I have covered so many filter tools on this website already, but I’m not sure that I’ve discussed the Radial Filter in Adobe Lightroom yet. I’ll do that today, but let me warn you that it’s strikingly similar to the Graduated Filter and the Radial Filter in Camera Raw. Also, it’s really almost the same thing as the Graduated Filter in Lightroom. All of these filters work the same way. They select an area that you’re able to modify by pushing sliders that are similar to those found in their respective Basic panels.
In today’s post, I’d like to walk you through the process of adding some additional light and warmth to a couple in love. They are hugging one another in the snowfall and I feel that they should be the center of attention in a way that’s more than they are now. I’d like to work with the Radial Filter to enhance the area on top of and directly around the couple and then I’d like to use the sliders in the Basic panel to slightly reduce the visibility of the surrounding areas. All of this will hopefully accentuate the people in the photo to show that they are the most important aspects of the photograph.
Below is the photo I’m referring to. While the clarity can use a bit of help, I think I’ll be able to work with what I have. The result will be much better.
Introducing the Radial Filter Tool
I already have the photo imported into Lightroom and selected in the Develop module. From here, I’ll go ahead and selected the Radial Filter tool by clicking on it up in the toolbar or by using the keyboard shortcut of Shift+M.
After I select this tool, I’m going to choose a preset from the Effect drop-down menu. The reason I do this is to reset my sliders and to give a small bump to the slider I’m most interested in working with. In this case, since I want to brighten the subjects in the photo, I’ll select the Dodge preset from the menu that appears.
After that, I’ll take a look at the resulting sliders.
As you can see, almost all of the sliders are centered. The Exposure slider is pushed slightly to the right. I’ll go ahead and push that slider to the right some more, just so I can see a difference between the tool and the original image as I draw my radial.
From here, I’ll head down to the bottom of the right panel and check the Invert box. From past experience, I know that this Radial Filter tool defaults to placing any slider effect outside of the radial itself. Since I know I want the effect inside the radial today, checking the Invert box is the way to go.
And finally, I’ll draw a radial to get a picture of what’s going on.
Customizing the Radial
Before I go any further, I’d like to link to a few posts I wrote in the past that may help you with this family of tools. I’ve gone over a few different types of examples, so I think, along with this post, they’ll round out your knowledge on the topic. Remember, Adobe Camera Raw is much like Lightroom in this regard.
Because I’ve previously written so much about these filters, I’ll only briefly cover the next few steps.
Since I can clearly see the increased exposure in the center of the radial, I’m free to resize it any way I’d like. In this case, I’d like it if the radial almost entirely encapsulated the couple in the photo. To do this, I’ll click and drag the edges of the oval and pull outward.
To rotate the oval as I did above, I positioned my mouse pointer just outside the oval and when the pointer turned into a curved double-arrow, I clicked and dragged. It’s really that easy.
Okay, the next task I need to take care of is the softness of the radial’s edge. I want this lighting to look natural, so I’ll go really soft with this one. To do this, I’ll push the Feather slider to the right somewhat.
As I do this, I’ll notice that any effect that was inside the radial becomes somewhat diminished. I’ll head back up to the sliders to add some additional exposure as well as introduce a few other things.
That looks pretty good. Since I’m happy with my results, I’ll go ahead and press the Done button to exit the Radial Filter tool and to return to the Basic panel.
Adusting Via the Basic Panel
Sometimes, when there isn’t a lot of differentiation between the subject of a photo and the background, we, as editors, have to create some. With regards to the image I’m currently editing, I lightened up the subjects, but I’d also like to somewhat darken the background. To accomplish this, I’ll simply reduce the Exposure value in the Basic panel to -1.25 by pushing the respective slider to the left.
Doing this truly sets the subjects of this image apart.
The Final Edited Image
This simple editing method is a really great way to add drama to a photograph. Within just a few minutes, I reduced the visibility of the background and brought out the subjects of this photo. Let’s take a look at the result.
I think that looks really good. Let’s take a look at the before and after. It’s not dramatic, but it’s fine for my purposes.
I hope I clearly explained how to use the Radial Filter Tool in Adobe Lightroom. If you have any questions or concerns, please leave them in the comment section below. Thanks for reading!