Lightroom Classic: What’s New to Help You?

©Theano Nikitas

One of the benefits of software subscription models like Adobe’s is being able to access new features and improvements on a timely basis. These periodic updates are often minor, so it’s easy to accidentally overlook an update that’s more significant. Take a look at these new developments in Lightroom Classic that could improve your editing process.


This AI-powered feature gives you an alternative to Lightroom Classic’s noise reduction tool, which is now at the bottom of the Details panel and called Manual Noise Reduction. The new Denoise is more effective at removing noise while maintaining fine details. Currently, this feature is only compatible with raw image files, with some exceptions such as the smaller-than-full-resolution sRAW files from Canon and S NEF files from Nikon, among other restrictions. It should be available for other file formats in the future. The process is one-and-done, producing a separate DNG file. Denoise is greyed out in the menu if you try to re-process a denoised DNG file. The original raw file is retained along with a new DNG file created after Denoise has been applied.

It’s preferable to use Denoise prior to other edits to avoid possible interactions with other processes, especially AI-driven functions such as Select Subject or Context Aware Remove.

©Theano Nikitas
AI-powered Denoise is more effective at removing noise while maintaining fine detail than the previous tool, which is now called Manual Noise Reduction.

Here’s how to put Denoise into action:

  1. Open an image (or multiple images by selecting them in the Filmstrip) and head to Develop > Details.
  2. Click Denoise. When the Enhance Preview dialogue box opens, click on the preview window to see before and after versions. If needed, use the amount slider to apply more or less noise reduction (the default is set at 50).
  3. Leave Create Stack checked to keep the before and after pictures together. The processed DNG file name will be appended with “Enhanced-NR.”
  4. To the left of Create Stack, you’ll see the estimated amount of time for the image(s) to be processed. Once you’re satisfied with the Denoise results, click Enhance. A progress bar appears in the upper left of the screen.
  5. Hold the Alt (Windows) or Option (Mac) key when you click Denoise to reset the slider to the previously used intensity level.
  6. Optional: If your image appears too smooth, you can go to the Effects panel and add some grain.
©Theano Nikitas
The Adaptive: Portrait presets are one of two methods available to create subject-specific masks for elements such as facial hair.
©Theano Nikitas
To use the Select People method, begin by choosing the masking icon in the right panel of the Develop module and click the people icon to have it recognize people in the image.
People Masking

Adobe has added new Portrait Adaptive Presets and two new Select People masks for facial hair and clothing. For each, there are two methods to automatically create subject-specific masks.

To create a mask using Adaptive Presets in the Develop module: 

  1. Open the presets panel on the left-hand side of the screen and click the down arrow of Adaptive: Portrait.
  2. Click Darken Beard. Then click the masking icon in the right-hand panel.

To create a mask using Select People in the Develop module:

  1. Choose the masking icon, then click the people icon. The software automatically recognizes the people in the image.
  2. Click the thumbnail of the person whose facial hair you want to adjust. (If there’s more than one person in the scene, Lightroom provides a thumbnail for each; choose your preferred subject.)
  3. Click Facial Hair from the Person Mask Options, then click Create Mask.

For either method:

  1. In the upper right of the main window, a small masking panel indicates the portions of the image that were automatically masked. Make sure to check Show Overlay to visualize the mask.
  2. Use the Add/Subtract options in the masking panel to tweak the selection if needed.
  3. Use the Exposure and Amount sliders to increase or decrease darkness of the subject’s facial hair.
  4. You can adjust contrast and texture tools to refine the look of the subject’s beard/mustache.
  5. Optional: Both methods can also be used to adjust the color intensity of the subject’s clothes or to change a garment’s color. Just choose Enhance Clothes or Clothes from the respective menus.
©Theano Nikitas
The Refine Saturation slider lets you decrease or increase the change in saturation that often occurs when using the Point Curve. Once adjustments are made, just head to the bottom of the panel to find the Refine Saturation slider.

There are a few new simple but useful options in Curves. The Refine Saturation slider provides a way to decrease or increase the change in saturation that often occurs when using the Point Curve, especially when setting the black point.

  1. Go to the Tone Curve Panel and select Point Curve (the second button from the left).
  2. Make your Point Curve adjustments. At the bottom of the panel, use the new Refine Saturation slider to decrease/increase saturation.

Also new is the ability to apply Curves adjustments to a masked area of an image. Just select the area you want to adjust, head over to the Tone Curve panel, and you’re good to go.

©Theano Nikitas
Now you can apply a mask when working in Curves and apply those adjustments to specific areas of an image. Here I selected and made changes to the sky.
Hue, Saturation, Luminance

Adobe has added a quick and easy way to isolate colors in an image, which is helpful when you want to adjust a specific color and see exactly what areas that adjustment will affect. Hold the Alt (Windows) or Option (Mac) key and click on the hue slider for, for example, the color blue (be careful not to move the slider). All areas of the image that contain blue will show as blue while the remainder of the image is shown as black-and-white so you can see what parts of the photo will be affected when you adjust the blue slider. 

Theano Nikitas is a photographer and freelance writer covering the photo industry.

Tags: lightroom