I recently wrote a post where I discussed some of the finer points of using the Graduated Filter in Adobe Lightroom. It was a good post where I covered a lot of very helpful information. If you’re interested in reading it, please click through to the post below.
The Graduated Filter is a pretty awesome tool. I use it often and it has the ability to truly awaken a photo and make it more beautiful than it ever was. There is one huge issue with it though and the issue is this; what if you use the Graduate Filter tool to enhance a photo and the filter covers something you don’t want altered? I mean, does it need to cover everything that’s either north or south of the imaginary horizon line you create? The answer to this is no. It doesn’t need to cover everything and in this post, I’ll explain the process that will help you get around this problem.
In today’s post, I’ll share another post that will help you create a graduated filter. Then, I’ll walk through the steps of using a brush to erase areas you don’t want the filter applied to. It’s a rather straightforward concept, so I don’t anticipate any problems. Of course, if you have questions, please ask.
The Demo Photo
For this post, my mission was to find a photo that had a distinct object that could be clearly isolated from any graduated filter I apply. I think I completed the mission successfully. Take a look at the photo.
As you may have guessed, I’ll be applying the filter to the background and I’ll be erasing it from the area the car occupies. I’ll also throw in a small trick that will help a lot while working towards the edges of the car.
Applying the Graduated Filter
I’m going to quickly breeze through this section. If you’d like to read a more in-depth post on this topic, please click through here. I talk about the intricacies of how to create, customize and modify graduate filters in Adobe Lightroom there.
I already have the photo imported into Lightroom and it’s selected and ready to be edited in the Develop module.
To begin, I’ll head over to the right column toolbar and click the Graduated Filter icon to activate the tool. Then, I’ll draw the filter on top of the photograph, holding the Shift key on my keyboard to keep the lines perfectly horizontal. I’ll begin the gradient at the bottom of the photo and let it transition mildly towards the top. Finally, I’ll push the associated sliders to positions where I think they make the best enhancements.
Doing this will give me a photo that looks like this:
If you take a look at the screenshot above, you may have guessed that the look I’m going for is “strange” and warm. I want the background to look eerily odd while the car itself looks very normal. I think this will offer some interesting contrast. The only problem is, besides the background being covered with the graduated filter I just created, the car is as well. My next task is to remove the filter from the car.
Removing Enhancement With the Graduated Filter Brush
If you take a look at the very top of the Graduated Filter panel, you’ll see three small links. They are New, Edit and Brush. I’ll click Brush.
Right after I click that link, I’ll notice the panel shift slightly. If I scroll down to the bottom of the panel, I’ll see that a new section has appeared. This is the Brush panel and it includes a few additional sliders that can assist us.
For the purposes of this post today, I’m going to click the small Erase link inside of this extra panel.
This will instruct Lightroom to erase parts of the modification filter that was earlier applied by the graduated filter. I’ll cover the other links and what they do in a later post.
Inside this panel are three sliders and a check box. I’ll cover what each means below.
Size: This is the size of the brush you’ll use to do your erasing. Pushing to the right increases the brush size and pushing the slider to the left decreases it.
Feather: This slider controls the softness of the brush edge. Pushing the slider to the left makes the edge more distinct and pushing it to the right softens it so it “feathers” the edges of where you erase the filter.
Flow: Think of flow as the amount of pressure you’re putting on the brush when you erase. Pretend you’re spray painting something with one of those spray paint cans. If you hold the can very close to the object you’re painting, there will be a lot of flow. If you hold it far away from the object, there will be hardly any flow. Push this slider to the right to increase flow.
For this edit, I’ll set the size to 20, the feather to 0 and the flow to 100. If I need to change these values as I work, I can always do that.
Finally, we have the Auto Mask check box. This feature helps the brush “stick” to the edge of a defined object. It’s almost like the Magnetic Lasso Tool in Photoshop. Since I’m going to be tracing the edge of the car and I want a sharp distinction between the car and the background, I’ll check this box. This is the reason I kept the feather value so low as well. I want the edge to be sharp.
At this point, since all the settings are in place, I can trace the edge of the car and then fill in the center to erase the effects of the graduated filter. Let’s see how it looks.
That looks really good. If I wanted to, I could adjust, say, the Exposure slider all the way to the left so the background was really dark. That way, I could see the difference between the edge of the car and the background. When I’m done with that, I could just reset that back to where I want it.
When I’m all finished with this particular edit, I can click the Done button that sits at the bottom right, directly underneath the photograph to deactivate the tool and to remove the lines from the photo. Doing this will give me a better idea of what’s going on in the photo.
Okay, that’s pretty awesome. That’s it!
I’d say that was straightforward, just as I mentioned above. Basically, you’re creating a graduated filter over everything in the photo and then simply erasing some of that filter with the included brush. It’s that easy. If you have any questions or concerns regarding this post, please let me know in the comment section below. Thanks for reading!