Yessir, great shots and an outstanding explanation.

I agree with you, the layer mask "solution" is kind of the tool of last resort as usually some simple tweaks will solve the problem. I haven't seen this described anywhere, just something I came up with when I was first poking around and learning PES4 in 2006 or so.

Usually I shoot RAW and am now using CS5, and frankly find the tools in the camera raw plugin solve most of these problems, but . . . there is always that almost sows ear waiting to be rescued.