Vibrance, Saturation, Smart Orton: A closer look at what the TK7 panel can do

I’m well aware that the TK7 panel can seem a bit overwhelming at first. Lots of buttons that do lots of stuff, and it’s not all luminosity masks. That’s why I appreciate Dave Kelly doing some videos that take a closer look at specific features and how to use them. These videos narrow the focus considerably and explore one or two techniques in detail. Knowing how the different functions work provides a sense for what is possible, and once you know what’s possible, you can decide when it might work to add that feature to your workflow. Dave’s latest videos feature techniques that I find particularly useful on many of my images: Saturation and Vibrance masks and the Orton effect.

The first video below goes over how to use Vibrance masks. Saturation and vibrance are both areas of image development that don’t get a lot of attention. Yes, we might adjust them when things don’t look quite right, but there’s a creative side to explore as well. I’ve found that Vibrance masks are often ideal for making a global saturation increase. The correct Vibrance mask in combination with a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer can add a nice saturation pop to the image without over-saturating colors that are already quite saturated. By using a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer instead of a Vibrance adjustment layer to control saturation, individual color channels can also be adjusted independently to fine-tune the effect. Dave shows how to do this. This technique is one of my favorites to try near the end of the processing workflow to make sure I’ve pushed the image’s saturation as far as possible without overdoing it.

Saturation masks are the flip-side of Vibrance masks in a couple of ways. The first is that they target the opposite pixels as Vibrance masks. Vibrance masks are brightest in areas with the least-saturated colors whereas saturated pixels show brightest in Saturation masks. Additionally, Saturation masks often work best with local adjustments (instead of a global adjustment) via a technique called saturation painting. This process loads a Saturation mask as a selection, and then painting gray through this selection onto a special layer lowers the saturation in areas of the image where the color looks too hot. It’s a very precise way to target over-saturated colors without affecting the overall global saturation of the image. Dave demonstrates how it’s done in the video below.

By combining global saturation adjustments through a Vibrance mask with local saturation adjustments via saturation painting, a new (and often better) saturation balance can be achieved in the image. The image will look better because saturation has been specifically addressed using masks that can accurately target different levels of saturation in the image.

The final video below looks at additional ways to add some finishing touches to the image: the Make-It-Glow and Smart Orton techniques. Make-It-Glow is pretty much a one-click technique that adds a nice sense of glow to the image via color blurring without blurring the image’s texture. It works well on warm-colored subjects like sandstone, autumn leaves and flowers.

The Smart Orton action takes the regular Orton effect (which combines a saturation and contrast boosts along with Gaussian blur) and breaks it into it’s component parts. Shadows, highlights, blur, and contrast all have their own layers, and users can adjust them to get whatever effect looks best on their image. It might feel a bit daunting at first, but Dave walks you through the various layers and adjustments in the video below.

Be sure to subscribe to Dave’ Kelly’s Joy of Editing YouTube channel to get the latest TK7 videos along with additional videos about Topaz and Nik filters.

More TK7 videos from Dave Kelly

Dave Kelly has continued to create video content about the TK7 panel on his YouTube channel, The Joy of Editing. One of the themes he’s exploring is how to use the different masks available in the Go module. The Go module was the new mask generator in last year’s TK7 update and it’s part of an evolution to simplify the mask making-process. The videos below are his most recent ones that take a look at using the Go module.

Dodging and burning is covered in the first video linked below. This is one of the most fundamental and powerful ways to us luminosity masks. The mask essentially creates a stencil, and painting through this stencil in the form of a Photoshop selection deposits either black paint for burning or white paint for dodging precisely on those parts of the image where it’s intended to have an effect. Multiple brush strokes can be used to intensify the effect in certain parts of the image and not others, and even colored paint can be applied, so it’s possible to burn and dodge with color. There is a lot of creative flexibility when burning and dodging through luminosity mask selections, and it’s a technique that can be used on almost every image.

In the next video, Dave looks at combining luminosity masks with Photoshop plug-ins like Topaz Studio. This is a really interesting application of luminosity masks and it makes perfect sense. Luminosity masks, because they are based on pixel-level data, provide perfectly feathered edges. So blending in a Topaz adjustment is very much like exposure-blending with luminosity masks. In both cases there is a seamless blend creating a natural transition between the different effects.

