Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Lightroom 3's Graduated Filter - Part II

Last week we reviewed how to make a common Graduated Filter adjustment in Lightroom 3.  This week I'll show you how to go back and revise your or original Graduated Filter adjustment and/or add another one.

Revising an existing Graduated Filter adjustment is simple.  Just select the Graduated Filter tool from the local adjustment toolbar.  Once selected, you should see a grey circle appear on your image which is referred to as an "Edit Pin".  Clicking on the edit pin will cause a black circle to appear inside the pin and make that particular adjustment active.  In other words, the adjustment panel should now show the sliders and the adjustments you previously made.

If you select the Graduated Filter tool and do NOT see an edit pin appear, either you have no existing Graduated Filter edits OR you have turned off the Edit Pins.  To confirm you are showing the edit pins, check the "Show Edit Pins" combo box in the lower left corner of your display window once you've selected the Graduated Filter.

To completely remove a Graduated Filter adjustment, make sure the desired edit pin is selected (black dot in center) and press the Delete key.  All gone.

There may be occasions where the use of a single Graduated Filter adjustment can't get you all of the way there.  In those cases you can add an additional Graduated Filter adjustment by clicking the Graduated Filter tool and selecting the "New" option at the top of the adjustment panel.  Now you're able to click and drag another filter adjustment onto your image without directly impacting the first one. 

Click for larger image

For example, the image to the right shows the existing Graduated Filter adjustment selected. If you look closely, about a third of the way from the top of the image you'll see a horizontal line indicating the bottom of the Graduated Filter adjustment.  In the same area, the water is still a little bright.  To further darken that area, I could simply click on the bottom line of the Graduated Filter adjustment and drag it down.  The result would be that the center line is also pulled down and the space between the top and middle line expands to apply the adjustment to a larger area of the image - including the bright area in question.

For the sake of argument, however, let's say I don't want to adjust the reflection of the clouds at all.  Expanding the area for the existing Graduated Filter adjustment would do just that.  Instead, I can add a second Graduated Filter adjustment and work from just below the reflected clouds down over the bright area.

Here are the steps:
  1. With the Graduated Filter tool selected, click the "New" option at the top of the adjustment panel.  You can now click on the image to create a second edit pin/Graduated Filter adjustment.
  2. I clicked just below the reflected clouds and, as I did with the first adjustment, dragged the mouse downward until the center pin is below the identified bright area. By default, the Graduated Filter adjustments are applied to the area between the middle and top lines.  If, however, you find the need to rotate the filter once you've defined it's size in the image, simply position your mouse near the edit pin immediately over the center line.  Your cursor will turn into a half circle with arrows on either end.  Now just click and drag in a circular fashion until the top and bottom lines of the Graduated Filter switch places.
  3. As we did last week, I'm going to adjust the "Brightness" slider downward until I'm happy with the transition between light and dark.
Here is a screen shot of the image showing not 1, but 2 Graduated Filter pins.  The second adjustment is the one with the selected Edit Pin (black circle in center).  Because there is a larger area between the top and middle line in this second adjustment, the adjustment between the top and middle is more gradual than the more compact area of the first adjustment.  That is an important concept to remember.  The distance between the top and center lines will impact the "density" of the adjustment.

Another important point to understand is that if your Graduated Filter adjustments overlap, the strength of the adjustment is compounded the same as if you stacked multiple Neutral Density filters in front of your lens when you took the photo.

Lastly, there are more sliders than just the "Brightness" adjustment for the Graduated Filter tool.  While we've reviewed what I'd consider to be the most common use for the Graduated Filter tool, don't shy away from experimenting with other effects caused by the use of the other sliders.

Until next week, keep click'n.


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