Luminosity Masking at 3:30 am

Coral Beach

Cayman Brac Revisited

Insomnia sucks, but I may as well make the best of it. I took one of my favorite landscapes for a little reprocessing trip to correct some horizon distortion, and also give it a go with some luminosity masking. It looks so much better now that I deleted the old version from my site and won’t even show the comparison. :-) It looked very washed out compared to the newer version.

This is a secluded little beach on the island of Cayman Brac, obviously not popular with sand-loving sunbathers.  The entire island is rather “rugged” with its large limestone outcroppings and cliffs.  A great place for those that want to avoid some of the commercialism and congestion of Grand Cayman.  The dead coral that makes up this beach is what I love most about this image. It provides such an interesting character to the landscape. Photographed at dawn, you can see I am not looking into the sunrise, but just the opposite where the clouds in the western sky are catching the morning light. It is also the reason for the wonderful, soft light on the coral. Long exposure to blur the waves.  I look in the opposite direction of a sunrise or sunset as a matter of habit now, but back in November 1999 when this exposure was made – let’s just say I didn’t always think that way.  You could call it one of those “Ah ha!” moments.

Luminosity masks

Luminosity masks

Who knew I would be processing the image again more than 10 years later at 3:30 am? I didn’t even know what a luminosity mask was back then, and probably didn’t do much masking of any images at all. I hadn’t realized the potential of spending more time with my images than simple scanning, dust spotting, and perhaps a global curves or levels adjustment.   I have to thank Tony Kuyper again for introducing them to me and for providing some excellent actions that make using them a snap.   By running Tony’s actions, you can generate layers like these quite easily, and then it is subtle tweaks to the curves to start to make things pop.  You can download them here.

I wonder what images I may be processing at 3:30 am in the year 2019?  What new tools will I have then that will make me look differently at the images of today?


  1. This is a really beautiful image and I love the detail all the way through. Thanks for the link to the tutorial. I am definitely going to check it out to see how I can use this to improve some of my own shots. It will be interesting to see what happens in 10 years and how we will be handling things then.

  2. Beautiful Image Mark!

    Tony’s Luminosity masks are subtle, but very powerful tools. I use them in one way or another on every image.


  3. Beau, definitely worth checking out – thanks for the comment. Who knows, maybe we will be editing in 3D!

    Thanks Ron – I agree – very subtle changes, but can make a huge difference in the final version.

  4. Really beautiful image. The processing really gives it a very real three dimensional look.

  5. ’99 wow what a flashback. I was using the same lens back then as well. Beautiful photo and thanks for the reminder about Tony’s actions. I’ve been meaning to pick them up and this post was the reminder I needed.

  6. Beautiful landscape Mark!
    Now, ….. off to take a look at that link.

  7. Great shot Mark. I’ve kind of had a digital imaging renaissance myself with the Lightroom 2 processing lately. Someday when I have time I would like to look back over my collection and re-process certain images.

  8. Hmmm…luminosity masks…Never heard of it but the result is stunning!

  9. Dude, show the original image. Curious minds want to see the difference. Super sweet image, btw. Cheers,

  10. Love the foreground and the luminous sky. Off to check out Kuyper’s actions…

  11. Hey Mark,

    I need to check out those actions, thanks for the reminder. And, like Gary said, show us a comparison, Quit playing around. :)



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