I think I’m going to mess around in Adobe Lightroom today, just for practice. Out of all the Adobe applications I use, Lightroom sees the least amount of daylight. I’ve said it a million times, my workflow consists of Bridge to Camera Raw to Photoshop. If you aren’t aware, Lightroom is sort of a combination of Bridge and Camera Raw. I generally prefer to keep my applications separate because of simplicity, but that’s not to say that Lightroom isn’t awesome. It is and that’s why I like to stay up to snuff on what it can do.
In today’s post, I’m going to change some aspects of a flower photograph. As it stands, the image is kind of dull. I don’t like the background color very much and the flower itself can use some work. Not much, mind you, but just enough to make it interesting. I guess I want to see thing pop or zing or whatever you call it. I want the flower to stand out more.
To adjust this image, I’ll use the Radial Filter and Adjustment Brush features of Adobe Lightroom. I’ve found that it’s easy to get rusty with these tools if they’re not used that much. When combined with the Color Range Mask, things can get even more confusing after a while. That’s why I wanted to undertake this small project.
The Original Photo
Here’s what I’ll be working with. This image is already imported into Lightroom, so I can hit the ground running with the filters and color mask.
Brightening the Background with the Radial Filter
My goal with this first step is to simply lighten the background of the image. It’s currently got a weird looking blue/green thing going on and I don’t like it. I’d much prefer something that’s clean and white.
To brighten the background, I’ll select the Radial Filter tool located at the top of the right panel.
Once selected, I’ll draw a circle on top of the flower. After that, I’ll raise the exposure value until I see the background change from the green to pure white. If the Invert box is checked below the sliders, I’ll uncheck it because I want the effect to be seen outside the radial, not inside. All other sliders will remain in their default positions.
Here’s the result of this action.
As you may have noticed, the overexposure adjustment I just made to the background was also applied to the flower itself. Since I don’t want the flower to be touched yet, I’ll need to mask that part out. This is where the Color Range Mask comes into play. To activate this mask, I’ll head down to the bottom of the slider area of the Radial Filter panel and click the small Range Mask drop-down.
Inside of that, I’ll click Color. Finally, I’ll click on the small dropper tool that sits just to the left of the drop-down and then I’ll click everywhere I want the radial filter effect applied.
Since I wanted to be thorough, I held down the Shift key on my keyboard and clicked multiple times. Doing this takes the various color gradients of the background into account. If the background were completely solid, I’d only need to click once.
As you may have noticed, after making those selections, the flower reverted back to being unaffected by the Radial Filter. That’s exactly what I wanted to happen.
Adjusting & Colorizing the Flower
Now comes the fun part. I really don’t know what I’m going to do to the flower yet, so I’ll have to engage in some experimenting. At least I know the process. This time though, I’ll be using the Adjustment Brush because I’d like to paint over the flower area as opposed to using one of the filters. I suppose I could use either the Graduated Filter or the Radial Filter, but I think the Adjustment Brush will give me better results. I’ll need to mask any areas “outside the lines” again though, but that’s easy.
To start off, I’ll click the word New at the top of the right panel to step away from the Radial Filter and then I’ll click on the Adjustment Brush icon.
After that, I’ll make some crazy adjustment to one of the sliders and then paint over the area of the flower I’d like to customize. The reason for the crazy adjustment is to make it obvious where I’ve painted. If there’s no adjustment, my painting will be invisible and I’ll have difficulty seeing what I’m doing.
Here’s the result of my painting.
Pretty ugly, I know. At this point though, I can mask out the background, since I don’t want that affected at all by the changes I’m about to make. To do this, I’ll head back down to the area under the sliders and I’ll click on the Range Mask: Color options once more. Then, I’ll hold down the Shift key again and click a few times around the purple of the flower. I forgot to mention this above, but the maximum amount of samples I can take when holding Shift is five. That’s all Lightroom allows.
Do you see how my adjustment now only affects the flower? Now, I have two adjustments; one for the background and one for the flower. They are distinct from one another and editable at any time.
Now that everything is set, I can go ahead with my slider adjustments. As I mentioned above, I’d like the flower to come alive. This will require some brightening and coaxing of the colors. These are some of the adjustments I made in the Adjustment Brush panel.
And here is the final image. I’d say it’s a pretty big improvement over the original.
Mind you, I could have gone in any direction with this image, once the adjustment areas were created and properly masked. I chose to keep things tame, but I’m sure I could have swapped a few colors around here and there. This is good though and I’m very happy with the results.
I hope I clearly demonstrated how to use the Radial Filter tool, the Adjustment Brush tool and the Range Mask options in Adobe Lightroom. If you have any questions regarding this post, please let me know in the comment area below. Thanks for reading!