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        darktablethe photo workflow softwareMain menuSkip to primary contentSkip to secondary content
        the rainy cord chord, © 2011 Rostyslav Pidgornyi
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        Luminosity Masks in Darktable
        Posted on January 18, 2015 by Mueen Nawaz
        Pat David has a great blog on photoediting in GIMP. I recently read his post on luminosity masks and was fairly impressed. Can darktable do something similar? Yes - they're a special case of parametric masks.

        I thought I'd post a quick tutorial on luminosity masks using parametric masks. First, I strongly suggest you read Pat David's post and thoroughly understand what's going on.

        A quick and simplistic explanation follows: Normally, if we make a selection and, say, adjust the brightness dramatically in that selection, we get a sharp (and ugly) transition near the edge of the selection:

        The quick solution is to blur the mask (feathering in GIMP). Feathering simply makes the transition less sharp:

        Better, but still too sharp a transition. You can feather it even more if you wish, but however much you feather it, the transition is determined too heavily by your choice of selection (a rectangle in this case). We'd really like is a way to select based on the actual contents of the image.

        What luminosity masks do is let you select regions in your image in proportion to their brightness. So the L layer in Pat's article fully selects completely bright pixels, and only partially selects pixels that are half as bright, and doesn't select pixels that are not bright at all. When you now brighten the image, the effect of the brightening is greatest on the brightest pixels, and least on the darkest pixels. There are no sharp transitions like what I have in my screenshots above.

        In that sense, some refer to these masks as self-feathering.

        So how can we do this in darktable?

        Consider the following image:

        Let's say I want to brighten it. Let me apply an aggressive curve:

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