Using Lightroom® to Fix Bad Lighting

Lesson 6/9 - Using the Range Mask to Create Dimensional Light


Using Lightroom® to Fix Bad Lighting


Lesson Info

Using the Range Mask to Create Dimensional Light

Very, very typical landscape sunset scene. Sun's going down in front of me, first off, my camera is crooked, let's straighten this like so, and close. We got shadows, we got highlights, that helps! It gets us a good portion of the way there, probably go in here and maybe warm it up a little bit, push those whites a little bit, it'll help especially the brighter areas, but not too much on the sky. So I've got all these rocks in the foreground, so you can probably see where I'm going to go with this, you know, you've watched this class so far, you know I'm gonna take my brush, I'm gonna boost up maybe the exposure, maybe the whites a little bit, I can go back, I'll go back after I paint and adjust it. But I'll do some very, very quick brushing over these areas. So what happens when you do this? Whether you use whites or exposure or anything, when you brush over just a massive area like that, it tends to get flat, right? And there's directional lighting you know? There's less light on thi...

s area here, because the sun's going down behind me, there's less light on a lot of these little nooks and crannies than there are, there's a lot of reflective light, the sun had just gone down, and I'm not seeing a lot of that reflective light in the photo, but it's there. So if I just go over here and I crank these up, to me it looks flat, I can warm them a little bit, I can come over here and add some warmth to it, that'll help, another little trick that I use when I want to add color, if it's not just warming or cooling, I'll go down to here, to the color section, and it's not even inviting to click on, because it's just a white X, but if you click on it, you can go through there and add all these colors to it too. But I'm not going to go crazy, I'll just add a little bit of a warming tint to it. And I could probably even do that and pull back on the temperature. So, because it gets flat, we have a little trick that we can use, and it is called a range mask. See, right at the bottom there. So I'll turn range masking on, I'll go to luminance because I'm basically telling Lightroom I wanna do a mask based on the luminance that's underneath what I just painted. So, I just painted over all these rocks and I made them brighter, wanna do mask based on the luminance of what I painted over. And then you get a range that goes from black to white, black on this side, white on this side. And so, what this does is, when I move this, when I move this over here to the left, I'm telling it to only apply my brushing between white and whatever value of gray that is. Don't apply it to all those blacks, which, you know what's crazy? Does anyone else have this problem? I'm just gonna call it out. Does anybody else have the problem? My phone is on airplane mode, yet somehow, I have texts coming through. I don't get this. I can't get my phone on notification free to save my life. I do videos for a living, I sit in my office and I do videos and I just have to shut my phone off because I can't seem to get it, anyway, sorry, I digress, (laughing) anyway, look, wait, do not disturb, but it's on airplane mode, how can it disturb! Aye ye aye! All right, we want to talk about Photoshop or Lightroom again? We can go back. So I got this little range mask thing here, and it is now applying it only between these values, so if you think about what we want it to do, I'm brightening these areas on the rocks, but some of them should stay dark, you know, that's what gives it the contrast and the light and the mystery and everything. So, back out here, as I move this slider, watch what happens, and it looks like I'm just removing the effect, but if I click the little toggle switch to show the before and the after, it's still hitting them, but now it's kinda really drawing attention to the highlights in the photo. So it's just a different way to get in there and add a little bit of color and a little bit of light without necessarily blasting it at the whole photo, which to me gets very, very fake, but here we can be a little bit more, kinda, controlled about it. If you want to see what's going on behind the scenes, turn on the overlay, cause that's pretty cool, cause now you see, watch, when I bring that back, you can see what it's doing, and when I do this, you can see all the areas that it's being applied to. And it's smoothness is just how strict should it be, when it's a low smoothness it's very, very strict, as I increase that smoothness it'll spread it out a bit. So I could actually probably make that a little bit tighter, turn this off, and if it looks too bright, you just come back over here you can pull back, but now you kinda have control over all those little areas, and you can go in and all those little sliders to make it look better. So for comparing before and afters, before, after Just to kind of further demonstrate the range mask, I would do the same thing on this photo, I'd make the whole photo darker, go to my radial filter, I could brush along the butterfly, when you have a really hard edge, it kinda becomes tough, because