Image Masking, 3

The previous two posts

on masking demonstrated the basics of what masks do and how they are used. Neither went into any detail on how masks are created. It was noted that the how-to-create will depend on what image editing program you use. The concept of how masks are used is more important than how they are made – making them is a more or less mechanical process (made easier or harder depending on your program of choice but mechanical nevertheless).
This post will demonstrate the use of masks from beginning to end in the post-processing of an image. The masks will be used to selectively adjust lighting, contrast and color over several steps. The goal of the adjustments is to call attention to the subjects of the image (a butterfly and a bee snacking on a thistle) by enhancing the subjects and subduing the background. Selectively is the key word in making these adjustments. We absolutely cannot accomplish our goal by applying the changes globally, i.e., the same change equally to everything within the image space. I’ve been a bit “heavy-handed” with the adjustments in order to make the step by step changes obvious (subtle is usually better).
These two images represent the beginning (left) and ending images.

For the next six image/mask pairs, compare each image with the one directly above it to see the selective change made to the image.
RECALL – the adjustment, whatever it may be, is applied 100% where the mask is white, 0% where it’s black, and proportionally depending on the shade of gray elsewhere.
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#1 – Increase the thistle’s saturation. Note that nothing else changes when the image is compared to its predecessor above.

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#2 -Make color adjustment to the butterfly.

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#3 – Color/contrast adjustments to the bee; pull it out from the background.

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#4 – Overall color contrast increase – to the subjects only.

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#5 – Subdue the background by darkening (burning for film) it throughout.

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#6 – Darken the green background a bit more.

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#7 – Lighten the center (center placed in the triangle between the three elements of the subject) and gradually darken as we move outward toward the frame. Highlights the subjects further while simultaneously subduing the background.

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THE END.

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