Photoshop has built-in actions for a variety of functions that not many people that I know of actually use.
Not that I personally use those a lot, but, these built-in actions can save a huge amount of time if you need to do anything similar.
Before we look at the actions, there are a couple of points to keep in mind…
If you invoke Photoshop from Lightroom, you will get all kinds of errors and this is definitely a bug in the Lightroom-Photoshop workflow.
In case you get any errors while running these actions, just reset the settings for Photoshop by pressing CMD+OPT+SHIFT and then clicking on the PS icon to start PS. You will be prompted to reset the settings and just click okay on that.
Now that we are done with the issues, let us take a look at all the goodies we have already built into Photoshop.
To my way of thinking, working with layers implies the ability to precisely mask areas or subjects and apply effects based on the selections or masks.
This is exactly what makes the Luminar 4 layers practically useless. The implementation of the masks/selections is similar to using a paintbrush app vs something like Photoshop.
In Luminar, you only have the fixed brush and gradient tools for the masking. There is no option of something like an edge/tonal detection auto-mask (as in LR) or the perfect brush in ON1 Photo Raw 2020.
This means that you cannot really do clean masking or selection of any subject. Since you cannot make a clean mask, the whole purpose of layers is defeated.
Although there is a luminosity mask in Luminar 4, the same issue makes it practically useless. There is no control over the luminosity mask as in LR (which is not great) or ON1 (which is far better than LR).
While Luminar 4 remains a choice over LR and ON1 for noise reduction and the AI-based image enhancement features, the layers can be ignored almost completely.
The only place you can use layers is when you have shots where you can apply one of the blending modes in Luminar 4 and achieve the effect you want. Other than that, forget layers in Luminar till they have better masking tools.
Even after all these updates and features, the one thing that is still lacking in the Nik Collection, and some others as well, is the almost total lack of attention to the UI/UX and consistency of usage.
Let us look at the latest version of the Nik Collection, one by one, and see what I mean by this.
Inconsistent menus, zoom, pan, navigation, buttons and settings. No standard shortcuts apply where they could.
I have already shared how to create black backgrounds earlier, but, this one is going to be slightly different as we will also discuss a bit about the original exposure and which shots lend themselves well to a white background.
Do not confuse a white background with a high key image. High key images are those that are mostly light and white which is not true for just a white background image.
We will go through the process of making a white background in Lightroom, Photoshop (with and without Topaz Mask AI) as well as ON1 Photo Raw.
Yes, I have recently installed the trial version of Topaz Mask AI and so far, not very impressed as far as wildlife is concerned. Still learning more about it and experimenting…
This would also give us a reasonable comparison as to what one can do with each.
So…This is an image from my rooftop shooting today and this is what we will use in this session. Let’s start with this in Lightroom and then we will look at the same in Photoshop and finally in ON1.
First, the shot itself. As you can see from the base EXIF, this is overexposed specifically for a white background. I have avoided the wall behind the bird and it’s mostly the floor of the roof in the background. The angle of the shot is just over the bird to do this.
Similarly, when you have grey and/or overcast conditions, you can always look to overexpose a bit to create similar effects. Even low light conditions are good for this as long as the subject is close enough. In this case, the bird is just 6 meters away.
Now that we already have a dull background, let’s see how we can make this image pop a bit…
First, we apply my wildlife preset to this and tweak it a bit for a white background. Then, as with the black background, we use the adjustment brush and mask the background around the bird and then pull up all these sliders to make it white.
Do keep in mind that we can only do black or white in Lightroom, anything beyond that, you would have to look at some other application.
Okay, now, let’s remove the mask and try the same in Photoshop. First the select subject. Now, let’s try the Topaz Mask AI
Finally, let’s do the same in ON1 Photo Raw…We will use the local adjustments here with the perfect brush which is the equivalent of the auto-mask in Lightroom.