Luminosity Masks

I was just wondering if anyone on this forum finds the lack of any Luminosity Masking functionality in Photo Lab to be an issue. I have been using Photoshop and Affinity Photo to do my luminosity masking but would much prefer it if that functionality were available in Photo Lab itself. I suppose this came up for me because version 12 of CaptureOne now has LM built in, as do several other workflow tools.

Sometimes Dxo people comment on this forum and I was just wondering if there were any plans to add that to some future version.


Hi Mike,

For those of us without experience in PS or Afinity - - could you please explain the benefits of Luminosity Masking … Why would we want this functionality ?

John M


i use the local corrections and gradient filter for that.
if i think you use a filer layer for luminations correction.

It is a very easy way to create a mask based on luminosity and indeed to manipulate that mask further using brushes. I use it a lot in Lr along with colour range masking. ON1 has a nice version of it also. The original mask is created automatically and you can either work with that or adjust the parameters bringing more or less into the mix - white being 100% in and black being 100% out. The mask as I said can be further adjusted using the brush.

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could you please explain the benefits of Luminosity Masking

Certainly. Luminosity Masking provides the ability to create a mask that contains only the brightest or least bright parts in an image, and so allows you to make adjustments to only those parts. You do something like this when you adjust the Highlights, Shadows and Midtones in an image but the ability to create a Luminosity Mask usually also gives you the ability to adjust just how bright or shadowy the selected parts are, and sometimes which color you want a LM for.

In addition, a properly created Luminosity Mask changes from those parts of the image that are included to those that are not included gradually so generally there are no sharp edges to the mask and things look normal after an adjustment instead of there being a distinct border between light and dark. You can see how helpful that is by using the graduated filter in the PL Local Adjustments. The changes you make are gradual and look more like the normal world.

I have found this type of adjustment to be very, very helpful, but I have to use Photoshop or Affinity Photo to create the masks and then do my adjustments in that editor, but recently most other workflow tools have added LM functionality to their basic set of adjustments so I was wondering if PhotoLab had any plans to add it as well. The Nik stuff is nice, but I do not see how to use it for this type of work.

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I never worked with Luminosity Masks but it sounds a lot like what I use to do with U-Points.

In the example I select the dark blue bristles with three U-Points. To refine the selection I add two “protection” points by pressing the Alt-Key.

Note that I didn’t touch the blue color at the handle because the circles of influence are small.

To create the sample took one minute. To combine the screenshots and write this text took much longer. :wink:

Is this something you would use a luminosity mask for?

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That’s more like colour range masking. To be honest Lr does that far more elegantly than U Point. U Point is great but tech is moving on and whilst U Point certainly has a place ( I love it) there are alternative approaches now.

The whole idea behind Luminosity Masks is that you can mask the highlights or shadows for adjustment regardless of where they are in the image or how many locations are involved. For example, if you have a photo of some bright flowers in several clusters in a photo with a dark background a single LM will allow you to adjust all of them at the same time while not adjusting the dark background (or the exact reverse if you wish to do that). Something like this may be possible using the Nik stuff, but would require a different mask for each group of flowers, and hence a lot more work.

In addition the ability to adjust only the lights or shadows can be adjusted in a LM to gather more or less of the adjusted area, and the adjustment is automatically feathered so there are no hard edges unless the user wants them. The best way to visualize this is to take a photo and convert it into black and white. You will see light areas, dark areas and mid tones areas and if you adjust the color bands in PL to boost or reduce individual colors you can see how the B&W image changes. Using that “greyscale” image as a mask then allows you not only to adjust the lights and darks separate from the rest of the image, but allows you to revise the point where the lights and darks become mid tones than thus revise the LM itself to revise how much adjustment will take place.

I hope this is clear. If not I can write a longer post with greyscale images to show what I mean.


Thanks Mike - I have a better understanding now.

