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Lightroom vs Photoshop • PhotoTraces

Lightroom vs Photoshop • PhotoTraces

Image Masking in Photography: Lightroom vs Photoshop

Picture masking in images is among the most essential functionalities of any photograph enhancing program. Regardless that picture masking implementation can fluctuate from {photograph} to program, the idea behind the picture masks is similar. Picture masks permit us to make use of selective enhancing.

Let me clarify.

When analyzing any photograph, you may see that totally different areas have distinct traits and properties. It’s unlikely to use a collection of edits to a whole photograph and obtain the specified outcomes. The one method to produce professionally-looking pictures is to edit totally different areas of the picture individually utilizing varied instruments and methods.

That is when picture masking involves play.

Picture masing helps us isolate (masks) particular areas of the picture and go away unmasked areas accessible for enhancing.

What’s Picture Masking?

Picture masking is the cornerstone of graphic design, picture compositing, and photograph enhancing. It permits designers and photographers to selectively edit solely a portion of the picture, leaving the remaining untouched. By creating customized picture masks, we will goal particular areas of the pictures based mostly on totally different parameters reminiscent of coloration, brightness, objects (particular person, animal, product), and different options (sky, water).

Picture masking has its roots in movie images. Within the darkroom, photographers used to cowl a part of the photograph paper, the one they didn’t need to be affected by the sunshine coming from the enlarger. The method of concealing the realm of the photograph paper known as masking.

The idea of masking transitioned to digital images, however as a substitute of bodily masks, we use digital instruments to guard (masks) or reveal a part of the picture for selective enhancing.

Image Masking in Photography

Picture Masking in Lightroom 

When Lightroom was launched in 2007, it didn’t have any picture masking capabilities. The first operate of this system was photograph group. You could possibly apply easy edits reminiscent of publicity, saturation to your entire picture solely; selective enhancing didn’t exist. To make use of selective enhancing with the assistance of picture masks, you needed to change to Photoshop.

Through the years, Adobe launched selective enhancing to Lightroom (Adjustment Brush, Graduated Filter, Radial Filter), but it surely was not even near Photoshop’s masking capabilities.

The primary huge change occurred in 2018 with the introduction of the superior masking instruments, the Vary Masks. With new masking instruments, photographers might selectively goal areas of the picture based mostly on coloration and luminance values. It was large. It modified the best way I edited pictures in Lightroom. It allowed me to carry out 90-95% post-processing in Lightroom, and the necessity for Photoshop declined.

However the implementation of the Vary Masks was not very best. It had too many limitations. You could possibly not create a picture masks from scratch; you needed to apply Adjustment Brush, Graduated Filter, or Radial Filter first and create masking after.

And eventually, in October 2021, Adobe launched Lightroom model 11, the place they rebuilt and rearranged adjustment instruments. Probably the most important change was the introduction of a devoted Masking panel. Now, all of the masking instruments reside in a single place, not depending on any specific instrument.

The enhancing workflow is easy now. You create a number of picture masks concentrating on totally different picture areas first. Subsequent, you selectively edit these areas utilizing enhancing sliders.

New Image Masking Panel in Lightroom
New masking Panel in Lightroom

Let’s see what picture masking instruments we have now in Lightroom right now.

1. AI Picture Masking: Choose Topic 

Adobe at all times lagged behind the competitors, reminiscent of Luminar, with the event instruments powered by synthetic intelligence (AI). However it seems as whether it is beginning to change.

Lightroom launched two new AI instruments, and they’re very efficient.

The Choose Topic AI instrument analyzes the photograph and identifies the photograph’s foremost topic; subsequent, it routinely creates a reasonably correct masks.

Image Masking in Photography: Lightroom vs Photoshop 3
Lightroom recognized the principle object of the scene (huge rock) and chosen however disregarded the sky.

It’s the good companion for portrait and product photographers.

In addition they launched a brand new characteristic, the Invert Masks, essential for any picture masking instrument. After the principle object is chosen, you invert the masks and goal the background of your photograph with enhancing instruments.

2. AI Picture Masking: Choose Sky 

The Choose Sky performance is just like the Choose Topic, however as a substitute of the principle object, it identifies the realm of the sky and creates a masks.

