Photo Commentary #13: Masking

Masking in Landscape Photography

Photo Commentary #13: Masking

Photo Commentary #13: Masking 1024 683 varunvisuals
Masking in Landscape Photography
Masking is a highly effective tool in photography, especially in the world of landscapes. This image shot by Johannes Plenio exemplifies a moment where masking can be used to capture the best of two worlds.

At the end of my last post, I asked you to think about how photographers are able to retain areas of sharpness in a long exposure photo – today I will be discussing the answer.

Rather than starting with the solution, I figure it would be more interesting to work towards it. Let’s start with what we know. Imagine you are at the location of where this beautiful photo was taken. Your end goal is to arrive at the same photo. Based on the information I gave in the last post, you are successfully able to capture the rolling clouds in the sky. However, the tree on the right was also swaying in the wind so it is blurry. This applies to the grass as well.

You try to take another picture but with a faster shutter speed. Now the grass and trees are sharp but so are the clouds – once again, not what we want.

So now you have 2 pictures framed with the exact same composition (thanks to your trusty tripod), but neither has both the elements you want – sharp foreground and blurry sky. If only you could take the best parts of each photo and combine them into one…hmm.

Welcome to the process of masking. Masking is one of the most widely used processes in photography. Generally speaking, masking simply refers to covering up a certain portion of a photo to which you do (or do not) want certain characteristics to either be captured and/or edited. In this particular instance, you could utilize both images and via editing software, cover up the sharp clouds in one image and the blurry grass/trees in the other.

Of course, this is not the only time masking can be used!

So, what are your thoughts on masking?

Photographer: Johannes Plenio

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