Professional photographer Rikk Flohr posted a video online showing how he created one of his iconic landscape images. Rikk captured and edited (and sold) the photo above over a decade ago, where it took him 10 hours to edit in Photoshop CS4. Out of curiosity, he wanted to see if he could reproduce his results using today’s modern tools, starting with the same original photo in Lightroom Classic. How long would it take him?
The answer, literally, with Lightroom’s new AI-powered masking tools, was just over 10 minutes… In other words, nearly sixty times faster! In the video below, he shares the full story of how he did it and walks you through before and after, back then and in the current day with newer and better tools.
“Time is money,” as the old adage goes – so if your creative tools are taking longer than they should, then they are costing you valuable time that you could be spending elsewhere. Rikk begins:
So today we’re going to talk about the all-new masking tools which were released last fall, And I know the word “game changer” is tossed around a lot – you know, “the biggest feature in years” – and I’ve heard that quite a bit. Matt Kloskowski personally told me that it was the biggest thing he’d seen since Lightroom 2. And since this is Lightroom 11, that’s going back a ways. But really, I consider it to be the biggest leap forward in editing capabilities in the Lightroom suite since local adjustments came way back in version 2 in 2008, so it’s been long overdue and it’s very welcome.
The features you’re going to see today are in Lightroom Classic 11. They are also available in Lightroom desktop version 5, plus Camera Raw that was just released with Photoshop in October, as well as in the Lightroom mobile apps on your iOS and Android devices. So the tools you see today are available on all platforms, and these edits do sync back and forth between the platforms.
Here’s the backstory on the photo. The problem is the image didn’t feel like it truly captured what he experienced and saw that day:
This is a picture I took way back in 2006 with my first full-frame digital SLR, a Canon 5D. We were camping at the state forest but it had been raining all day, and just as the storm broke at the campground, we came down the the long flight of wooden stairs that lead to the the bay, and found this beautiful rainbow breaking over the point. So, I hastily set up a tripod and snapped a picture. We returned home and I went to edit this picture. Now this picture does not look that exciting, and I remember looking at the JPEG on my memory card and thinking, well, it’s okay, and then I got it into Lightroom and looked at the RAW file and said, boy, that’s dull and flat, and not at all like I remember it.
Editing to get his final result took 10 hours in Photoshop back then! Compared to only ~10 minutes in the latest release of Lightroom:
So, I set about editing and I edited it for a very, very long time in Photoshop. I recall that I spent a weekend on this image – I spent about five hours one day and five hours the next day – meticulously masking these areas inside the trees, trying to get every little bit of sky selected and I was successful and produced an image that looked good. So the image that came off my Photoshop experience then was what I ultimately printed and then made available for sale as “Rainbow Point.”
But how did we get there? Well, it was a lot of heartache and a lot of work in Photoshop to do that back in the day, and we’re talking back in the Photoshop CS5 or CS4 time frame. So, fast forward: I get the new Lightroom 2022 tools and I said I should try out one of my signature images with the new toolset and see how it works. And the result was the image I posted above, and I quite literally did that image in just a little over 10 minutes. And when I looked back at the 10 hours I had spent producing the image in Photoshop CS4 with what were the best tools available at the time, I was kind of surprised at how far we’d come. So, I thought I would walk you through a little bit of the new masking features and take you through the editing.
Rikk since joined Adobe in 2014 as a Customer Advocate for their photography products. Here’s the full video so you can see for yourself how he did it, walking you through step-by-step to help you get similar results with your photos:
If you’re not already using the tools and would like to follow along, then just download the fully-functional free trials to get started:
Lightroom is available for purchase directly from Adobe either with or without Photoshop in several different plans starting from $9.99/month.
If you get it with Photoshop, then be sure to check out Neural Filters – another example of how new features can save incredible time!
So, can you still use the old CS tools? Perhaps, if they still run on your system – though they are completely unsupported. Should you? Well, that’s a different question.
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