TK7 Go panel workflow

panel with version number

Sean Bagshaw has an excellent video that demonstrates how the new TK7 Go module can easily fit into your processing workflow. It’s part of his TK7 Video Guide series and is linked at the bottom of this post. It’s not meant to show every feature in the Go module, but does cover a lot of territory on what’s available. He also touches on some important decision-making aspects of using masks and shows how to create and use them efficiently. Here are some of the highlights.

The mental checklist. This is a really nice review on how to decide what type of mask to use, or even if a mask is needed at all. Basically, deciding what you want to accomplish is an important first step in choosing the best tool to achieve that goal.

Experimentation is sometimes necessary. The best type of pixel-value mask (luminosity, color, zone, channel, saturation, or vibrance), isn’t always obvious. You might try one mask and find it’s not ideal. If that happens, don’t give up. As Sean demonstrates, it’s easy to switch to a different type of mask with the Go module, and there’s a good chance there will one that matches the areas of the image you want to select.

The targeted adjustment tool is your friend. Once you find a mask that works and have created an adjustment layer with the mask as a layer mask, the targeted-adjustment tool makes the necessary adjustment easy. Simply choose the tool in the Properties panel and then click and drag on the image. The tool finds the matching color or tone in the image and dragging on the image makes the adjustment. Curves, Hue/Saturation, and Black and White adjustment layers offer the targeted adjustment tool.

The mask calculator is cool. I’m always impressed at how combining different types of masks using this calculator can create some very useful masks that would be hard to achieve without it. It does take a little practice to think in terms of selected areas instead of numbers when using the mask calculator, but once you see how it works, a whole new level of custom masks becomes available. As Sean shows in the video, the subtract function is one of the most useful calculations. Be sure to give it a try.

Image processing with masks is incremental. Using pixel-value masks is not a one-click approach to image development. Each mask is usually combined with just one step in the process, and it’s the combination of several masks and steps that creates the final image. The Go module makes generating and using complex masks easy, but you’ll still spend some time deciding how things flow. Because of this hands-on approach, the final image reflects your individual sense of how this photograph should look and what it conveys to the viewer. In the end, it’s your vision that these masks make possible.

I’m sure you’ll enjoy this video and I hope it gives you new ideas for using pixel-value masks and the Go module to develop your images.

Be sure to subscribe to Sean’s YouTube channel for more videos about photography and digital processing.

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.

Add YOUR Photoshop actions to the TK7 panel (new method)

In addition to generating luminosity masks, the TK7 panel also creates a more efficient Photoshop workflow with the buttons and menus in the Combo and Cx modules. Many photographers keep one of these modules open in their workspace because it provides quick access to many commonly used Photoshop features. Another way to improve workflow efficiency is to use Photoshop actions to perform repetitive steps. However, using Photoshop actions still involves opening Photoshop’s regular Actions panel. The Combo or Cx modules provide an alternative to this also. Both modules have a dedicated User Actions menu for running Photoshop actions. You just need to take a few minutes to add the actions you are already using. Once it’s set up, you can access your Photoshop actions directly from the User Actions menu in these modules, and this sub-menu automatically closes once the action completes. It’s a fast and efficient way to run Photoshop actions. To help you get started, the video below shows a new method for adding your previously recorded actions to the User Actions menu of the Combo or Cx module.

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.

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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.

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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