In this tutorial, I will cover one of the local adjustment tools inside Lightroom, Graduated Filters. Previously, you learned about Radial Filters and the two are similar in how they apply edits to just part of your image.
Watch as I demonstrate how to use Graduated Filters to correct the difference in lighting on this image. The top part is overly bright, and the bottom part is overly dark. Graduated Filters work perfectly on images like this!
What is a Graduated Filter?
There are actually two different kinds of Graduated Filters:
- A physical rectangular filter that you can put in front of your lens when shooting. It’s dark on one end and fades to clear on the other end. It’s designed to darken the sky (or foreground).
- The digital kind that you find as a local adjustment inside Lightroom photo editing software.
The drawback of the physical kind is that you’re limited as to how you can position them and if there is a tree, building, or person extending into the darkened area – there’s no way to exclude them from being darkened as well. So you end up with a building where the top is too dark.
With the digital kind, the concept is the same but you have more flexibility and options for placement and masking the effect off areas you don’t want to be affected.
AND with Graduated Filters in Lightroom, you can do more than just darken! You can lighten, lower highlights, decrease saturation or sharpness, increase texture or clarity, alter the white balance or color, and MORE! So it’s a really handy tool to have in your repertoire for photo editing.
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Why use a Graduated Filter?
As mentioned above, a Graduated Filter allows you to adjust or edit parts of your image (from the edge of the image, in toward the center). So it’s perfect for darkening the sky, lightening the foreground, or even darkening a corner that’s just too bright (see example below).
This is called a local adjustment because it only applies to or affects a part of the image. The main sliders and panels you see on the right side of the Develop module are all global adjustments which mean they apply to the entire image. Local adjustments include the Graduate Filter as well as Radial Filters, and the Adjustment Brush.
Graduated Filters Tutorial
Want to see how I used Graduated Filters to edit the two examples shown above? Excellent – go ahead and watch the video now!
Here’s one more final before and after example that I show in the video. Pleases note that I used both Graduated Filters AND two Radial Filters to complete this image. To learn more Radial Filters CLICK HERE.
Did you pick up any tips about the Graduated Filter that you didn’t already know? If so, please tell me what you learned in the comment area below.