How to Change the Background in Lightroom

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No doubt, backgrounds play a vital role in photos. It helps accentuate the position and color of the object in a photo. As such, it’s essential to learn how to make photo background changes. So, in this article, the focus will be on how to change the background in Lightroom.

How to Change the Background in Lightroom

There are several ways you can change the background of a photo, and several editing tools are available for this effect. However, Lightroom is a simple and easy-to-use edit option for photographers looking to ignite their post-production editing.

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How to Change the Background Color of an Image

The methods discussed below are very effective for background changes, and you can employ them easily while editing. Besides, with this method, you can quickly bring about noticeable changes to the quality of your photo. Here are the steps to make a quick background change in Lightroom.

Step 1: Import the Photo

  1. The first thing you need to do is to launch the application on your computer.
  2. Next, you must locate the Lightroom icon on your desktop and click on it.
  3. When it launches and opens in the Library Module, import the photo whose background you need to change.

Step 2: Create a Mask

Since the inclusion of the masking feature in Lightroom, many edits that you could only make with Photoshop became doable. The next step in  changing a background color is creating a mask, and here’s how to do that:

  1. To create a mask, you should set Lightroom in the Develop Module.
  2. The mask icon is located to the right of the screen and represented by a dotted circle.

Step 3: Select the Object

  1. After creating it, click on the mask icon to open a drop-down menu titled “Add New Mask.”
  2. Right below this option, click on the “Select Subject” button, which is usually the first option on the menu.
  3. Doing this opens an Effect menu with a list of editing options you can adjust.
  4. Immediately after clicking the Select Option, the main subject or object in the photo is selected.

Step 4: Invert Selection

Since we’re only focused on changing the background, you’ll want to invert the selection from that of the object to the background. To do this:

  1. There’s an Invert option with a checkbox in the screen’s top right.
  2. You’ll find it underneath the Mask icon dotted circle.
  3. Click on the checkbox to activate the option.
  4. When this is done, all edit changes will affect the background, not the object.

Step 5: Adjust Parameter Sliders

If you want to change the background color, navigate to the hue slider and adjust it to your preferred color. Also, you can adjust all other sliders to suit your required background changes.

The idea is to perfectly blend the photo’s object into the newly changed background. If you’re just getting started on Lightroom, it may take you a while to get around this process. However, it’s worth it in the end.

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How to Change the Background Color in Lightroom Using Mask Gradient

There’s no single way to effect color changes to a photo’s background in Lightroom. Using gradients to make color changes allow you to apply different color intensities and types to different background areas.

To do this, here are the dead-easy steps to follow:

Step 1: Prepare the Original Photo for Editing

This step involves launching the Lightroom application and importing the photo into Lightroom. When you successfully open a photo in Lightroom, the Library Module displays by default. To begin changing the background, set Lightroom to the Develop Module.

Step 2: Create Mask

Locate and click on the mask icon with Lightroom in the Develop Module. Again, it’s the dotted circle on the top right area of the screen.

Step 3: Click on Select Object

  1. After clicking on the mask icon, Lightroom displays an “Add New Mask” menu.
  2. Next, locate and click on “Select Object.” which highlights the object in the photo against the background.

Step 4: Invert the Selection

Click the Invert checkbox to make the background the main selection. The Invert option is located in the top right area of the screen.

Step 5: Select the Gradient

There are three dots beside the created mask on the opened mask window.

Clicking the dots opens a drop-down menu.

On the menu, locate and click “Intersect Mask With” to reveal a list of options. There are two gradient options available to choose from—Radial and Linear.

Step 6: Using Radial Gradient

With the radial gradient, the only part of the photo affected by any adjustments is the parts where masks overlap. An excellent example of applying the radial gradient is creating a halo effect on an object. To use this tool:

  1. Hold the shift key, click on an area on the object and draw in the direction you want the radial gradient to cover.
  2. When the background area is highlighted, you can adjust the color options to make changes only to that part of the background.

Step 7: Using Linear Gradient

Linear gradient allows you to change the color of the background in different shades and intensities. You can use it to divide the background color vertically and horizontally. Here are the steps of what to do to use this tool:

  1. Select the Linear Gradient tool by clicking its icon in the column on the right
  2. You can also simply press the L key to do this.
  3. Click anywhere on the foreground to adjust the image’s foreground and drag it up.
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How to Change the Background Color Using the Adjustment Brush Tool

Using the adjustment brush is another easy method to change the background in Lightroom. It offers good precision and accuracy to change photo backgrounds against its objects. Here’s what you need to do while using this tool:

  1. Import the photo into Lightroom and click on the Develop Module.
  2. Select the adjustment brush tool on the right side of the screen’s editing panel. It has an icon that looks like a makeup brush.
  3. You can choose to change the adjustment tool brush size to highlight the background area effectively.
  4. At the bottom of the panel is an Auto Mask checkbox. Before you begin brushing the photo, click on the checkbox.
  5. Use the brush to paint the photo background, creating a red overlay on the photo’s background.
  6. Move the brush over the red overlay as much as possible.
  7. On the color section of the editing panel, choose the color you want to change the background.
  8. Adjust the other editing options like Shadows, Contrasts, Whites, Blacks, and Exposure by moving the sliders back and forth to decrease and reduce each effect.

How to Change the Background Using the HSL Panel

Using the HSL panel is preferred when working with a photo with a single object. You can use this feature by following the steps below: 

  1. Switch to the Develop Module in Lightroom.
  2. In this module, locate and click the HSL panel.
  3. On the HSL panel, click on the Hue tab, which opens up different color options, each with a slider.
  4. Locate the slider with a similar color to the background you want to change.
  5. Then, adjust the slider back and forth to make the needed color change.

As you do this, you’ll notice that the color change only affects the background, not the object.

Benefits of Changing Background in Lightroom

The most significant benefit of changing an image background in Lightroom has to be in the area of control. Being able to alter backgrounds gives the photographer total control and flexibility over the outcome of photos.


Lightroom offers an easy way to change your image background with fewer editing options. The article explains how to do this using the three methods discussed above. Every step we covered above is easy to apply, and you can get by without hassle.