Remove Halos Using Luminosity Masks

Sometimes we are faced with unique challenges in our edits. This tutorial shows a a technique I used to repair an issue I was faced when printing. A large and soft glow halo appeared around the tree. This tutorial show you a technique to remove halos using luminosity masks. 

This tutorial uses a previous version of our luminosity panel, the techniques are still relevant with our current panel.

Video Duration: 11:39

I took this image into my local professional print lab to have it printed for the Western Australia Professional Photography Awards. The file looked perfect on my calibrated monitor at home. But, when it printed there was a glow around the tree that wasn’t noticeable on the digital file. This issue posed a unique issue for me, and required a solution that I hadn’t used previously.

So, I took the file home and firstly had to reveal the issue in a way that allowed me to repair it. After opening it up in Photoshop I needed to find a method of clearly revealing the glow around the trees. Using a Curves adjustment layer i pulled down heavily on the middle of the curve. Because the white point is anchored at the top, by pulling down in the middle I left the lights, light. This clearly revealed the tonal difference between and therefore the glow around the tree branches.

The Solution: Using Luminosity Masks To Reveal & Adjust the Glow

The solution to this issue is reasonably complicated, and not something that you’ll use everyday. Below I list the steps I take to deal with the glow, but the solution is best seen by watching the video above.

Step 1

Using luminosity masks I needed to make a tailored selection that allowed me to work on the glow only. The luminosity masks with layers option was the best method for this task as it gave me layers to work with and make adjustments. Firstly, I created a lights luminosity mask to dark the bright areas of the image. Then using the curves adjustment layer I significantly darkened the midtones to reveal the glow. I then adjusted the white, black and midtone points of the levels adjustment layer to better select the glow.

Step 2

I can now use the luminosity mask on a curves adjustment layer and pull down on the curve heavily. This darkens the glow significantly, but it does have a small affect on the surround trees. We also have the problem that the removal of the glow and it’s full impact are not easily noticeable. They are not noticeable because the tones in the glow and surrounding trees a very similar.

Step 3

To ensure that I only effect the glow and not all of the surrounding trees, I place the curves layer into a group with a black mask. This hides the adjustment, and allows me to paint in the darkening of the glow to just the affected areas.

Step 4

To more clearly see the areas I am painting, I place the first darkening curve we used to reveal the issue above the group. Although this is darkening the image significantly, it is only being used as a tool to reveal the glow. Once we complete the removal of the glow, we can delete this layer.

Step 5:

Using a white paint brush, with a soft edge and low opacity, I start to paint away the glow. It’s very evident where it’s working because of the darkening layer in step 4. Once I have completed painting away the glow, the curves layer in step 4 can be deleted, and the issue is fixed.

Please watch the video to see all the details step by step. It’s very difficult to put this technique into words.