Image Masking: Select Sky

The Choose Sky instrument works quick, and it is extremely correct. It’s a lot sooner and extra correct than utilizing the old-school method concentrating on the sky with the Brush or Linear Gradient instruments.

As soon as once more, you may invert the masks.

Right here is my workflow when utilizing new masking instruments. I click on the Choose Sky instrument, and it routinely creates a picture masks with the sky chosen. Subsequent, I duplicate the masks and invert the choice. Now, I can edit the realm of the sky and foreground individually.


Image Masking: Select Foreground

It’s evident that the Choose Sky instrument is the proper companion for panorama photographers.

The one destructive I see with the Choose Sky instrument is it cannot be used dynamically. I cannot put it aside as a Lightroom preset to generate a picture masks in any chosen picture dynamically.

I hope Adobe improves the performance of the Choose Sky sooner or later.

3. Brush Picture Masks 

The previous Brush Adjustment instrument is now referred to as the Brush. It remodeled from an adjustment instrument to a pure masking instrument.

Let me clarify.

When utilizing previous Brush Adjustment, you might transfer enhancing sliders first after which begin portray with the comb over the photograph, visually making use of selective edits. With the brand new Brush instrument, you at all times begin with the masks creation. And solely if you end up pleased with the masks, you start shifting sliders making use of desired results to the remoted space.

With the introduction of the Choose Object and Choose Sky AI instruments, the first operate of the Brush instrument in my enhancing workflow is masks refining. If I’m not absolutely pleased with the masks created by the Choose Object and Choose Sky instruments, I can fine-tune them with the Brush.

Image Masking in Photography: Lightroom vs Photoshop 4
I used the Brush instrument to fine-tune the masks produced by the Choose Sky instrument.

4. Linear Gradient Picture Masks

The Linear Gradient is a brand new title for the previous Graduated Filter instrument. The instrument transformation is just like the Brush instrument. From the adjustment, it remodeled right into a pure masking instrument.

Now, I usually mix the Choose Sky with the Linear Gradient concentrating on space of the sky and making the highest of the sky darker.

 Linear Gradient Image Mask

5. Radial Gradient Picture Masks 

The Radial Gradient follows the suite of the Brush and Linear Gradient instruments. It has a brand new title; it’s Radial Gradient now as a substitute of Radial Filter. And it carries masking performance now.

However the best way you utilize it is extremely just like the earlier model. The one distinction right here is as a substitute of 1 circle that signifies the chosen space, there are two. The inside circle signifies the place the opaque space ends, and the gradient begins.

Image Masking in Photography: Lightroom vs Photoshop 5

6. Colour Vary Picture Masks

The Colour Vary masking instrument helps you create masks based mostly on particular coloration values or vary of colours.

Regardless that I usually used the unique Vary Masks, it had too many limitations. First, it was hooked up to Brush, Linear Gradient, or Radial Gradient instruments, and also you solely might modify the masks created by these instruments. After all, I had workarounds, but it surely felt as if implementation wasn’t well-thought.

Now, nearly all limitations are gone. Each the Colour Vary and Luminance Vary are separated and never depending on any instruments.

Large enchancment.

Image Masking in Photography: Lightroom vs Photoshop 6

I usually use the Colour Vary masks when enhancing the sky space in my landscapes. I goal solely the blue hues of the sky and hold vibrant areas of the clouds protected. And if I edit the sundown photograph, I’d create a separate Colour masks concentrating on solely orange and purple hues of the sky.

Image Masking in Photography: Lightroom vs Photoshop 7
Once I goal the blue hues of the sky utilizing the Colour Vary, that is the masks it produces.

However, it has the identical limitation because the Choose Sky picture masks; you may’t use it dynamically. A minimum of at this second, it’s unattainable to include the Colour Vary masks creation into Lightroom presets. It solely works with the precise photograph.

7. Luminance Vary Picture Masks

If the Colour Vary instrument helps you to create a customized masks based mostly on the colour values, then the Luminance Vary instrument generates masks based mostly on the brightness (luminance) of the pixels. 

The brand new Luminance Vary masking instrument is my favourite addition to the masking toolset. I exploit it most frequently together with the Choose Sky AI instrument.

