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Isolating the Sky

Lesson 3 from: Dramatically Improved Masking In Lightroom Classic

Ben Willmore

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Lesson Info

3. Isolating the Sky

See how to easily adjust the sky separately from the rest of the the image. Also learn to prevent undesirable halos by counteracting settings that are useful when applied to everything but the sky

Lesson Info

Isolating the Sky

Now let's take a look at how we can isolate the sky in an image and this can be quite important because many of the sliders that you apply to your entire image don't really help the sky. And oftentimes you're going to find that there's little glowy edges around things like the edge of trees where they touch the sky or similar objects. And if you're able to easily isolate the sky, then you're able to easily get rid of those artifacts. Let me show you how in this image first when I glance at it, it doesn't look to be high quality because the sky looks like it's posterized where I can see stair stepping. If that ever happens to you, click on the image to zoom up. That should cause it to load the full resolution version of the picture instead of the low res preview. It might have started with and when I zoomed up I can see the problem look right around these wires and notice there's kind of a dark halo, just a halo of darkness and you might be able to see it in other areas like where the e...

dge of the building touches and there's just this kind of dark, weird feeling in the middle of the sky as well. The reason for that is there are some sliders over here on the right side of my screen that I've used that can produce halos. The ones that are the biggest contributor to halos are highlights. Shadows, clarity and d haze, if you ever move any of those sliders to an extreme and look at me, I have my highlights as far as it can go in one direction. Shadows as far as it can go in the other and clarity is cranked up really high. Well that's going to produce some of those areas, especially where objects touch the sky. So let me show you how to counteract that and get a better looking sky. So I'll come up here to our masking icon. Now I could use the brush but that would take some manual work. Why do that when we have an option up here called select sky. All I have to do is click on it. It'll take it a moment to find the sky in the image and then it should isolate it. We get a colored overlay and mine's green only because I clicked on this little square and changed it to green and now I'm going to dial in and exposure in different changes. I'd like what I'd really like to do is counteract those sliders that produce halos. So to do so all I'm going to do is scroll down so I'm not looking at these sliders, the ones that are going to be applied to my mask. But instead I'm looking at the ones under basic That's the stuff that's applying to the entire image and I'm just gonna look down here at what I need to change. I'm going to try to do the exact opposite of what highlights is set to the exact opposite of what Shadows is said to the exact opposite of clarity and the exact opposite of D. Haze, I can remember these two because they are at their maximums and I'm just gonna remember 82 in five now let's do those opposite settings. Alright up here I'm gonna grab my highlights, crank it to the right, I'll grab my shadows, crank it to the left and then I'll come down to clarity. I think it was at 82. So I'll set it to negative 82 that will completely counteract yet. And I think D Hayes was at something like four or five. I can scroll back down to be sure it looks like it was five so I can get back up here and dial it in precisely if I want to. So now that should have counteracted the settings that are applied to the entire picture and said don't apply them to the sky. So if I click, have to hold down the space bar and click to zoom up notice we no longer have those really dark halos around the edges of things. And now since I've isolated my sky I can adjust it, maybe what I'd like to do in this case is get less of a difference between bright and dark. Well the difference between bright and dark is contrast so if I lower the contrast, I'm going to get a little bit less of a difference in brightness in that sky. Maybe I want to brighten it overall so I can bring up the exposure and if I want just the dark parts to get a little bit brighter, I could back off on the shadow is just a little bit brighten that up a little bit. Just don't go too far. Otherwise you might start getting halos where your sky touches something else. I can also adjust how colorful the sky is to dial it in just right. The other thing you can do is let's say I want to work on everything except for the sky to accomplish that here, let's create a new mask and let's again tell it to select the sky when it's done isolating the sky. If I scroll to the top of all these sliders, you're gonna find up here. There's an area called select sky. Only if you've already selected the sky into the right of it is the word invert. If I turn on that check box, we're going to get the exact opposite. So now I have the rest of the image highlighted and so maybe I want to make everything except for the sky less colorful or more colorful or whatever it is I'd like to do, but at least I know it's not going to affect my sky. So maybe I bring up my whites a little bit just to brighten it up. So now you know how to isolate a sky in lightroom Classic

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Masking Catalog
Masking Practice Images

Ratings and Reviews


I have taken almost every course Ben has done for CL and he is an amazing teacher, Ben always starts easy and moves to more advanced concepts - usually ramping things up over one or even several courses. In this course he takes you from easy to advanced concepts very quickly. I loved this course because I can use it to become a much better photographer ultimately reaching (or trying to reach) the advanced levels Ben presents by the end of the course. It is a terrific course from a real master of the photographic editing skill.

Gary Hook

Once again Ben has hit it out of the park. I truly enjoy his instructional technique. By that I mean he explains the point and then demonstrates it talking about what he did. The visual combined with the instruction is highly effective at enhancing the learning. Short, sharp and to the point on this amazing update to LR. Highly recommend this workshop

Christine Stockwell

Adobe’s new masking engine is a real game-changer and Ben does a fantastic job of showing what can be done and how. Thank you Ben! Now I want to go back through my image archive and reprocess many of them.

Student Work