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A Guide to Lightroom’s Newest Features (Summer 2022 Update)

a guide to Lightroom's newest features

Lightroom Classic’s newest updates have brought some long-requested changes as well as several tweaks and small fixes. In fact, three of the most powerful updates have the potential to transform your photography workflow – or at least speed it up.

There’s a lot more to discover than you might realize, so in this article, I’ll do a deep dive into Lightroom’s most recent major update. I’ll go through each of the new features, I’ll explain how they work, and I’ll offer a few quick tips to help you improve your Lightroom editing.

Lightroom June 2022 update: What’s new?

I generally just ignore software updates and don’t install them until they’re absolutely necessary; most of them seem to offer nothing more than vague “bug fixes” or “other improvements.” Yawn.

But if you’ve been waiting to download the newest version of Lightroom Classic, don’t delay any longer! In addition to a host of minor improvements, there are three powerful features that deserve your attention: AI Mask Copy-Paste, Quick Invert Mask, and a Preset Amount slider. There are also some helpful minor upgrades, and it all amounts to a sizable step up for the software millions of photographers rely on for their post-processing.

Let’s take a look at each major update in turn:

1. AI Mask Copy-Paste

Lightroom has long offered the ability to synchronize edits across multiple photos, and this is a huge timesaver for photographers who want to quickly apply a slew of edits to dozens or even hundreds of images. However, the relatively recent addition of AI masks has complicated matters. It’s easy to copy-paste edits such as crops and white balance tweaks, but photographers who have come to rely on AI options like Select Sky or Select Subject have been left out in the cold – until now.

Lightroom June 2022 Update screenshot of eight photo thumbnails
Each of these pictures is slightly different, making a generic copy-paste somewhat impractical. However, the Summer 2022 Lightroom Classic update solves this problem.

This new feature allows you to create an AI mask for one picture, then synchronize those edits across other pictures (just like you can with normal edits). Instead of doing a generic copy-paste job that might not give you the results you want, Lightroom generates a unique AI mask for each individual image and applies edits accordingly.

How to use it

Working with the AI Mask Copy-Paste feature is so easy it almost feels like cheating. When I first tried it, I honestly thought I had messed something up because there was no way it could’ve been that simple.

But it was. All you have to do is use one of the AI masking tools like Select Subject or Select Sky, then implement the edits that you’re after: Exposure, White Balance, Highlights, Shadows, etc.

Lightroom summer 2022 Update AI-generated Sky mask
The AI Select Sky option took took less than one second to identify the sky, which is shown with a red overlay.

Performing a generic copy-paste of these edits would normally be useless. The mask and its accompanying edits would invariably need tweaking because no two photos are the same.

However, the AI Copy-Paste feature solves that; instead of doing a standard copy-paste job, it copies the process used to generate the mask, then pastes the edits onto the result. Basically, it performs the same Select Sky or Select Subject operation already performed on the original, then applies the original edits to the new photo.

Start by selecting Settings>Copy Setting. Choose the Masking option:

Lightroom June 2022 Update copy/paste edit settings dialog box
Click the Masking option to copy the AI mask settings.

Now just select a photo (or multiple photos) to which you want your AI mask and edits to be applied. Then choose Settings>Paste Settings. Lightroom will first generate the AI mask, then apply the edits from the original.

Lightroom June 2022 Update progress bar
If you have a relatively recent computer, Lightroom will perform this operation in one or two seconds.

That’s really all there is to it, and if you do a lot of work with landscapes or portraits, this tool is an incredible addition to Lightroom and can save you untold hours in the editing room.

Lightroom June 2022 Update AI-generated sky mask
Lightroom generated this mask by using the AI Select Sky tool, then it pasted my edits from the original. It took a tiny fraction of the time it would’ve taken to achieve the same result manually.

Quick tips

Tip 1: You can use the Sync button at the bottom of the Develop module to copy-paste AI masks for many photos at once. It will take several seconds or even minutes for Lightroom to generate the AI masks on all the images, but the results will be worth it.

Tip 2: If you want to copy-paste settings from multiple masks, just select all the relevant masks when you choose Copy Settings. Note that this includes AI-generated masks as well as manually generated masks.

Lightroom June 2022 Update custom mask naming
You can copy-paste multiple masks, including masks created by AI and masks that you create yourself.

2. Quick Invert Mask

Invert Mask is one of those better-late-than-never features that photographers have been asking about for years. I’m mostly just happy that it’s finally here.

