I’ve been a little slow to download the newest version of Adobe’s Photoshop and Adobe Camera Raw (ACR). But I’m glad that I finally got over that and had time to check out some new features.

Selection is power in post-production

Photographing Sandhill Cranes before dawn can lead to a bit of noise in an image during capture. Blurred wing tips can be fine if you push in that direction for effect.

But in this case, I wanted the bird to be frozen. To stop the birds wings in flight you need a relatively high ISO otherwise the wings will show motion. The resulting noise due to the increased ISO can be handled using the masking features in ACR.

I selected the sky and lowered the Texture and Clarity. Increased the Saturation and Vibrance to match my memory of the day. The Crane was selected and I increased the Texture, opened the shadows and decreased contrast all of which made it stand out more from the background.

Sandhill Crane in flight
Lone Sandhill Crane at Cibola National Wildlife Reserve. Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III with M. Zukio 100-400mm f/5-6.3 Lens. Final image with soft cloudy sky and sharp Sandhill Crane.

New Masking panel

With the new masking panel you can make multiple masks, combine mask techniques and easily make selections using the Adobe Sensei AI engine.

In previous versions you had access to these tools, but you had to invoke whether you wanted to use the gradient or spot tools. Now you can use the selection tools and apply changes to the entire image easily.

Mask tools

ACR masking tool button
Bring up the new masking tool with this button.

Masking has become easier than ever. Choose from the multitude of tools. Below you can see which tools I used in this tutorial.

Masking tool options in adobe camera raw
Option abound from selecting Subject, Sky, Brush, Color, Luminance Range and more. Mix and match!

Select Sky

select sky palette and result acr
Sky selected with a little assist with a little brush action.
mask colors illustrated in ACR
Changed color for the mask to offset the pink of the sky.

Selecting the sky was easy. I needed to do a little adjustment to the mask made using the brush tool at the tips of the wings.

Select Subject

Color range palette Adobe Camera RAW
Started with Select Subject added one click of color range. Done!

Using Select Subject, the default red mask color was difficult to see with the pink sky background. So, I changed the color to lime green to have more success in seeing the transition. I still had a little adjustment in the wing tips, and added a color to the mask. It was done with that one additional click. Be sure to mix and match the various tools, adding and subtracting as necessary.

This is my first time using the new masking palette in ACR, and I gotta tell ya I’ve only scratched the surface of its power!

Yours in Creative Photography, Bob