Selective Sharpening with the Lightroom Masking Tool

Peggy Farren 2014-01-17

by Joe Fitzpatrick

Lightroom

The nature of digital images requires that some sharpening be applied after capture. With a JPEG initial sharpening takes place in the camera; with a RAW file all sharpening is done in post processing. Unfortunately when you sharpen an image noise is also sharpened and when you reduce noise an image becomes less sharp. Lightroom offers a solution for this problem by allowing you to restrict where sharpening takes place.

Open up the image in Lightroom’s Develop Module and select the DETAIL panel. The illustrations show Lightroom 5; Lightroom 3 and 4 are similar.

Start by adjusting the noise in the image.

Lightroom Sharpen Mask 2

Then adjust the sharpening

Lightroom Sharpen Mask 3

Hold down the ALT key (OPTION key on a MAC) and click and hold on the MASKING slider.

Lightroom Sharpen Mask 4

The entire image will turn white. This shows the area that is being sharpened.

Lightroom Sharpen Mask 5

While holding down the ALT key, slide the slider to the right until only those areas that you want sharpened are still white. Areas of the image shown in black will not be sharpened. Since noise and sharpening are interrelated you will often need to go back and forth between sharpening and noise, adjusting each until you get the perfect result.

Lightroom Sharpen Mask 6

That’s it! You have sharpened the image without emphasizing noise in areas without a lot of edge detail.

Don't miss a thing.

Subscribe to our show!

Click to subscribe!
Close popup

Subscribe to our show!

By subscribing to our show, you will never miss out! We will notify you via email when a new podcast is posted.

Please Fill Out This Field

Like what you are reading?

Sign up for our newsletter!

Sign up now!
Close popup

Sign up for our newsletter

Your details are safe with us.

Please Fill Out This Field

Post Your Comment Below

What Camera Should I Buy?

One of the most often questions we receive is "What type of camera should I buy?" Of course a lot depends on your budget and what you want to do with the camera. Watch this short video for Peggy's recommendation.

Sign Up for Access
Close popup

Which camera should I buy?

Enter your contact information to watch this short video for Peggy's recommendation!

Please Fill Out This Field

Join the movement

About Peggy

Peggy Farren is an award winning, professional photographer, instructor, writer and speaker.

With over 17 years as a full-time professional photographer, Peggy offers photography training through her training center, “Understand Photography”.

Learn More

Essential Preparation Tips for Travel Photography

This free report will help you choose the right cameras, lenses and accessories for your travels. You'll need different equipment depending on where you are going, your finances, and the weight of the gear. We'll show you how to determine the best equipment for your needs. Also included is a comprehensive list on what you'll need, some things you may not have heard before but you'll be so glad we let you know!

Sign Up for More Information
Close popup

Essential Preparation Tips for Travel Photography

Many you've never heard before!

Please Fill Out This Field