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                                                                                                          

Before and After Image

By Amy Horn

During a recent visit at the Wildlife World Zoo in Litchfield Park, AZ, I captured this monkey photo in mid-afternoon light. I loved the moment when the monkey walked across the log, but didn’t feel the mid-afternoon light added to the photo. I couldn’t go back later, so I thought about what would make a stronger image. First, isolating the monkey from the background would help the animal to stand out. So, I used the Adjustment Brush in Lightroom and increased exposure while decreasing clarity, this evened out the exposure and softened the background. Next, I converted the image to black and white using Nik Silver Efex Pro. The “fine art, high key, framed” preset gave me the look I wanted. And like that, I transformed a mid-afternoon light into something better! Follow the process through the images below.





Amy Horn is an Instructor with Arizona Highways PhotoScapes

Rainy Day Photography

By Sara Goodnick

If your vacation comes with a few days of rain, look at it as a creativity challenge to your photography!

We often visit Hawaii in the winter and every few years we will get some rainy days. Knowing this, I come prepared.


  1. Rain-proof cover for camera, camera bag, and me.
  2. Macro lens and/or extension tubes.
  3. Sandals or river shoes.
  4. Clothing in which I can comfortably sit on the ground, scramble over rocks, kneel, and otherwise contort myself.
  5. Tripod
  6. Portable flash unit
  7. Laptop and Bamboo Wacom Tablet

Keeping an open mind, I will stroll around the hotel grounds scouting for macro subjects as my first choice, then landscapes. Just being present mentally and taking note of the surroundings can be a fun treasure hunt. Then I drive around to areas of interesting weather. Coaxing a spouse or family member to be my photo assistant is very helpful. Someone with an umbrella over my camera and me is a luxury!

When back in the room, I have fun in Lightroom and Photoshop with presets and plug-ins. Unless shooting for publications that require straightforward photography with minimal manipulation, freedom reigns. I use Color Effects Pro, Topaz, David Kingham, and Life After Photoshop, and Photomorphis to entertain myself and maybe create some keepers. Gray, rainy days are a fantastic excuse to relax, expand and explore your creativity. Have fun!



Wet flower petal found on patio

Reflection in a puddle.

Reflection in a puddle.





Found feather on a bench

Found feather on a bench









Landscape with clouds and fog on the Big Island of Hawaii

Landscape with clouds and fog on the Big Island of Hawaii


Sara is a Trip Leader with Arizona Highways Photo Workshops

Revisit Your Old Photos

Author Beth Ruggiero-York

While culling images last week, I began to see potential in some of my older images that I had discounted long ago but never deleted. So I started looking at the old images with a new eye, an eye that has evolved and grown over the years.

I encourage you to do this exercise – go back over your mages by year or subject, depending on how you organize your catalog. Flag photos that strike you as having potential with reprocessing. Put all the ‘potential’ images in a collection or folder, reset any edits you may have made back to the beginning, and start over with the editing process.

There may be many images you don’t even remember taking, and some you remember but had already discredited. No matter how many years later you are looking at these images, you have learned new processing techniques and skills, as well as new software or plug-ins. In addition, your understanding of composition will have grown, and your own aesthetic preferences will have evolved.

So take the time to give some of those old photos a second chance, and I promise you will find a few hidden gems!

Here are a few that I resurrected and reprocessed.

  Whether you crop differently, convert to black and white, enhance the colors or clouds, or try different presets in Lightroom or another program, give it a try if you see some potential in an image. 

Beth Ruggiero-York teaches workshops for Arizona Highways Photo Workshops.