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Applying Subject and Sky masks in batch edits in Lightroom

Adobe recently released a new update for Lightroom Classic and Lightroom (for a full overview of the updates, check out this article). With this update, Adobe has enhanced their previously released masking features. Now, you’re able to apply Subject and Sky masks in batch edit with the aid of artificial intelligence. This makes batch editing any images with Subject or Sky masks much faster, and decreases workflow time dramatically.

What’s new

My original photo, in which I wanted to bring down the highlights of the bright forest around the subject.

When Lightroom released their new masking panel earlier this year, it was a welcome update — I use it routinely in my workflow. However, I did find it to be lacking when I was attempting to batch edit a group of photos using the same masks.

Previously, when you edited a photo and tried to sync the mask to other photos, the mask would copy but the selected subject/sky on each image would not automatically update. This meant that you would still have to click on each photo, go into the masks panel and click Update Subject or Update Sky. Then, once the mask was updated, the masking edits would be applied.

Now, when you sync or paste a mask, artificial intelligence will auto-compute the sky or subject on each individual photo, and then apply the masking edits. This is a huge upgrade and timesaver from Adobe.

How to batch edit with masking

I selected my adjustment area and then made the edits I wanted.

The update to the masking system doesn’t require you to do anything new in your workflow. In the example above, I wanted to bring down the highlights around my subject. And because I was shooting a race, I had about 50 photos in this location with similar exposures.

Be sure to click the masking button when synchronizing your settings.

This is where the new auto updating of masks came in super handy. I was able to apply my edits to one photo, and then sync them across the other photos. The subject was slightly different in each photo, but AI auto-computed each subject and then applied the highlight edit that I had used in the first image.

Once you sync or copy your masked edits, a dialogue box will tell you how long your processing time will be.

If you’re syncing or pasting masks to a single photo, it takes about 2–3 seconds for the AI to update the subject/sky and then apply the edits.

With batch editing, a dialogue box will come up and give you an estimated processing time. As you can see above, I applied the mask to 85 photos and the estimated time was six minutes. This is still leaps and bounds more effective than having to go to each of those 85 images to click on the Update Subject box before the mask will be applied.

Overall, this update from Adobe is a welcome addition to the new masking panel. It allows you to apply Subject and Sky masks in batch edit, decreasing workflow time and effort.

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Rafael Jones

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