Skip to main content

Select Subject

Lesson 8 from: Dramatically Improved Masking In Lightroom Classic

Ben Willmore

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2200+ more >

Lesson Info

8. Select Subject

Harness the power of artificial intelligence to get Lightroom to quickly isolate and adjust the subject of your photograph.
Next Lesson: Depth Range

Lesson Info

Select Subject

many smartphones like the iphone can do special things when taking a photograph, one of which is producing a blurry background behind your subject, even though the optics in the camera itself aren't capable of doing so. Instead it estimates how far away various objects are in your scene. And it creates something that's known as a depth map. A depth map is a grayscale picture where it uses different brightness levels to represent different depths. And it creates this artificially Well if you have a smart phone, like an iphone that produces a depth map, we can use that in lightroom and therefore we can isolate things based on how far away they were from the camera. Let me show you how it works. If you go to your mask icon, you're gonna find at the bottom. There's a choice called depth range but on a lot of images, that option just will be great out on this particular shot though. If I hover over it, it's actually available. That's because this image was taken on an iphone and when I took...

the picture, I went in the settings of my iphone and there's a choice called portrait mode. Portrait mode is the feature that tries to produce a blurry background and in the process it saves an extra little part along with that picture that's known as a depth map. It's only those images on an iphone that have used the portrait mode feature and they're saved in the original file format. They haven't been modified that will have this available. There might be some other mobile phones that can produce these but I haven't run into them yet where they actually save it in a form that lightroom can use. But by the time you watch this, that might be true for a lot more phones. But let's see how we can use it. So I'm going to tell the depth range and now I can move on top of my picture and it's not thinking about the brightness of this picture, it's not thinking about the colors, it's thinking about how far away various areas were. So I want to isolate this back area here so I'm going to click and drag like this to tell it the area I'd like to work on and let go. Then it's going to look at the depth map that's included in this file that's made by the iphone and it's going to attempt to isolate that distance in the picture. Once I have down here, just like when we're isolating various brightness ranges, we have little sliders that let us control how much it fades out into the surrounding area. So I might bring this up to have it fade out a little bit more then to adjust that background. Maybe I decide I'd like it to be a little bit less colorful so I bring my saturation down. Maybe I wanted to look a little softer if so I could bring texture down which would be the fine detail. I can bring clarity down which is gonna soften and maybe I decide I'm going to lower or increase the contrast. Maybe also darken. Just try to get it to that foreground pops out Now I want to work on my foreground object so I'm going to create a new mask and again I'll tell it, I want to work on a depth range. Now there is in here a choice called show depth map but it's not gonna be available yet. We need to first click and drag like this and then that checkbox becomes available. I'm going to turn that on and now we can actually see the grayscale image. I was talking about that your camera created where things that are dark in this are considered to be further away. And as things get brighter it's that of as being closer to the camera and the area covered in red is what we've isolated and I can use this view while I adjust this. I can work on a wider range to let it fade out and I don't have to click on my image to increase the range. I can just come in here and pull on the edges of this rectangle to say I want to get that near object and then I want this to fade out and not so much that it hits the flower in the background. Maybe about there looks pretty good. But I don't always like looking at that grayscale image. So I'm going to turn off the checkbox called depth map and see just what this looks like and then I can adjust my picture. I think the highlights were just a little bit too bright. So I'm gonna bring the whites down or maybe the highlights slider down. I want this stuff to pop out a little bit. So maybe I'm gonna bring out clarity that usually makes things have a little bit more contrast and brings out the detail. Finally, I don't like the wall in the distance. You see how bright it is over in here. So let's see if we can create another new mask and again let's use depth range and let's see if you can isolate that area way back there. Then we'll just make it so it doesn't fade out quite as much and see how much can we isolate it. It can do. Okay, but not amazing. Well that's where we can combine this with other tools so therefore I can just tell it. I want to subtract using my brush and then I can paint in areas that I didn't want it to work on. And once I've subtracted all the areas, in fact, let me turn off auto mask, I can just freely paint without it. Trying to aid me. Then I could darken up that area. Maybe I bring down my highlights slider. Just keep in mind that this feature will only be available for special images that have a depth map attached to them. And most of those images will come from a mobile device, like an iphone, and not just any shot from that device, but one that used a special feature that attempted to blur the background because that's when it produces a depth map.

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