For instance, I exploit the Choose Sky instrument with the Invert choice checked to pick every thing besides the sky. Subsequent, I exploit the Luminance Vary to focus on the midtone pixels solely. Now, I can enhance the distinction with out affecting shadows, highlights, and the sky.

Image Masking in Photography: Lightroom vs Photoshop 8

And what’s the most important characteristic of the brand new Luminance Vary instrument is it may be used dynamically. I already created a set of distinction presets concentrating on midtone values solely. Once I apply the preset to any chosen photograph, Lightroom creates a picture masks on the fly based mostly on the luminance values of the chosen picture.

8. Depth Vary

Adobe launched the Depth Vary instrument some time in the past, however I used to be vital due to its very restricted use. It solely works with the brand new HEIC format, Apple’s proprietary model of Excessive-Effectivity Picture File format.

The Depth Vary instrument creates a picture masks based mostly on how shut the a part of the picture to the digital camera. In idea, it’s a nice characteristic that lets you selectively edit solely the background space of the photograph and hold areas near the digital camera untouched. 

The issue is that HEIC pictures with the depth map might be produced solely utilizing the iPhones with the twin digital camera beginning with iPhone 7+.

Since I’m an Android person, I’ve no use for this instrument. However even when you have a brand new model of iPhone, you get higher picture high quality when capturing RAW format (DNG) than HEIC.

9. Superior Masking in Lightroom

With the introduction of eight new picture masking instruments, you might have loads of choices for creating exact and complex masks for selective enhancing. However you may take it even additional with the brand new Add and Subtract options.

Now you may mix all of the masking instruments making selective enhancing much more versatile.

Here’s a sensible utility of the Subtract characteristic.

See Also

To selectively edit the sky space, I exploit the Choose Sky instrument first. When Lightroom creates the masks, I hit the Subtract button. Subsequent, I decide the Luminance Vary instrument and subtract the highlights from the present masks created by the Choose Sky instrument. When I’m completed, I’ve the choice concentrating on solely darker areas of the sky. I can selectively edit the sky with out affecting the intense clouds.

Image Masking in Photography: Lightroom vs Photoshop 9

The Add characteristic works the identical approach, however you develop the masks as a substitute of subtracting a portion of it. For instance, you should utilize the Brush instrument to develop the masks by portray over desired areas of the picture.

Plus, there may be one other masking characteristic I nearly missed. It’s the Intersect choice. You allow it when urgent down the ALT key. It helps you to create a masking choice by intersecting 2 masks.

Intersect masking option in Lightroom

The shortcomings of Lightroom Masking Instruments

I want that Adobe made the Choose Sky and the Colour Vary instruments absolutely dynamic, as I discussed above. However I consider it’s a work in progress, and within the close to future, they may enhance the performance of the masking instruments. I’ll replace my Lightroom Speedy Enhancing system once they do it by incorporating all of the masking instruments in my preset-based photograph enhancing workflow. It is going to permit me to edit pictures a lot sooner and with larger precision. 

However the principle shortcoming of the brand new masking instruments, the best way I see it, is that after creating the specified masks, I would not have entry to all of the enhancing instruments accessible in Lightroom. 

Image Masking in Photography: Lightroom vs Photoshop 10
The enhancing sliders you might have entry to when utilizing new masking instruments.

For instance, my favourite Lightroom enhancing instruments are positioned in HSL/Colour panel. They permit me to focus on particular person colours selectively. I would not have entry to the HSL/Colour panel with the brand new masking instruments. The identical goes with the Tone Curve and Colour Grading panels; they’re unavailable when utilizing the masking performance.

It seems as if Adobe arbitrarily determined what instruments I would like and instruments I don’t. The difficulty wouldn’t exist if Adobe used the layer-based method because it exists in most enhancing applications, together with Photoshop. However, for some inexplicable purpose, they refuse to present us layers in Lightroom, the principle characteristic that made Photoshop so highly effective.

Picture Masking in Photoshop 

I transitioned to images from graphic design. For years, I used Photoshop as my main enhancing and compositing instrument as a graphic designer. And what I realized from my graphic design years is that to grasp Photoshop, you need to grasp tips on how to create exact picks and masks.

Photoshop has a way more intensive number of masking instruments and is rather more highly effective in comparison with Lightroom.

