Photoshop Tutorial: Tips for creating HDR layer masks using levels

This is the third post in the adobe photoshop tutorial series: achieving HDR images using layers and layers mask.

Yesterday we saw a better way to deal with steps 3 and 4 of how to achieve HDR images using layer masks in adobe photoshop using the threshold tool, today I am going to teach you an even more powerful and flexible way of creating this mask.

***Disclaimer***
All images in this tutorial are copyrighted to Daniella

To follow this tutorial, I’ll assume you have already completed steps 1 and 2 of how to achieve HDR images using layer masks in adobe photoshop.

this method can replace steps 3 and 4 to give you a better start

As a reminder you should now have two pictures of different exposures each on one layer as shown in this picture

Photoshop HDR tutorial 1

a. Make sure that you background layer is selected and that the visibility of the top layer is turned off

Photoshop HDR Tutorial using levels 1

b. Go to your Channels palette and CTRL+CLICK on the Green channel to load it as a selection

Photoshop HDR Tutorial using levels 2

c. Now switch back to the layers palette, re-enable the visibility of “layer 1″ the other exposure of the same shot and, while the selection is still active, add a layer mask by clicking on the button shown below
Photoshop HDR Tutorial using levels 3

I don’t know if you have already noticed, but by just doing these three steps we can already see that the mask is already pretty good.
Photoshop HDR Tutorial using levels 4

N.B.: Depending on the order in which the images (bright and dark) are loaded you might have to inverse your mask, for that make sure the mask is selected and then SELECT ALL (CTRL+A) and INVERSE (CTRL+I).

d. Make sure that the mask of “layer 1″ is selected, and load the levels by clicking CTRL+L
N.B.:Do not use levels in an adjustment layer, just type CTRL+L

e. Play around with the 3 sliders (Black, White and Grey) while observing what is happening to your picture, tweak them to taste
Photoshop HDR Tutorial using levels 5

That’s it, IF needed you can still refine your mask using the brush tool.

Tomorrow I will post the final tutorial in this series, a tip to help refining your mask so stay tuned.

This post is part of a series of posts, please also check HDR layer using layer masks and Tips for creating HDR layer masks using threshold and Tip for refining the HDR mask

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