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Is This Lightroom’s Most Powerful Tool?

Control light, color, and exposure with Range Masks
Photo of range masks in LIghtroom

Everyone has their favorite tool in Lightroom but which feature can totally transform your images? That’s easy, according to Christian Möhrle of The Phlog Photography, it’s Range Masks and it’s not even close.

In the below video, Möhrle demonstrates how to harness the power of Range Masks to help fix photo issues with light, color, and exposure in Lightroom.

“Range Masks are probably one of the most powerful tools in Adobe Lightroom,” Möhrle says. “They are basically the same as Luminosity Masks in Photoshop, just a little less complex. You can set a specific range for color, luminance or even depth. This way you can brighten up shadows without overexposing highlights, you can use it to darken the blue of the sky or just simply to dodge and burn. This becomes even more powerful when you’re working on an HDR photo to make use of all the dynamic range”

In the video tutorial at the bottom of this post, Möhrle breaks down his editing process with Range Masks for the image you see at the top of this story.

“For this image my main concern were the dark areas,” he says. “I wanted to fix the underexposure, without losing detail in the sky. Also, I wanted to introduce a lot stronger sunset colors and make it look like it was hot during golden hour. Finally, I wanted to get rid of the flagpole in the front since it was cut at the very top. For the basic editing I used Adobe Lightroom and then finished it in Photoshop while also using the Nik Collection plug-in.”

#1 Basic Adjustments

“I switched the camera profile to Adobe Landscape for more saturation and the white balance to cloudy for warmer colors. Added texture and clarity for more structure and detail.”

#2 Local Adjustments

“Using a graduated filter over the whole image I was able to restore a lot of details from the shadows. On this graduated filter I activated the luminance Range Mask setting and set the range to only affect the darkest parts of the photo, then simply increased the exposure. Using the brush tool, I painted over the rocks in the foreground and with a color Range Mask I specifically targeted the brighter colors of the rocks to brighten them up some more.”

#3 Color Grading

“As I wanted to have strong sunset colors, I made use of the split toning. Here I added a warm, saturated color to the highlights and a very subtle cold tone to the shadows.”

#4 Photoshop

“In Photoshop, I started by adding some glow on the bright part of the sky using a new soft light layer and a warm brush set to low opacity. Then, I removed the flagpole in the front using the lasso tool and the content aware fill. Finally, I used the Nik Collection plug-in to add the polarization, skylight and glamour glow filter which all enhance the colors some more.”

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