[2024] Easiest Way to Extend Backgrounds in Lightroom

To extend or change a background in Lightroom, first use the AI-powered Masking tool to precisely select the background, then employ the Color Picker in the Color Panel to alter its color, adapting the image to match your creative vision. If using an older version of Lightroom, invert the subject mask or utilize the Range Mask for similar results.

December 4, 2023
[2024] Easiest Way to Extend Backgrounds in Lightroom
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How to Extend Background in Adobe Lightroom

If you need to stretch or enlarge the actual dimensions of your photograph's background in Adobe Lightroom, this guide is your go-to resource. Often in photography, especially in portraits or landscapes, you might find the existing background too limiting or not perfectly aligned with your creative vision. Whether it's about adding more breathing room around your subject, changing the mood of the scene, or simply making the background more aesthetically pleasing, extending and altering the background can be crucial.

In Lightroom, particularly from version 12.0 onwards, the AI-powered masking tools revolutionize how you work with backgrounds. Suppose you're focusing on a portrait and want the background to seamlessly blend or stand out. The first step is to isolate this area effectively. Navigate to the Masking tool, which you'll find above the Basic Panel. Here, choose the "Background" option. Lightroom's AI steps in to intuitively select the background. It's not just about a rough selection; the AI fine-tunes to the edges, but remember, you have the freedom to modify this with the brush tool. Imagine you're working on a landscape photo; the AI might miss a few trees blending into the sky. Use the brush to add these missed parts to the mask.

Precisely Altering the Background Color

Once you've isolated the background, it's time to experiment with colors. This is where your creative vision comes into play. In the Color Panel, at its bottom, there’s a subtle but powerful tool: the Color Picker. Initially marked by a crossed white rectangle, it's your gateway to a spectrum of colors. Clicking here opens a whole new window of possibilities. Let's say you're working on a beach scene, and the sky isn't as blue as you'd like. Click the Color Picker, and a palette appears. Choose a shade of blue that matches your vision. As soon as you click a color, watch your background transform. This immediate feedback allows you to judge if the chosen shade complements your subject or if another attempt is needed.

Navigating Limitations and Alternative Approaches

It's important to understand Lightroom's boundaries. If you're using an older version like 11, the "Select Background" tool isn’t available. But don't let this limit your creativity. Instead, select the subject, then invert the mask to focus on the background. Or, use the Range Mask, introduced in an earlier update. This tool allows for more manual but precise selections based on color range or depth, offering an alternative pathway to achieve your desired background effect.