian, she goes over the differences between the TK7 panel and TK8 plugin.

I hope you enjoy the new TK8 plugin.