Fun with On1 Photo Raw Masks

Palmyra recently renovated a park and named it after Chief Payton Flournoy, the first African-American Police Chief in the town—and possibly the nation. An arch was put in as part of the renovation, and a couple of weeks ago I took my fisheye lens out to capture some neat angles of this new construction.

The Sun was at an nice angle during my shoot, which allowed me to capture some really nice flaring pushing through the structure. Unfortunately, there were also a number of garish blue flares which ruined some of my more interesting photographs. Here’s an example.

Palmyra Arch with an ugly flare.
Palmyra Arch with an ugly flare.

There are a number of techniques to get rid of flares that people use in Photoshop or Affinity Photo, but for whatever reason I couldn’t get them to work for me. And that’s when I got the idea to see if I could manage to do anything with these flares inside On1 Photo Raw itself.

On1 has some excellent masking tools, which can be applied to the different filters available in the editing module 1. A mask is similar to the way masking tape is used when painting a room—you tape over the spots where you don’t paint to get. In the Digital realm you can also do the opposite, you can “tape” over areas where you want the “paint” to get. In my experiments I applied a Color Adjustment filter to my photo and created a mask to have it only effect the garish blue flares. I then played with colors for a while until it matched the portions of the structure which weren’t affected by the flare.

The results from this adjustment is below.

Palmyra Arch, flare removed.
Palmyra Arch, flare removed.

So why would I want to do this inside On1 instead of opening up the image in Affinity Photo and doing the adjustments there? Because On1’s adjustments are non-destructive. When I edit photos from On1 in Affinity Photo 2 I can re-save my edits to On1, but only as a separate file. Once they get back into my photo manager those changes are locked in place. If I wanted to save a version which could be altered at a later date I’d have to save the Affinity project as a separate file elsewhere in my file system. In On1, however, I can always go back into to an edited photo and pick up from where I left off. I can edit the mask, apply new filters, or even revert the photo to it’s original state. If I want to develop a photo several different ways I can even create versions. These versions use the same file on my hard drive, but save the different ways On1 has been told to develop it. The more I use On1 Photo Raw, the more I am very happy I decided to move on from Adobe.

  1. This is similar to the way you can mask adjustment layers in Affinity Photo or Photoshop. 
  2. Or any other editor.