Lightroom: How I erase portions of the graduated filter - Digital Photography School

Lightroom: How I erase portions of the graduated filter

I love the graduated filter tool in Lightroom. With it, you can just drag a ‘window shade’ of saturation down over your sky or let in a diagonal leak of light in the corner of your photo. I was disappointed that the new version of Lightroom (LR3) didn’t add the ability of erasing portions of the filter. For example in the image below, I wanted to drag a grad filter of bumped up saturation and vibrance (for the blue), clarity and contrast (for the clouds) and lowered brightness for the overall drama of the sky. All well and good for the sky. But now, the boat is also darker, higher clarity and more saturated than I want it to be.

The way I go about ‘erasing’ this effect from the boat is to use the adjustment brush . Remember that with the grad filter, I bumped UP the saturation, vibrance, contrast and clarity and DOWN the brightness. So I will customise a brush with the opposite effects. One with LOWER saturation, vibrance, contrast and clarity and UP brightness. This brings about an erasing effect by doing the opposite of what I set the filter to do. And this is my result:

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Elizabeth Halford is a Hampshire Photographer and keeps a rockin'photography blog where she writes about photography and business in "real.plain.english". She's addicted to Facebook and can be found answering photography and business questions every day here on her page

  • http://www.wolfnowl.com Mike Nelson Pedde

    One additional note is that since the graduated filter works as a ‘wedge’ (more effect to less effect), by turning down the Flow value in the Adjustment brush you can vary the amount of counter effect in different parts of the photo by going over them more than once. It depends on the amount of finesse you want.

    Mike.
    http://bit.ly/LRTips (links to over 150 Lightroom sites, including this one!)

  • Stephen

    I enjoy all the tips DPS contributors give, but I can’t help but wonder if somehow having a two minute video to actually show you how to it would be better. Seriously.

  • Kathleen

    Oh that was a great tip. I am not in the position of being able to attend any kind of courses in Lightroom and Photoshop – so I ‘eat up’ any tips and hints that I find. I’ve been annoyed at the same thing of having a graduated filter and then having points in my photo that are adversely effected. I appreciate the time you took to put this online!!

  • http://hahnphotographystudio.zenfolio.com/ Dave

    great easy read. you know, i thought about doing this, but i never did. I’m glad to see smarter photographers playing with it…i probably would of never tried it :) Now I know it is possible and pretty easy too. thx.

  • http://www.thatphotog.com Steve

    Good tip, and I like Mike’s addition. I can’t help but think a little layering in photo editing software would be a little easier though.

    Oh, and in my opinion, that horizon is more distracting than the lack of contrast and extra touch of brightness. Nothing is straight in this picture.

  • photog1107

    I agree with the video tutorial suggestion. I have tried using the adjustment brush in LR2 to varying degrees of success… with a mouse anyway, the brush often gives me too harsh of an effect, and it’s tough to keep it in between a hard edged area without going “outside the lines.” I can’t seem to get the subtle control I want, which is frustrating. Would love to see someone demonstrate the technique in person.

  • http://www.bypaulsmith.com/ paul

    @photog1107 – My method for this, with a hard or contrasty edge is to first use the brush with the “Auto Mask” turned on. Add a descent amount of “feather”, fill the view frame with the area to be worked on, then brush the edges. After the edges are done, uncheck the “Auto Mask” and then paint in the rest of your mask, inside the border you just created. This has worked quite successfully for me. Where the auto mask struggles is with edges that are not well defined or in complex areas like with trees and shrubs. Trying to mask out a tree in Lightroom is challenging at best but the above method works well for hard, larger edges; like the sailboat in this article. Hope this helps!

  • http://www.lloydkbarnes.com Lloyd Barnes

    I love the graduated filter in Lightroom – cool idea for reversing it in areas where you don’t want it!

  • Steve

    Great tip. Helped me with a photo that I’d been struggling with last week (but cleaned up in Photoshop). Nice to find a way to do almost the same thing in LR. Thanks!

  • chasrl178

    I would suggest you level the horizon first then look into modifying the rest of the adjustments. Am learning more every time you post more of your tips.

    Thanks
    Charles

  • Rabi

    I love Lightroom, but I definitely feel like Aperture is better about letting you brush in effects. I haven’t used Aperture in ages, but I distinctly remember being able to brush in/out vignetting and loving the feature.

  • http://waynewarp.com wayne

    Straight horizon (there must be Trillions and Trillions of those – Not a Big Deal, Dudes), or no, the tip works. I use it, myself, all the time.
    That said, I do find I can make more Precise local adjustments in Photoshop with layers and layer masks, etc, but I do use LR for almost all the more easily feathered adjustments. Steve, earlier, said he thought it might be easier in PS, but I find the opposite.. easy in LR, though more precise in PS. When I can do the bulk of my edits in one place without opening a much more complex, memory hungry program, I’ll opt for the simpler, unless I Need the precision and complexities of layers.
    Tip: When the brush is active, typing the letter “O” will show where the brush effect is applied, aiding in limiting the effects to where you want them to be, and also aiding in using the erase functions in the adjustment brush panel, too. Again.. I use it all the time.

  • http://photoartbyken.com Kenneth Hoffman

    There are many ways to ‘fix’ the sky. One way is to mask the sky with the magic mask. Complicated edges can be followed by enlarging 400%. Intensity adjustments can be made with the magic mask for a better mask. Create an object. Then adust the contrast and saturation of the sky and combine the object. Objects
    that need tilting like the boat can easily be tilted by drawing a rough mask around the boat, making an object out of the mask, tilting it to the new position, combining it, then using the clone brush, blend the areas around the boat and sail. Blue skies can easily be fulled in between leaves by overlaying with a regular brush set on darken only. I don’t use Photoshop, but Micrografx Picture Publisher Digital Edition 10. The tools are the same as Adobe Photoshop but kinder to use. See my articles on photonetwork.pro.

