TK Quick Tip: Layer Mask mode

One of the best features in the TK7 panel is the ability to view luminosity masks and other pixel-based masks as fast as they’re created. Seeing the actual mask up front allows you to make an initial assessment of what will be revealed and what will be concealed before the mask is actually put into use. It also allows you to modify the mask to make sure it selects the parts of the image you want selected.

When you actually deploy the mask, though, sometimes it’s not quite doing what it was expected to do. Maybe a different mask would have worked better. Or maybe the current mask is pretty good, but still needs additional modification. It’s occasionally hard to know how a particular mask is going to perform until you actually see how it affects the image.

If the mask you created using the TK7 panel was applied as a layer mask, then there’s no need to start all over. The TK7 panel has “Layer Mask mode” that lets you modify layers masks or even change to a totally different mask without going through the process of generating and applying a new mask.

In the video below, Sean Bagshaw covers three situations where Layer Mask mode comes in handy.

  • Changing to a different mask entirely.
  • Modifying the current layer mask.
  • Exposure-blending to control dynamic range.

The key feature in all these examples is that the image itself drives the decision-making process. In Layer Mask mode, you no longer see the mask since it automatically gets applied as a layer mask to the active layer. What you see instead is the effect the mask has on the image. So in layer Mask Mode you’re choosing the mask based on how the image looks and not on how the mask looks. You can still look at the mask if you want to, but you’ll also be able to instantly see how the mask affects the image. As always, Sean does an excellent job walking you through the process. I hope you’ll give it a try.

TK Quick Tip: Frequency separation

Luminosity masks are only one feature of the TK7 panel. There are also lots of buttons and actions to speed the creative workflow. Sean Bagshaw recently posted a TK Quick Tip video on one of the actions: Frequency Separation. While this technique has its origins in fashion and portrait photography, Sean shows how it can also be applied to nature and other photographic situations.

Frequency separation literally separates the image into two layers. One layer contains the color information (low-frequency) and the other the texture information (high-frequency). Once separated, these two component can be dealt with independently. Image cleanup is the main application for this technique and is especially useful when standard methods−like the clone stamp, patch, and healing brush tools−aren’t doing a great job.

Sun flare, human or animal tracks, and certain out-of-place elements in the image are situations where frequency separation is especially useful. The Frequency Separation action is found in the “TK►” button menu on the Combo and Cx modules of the TK7 panel.

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There are two important points to keep in mind when using the action.

1) The action stops to let the user enter a blur radius. A good choice for touching up color is the default 10-pixels value. For fixing texture issues, increase the blur radius so that it blurs out the unwanted texture or feature.

blue-example

2) Once the new layers are generated, the Clone Stamp tool is commonly used in the cleanup/repair process. It’s very important to set the tool’s “Sample” option to “Current Layer” in order to confine the needed cloning to just one of the frequency separation layers.

blue-example

Sean shows you how to do all this in the video below. I’m sure you’ll find it useful.

Be sure to subscribe to Sean’s YouTube channel for more great tips on photography and post-processing including those listed below.
Frequency separation
Mask-the-Rapid-Mask modification
“My Channels” masks
Infinity color masks
Linked vs. unlinked smart objects
Three ways to use Levels and Curves
Reusing saved luminosity masks
Developing a quality night sky
Split toning
Cloud sculpting
Exposure blending