Adobe Lightroom – Using the New Range Mask Feature

By Megan P Galope

Have you ever tried using a graduated filter to make the sky darker, but in the process it also darkens the mountains? Trying to then remove the mountains from the filter was a tedious task. No more! Adobe Lightroom has recently added a new feature to the filters and adjustment brush called “Range Mask”, which makes these tools more precise and easy to use. Here is a typical image where the foreground is the correct exposure but the sky is too bright.

After adding a graduated filter, the sky looks good, but unfortunately, the foreground is darkened as well:

At the bottom of the graduated filter toolbox, you’ll now see an option for “Range Mask” (this assumes you have the latest version of Lightroom). Click where it says “Off”, and you’ll get a drop-down with a couple options. Choose the “Color” option.

Next, click on the eye dropper tool to the left of the Range Mask option, and then click and drag in the sky to draw a box around the different colors in the sky (in this case, I drew a box that includes both the blue sky and the clouds). You want to choose the colors that you want to be affected by the graduated filter.

Notice the small square in the upper right

Once you draw the box and let go, voila! The sky is darker but the foreground hasn’t been affected by the filter:

Truth be told, sometimes this works better than others. If it doesn’t work the first time, you can try drawing the Range Mask box again in a different spot, or make it larger or smaller. You can also draw multiple boxes to sample different colors by holding down the shift key while drawing another box. If you want to delete a box, hold down the Alt (Windows)/Opt (Mac) key (the mouse will turn into a scissors icon) and click on the Range Mask dropper marker that you would like to delete.

The Range Mask feature is available for both the graduated filter and radial filter as well as the adjustment brush.

Megan P Galope is a Volunteer Photo Guide with Arizona Highways PhotoScapes

Twitter = @megangalope                                                                                                          

Get the Most Out of Your Photo with the Dehazing Slider in Lightroom

Author: Christina Heinle

Since Adobe Lightroom came out with the dehaze slider everyone has examples of their landscapes being magically improved with the dehaze slider.  I’m no different and I love the new tool and not just for landscapes.  Take this bull elk munching on grass on the side of the road at the Grand Canyon found during our recent Grand Canyon Lightroom workshop.  The picture of the elk is just OK.


But use the dehaze slider and everything now looks brighter and clearer.  You can even see the grass sticking out of his mouth like a giant elk whisker (if bull elks actually had whiskers).

Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 5.49.21 PM

Happy dehazing!

Christina Heinle is a trip leader with Arizona Highways Photo Workshops.

Making of an Image – Part 2

Author: Michael Greene

Today I am sharing with you the techniques that I used to make this image of McCloud Falls in the Trinity-Shasta National Forest in Northern California. First, it is important to understand that conditions for photography were relatively perfect for this capture. This picture was taken on a soggy, still, and overcast morning around 10 am. The grey skies  diffused the light eliminating any distracting glares or harsh contrasts in the shadows and highlights. Rain from earlier in the morning had saturated the color of the rocks, soil, trees, moss and cliff walls. And most importantly, there was minimal wind resulting in a clear capture of the foreground greens and flowers growing out of the streambed. It should also be noted the water flow on this day was unseasonably low and  happened to be ideal for photography.

During processing, I used two intermediate to advanced Photoshop techniques as I blended for both depth of field and dynamic range. The first thing that I did is settle on a base image. My base image is a photo that I will rely on the most to make up my finished picture. In this case, it was focused on the background, exposed for the right of the histogram, and captured at F/13, ISO 100, with a shutter speed of .3 with my Canon wide angle lens. I found F/13 was a small enough aperture setting to ensure proper depth of field with sacrificing too much resolution of the overall picture.

Because this exposure clipped most of the highlights in the waterfall I used a separate image captured at F/22 ISO 100 with a shutter speed of .5 exposed towards the left of the histogram.  The reason I chose F/22 was simply to achieve the proper shutter speed of .5 without having to use an additional neutral density filter, which creates more of a chance for human error. After processing the RAW files in Lightroom,  I simply copied and pasted the images together in PS carefully hand painting the water exposure in on top of my base image. (Areas denoted by orange arrows)

© Michael Greene

Finally, I needed another picture with a focus on the foreground greens to blend into the image to achieve proper clarity from foreground to background. (Area circled in blue)   I chose the settings of F/18, ISO 100, with a shutter speed of .3 to capture this part of the scene. Again, it is important to note there was very little wind as .3 shutter speed to capture delicate foliage is long and even the slightest bit of motion will result in a loss of clarity. In fact, there was a subtle breeze during my session and the image that I chose was not my sharpest one.  Before I tell you why I selected it, I’ll briefly explain the ways to offset this with a faster shutter speed.

First, I could have removed my polarizer. Second, I could have selected a larger aperture setting. And lastly, I could have chosen a lower quality ISO speed.  The reason I picked the settings that I did is because of the blend. I wanted it to be as seamless as possible. The most difficult part of the blend is the tiny, delicate flowers growing out of the greens that show up in the image flush against the mid-ground rocks. Here you’ll see what I mean as it is circled in red. If I had selected an larger aperture like F/8 those rocks what have been noticeably out-of-focus.  Again, I copied and pasted the image on top of the others, aligned them, and hand blended.

In a nutshell  and without bogging you down in more technical details that was the basic way I created this image. Of course color correction, contrast adjustments, and creative techniques were used as well, but the most important part was the ground work I laid during capture. I hope that you find this tutorial helpful please let me know if you have any questions and I’ll do my best to answer them.

Michael Greene is a trip leader for Arizona Highways Photo workshops.