Using the Graduated Filter in Lightroom

An effective way to control various aspects of an image is by using the graduated filter. In this lesson from our Lightroom 5 training course, expert author and photographer Andy Anderson will use this method to control a piece of an image that he wants to enhance by changing various effects. 

Navigate to the graduated filter icon (tiny rectangle on the right side panel), and you’ll see various effects such as temperature, exposure, sharpness, and many more. When you begin drawing, you’re actually drawing a gradient. The gradient that it’s drawing is controlling the areas that you want to change. You’re able to rotate and move the gradient around by using the pin, allowing you to get it to the exact position. Keep in mind that you can change the position of the gradient at any time if you’re not happy with your original position. You are also able to add as many gradients as you like.

Andy starts by working with the graduated filter effects on the right side and altering the effects to see what effect he desires. In the example he uses, he wants to impact the sky, making it pop in the photo. To get his desired effect, he plays around with the exposure, brings back the sharpness, and adjusts the clarity and saturation.


Before Image

After Image

After Image

The graduated filter allows you to really get creative with your photos. For instance, you can use this tool to change the exposure of one side of the frame, to enhance certain areas of a photo (making colours brighter or clearing a foggy section), softening your images borders, and even create a black and white to colour transition. The options for getting creative are endless! How will you use the graduated filter tool?

If you’d like to see Andy carry out the lesson in full, check out the video below, taken from our Adobe Lightroom 5 training course:




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