Change Colours in Photoshop Using Three Methods

Page Title Luminosity Action Panel

Use Luminosity Masks to Change Colours

In this tutorial I add some drama and interest by changing the colours in the sky and reflections to mimic shooting a sunrise or sunset in the opposite direction to the sun. I use three different methods to achieve a similar result. The result is a little surreal, but that’s what I was after with this edit. 

SHARE THIS: facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedintumblrmail


One of the best ways to create mood and drama in our images is to work with colour. This doesn’t mean increasing the vibrance or saturation of colours, but modifying colours so that they are more natural or pushing the process to create something that may not be as real. This tutorial modifies the highlights in an image using three different methods: The RGB channels in a Curves Adjustments Layer, a Selective Colour Adjustment Layer and a Hue & Saturation Adjustment layer.

Often when editing images we want to fix or enhance colours and our usual first port of call is to use Saturation or Vibrance to achieve this. Although these tools have their place, quite often what we actually need to do is modify the colour rather then increase the Vibrance or Saturation.

In this tutorial I use a Lights Luminosity Mask to target only the areas that I want the adjustments to happen, then using the three adjustment layers I modify the colours to achieve a similar result with each. It’s important to have multiple ways of doing the same things in Photoshop, as often one will yield better results then the others.

I use only 3 methods of adjusting colour in this tutorial, note there are other ways we can also adjust colour, but these will often yield the results I am after and are the methods I would use greater then 90% of the time.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this video or future videos you may be interested in seeing, please leave a comment below. 

View more videos on the Luminosity Channel



  1. Tony Bourke February 10, 2016 at 10:50 am #

    Hi Aaron, I agree entirely with your comments on manipulation, photography has never been about “the camera never lies”. Through the use of digital cameras and software such as Photoshop we all have the opportunity to express vision of the world, not to mention the myriad websites where we can display our work.

    Your tutorials are always clear, concise and illustrative.

    In my work flow I use ACR initially to select the camera profile and look at chromatic aberration, then to adjust white balance, exposure, black and white points and clarity. Mostly, that’s it, the rest is done in Photoshop. If I have a single photo I will make duplicates in ACR at different exposures and
    blend them in Photoshop.

    I tend to tweak luminosity masks using a levels adjustment. Am I losing any feathering by doing so? Should I choose a more precise mask initially?

    As far as tutorials are concerned, I would be interested to look at the use of “blend if” sliders either in isolation or in conjunction with luminosity masks,
    mostly to adjust tones and colours but anything else where you think they could simplify manipulation.


    Tony Bourke

    p.s. your ADP panel has really helped in improving my work

    • Aaron Dowling Photography February 10, 2016 at 12:48 pm #

      Hi Tony,

      Thanks for the compliments on the panel, I’m glad that you are finding it helps your workflow.

      I tend not to get wrapped up in all the talk on photo manipulation, and have never understood why some care so much about how others edit their images. I definitely don’t want to limit my creative vision by the opinion of others, and I don’t think any of us should. I love seeing peoples creativity come out, even though I may not always like the finished image, that’s irrelevant, as long as they like it.

      Using a Level Adjustment is how I always adjust my Luminosity Masks, and the method I would suggest to continue doing them. When we slide the mid-tone slider right and left we are still keeping the majority of the feathering. As the sliders get closer to each other we start to loose some of the feathering, but as long as we don’t push them to close together we shouldn’t have an issue. Of course you can push them really close together and get hard line selections, similar to what you will get with magic wand and quick selection tools. I almost always start with a 1 selection (Lights or Darks) and modify from there.

      Thanks for the suggestion on a future tutorial, it’s definitely something that I will look at.

      Cheers, Aaron

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *