New Graduated and Radial Filter Features in Lightroom 6


Lightroom 6 graduated radial filter adjustments

Every time a new version of Lightroom comes out the first thing I look for are features that make the Develop module better, or easier to use. The ones I like best in Lightroom 6/CC are the improvements to the Graduated and Radial Filters. Let’s take a look at them.

Addition of mask overlay

In earlier versions of Lightroom you couldn’t tell with any precision which parts of the image were affected by the Graduated and Radial filters.

In Lightroom 6 you can toggle the mask overlay with the O keyboard shortcut, or by ticking the Show Selected Mask Overlay box in the Toolbar. Previously this was only available in the Adjustment Brush, it has now been added to both the Graduated and Radial Filters.

This screenshot below shows how it works. I wanted to make the background darker without affecting the dandelion head. The best tool to use for this is the Radial filter, but you need to be able to place it precisely. The mask overlay makes this easy.

As you can see, the effect of feathering meant that I needed to create a much bigger Radial filter than you might at first think.

Note: The Radial Filter was introduced in Lightroom 5 and is not available in earlier versions.

Lightroom 6 graduated radial filter adjustments

Mask overlay enabled.

Lightroom 6 graduated radial filter adjustments

Mask overlay disabled.

With the Radial filter in place, it is easy to make the required local adjustment. I moved the Exposure slider left to make the background darker.

Lightroom 6 graduated radial filter adjustments

This also works when you tick the Invert Mask box to apply the effect inside the Radial filter. In this situation the effect of feathering means you need to make the filter smaller than the area you want to cover. With the mask overlay enabled it is easy to place it precisely.

Lightroom 6 graduated radial filter adjustments

Then I increased Clarity and Exposure to bring out the texture of the dandelion head and make it brighter.

Lightroom 6 graduated radial filter adjustments

The other benefit of adding the mask overlay to the Radial filter is that it enables you to see the effect of the Feather setting. This was very difficult to judge before.

Lightroom 6 graduated radial filter adjustments

Feather: 50

Lightroom 6 graduated radial filter adjustments

Feather: 0

Lightroom 6 graduated radial filter adjustments

Feather: 100

Note: You can use the Shift+O shortcut to change the colour of the mask overlay.

Addition of Adjustment brush

A problem with the Graduated and Radial filters in earlier versions of Lightroom is that the shape of the mask is fixed. In Lightroom 6/CC Adobe has added the ability to combine the Adjustment brush, with both the Graduated and Radial filters.

Here’s an example of how it works. In this photo I wanted to make the top half of the wall darker without affecting the mailbox. In previous versions of Lightroom the only option was to use the Adjustment brush to paint in the irregular area. Now you can use the Graduated Filter instead.

This screenshot shows the area affected by the Graduated Filter (I changed the overlay colour to green as it’s easier to see on this image).

Lightroom 6 graduated radial filter adjustments

To apply an Adjustment brush, got to the Graduated filter panel and click the Brush option at top right. In this example I also chose the Erase option as I wanted to remove some of the mask overlay.

Lightroom 6 graduated radial filter adjustments

This the amended mask overlay, revealing the mailbox.

Lightroom 6 graduated radial filter adjustments

This is the result.

Lightroom 6 graduated radial filter adjustments

Your turn

These improvements are my favourite as they will make it much easier to process my photos in the Develop module. But what about you? Have you upgraded to Lightroom 6/CC yet? If you have, what are your favourite new features? Please let us know in the comments.

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Andrew S. Gibson is a writer, photographer, traveler and workshop leader. He's an experienced teacher who enjoys helping people learn about photography and Lightroom. Enroll in his new Lightroom course for free, or download his free Creative Fade Presets for Lightroom.


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  • Maureen Larson Petru

    You can actually alter the shape of the radial filter. If you hold down the alt key, you can then drag one of the knobs and pull just that side of the filter out.

  • Thanks Maureen, good tip. If you click and drag one of the handles without holding the Alt key down the Radial Filter changes shape but the centre point stays in the same place. If you hold the Alt key down while clicking and dragging a handle the opposite side of the Radial Filter stays in place and the centre point moves.


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