You see, I’ve often found myself applying edits to one part of an image and then applying a completely different set of edits to the exact opposite portion of an image. However, without an easy Invert Mask option, this seemingly simple process was often an exercise in frustration. Thankfully, those days are now gone. The result, while relatively simple, is a welcome addition to any photographer’s editing toolkit.

How to use it

If you thought the AI Preset Copy-Paste feature was simple, this one is really going to please you. All you have to do is start with a mask and click one button!

Lightroom summer 2022 Update AI Select Subject mask
Lightroom has a “Select Subject” AI mask option, but not a “Select Everything but the Subject” mask. Until now.

After your mask is created, click the three horizontal dots next to the mask, and select the Invert Mask option:

Lightroom summer 2022 Update Invert Mask dialog

The result is a mask that is the exact opposite of the original, which is a huge benefit and a timesaver for all kinds of photographers. It works for all masks, not just those that are AI-generated – and it lets you instantly edit all portions of an image except the area you originally selected.

Lightroom June 2022 Update inverted Select Subject mask
Everything is masked except for the subject.

Quick tips

Tip 1: If you want to preserve your original mask, use the Duplicate and Invert Mask option. That will create a second mask that is the exact opposite of the original, which gives you the freedom to apply edits to both masks instead of just one or the other.

Tip 2: One image can have many masks, and it’s easy to lose track of them all, especially if you’re creating a slew of inverted duplicates. Give each mask a name by selecting the three horizontal dots and choosing Rename:

Lightroom June 2022 Update Rename mask

It’ll help you keep track of all your masks, and the names will also be used if you copy and paste mask settings from one image to another.

3. Preset Amount slider

This is a feature I didn’t know I wanted, but now that I have it, I’m not sure how I ever managed without it! Lightroom is packed to the gills with presets that give you one-click access to different styles and visual alterations, which you can then tweak and refine using the sliders in the Develop module.

What if you like a preset but don’t want to implement it at full strength? Until now, that hasn’t really been an option. However, the latest Lightroom update includes a slider that makes it not just possible, but easy.

How to use it

Using the Preset Amount slider is just as simple as it sounds: Select a picture in the Develop module, click a preset, then a slider will appear – one that lets you adjust the preset’s intensity.

Lightroom June 2022 Update moth on flower
The original image (imported directly from my camera).

The default value is 100, and lowering it lessens the overall effect. To increase the preset strength, you can raise the value above 100.

Lightroom June 2022 Update moth on flower with Preset Amount slider
I applied the CN02 Cinematic preset to give the image a more subdued appearance. The result is good, but not quite what I was looking for.

Prior to the addition of this new feature, photographers needed to adjust and tweak all the individual parameters of a preset to make the edit more subtle or more impactful. This was done through panels in the Develop module (e.g., Basic, Detail, Color, and Tone Curve). But now all you have to do is adjust the Preset Amount slider!

Lightroom June 2022 Update moth on flower with Preset Amount slider
Adjusting the Preset Amount to 40 gave me the exact result I was after. It applied just enough of the CN02 preset to produce some subtle changes to color and exposure while keeping enough of the original look intact.

Quick tips

Tip 1: Click the number next to the Amount slider; you can then type in a numerical value. This is handy if you want to quickly adjust the preset strength to a specific amount without clicking and dragging the slider back and forth.

Tip 2: Not all presets are designed to work with this slider. If you click a preset and the Amount slider is grayed out, you will need to select another preset (or manually tweak the editing sliders to reduce or increase the preset strength).

Tip 3: If you make your own preset using the Develop>New Preset option, check the Support Amount Slider box to ensure you can adjust the intensity as needed.

Lightroom June 2022 Update New Develop Preset dialog
Click the Support Amount Slider when making new presets to ensure the intensity will be adjustable.

Lightroom’s newest features: final words

The June 2022 updates to Lightroom Classic demonstrate Adobe’s continued support of photographers. These three features are a huge improvement for anyone who wants to save time, streamline their workflow, and get better results.

While the AI Mask Copy-Paste option is so good that it’s almost magical, the ability to invert masks and adjust the preset intensity are welcome additions, too.

What about you? What are your favorite Lightroom improvements, and how have you used these tools to enhance your editing? Leave your thoughts and any sample images in the comments below.

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Simon Ringsmuth
Simon Ringsmuth

is an educational technology specialist at Oklahoma State University and enjoys sharing his enthusiasm for photography on his website and podcast at Weekly Fifty. He and his brother host a monthly podcast called Camera Dads where they discuss photography and fatherhood, and Simon also posts regularly to Instagram where you can follow him as @sringsmuth.

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