Once in a while we get a question that we’ll answer on the site. This question is from Rob Lando – Vacaville, CA.

“Are there software tools that can help ease the job of making selections for me? I wonder if some Photoshop plug-ins and/or Lightroom could help me. Can you make some recommendations? If there are multiple plug-in options, which would you personally recommend?”

Masking and selections are difficult for some photographers to master. There are two popular tools that I have used for this problem.

Mask Pro 4.1 and VERTUS FLUID MASK are two tools that I’ve used. I don’t make lots of selections, but when I have a tough one I prefer Mask Pro. It seems to do a better job of making difficult selections like hair. I also prefer the Mask Pro interface. It is a bit more user-friendly. It’s also very fast. Fluid Mask on the other hand is a little less expensive so if you’re on a tight budget, it may be the tool of choice.

There are other plug-ins that do this work as well. The best of them allow you to maintain transparency, are fast and accurate.

There’s one thing you might want to consider. Photoshop CS5 offers better edge detection and masking results in less time than CS4. The new Edge Refinement tool is particularly powerful and may solve your masking/selection problems.

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