How to Get Beautifully Smooth, Controlled Highlight Selections in Photoshop

Despite all the different tools at your disposal, making smooth, controlled selections in Photoshop can be tricky, especially when you're trying to isolate highlights. Here's a great way to do it.

The more feature-laden Photoshop becomes, the more it can sometimes seem that we're almost spoiled for options. Take making selections, for example. In the Tools palette alone you've got the rectangle marquee selection tool, the elliptical marquee selection tool, the lasso tool, the polygonal lasso tool, the magnetic lasso tool, the object selection tool, the quick selection tool, and the magic wand tool. Then up in the Select tab you've got a whole bunch more to choose from. It can be very confusing knowing which one to use and which one is most suitable for any given purpose. Isolating highlights exclusively in an image and making a smooth selection of the highlights is an example of selections becoming tricky.

In this great video by Matt Kloskowski, he runs you through how to make lovely, complex selections of highlights. although he does use the Channels palette, this is not luminosity masking. Indeed, it is much simpler than making complicated luminosity masks, yet it is very accurate. Indeed, I must confess that this was the first time I've seen this technique used and I tried it out on a couple of my landscape images to great effect and will definitely continue to use it. Despite Photoshop's power, I am definitely one to take a "less is more" approach to editing and this new technique will definitely help with that. Give the video a watch and let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Iain Stanley's picture

Iain Stanley is an Associate Professor teaching photography and composition in Japan. Fstoppers is where he writes about photography, but he's also a 5x Top Writer on Medium, where he writes about his expat (mis)adventures in Japan and other things not related to photography. To view his writing, click the link above.

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The video link just spins, no connection to YT. Not my computer.

Works on mine.

It also exists on the landscape photo. It's most likely due to Youtube compression.