Lightroom 11.4 Masking and Selection Changes

by Aug 26, 2022Photography Blog

Robin Whalley Landscape Photographer

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Lightroom 11.4 Masking and Selection Changes

In a recent newsletter, I mentioned that Adobe had made changes to the Masking and Selection tools in Lightroom 11.4. Because of this, I went through the exercise of updating two of my recent books:

  • Mastering Selections & Masks in Lightroom CC
  • Mastering Selections & Masks in Adobe Camera RAW

both of which you will find in my online bookstore.

It was a lengthy exercise looking for the new changes, but it made me realise what Adobe had done. They hadn’t made significant changes as some YouTube commentators claimed. They had made minor changes to features to improve usability.

Let’s look at what these improvements were in Lightroom 11.4.

Auto Hiding the Masks Panel

Something I noticed early on when using the new Lightroom 11 selection tools was that the Masks panel would often get in the way. This was especially noticeable when using the Brush Tool as it would often cover the top right of the image, even when collapsed.

One possible solution was to move the panel and dock it on the left of the screen above the adjustment controls as you can see below. Unfortunately, this then gets in the way of using the controls, taking up valuable space.

Lightroom Masks panel docked on the right of the screen above the adjustment controls

What’s changed in Lightroom 11.4 is that the Masks panel is now automatically hidden when you begin to paint with the Selection Brush.

Batch Update for Select Sky and Select Subject

Lightroom 11 introduced two excellent selection tools, the Select Sky and Select Subject tools. As the names suggest, Select Sky automatically selects the sky in an image whilst Select Subject identifies and selects the main subject.

Whilst both tools are great, they were limited in that you couldn’t copy the Mask from one image to another and have them work. Instead, you needed to add these selections manually to each image as you edited.

In Lightroom 11.4, both selection tools have been enhanced so that they analyse and work with any image you apply them to. This improvement allows you to copy or save them as part of preset, then apply them to an entirely different image.

Inverting a Composite Mask

A composite mask is one that’s been created using more than one selection as shown below.

Composite Mask in Lightroom 11

Here you can see a Sky and Brush selections combined in the same mask.

Previously if you wanted to invert a mask like this it could be tricky (not impossible). Now we have a new Invert menu option which you can access by clicking the three dots (…) to the right of Mask. Alternatively, right click on the Mask to access the same menu. In the menu you will then find two new options which are “Invert” and “Copy and Invert”.

Intersect Mask Button

The intersect mask option is hidden away in the Mask menu mentioned above. It’s probably ignored by many photographers for that reason and because it sounds complicated. It can take a little time to get your head around what it does, but it’s well worth the small effort required because it’s useful.

In Lightroom 11.4, we have a new way to access the Intersect command which is using a button.

Intersect Mask button in Lightroom 11.4

If you’re wondering why you don’t see this and instead see the default Add and Subtract buttons, it’s because you need to hold down your Option (Mac) or Alt (PC) key. Do this and you will see the Add and Subtract buttons replaced with an Intersect button.

The Most Useful Lightroom 11.4 Change

There are of course other “minor” changes introduced in Lightroom 11.4. One that is extremely useful, but which hasn’t had much publicity is the Amount slider.

When you create a selection, the adjustment controls open on the right of the Lightroom interface. Look to the top of these and you will see a new Amount slider.

The new Amount slider in Lightroom 11.4

This is a horizontal slider with a value range from 0% on the left to 200% on the right. The default setting is 100%.

When you adjust an image using multiple controls, you sometimes find the effect is too strong, or perhaps not strong enough. Because there are multiple controls involved, it’s often difficult to maintain the effect whilst adjusting the strength. This is the problem the Amount slider addresses.

Think of the Amount slider as being an overall strength control for the adjustments panel. If the effect you’ve created is too strong, move it to the left to reduce the strength. What’s particularly useful with the Amount slider is that you can strengthen the adjustments beyond what’s possible with the controls.

Summary of Lightroom 11.4 Masking and Selection Changes

As I’m sure you will agree, none of the masking and selection changes fundamentally alter the way the new tools in Lightroom work. Instead, these are all user enhancements that make the tools easier to work with.

If you use Adobe Camera RAW rather than Lightroom you will find many similar changes were introduced at the same time Lightroom 11.4 was released.

To learn how to use the new Lightroom masking and selection tools see my book.

 Mastering Selections & Masks in Lightroom Classic CC 2023

Helping photographers harness the power of Lightroom V12 Masks & Selections.

30 day, money back guarantee if not entirely happy

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