This text goals to not educate you to make use of masking instruments in Photoshop as a result of it’s unattainable. However as a substitute to present you an thought of masking choices accessible in Photoshop. So you may resolve if that you must be taught Photoshop or Lightroom picture masking instruments will likely be enough.

1. Layer Masks

Photoshop is a layer-based program with an nearly limitless variety of layers. And for every layer, you may have a devoted transparency masks. 

Layer Masks in Photoshop
I used the layer masks to selectively apply sharpening to the photograph.

Lightroom doesn’t have layers, however you may have a number of masks hooked up to any photograph you edit.

2. Vector Layer Masks

The vector layer masking performance lets you create resolution-independent masks in Photoshop. This characteristic doesn’t exist in Lightroom, however it’s not often utilized in photograph enhancing. 

I solely used vector layer masks when working with high-resolution pictures supposed for print. I by no means felt the necessity for vector masks in my images.

3. Adjustment Masks

Adjustment layers are nondestructive edits you may apply to any layer in Photoshop. And for every adjustment layer, you might have a transparency masks. Unique adjustment instruments in Lightroom (brush, graduate filter, radial filter) labored exactly as adjustment layers in Photoshop. With the most recent revamping of masking instruments in Lightroom, they work barely totally different however nonetheless similar to adjustment layers and masks in Photoshop.

Adjustment Masks in Photoshop
I used 2 Curve Adjustment Layers with 2 masks to create a vignette in Photoshop.

4. Clipping Masks

Clipping masks in Photoshop allow you to management transparency masks in a single layer based mostly on the content material of one other layer. The performance is broadly utilized in graphic design and picture compositing. Such a characteristic is just not potential in Lightroom as a result of it has no layers. However you gained’t miss it in case you are solely thinking about photograph enhancing.

5. Alpha Masks

Alpha Masks is an advance and really highly effective performance in Photoshop. The masking info is saved in one of many picture’s coloration channels (alpha channel) and might be accessed by varied applications outdoors of photoshop.

Alpha Masks in Photoshop

Once I was working as a graphic designer producing graphics for broadcast tv, 80% of my time was spent creating subtle alpha masks in Photoshop. It allowed overlaying a number of pictures on a TV display screen, preserving transparency in varied areas of the pictures.

Regardless that it’s a highly effective characteristic, you don’t miss it when processing pictures. And there’s no such a characteristic in Lightroom

6. Choose Sky

The Choose Sky instrument is powered by synthetic intelligence and machine studying. It detects and selects the sky space with precision and accuracy. I’m sure the instrument makes use of the identical algorithm because the Choose Sky instrument in Lightroom. Each instruments produce related outcomes.

Select Sky in Photoshop

7. Choose Object

The identical goes with the Choose-Object instrument, which is powered by AI and similar to the way it works to the Choose Object instrument in Lightroom.

8. Colour Vary

The Colour Vary is a really great tool in photograph enhancing. You may create customized masks based mostly on particular coloration or vary of colours in any given picture. For a very long time, I missed such performance in Lightroom. However since Adobe launched the Colour Vary in Lightroom in model 8, the necessity for Photoshop coloration masking capabilities disappeared.

9. Luminosity Masks

I consider the implementation of Luminance Vary in Lightroom is extra user-friendly and logical than Photoshop’s Luminosity Masks. In Lightroom, you may create a customized masks based mostly on luminance (brightness) values in seconds. In Photoshop, it’s extra highly effective however rather more sophisticated. Follow Lightroom.

Luminosity Masks in Photoshop

As you may see, regardless that Photoshop is a way more highly effective and feature-rich program, the necessity for Photoshop in photograph enhancing diminishes quick. And on the subject of picture masking functionalities, I don’t see an enormous benefit of Photoshop over Lightroom. 

Plus, to completely benefit from Photoshop superior options, that you must rasterize pictures first. In Lightroom, you may keep in a RAW enhancing atmosphere benefiting from nondestructive enhancing.

Picture Masking in Images: Conclusion

I’ve been vital of Adobe for the previous few years for the dearth of actual innovation in Lightroom. It appeared that many of the competitors was forward of Lightroom. However with the implementation of latest picture masking instruments, there may be hope that Adobe lastly wakened and can deal with us with really progressive instruments and options.

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