  • Jennifer Minor

    You said you would customize a brush with the opposite effects. One with LOWER saturation, vibrance, contrast and clarity and UP brightness, but you don’t say how to do this

  • Keith Starkey

    Way, way cool to know. You don’t think about things like this (“you” being me!). Thanks.

Some older comments

  • Kenneth Hoffman

    December 7, 2012 11:44 am

    There are many ways to 'fix' the sky. One way is to mask the sky with the magic mask. Complicated edges can be followed by enlarging 400%. Intensity adjustments can be made with the magic mask for a better mask. Create an object. Then adust the contrast and saturation of the sky and combine the object. Objects
    that need tilting like the boat can easily be tilted by drawing a rough mask around the boat, making an object out of the mask, tilting it to the new position, combining it, then using the clone brush, blend the areas around the boat and sail. Blue skies can easily be fulled in between leaves by overlaying with a regular brush set on darken only. I don't use Photoshop, but Micrografx Picture Publisher Digital Edition 10. The tools are the same as Adobe Photoshop but kinder to use. See my articles on photonetwork.pro.

  • wayne

    December 10, 2010 05:02 am

    Straight horizon (there must be Trillions and Trillions of those - Not a Big Deal, Dudes), or no, the tip works. I use it, myself, all the time.
    That said, I do find I can make more Precise local adjustments in Photoshop with layers and layer masks, etc, but I do use LR for almost all the more easily feathered adjustments. Steve, earlier, said he thought it might be easier in PS, but I find the opposite.. easy in LR, though more precise in PS. When I can do the bulk of my edits in one place without opening a much more complex, memory hungry program, I'll opt for the simpler, unless I Need the precision and complexities of layers.
    Tip: When the brush is active, typing the letter "O" will show where the brush effect is applied, aiding in limiting the effects to where you want them to be, and also aiding in using the erase functions in the adjustment brush panel, too. Again.. I use it all the time.

  • Rabi

    November 7, 2010 10:12 am

    I love Lightroom, but I definitely feel like Aperture is better about letting you brush in effects. I haven't used Aperture in ages, but I distinctly remember being able to brush in/out vignetting and loving the feature.

  • chasrl178

    November 5, 2010 05:08 am

    I would suggest you level the horizon first then look into modifying the rest of the adjustments. Am learning more every time you post more of your tips.

    Thanks
    Charles

  • Steve

    November 3, 2010 11:26 pm

    Great tip. Helped me with a photo that I'd been struggling with last week (but cleaned up in Photoshop). Nice to find a way to do almost the same thing in LR. Thanks!

  • Lloyd Barnes

    November 3, 2010 03:52 pm

    I love the graduated filter in Lightroom - cool idea for reversing it in areas where you don't want it!

  • paul

    November 3, 2010 05:17 am

    @photog1107 - My method for this, with a hard or contrasty edge is to first use the brush with the "Auto Mask" turned on. Add a descent amount of "feather", fill the view frame with the area to be worked on, then brush the edges. After the edges are done, uncheck the "Auto Mask" and then paint in the rest of your mask, inside the border you just created. This has worked quite successfully for me. Where the auto mask struggles is with edges that are not well defined or in complex areas like with trees and shrubs. Trying to mask out a tree in Lightroom is challenging at best but the above method works well for hard, larger edges; like the sailboat in this article. Hope this helps!

  • photog1107

    November 2, 2010 11:13 pm

    I agree with the video tutorial suggestion. I have tried using the adjustment brush in LR2 to varying degrees of success... with a mouse anyway, the brush often gives me too harsh of an effect, and it's tough to keep it in between a hard edged area without going "outside the lines." I can't seem to get the subtle control I want, which is frustrating. Would love to see someone demonstrate the technique in person.

  • Steve

    November 2, 2010 04:09 pm

    Good tip, and I like Mike's addition. I can't help but think a little layering in photo editing software would be a little easier though.

    Oh, and in my opinion, that horizon is more distracting than the lack of contrast and extra touch of brightness. Nothing is straight in this picture.

  • Dave

    November 2, 2010 11:34 am

    great easy read. you know, i thought about doing this, but i never did. I'm glad to see smarter photographers playing with it...i probably would of never tried it :) Now I know it is possible and pretty easy too. thx.

  • Kathleen

    November 2, 2010 09:53 am

    Oh that was a great tip. I am not in the position of being able to attend any kind of courses in Lightroom and Photoshop - so I 'eat up' any tips and hints that I find. I've been annoyed at the same thing of having a graduated filter and then having points in my photo that are adversely effected. I appreciate the time you took to put this online!!

  • Stephen

    November 2, 2010 08:48 am

    I enjoy all the tips DPS contributors give, but I can't help but wonder if somehow having a two minute video to actually show you how to it would be better. Seriously.

  • Mike Nelson Pedde

    November 2, 2010 06:45 am

    One additional note is that since the graduated filter works as a 'wedge' (more effect to less effect), by turning down the Flow value in the Adjustment brush you can vary the amount of counter effect in different parts of the photo by going over them more than once. It depends on the amount of finesse you want.

    Mike.
    http://bit.ly/LRTips (links to over 150 Lightroom sites, including this one!)

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