it leaves that little crisp outline around it, so instead, I'll go to the radial filter, and brighten that up, maybe a little bit of whites too. The radial filter also has a range mask so you can see here so in this case I'm gonna try color, cause I can mask by color as well, so it gives you an eyedropper, and then you just go and click and drag over what it is you want to stay, You see that? So here is my range mask, if I go very tight, or loose, you can see, so that's a real quick way to go in there, and now I get kinda total control over that part of the photo. Now what you will find, is it does leave a little bit of a trace, a lot of time what I'll do we did this with the radial filter, right? We went in here and added this little circle, With the radial filter, but it's got brush mode in it, so I go over here to the brush, click on brush, right now I'm in plus mode, so if I start brushing, I'm gonna add brightness to the photo, but if I go down and click on erase, now I'm in erase mode and what I'll do is, I'll use a small but really feathered brush and I'll just erase kinda that outline there. And I'm okay, it's gonna dive into the butterfly a little bit, but, we can go along that edge and we can start to hide the tracks a little bit I think it's actually too bright, so we would pull that back and we could probably make our background a little brighter, but it's pretty cool if you think about what's happening behind the scenes there, and then, one more along the lines of that, just to show you how crazy this gets, there's no brush in the world that's going to attack this, but if I bring my exposure down, bring my radial filter up, around here, I'll leave the overlay on so we can watch it, I'll go to color, again, you take the eyedropper and you lasso the colors you want to stay, that's the way to think of this. In this case, I would lasso around here, look at that like, there's no brush that would take care of those little things there. And there's nothing saying you can't take your brush and clean up some of those edges afterwards if you want to, but again, what did I do? I did a radial filter and I did reduced exposure, two little tiny things, really bring out the subject. My questions is, since I've taken your courses before and I know that you have a lot of presets, when it comes to just about every single type of vignette, for example, with this, and also the bird image that you did, were using a generalized vignette, doesn't always work because of the placement of the focal point, for example, when it comes to this, would you add a second radial filter, and then use that as more of like a vignette and then able to go through and erase where you'd like to? Yeah Okay Yeah, so to kind of recap, I think you're saying the vignette works great sometimes when the attention is right in the middle, but when the attention's not in the middle, sometimes the vignette can actually hurt you. So, let's see here, something like this is probably a pretty good example right? I can boost the exposure a little bit, if I go down here and I add a vignette, so what's happening, I'm starting to darken the person's head, so that's where a vignette's not gonna work and you can't control the center point. It's gonna be in the middle, so when that happens, I'll usually go to the radial filter, or, when I get to this photo I'll actually have a couple of other tricks for it, but I'll usually go to the radial filter, and bring the exposure down a little bit, remember how we said it's always gonna be the opposite of what you want? So, I'll put a little oval over her, and then flip it. They can control the feather too, so that way yeah, you can position it around the photo where you want it a little bit more than you can with the vignette.

Class Description

It’s an all-too-common occurrence: You head out for a well-planned shoot, but the light just isn’t cooperating. That’s when you need a little help from Lightroom® to transform your less-than-perfect photos into the images you originally envisioned. In this class, Matt Kloskowski will show you some simple techniques to add sun, flare and light to your scenes, so you can take a flat image and make it shine.



Matt is a fantastic instructor who males it feel like a joy to learn. It was very interesting to see his take on how to fix uninteresting lighting. This course delivers on its promises and it's well worth the price.


Matt Kloskowski is funny, humble, and totally knows his stuff! He doesn't just show you how to use Lightroom to fix undesirable lighting conditions, he walks you through various ways to recognize and work around them in camera/on-location, to make your post-processing even better. I am so flipping glad that I took this class when I did! My shoot last night started a half hour later than I needed it to, and the planning and processing techniques I learned here totally saved it! In fact, this class, combined with Caroline Tran's film class and Blake Rudis' landscape class made the shoot into more than I was expecting, even though everything went wrong on-location! I can't wait to show off my finished image. Thank you Matt for an awesome class!


Thanks again, Matt for your ever inspiring ways to get a better look at our photographs!