Range Masking in Lightroom: A simple way to greatly improve your photos in Lightroom


posted Monday, March 18, 2019 at 11:00 AM EDT


You can do a lot within Adobe Lightroom without ever needing to dive into Photoshop. While Photoshop is obviously very powerful and is sometimes a required part of a specific photography editing workflow, Lightroom remains the go-to and often sole software solution for many photographers. With recent Lightroom updates, Adobe has edited numerous new selection and masking tools, including the Range Mask tool. The tool allows you to gain greater control over the shadows and highlights in your image. In the video below, photographer Thomas Heaton discusses the Range Mask tool and shows off different ways you can use it to improve your photo editing skills.

"It is one feature within Lightroom that is massively going to change the way you process your images and improve the processing of your images," Heaton says of the Range Mask tool. That is mighty big praise. Suppose that you wanted to add a graduated filter to your image in Lightroom, you can choose how the effect will be applied based on the luminosity or color of your image. For example, if you have a bright sky in your image and you want to darken it, you can add a graduated filter and decrease exposure and highlights. However, what if there are trees or mountains that extend above the horizon? You don't want those to be darkened as well. You can manually remove the effect using a brush, but this can prove very tricky with something like a tree. Another potential issue is that when part of a sky is really bright, you don't really do anything to deal with this imbalance in the frame by using a standard graduated filter.

The solution to these problems and more is to target your adjustments using the Range Mask tool. In the video below, you can see how Heaton uses the tool to apply his adjustments to just the brightest part of the image. By using the mask preview, you can see where the effects are being applied and adjust settings accordingly, no fiddling around with brushes required.

To see more of Heaton's photos, follow him on Instagram. To stay up to date with his videos, head over to his YouTube channel.

(Via Thomas Heaton