Range Mask In Lightroom Classic – A Complete Guide

strawberry, water splashThe addition of Range Masking features to Lightroom Classic has bestowed newer superpowers on the photographic community. Range masking tools are an effective way to bring professional quality precision to the local adjustments, enabling you to create complex masks for detailed areas such as feathery critters or reef edges which would otherwise require editing with Photoshop.

Lightroom Classic’s Develop Module offers global controls which affect the tone and color of the entire image but photographers often come across situations where an edit requires perfecting any particular area of the picture without affecting others. The local tools of Lightroom – Graduated Filter, Adjustment Brush and Radial Filter are the way to achieve this as they allow applying corrections only where they are actually required while masking the rest of the image.

What is a Range Mask?

A mask allows applying an adjustment to select parts of the photo. It is simply a way to control what parts of the image get the edits you want to apply. There are numerous types of masks and they vary extensively by their applications.

When you use the local tools in Lightroom, ticking the checkbox for ‘Show Selected Mask Overlay’ or typing the letter O toggles a red overlay which shows the area where current adjustments are being applied. You can obviously erase the parts of selection to finesse the mask. However, subjects featuring complicated outlines and translucency are quite tricky to select precisely with just erasers and brushes.

The Range Masking options in Lightroom Classic are effective, powerful additions to the local tools, making it easy to create detailed masks depending on brightness and color. These features provide two different ways to apply masks to images – luminance and color.

Luminance Range Masking

Much like luminosity masks in Photoshop, Luminance range masks apply local adjustments depending on the brightness range selected. This means you can apply an edit using local adjustment tools to just the highlights, mid-tone or shadows luminance range you choose. The luminance range masking feature comes with a ‘smoothing’ slider that controls the intensity of the masking effect, hard to soft.

To use the Luminance Range Mask in Lightroom, you should first add a filter or brush to the image.

1. Double-click on ‘Effect’ at the top-left of the control panel to reset all sliders to be able to start with a clean platform and see that ‘Auto-Mask’ is deactivated.

2. Turn the Selected Mask Overlay ON to be able to see where you are editing the image. Add a brush stroke or gradient filter to the portion of the image you want to adjust.

3. Select ‘Luminance’ from the pop-up menu of the Range Mask.

4. Set endpoints of the Range slider to select the tonal range you are interested in. The endpoints, by default, are set to include everything. Move the slider’s right endpoints to the left to target dark areas. To target mid tones, move both the endpoints towards the center. Move left slider to the right to target lighter areas.

5. To specify how gradual the transition between the selection and the adjacent pixels is, use the smoothing slider.

6. Once you have made a satisfactory selection, turn the ‘Show Selected Mask Overlay’ OFF from the tool panel and begin adding your effects to the image.

Color Range Masking

The Color Range Masks work much like luminance masks but instead of basing the masking function on brightness, it depends on the color ranges selected using the dropper tool. You can use the dropper tool to select a big color palette by clicking and dragging the eye-dropper over a region of the image. Alternatively, you can use shift+click at desired points to select specific color areas.

To use Color Range Masking, add a filter or brush to the image first.

Follow steps 1 and 2 from the Luminance Range Masking section.

3. Select ‘Color’ from the pop-up menu of the Range Mask.

4. Pick the Color Range eyedropper and click on the color you want to work with. It is possible to pick four more colors using Shift+Click with your eyedropper. You can alternatively click and drag the rectangular pieces of colors and gradients to select them. As you proceed to sample colors, you find that the red Selected Mask Overlay gets turning more precise.

5. Adjust the Amount slider to set the transition between the selected and non-selected regions. A low setting leads to higher accuracy while a high setting gives a soft transition.

6. When the selection appears to be perfect, turn the ‘Show Selected Mask Overlay’ checkbox OFF from the panel and start adding effects with the help of sliders available in the control panel of the Filter or Brush.

Ideal subjects for using Color Range Masking feature are those distinctly-colored from backgrounds. Bright colored sponges, fans, colored patterns, stripes or red or yellow fish in front of blue waters are great candidates for this tool.

Final Thoughts

The new Range Mask feature brings the power of Photoshop masks to the comfort and safety of Lightroom. With the color range mask, you can use the power of color by selecting exactly which tones receive the adjustment. Color Range Mask is an outstanding way to bring out the contrast when working with complementary colors in an image. The luminance range mask lets you fine-tune where exactly your edits are applied depending on the brightness within the image. This feature is specifically advantageous when working with highly contrasting scenes and is great for black-white photos.

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