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This tool fills the current layer with a Luminosity Mask based on the brightness of image pixels, and based on the Zone System. Thus the transparency of the mask corresponds to the brightness of the pixel. This is a very powerful tool to mask image selectively. For example, if the sky and clouds are bright, you can create an exact mask only for that area of the image and then enhance them.
To create a Luminosity Mask, click on the Luminosity Masking... button in the center of the Painting Mode info bar. This will reveal controls specific to Luminosity Masks.
Clicking on a numeric value representing a tonal range will pre-define a mask of that zone. The whole image is divided into 10 tonal zones. From the darkest to the brightest.
Values: 0, 1, 2, 3 - Shadows
Values: 4, 5, 6 - Mid-tones
Values 7, 8, 9, 10 - Highlights
Click one or more zones and dramatically enhance your images without brushes or complicated selections. Clicking the All button will create a global mask based on the brightness (luminosity) of the image pixels.
Moving left to right, each of these icons and tools will be explained below:
“Eye” icon: use the “Eye” icon to show and hide the mask.
Zone System numbers: clicking on a number, multiple numbers or the All button will select the appropriate zones.
X icon: click on the X icon to go out of Luminosity Mask mode.
Checkmark: click on the green checkmark to create the mask
Alternatively, you can open up the Histogram and when you mouse over it, a Zone System selection strip will appear. Selecting a zone(s) will reveal a button that allows you to create a Luminosity Mask.
Learn more how to take HDR photos in our HDR photography educational center.