You might want to restrict an edit to a particular area of your image. You might want to move an object within your image. You might want to, for example, select a bird (or three) from one image, and place them on a different image.
Selection tools have options like feathering.
If you need to make precise selections, I suggest zooming in to greater than 1:1 (100%) so you can most clearly see the edges you might want to select. You may need to do a bit of scrolling to get around the whole image, but your selections will be more accurate and so it is worth the extra time. Selection tools come with options like feathering, and in general you can make a partial selection, change tools or tool options, and resume, adding to the selection, or perhaps subtracting from the selection. You might want to save a selection as you go for complex (time consuming) selections.
Selecting in Photoshop
Photoshop has multiple selection tools and multiple options for the tools. Rather than me spending hours reinventing wheels, check out Adobe’s Selection tools HERE. Note that there are some very sophisticated automatic selection tools – notably select subject and select focus area on the Select menu that usually give you a good starting point (they often need a bit of refining, but they can sale a lot of time). The Select and Mask tool is also very powerful. Read more about these quick selection tools via the Adobe training website HERE.
Note that once you have made a selection you can:
- save the selection
- invert the selection
- add to the selection with the same or different tool
- subtract from the selection with the same or different tool
- modify the selection – grow/expand/shrink / contract, feather, smooth. border.
Some notes on applications other than Photoshop
- Lightroom: with the local adjustment tools you can paint/erase the masks, use the AutoMask function and/or use the Range Mask controls to restrict the mask based on luminance or colour.