In the meantime, you might like to try working with Smart Lighting - using the Spot Weighted mode. This mode gives the impression that it applies only to faces (in that its tool is applied to any faces it identifies) … but, you can use it in a similar way to which you describe the way that Luminosity Masks are applied …

The method suggested by Peter/@OXiDant is to place one (or more) Spot Weighted “rectangle” over a bright part of the image, and another (or more) over shadow areas.
I cheat a bit by encompassing (if I can) an area comprising both bright & shadow areas with just one “rectangle”. Either way, you then move the “rectangle(s)” around until you get the result you like.

This is probably(?) less precise than Luminosity Masking - but it’s very quick & easy to apply Spot Weighted Smart Lighting - - and I’ve had good success with it.

Regards, John M

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Thanks for the explanation, Mike. To answer your original question: No, I don’t feel limited by not having luminosity masks at my disposal in PL.

I could imagine that a luminosity mask could be another local adjustment tool or that I could set a U-Point to select on luminance or color only instead of color+luminance combined.

In software which relies on layers like Pixelmator I see the need for this feature and how it could be useful for me. For blending pictures I missed it already.

That is a useful technique John but how does it allow you to add colour adjustments etc to the areas based on their luminosity or to manipulate the areas selected by adjusting the luminosity range? I cannot see how that comes anywhere close to the power of luminosity masking.

It doesn’t Colin … but this alternative suggestion may get you some of the way (?) towards your aim whilst waiting for luminosity masking capability to be added to PL.


A nice idea ! Perhaps you could make a request out of this, Christian ?


At the end of the day I guess it is all about where PL intends to end up. Does it want to grow into a Lr/ON1 type of program or is the idea that it will just be a very good raw editor that can hand off to other apps if further editing is required.

Colour range and Luminosity masking are two great strengths in Lr and indeed ON1. Certainly Lr offers the functionality within the radial filter and probably the gradient as well. Have not tested ON1 that far.

This question about whether or not PL would add LM functionality came about due to the addition of that kind of adjustment tool in some other workflow tools. People refer to Lightroom as the main alternative to PhotoLab but I consider CaptureOne to be PL’s real competitor and they just added it as built-in functionality. That means that of the 3 top Mac workflow tools (at least in my opinion) PL is the only one without this ability.

Of course it depends on where PL is going as a tool but I think that if they expect to be able to remain a viable photo workflow tool they need to keep up with the competition but, in general, I wanted to know if others felt the need for this functionality as much as I do and the answer seems to be mixed.

Mike - Does Luminosity Masking depend on layers ?

If so then that would be an issue for implementation in PL - which does not rely on the (complication) of layers. If not, tho, then @calle/Christian’s suggestion might well be do-able.

John M

All of the current implementations of luminosity masks that I am aware of involve layers, but I am sure that PL uses layers, even if virtual, in its internal editing. How else can it allow for undos for every action that is taken except to do those adjustments on internal layers so those layers could be removed as someone walks back through the adjustment steps?

The layers do not have to be accessible to the users to be used internally.

Wouldn’t you be happier using Lightroom, Colin? You want a DAM and you want pixel editing in DxO PhotoLab.

DxO PhotoLab USP is that it’s the best RAW converter in the world. Adding all of this non-core functionality will make PhotoLab bloated, slower and harder to maintain. Something like Lightroom.

Hey, you wanted a leaner, better RAW converter and that’s why you abandoned Lightroom – did you not? I certainly did.

Luminous masking would be an awesome feature – after:

  1. hardware acceleration
  2. viable preview mode for always responsive interface on sliders

So that we can work better and faster with the tools we already have. Existing local tools are slow enough that it makes sense to bounce an image to a pixel editor Affinity Photo or Photoshop if there are more than just a few small touchups.

Adding yet more tools until the ones we have are fast enough to use efficiently doesn’t make sense to me.


What a very strange response Mr Kinear. I never asked or wanted DxO to create a DAM I was quite happy with it being a raw converter and using it on the back of an existing Dam. It was I believe DxO who decided a DAM was needed! As for luminosity, this was a discussion about where PL was going and what functionality it needed. Nothing more and nothing less. That is why I asked - where does DxO see PL going? I think you are reluctant to see change which is fair enough. But I really do believe DxO needs to move on or be left behind, but it is a pretty good raw converter. Oh and I have certainly not abandoned Lr and probably never will.