If you are photographing people than you understand the importance of sharpening areas of your images while masking out other parts and keeping them soft. For example, I love to sharpen the eyes, the lips, the hair, but don't want to bring out any unnecessary detail on the cheeks. Fortunately in Lightroom there is way to apply sharpening to your image while masking out areas where you would otherwise not want to apply the effect.
Let's start by jumping down to the "Detail" menu bar. Once open you will see 4 sliders under the "Sharpening" header. In this video tip I don't focus on all of them since I like to keep the videos short and sweet. Truth be told, I hardly even change up the "Radius" or "Detail" slider. But I do love to push the intensity of the sharpening by sliding the "Amount" to the right. In order to see the change taking place be sure to zoom into your image with a 1:1 ratio. That way you can see the effect taking place.
Once I have my sharpening where I would like it I then use the magic slider, I mean "Masking" slider. By moving this slider to the right I am telling Lightroom to only sharpening edges of my photograph but to leave skin tone areas and areas of creamy delicious bokeh alone. The end result is that I get a specific sharpening applied to my photo in the areas where I want it such as the eyes, lips, hair etc. Now for those Photoshop purists out there I am not saying this replaces a good old fashioned Wacom tablet retouching. But if you have more than a few images to edit and can't give each one the TLC that a fashion retoucher would normally give the images than this is a fantastic alternative. It's quick, easy and works well.
Now here's where the real magic starts. When using the masking slider hold down the Option key on the Mac (or Alt key on the PC) while you drag the slider. Now as you drag, Lightroom will show you the areas that are getting sharpened (white) and areas where that sharpening is being masked out (black).
Hold down Option (Mac) or Alt (PC) while dragging the masking slider to ensure your sharpening doesn't take place in areas you would like to stay soft."
This little feature makes the masking tool so easy to use. In fact Adobe if you are out there listening can you please just make that happen by default so we don't have to hold those keys down to see it taking place?
Hopefully this tip was useful. If so, be sure to check out other some of these other Lightroom tips and tricks I have shared over the last few months. You can also follow my work on Facebook or find me on Ello.