How to Use Select Objects in Lightroom Classic

by Andrew S. Gibson
How to Use Select Objects in Lightroom Classic


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Select Objects is a super useful yet under appreciated addition to Lightroom Classic’s masking tools. Before Adobe added it in the October 2022 (12.0) update, the only way you could select an object in a photo was to use the Brush or Select Subject. Select Objects gives you an extra option that’s helpful when the object you want to mask isn’t covered by another masking option.

With so many options you may be wondering which is the best to use. This is the order I suggest you try them in.

  • If you want to mask a person, or part of a person, start with Select People.
  • If you want to mask the main subject of the photo, and it’s not a person, use Select Subject.
  • If neither of those options works, use Select Objects. You can also use Select Objects to add to or subtract from a Select Subject mask.
  • If none of the above work, use the Brush instead.

Before we look at some practical examples it’s worth pointing out that there’s no right or wrong way to use Lightroom Classic’s masking tools. Don’t be afraid to experiment and use the methods that work best for you.  

Select Objects example 1

I made the photo below in a market in Bolivia. A local woman showed me a purse she wanted to sell. I moved in close and made this photo. Here’s the version without any local adjustments.

Select Objects

I wanted to mask the woman’s hands and the purse so I could add Clarity to bring out the textures. I tried Select Subject first, and got this result (the mask overlay is green).

Select Objects

Next I used Select Objects to help me mask the area that Select Subject didn’t get – the hand and purse on the right of the photo. I started by going to the mask I had just created (Mask 1) and clicking the Add button, then selecting Objects from the menu.

Select Objects

This opened up the Select Objects controls. 

Select Objects

The next step was to select which mode to work in. There are two: Brush Select and Rectangle Select, represented by two icons (also marked above). 

When you select Brush mode, a Size slider appears underneath. Use to adjust the size of the Brush (you can also adjust using the [ and ] keys).

I recommend using Rectangle Select mode first, because it’s the easiest. Click and drag to draw a rectangle around the object you want to mask, like this.

Select Objects

Here’s the result. As you can see it didn’t work. 

Select Objects

That’s easy to fix. In the Masks panel, you can see that the new Select Objects mask is listed under Mask 1. Just right-click and select Delete to remove it and try again.

Select Objects

Next I tried the Brush Select mode. In this mode you use the Brush to cover the object you want to mask, slightly extending past it for the best result. Here’s the result of my brush work (in red).

Select Objects

This is the resulting mask.

Select Objects

You can see Lightroom Classic masked the hand but not the purse, just like with Rectangle Select. 

So I tried again, clicking Add then Objects. I used Rectangle Select mode (always easiest) and drew a rectangle around the white purse.

Select Objects

Which gave this result, exactly what I wanted.

Select Objects

Then it was just a simple matter of increasing Clarity to bring out the textures of the woman’s hand and her purses. Here’s the result.

Select Objects

As you can see from this example, sometimes masking doesn’t work the first time. When that happens, you need to keep going until you get the result you want. If you can’t get Select Objects to work, you can use the Brush tool. 

Here are before and after versions so you can see the effect of the local adjustment.

Select Objects
Select Objects

Select Objects example 2

Here’s another example. I made this photo on the Salinas Grandes, a large salt flat in north-west Argentina. 

Select Objects

The position of the sun meant that the blue vehicle was nicely illuminated, but the yellow one was in more shadow. I wanted to fix that, and also bring out the textures in both. Here’s how I did it.

I started with Select Subject, just to see what it would do. It gave me this result. It seems to have selected the blue vehicle (great), but only part of the yellow one (not so great) and part of the metal tower (not good at all). 

Select Objects

So I deleted that and started again, using Select Objects in Rectangle Select mode to mask the blue vehicle. Here’s the rectangle I drew (it’s a bit faint but you can see it).

Select Objects

This is the resulting mask.

Select Objects

I increased Clarity to bring out texture and moved the Exposure slider left to darken the vehicle. This is the result.

Select Objects

Then I created a new Select Objects mask (again using Rectangle select mode) to mask the yellow vehicle. This is the rectangle I drew (again a bit hard to see).

Select Objects

And this is the resulting mask. It’s included part of the mast, but I’ll leave it for now. I can erase that part of the mask if I can see the result of my local adjustment there.

Select Objects

I moved the Shadows slider right to brighten the vehicle and increased Clarity to bring out the texture. Here’s the result.

Select Objects

Here are the before and after versions so you can see the difference those simple local adjustments made.

Select Objects
Select Objects

You’ve seen what it can do, now it’s time to go and try out Select Objects with your own photos. 




Mastering Lightroom Classic: Book Two – The Develop Module

You can learn more about masking and the Masks panel in Lightroom Classic with my ebook Mastering Lightroom Classic: Book Two – The Develop Module




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