In October 2021, Adobe released a huge upgrade to their masking tools in Lightroom Classic. These updates make masking in Lightroom much more efficient and user-friendly.

For a more in-depth look at the whole upgrade, check out this video. But for this article, I wanted to highlight the one small feature that I find myself using on a lot of post-processing sessions now: Inverting the subject selection mask.

What inverting the subject selection mask does

The Invert checkbox allows you to quickly select everything in an image except your subject. This allows you to make the adjustments that you want to the entire background, while leaving your subject alone. Previously, I would often use a radial gradient for this type of work. Now, the Invert checkbox allows you to be much more precise in your adjustments.

The most frequent use of this function for me is when I want to reduce the highlights in the background around my subject, or slightly decrease the exposure. I do a lot of outdoor photography and having this option is great to help your subject pop out a little more. Below I’ll show three simple steps to using the Invert checkbox.

1. Select subject

Open the masking tools in Lightroom Classic and click Select Subject. Adobe Sensei generally does a great job at selecting your subject, but you also have the option to modify the selections if needed.

select subject
Choose Select Subject in the masking tools.
select subject
Select your subject, or the only part of the image that you don’t want to adjust.

2. Click the Invert checkbox

Inverting the subject selection mask will leave everything but your subject selected.

inverting subject selection mask
Inverting will select everything aside from your subject.

3. Make your adjustments

Fine-tune adjustments as desired, then click Done when finished.

inverting subject selection
Make any adjustments to your selected area as desired.

Before and after

Inverting the subject selection mask in Lightroom allows you to make precise adjustments to your images really quickly. That being said, less is more when it comes to these types of features, so make sure you don’t overdo it and have your image look unnatural.