In the third episode of the series on using the Go module, Dave runs through several processing steps on three different images. What I really like about this episode is Dave’s experimental approach to incorporating the masks in his workflow, and experimentation is a very important part of the creative process. It’s sometimes easy to forget that generating luminosity and other pixel-level masks would be hopelessly inefficient if we had to do it manually. The Go module completely removes this barrier by making a huge variety of masks available at the click of a button. Dave shows that it’s easy to experiment and find the right mask and then apply it to achieve the desired outcome. This video also features luminosity masks being used on monochrome images. Luminosity masks have a reputation for being best suited for color landscape and nature photography. The reality is they can be used with ANY photograph, and monochrome, especially, can benefit from their ability to isolate specific tonal ranges in the image.

I find Dave’s videos enjoyable to watch as they reflect a real-world application of the panel. No one is going to use every feature in the different modules, but there’s a high likelihood that certain features will be incredibly useful. It all depends on what you’re looking to do with an image, and Dave provides plenty of ideas for incorporating different functions into the workflow.

Since many people will find Dave Kelly’s videos useful, I reached out to him and provided a discount code that he’s included in his video descriptions on YouTube. It’s works on all items on the Panels & Videos page.

TK7 Go Module: A video by Dave Kelly

“The Joy of Editing” is a YouTube channel run by Dave Kelly, and he recently uploaded a video featuring luminosity masks and the TK7 Go module. He explains the basic features of how to use it, and photographers familiar with the panel may already know some of what he demonstrates. However, he does make especially good use of the module’s Zone masks in this video. Zone masks were completely changed in the Go module compared to the Zone masks in the RapidMask module, and they’re possibly underutilized. Dave uses them as layer masks on Curves adjustment layers, but I also find them useful for burning and dodging after loading them as a selection. If you’ve not experimented the Zone masks in the Go module, hopefully seeing what Dave does in this video will provide some incentive and confidence to give them a try.

Luminosity Mask Masterclass: A new video series by Sean Bagshaw

I’m very happy to announce that Sean Bagshaw’s newest video series, Luminosity Mask Masterclass, is now available on the Panels & Videos page. I’ve included several sample chapters below.  Previous customers should check their email for a private discount code.  New customers can use the following code for an introductory 20% discount:  Master20

From almost the time the original tutorial was released in November 2006, Sean Bagshaw has been a user and proponent of luminosity masks.  He’s been teaching them for nearly a decade and has had significant input into designing the panels I’ve made to generate them.  His first Complete Guide to Luminosity Masks series in 2013 and the follow-up “2nd edition” in 2015 helped many photographers understand the potential of these amazing masks for the first time.  Since then he has done numerous courses utilizing luminosity masks.  His Complete Workflow videos, for example, demonstrate how easily these techniques can be incorporated into the digital workflow and what a difference they can make.

However, it’s been over five years since Sean released a series devoted exclusively to luminosity masks, and this makes Luminosity Mask Masterclass an important and timely update.  I’ve continued to evolve masking concepts over the years, and new masks and new panels are now available.  While preset luminosity masks are still the core type of pixel-based masks, they’re no longer the only type of mask that can be derived from pixel values.  Saturation masks, color masks, and zone masks are now easily generated, and these too can be extremely useful when making targeted adjustments in Photoshop.  In addition, there are new ways to modify masks, new ways to output them, and new techniques that take advantage of these masks’ immensely useful self-feathering character. 

So the universe of pixel-based masks has expanded considerably in the last five years.  Luminosity Mask Masterclass looks to combine this new knowledge about pixel-based masks with Sean’s expertise in using them to provide a detailed overview of their creative potential.  Masterclass is a compendium that provides both a broad look at this masking landscape as well as in-depth demonstration of how to use these masks in specific situations.

The new series is composed of fifty (50) chapters and would require around five hours if you watched them all straight through.  Fortunately, Sean has the content arranged into broad topics that include:

  • Basic concepts
  • Ways to mask
  • Choosing masks
  • Modifying masks
  • Mask techniques

It’s filled with lots (and lots) of examples and includes images, so you can practice along with Sean.  The organization makes it easy to focus your attention on topics and chapters that interest you most and to learn at a pace that feels comfortable.  Additionally, this is Sean’s first course that makes extensive use of the new TK7 Go module, and I’m really happy to see how it performs. It’s instructive to see how he employs it in a wide variety of situations.

I’m sure you’ll enjoy this new series. Sean is a talented teacher and an expert at explaining the way things work and how to do them, especially when it comes to luminosity masks. Luminosity and other pixel-based masks can certainly make a difference in your images, and this course will help you get the most out of them. I hope you’ll give the new series a try. Please feel free to leave a comment or contact me if you have any questions.

NOTE: The Master20 discount code expires on November 26, 2020.