Have you ever wondered how to use the graduated filter in Lightroom? Although we have covered it in depth in our Workflow and Post-Processing course, I thought it would be a good idea to share some detail about the specifics of the graduated filter in a video. If you are just starting out in Lightroom, this will be a good introduction on how to use the graduated filter, which keyboard shortcuts to use to access it and how to do basic customizations to make the tool fit your needs.
As you can see in the video, the graduated filter can be used to evenly affect large areas of an image:
Many landscape photographers who use Lightroom on a regular basis will find themselves using the graduated filter to adjust certain parts of their images. It will typically be exposure, but the graduated filter can be used for many different things. One can use it to adjust contrast, shadows and highlights, or even change the white balance in a particular part of an image. If you’re not a landscape photographer, I can bet that you’ll still be able to find a use for this tool! It can be very useful for shaping the light in an image, even without a distinct horizon in sight.
You can also use the graduated filter tool to add color to select parts of an image. Regardless of what type of photography you enjoy, adding a bit of color can dramatically change the look and feel of an image, so we recommend that you explore the possibilities using some of the techniques highlighted in the video.
Due to its nature, the graduated filter changes an image. Fortunately, you’re not stuck with the changes that are made. If you end up changing a portion of your image that you did not want to affect, you can simply switch to the Erase brush within the graduated filter tool and easily brush off those selections.
Lastly, it is important to understand that the one can use more than just one layer and type of graduated filter in a single image, so you can apply a number of different types of effects.
Since Lightroom is a non-destructive post-processing software package, all adjustments to images are added as invisible “layers” and each adjustment is recorded in the history tab. This means that tools like the graduated filter can slow down your editing when heavily used, especially when a lot of other adjustments, such as spot healing are applied to the image. For best performance, we recommend that you apply spot healing after all the adjustments are made, since it is known to dramatically slow down editing in Lightroom.
We hope you have enjoyed our video on how to use the graduated filter in Lightroom. Please note that Nasim and I are starting new series of YouTube videos that will cover a lot of different topics. I will be starting out with Lightroom basics as I have done above and eventually cover more complex editing, while Nasim is planning to post the process of editing of his images in both Lightroom and Photoshop, which will be much more advanced in comparison. Please let us know if there are any videos you’d like to see us make!
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