In this short tutorial, Joe Fitzpatrick will teach you how to use range masks in Lightroom.
Lightroom’s adjustment brush and the graduated and radial filters are powerful tools. With them, you can edit just parts of an image. The graduated and circular filters’ erase brush and the adjustment brush’s erase brush and auto mask features allow you to refine the adjusted area. With some images, refining local adjustments to just parts of an image can be time consuming or impossible, forcing you to make a trip to Photoshop to use its advanced selection features.
Two of the newer features of Lightroom CC are the color and luminosity range masks. These tools allow you to restrict an adjustment made with the local adjustment tools based on luminance or color. The range masks are quick and easy to use.
I’ve already made a few basic adjustments to this image to give a bit of pop to the field of flowers. Next, I’m going to use the radial filter to brighten and add texture to the shed. To start, I’ll set the shadows slider to around 60. Before you use a local adjustment you will see that the range mask option is grayed out. Once you apply an adjustment, you can activate the range mask feature. I want the filter to be applied to the inside of the oval, not the outside, so I’ll check the invert box. Then, I click and drag to create the filter. Next, I’ll fine tune the effect with a little contrast and clarity.
Now, to limit the adjustment to just the shed, we’ll use the range mask. You can mask either based on color or luminosity. When there is a big difference in luminosity between the part you want to adjust and the surrounding area, use the luminosity range mask. When there is a big difference in color, use the color range mask.
Let’s try color. Select color as the mask type. Click on the color selection eyedropper to activate it. Then, click and drag to select the colors that you want included in the mask. You can make multiple selections by holding down the shift key while you select additional colors.
The mask overlay can help you see exactly where and how much adjustment is being applied. Tap the letter O key to activate it. Holding down the shift key while typing the letter O will cycle you through the overlay choices. Fine tune your selection with the amount slider. Moving the pointer to the right increases the range of colors selected, to the left, decreases the range of colors selected.
I’ll use a new radial filter to brighten the tree. I could also use the adjustment brush. Click on new, and then double click on effect to zero the sliders, make sure the invert box is checked, and click and drag to create the filter. Brighten the shadows, add some clarity and saturation, and now I have the look I want.
We’ll use the luminance range mask to limit the effect to the tree. Use the range slider to confine the adjustment to a particular range of brightness. The left end is the dark tones and the right end is the light tones. In this case we want to limit the effect to the dark tones of the tree so slide the right pointer to the left until the adjustment only affects the tree. I’ll use the mask overlay to help me see if I am removing all the effect. I can further fine tune the adjustment with the smoothness slider. The mask edge becomes more feathered as you move the slider to the right.
I want to add drama to the sky in this image, so I am going to use a graduated filter. A little contrast and clarity and an exposure adjustment and the sky is now much more interesting. Unfortunately, the adjustment has also been applied to the trees. Since we have a big contrast difference between the trees and the sky, I’ll use the luminance, rather than the color, range mask. We want to confine the mask to the bright areas, so slide the left pointer of the range slider to the right until the adjustment only affects the sky. You can turn on the overlay mask to help you see what is happening. Use the smoothness slider to fine tune the mask.
Photographer, instructor and speaker.
Peggy Farren is an award winning, professional photographer, author, instructor and speaker. She’s been interviewed and featured on TV and in many national and local publications.
Peggy is the host of The Understand Photography Show, where we teach about travel, nature and fine art photography. Subscribe to our Podcast or Youtube channel for new videos every Tuesday and Saturday!