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In this article I’ll share some tips for selective editing with the Radial Filter tool in Lightroom.
The Radial Filter allows you to draw an ellipse around an area of an image, and apply edits to the area outside or inside the ellipse. This is a great technique for highlighting portions of an image.
The Radial Filter tool in Lr 5 gives you the same set of standard adjustments as the Graduated Filter and Adjustment Brush. Note that this screenshot is from an image that is using the 2012 process. Read more about process versions here.
If you read my article on improving your Lightroom workflow, you’ll remember that I’m nuts about keyboard shortcuts. The shortcut for accessing the Radial Filter tool is Shift M. Just remember that the shortcut for the Graduated Filter is M, so Shift M makes sense for the Radial Filter. After all, if you took a Graduated Filter, and curled it into a circle, you’d have the Radial Filter tool.
In the above photo of my son enjoying a summer day at the pool, I used the Radial Filter to make the water a little darker, and a little more blue, without changing the exposure or white balance over the subject. This has the effect of emphasizing the subject by making him brighter and warmer than the rest of the image.
3. Apply the desired settings. In this example, I’m cooling the white balance, reducing exposure, and increasing contrast, highlights, and clarity. Increased clarity often make water look more interesting by bringing out the reflections.
4. Feather the adjustment. Feathering the adjustment is important to ensure your image looks natural, not “Photoshopped.” Feature is 50 by default, I’ve found that for more image, I like it around 85 or so. Note that after increasing the feather, you may need to back and increase the size of the filter.
By varying the exposure, contrast, and white balance of the subject, relative to the setting, you can direct the viewer’s gaze and increase the impact of your photo. I hope this simple example has given you some ideas of how to incorporate the Radial Filter tool into your workflow. I appreciate feedback, please comment below or feel free to connect with me through Facebook or Google+. I’ll do my best to answer questions and reply to comments.