Restore Vibrant Sunset Color with Luminosity Masks!

We’ve all taken those shots when the sunset looked spectacular, but the image just didn’t live up to our memories of night.  Or shot just past the peak color.  Or maybe just wanted to punch up the color for dramatic effect.  Whether you want to add a little color to get back to reality or a lot to be dramatic, luminosity masks are an awesome tool to get the job done.  In the video below, I show how I use solid fill layers and luminosity masks to add back pink color back into the sky.

My basic approach (using my free luminosity masks) is:

  1. Create the channel masks
  2. Add a solid fill layer, set to the desired hue, with brightness and saturation maxed out at 100
  3. Change the solid fill layer to “soft light” blend mode
  4. Add a black mask to the solid fill layer
  5. Load the appropriate lights mask as a selection (to get a good selection of the clouds, but not the buildings)
  6. Paint through the luminosity selection with a white brush to create a luminosity mask in the targeted clouds/sky
  7. Optional:  Duplicate the solid fill layer if needed for extra color, or reduce its opacity for less
  8. Delete the channel masks

My basic approach (using Lumenzia) is:

  1. Select the sky with the “quick mask” tool in Photoshop
  2. Click on the desired luminosity mask in Lumenzia
  3. Click “color” to load a solid fill layer via Lumenzia (this will automatically set the blend mode and apply the luminosity mask in the selected area with a feather to ensure a smooth/natural look)
  4. Optional:  Duplicate the solid fill layer if needed for extra color, or reduce its opacity for less

Note that you could also use the same technique described above (painting with a white brush through a selection) with Lumenzia, but it is often much faster and easier to just use a simple selection with Lumenzia to determine where the luminosity mask will be applied.  I do sometime use that painting approach however, as it can be used for extremely fine control over how the mask is applied locally, or for situations where you might want to paint through multiple selections to deal with a complex image.

Check out the video below to see a full demo of both of these techniques, as well as a quick review of the other Camera RAW and Lumenzia adjustments I applied to the image.  And be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel to be notified whenever I post more tutorials.



Greg Benz Photography