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Adding targeted corrections with the Adjustment Brush tool

From: Enhancing a Landscape Photo with Lightroom

Video: Adding targeted corrections with the Adjustment Brush tool

This photo gives us lots of opportunity to get creative with the Adjustment Brush tool, which allows you to paint single or combinations of adjustments into isolated areas of the photo like this. I would like to use this tool to make certain areas of this photo more contrasty, certain areas more colorful and certain areas sharper. So let's select the Adjustment Brush tool, which is here under the Histogram and I've collapsed my Histogram panel, so there's more room for the Adjustment Brush panel, which we'll see when we click the Adjustment Brush icon. The Adjustment Brush panel offers the same sliders that we saw with the Graduated Filter tool.

Adding targeted corrections with the Adjustment Brush tool

This photo gives us lots of opportunity to get creative with the Adjustment Brush tool, which allows you to paint single or combinations of adjustments into isolated areas of the photo like this. I would like to use this tool to make certain areas of this photo more contrasty, certain areas more colorful and certain areas sharper. So let's select the Adjustment Brush tool, which is here under the Histogram and I've collapsed my Histogram panel, so there's more room for the Adjustment Brush panel, which we'll see when we click the Adjustment Brush icon. The Adjustment Brush panel offers the same sliders that we saw with the Graduated Filter tool.

I'll start by sending all of these adjustments back to their default to zero by double-clicking the effect label here at the top of the Adjustment panel. The first adjustment brush that I want to add to this image is one that I'll use to increase the contrast here in the Gothic Mountain peak without affecting the rest of the photo. Before I create that adjustment brush I'll check by Brush settings here, which control the size of the brush, the feather or the soft edge of the brush, the flow and the density of the brush and I like to keep the Flow and Density at 100 unless I want just a slight effect.

I'll show you how that works in a moment, but for now I'll leave Flow and Density at a 100 and I'm going to check Auto Mask; that will help me to build a mask that defines the area in which this adjustment is going to be affecting the image. So what I'd like to do with this brush is to increase the contrast in the mountain. So I'm going to take the Contrast slider and I'll drag it way up and then I'm going to zoom in and when you're in the Adjustment Brush panel you need to hold down the spacebar and then click in the image in order to zoom in.

The same is true when you're panning, so I'll hold the spacebar and then I'llclick and drag in the image to bring the mountain into view. Now I'm going to start painting over the mountain. If you look closely you'll see that as I do, I'm increasing the contrast wherever I paint. Down at the bottom of the Adjustment Brush panel there's a toggle that I can use to compare this after view with the adjustment; if I click their there's the before view without the adjustment and the after view again.

And noticed that this adjustment affects just the areas where I've painted. Now if you want to see how this works under the hood, I'll come down here and I'll check Shows Selected Mask Overlay. And when I do you can see a red mark everywhere that I painted, this is a mask that I created and I can see actually there are some areas where I didn't fill in the mask entirely, so I'll fix that by just painting over those areas. And because I checked Auto Mask, it's pretty easy to stay inside of the outline of the mountain as I create this mask without a lot of overspill.

I'll hold down the spacebar to pan over here and I'll add this area to the mask area that's being affected by this adjustment. Now if you go too far for example if I paint here and then I change my mind and don't want that area affected, I'll hold down the Option key that's the Alt key on the PC and paint over that area to remove the mask and also to remove the underlying adjustment from that area. Then I come going to come down and uncheck Show Selected Mask Overlay.

So that's one adjustment brush, let's add another. I am going to hold the spacebar and click in the image to zoom back out. What I like to do with my next adjustment brush is to saturate some of the colors down in his foliage and in the foliage up here. I'll go back to the Adjustment Brush panel and I'll click the New label at the top of the panel. I'll double-click the Effect label to send everything back to its defaults. This time I want to increase Saturation, so I'm going to drag the Saturation slider over to the right.

Down in the Brush section I'm going to uncheck Auto Mask, because I really don't need a hard edge on my mask. I just want the edges of my painting to blend in with the rest of the image. I'll move into the image and make my brush a little smaller by pressing the left bracket key on the keyboard a couple of times and then I'll click and drag over some of these trees that I'd like to see more saturated maybe here and here and down here along the lake, and maybe I'll do that over some of these purplish bushes as well.

You can really get creative with where you're painting in your adjustments. So if you're following along, do that wherever you think it's appropriate. Now if we want to see it before and after view, I'll come down and I'll click the toggle so there's the after view and there's a before view. When I click this toggle, both of my adjustment brushes I turned off and then on. Notice that when I move my cursor into the image you can see two pins. Each of the pins represents one of the two adjustment brushes and if I want to add to the areas being covered by a brush or if I want to tweak the adjustments applied by that brush, all I need to do is select the appropriate pin, like this.

And then I can make a change to contrast, for example. I am going to go back and select the pin that's increasing saturation and you can see when I hover over that pin that the red mask for this particular adjustment brush comes into view. What I would like to do is add to this brush these areas over here, but I don't want them to be as saturated as the other areas. So I'll come down to the Brush settings for this adjustment brush and I'm going to reduce the flow of the brush. Then I'll move into the image, maybe I'll make my brush tip a little smaller with the left bracket key and I'm just going to click and drag over some of these orange areas in the aspen grove here.

And down in the water as well, because here I want to add saturation, but I don't want it to be really obvious, just a little bit subtle. I'll turn on the mask by clicking Show Selected Mask Overlay and you can see that where I am painting now the red mask is less dense than it was in the areas where I had Flow set to 100. And if I paint over these areas several times, the mask gets more dense and the effect more pronounced. Let's turn the mask off by unchecking Show Selected Mask Overlay and there is the result.

Now of course we could spend more time adding more saturation into isolated areas of the image, but for now let's add one more adjustment brush, which is the way that I do creative sharpening. I'll come up to the New label at the top of the Adjustment Brush panel, I'll select that. I'll double-click Effect to send the sliders back to 0 and this time I'm going to increase Sharpness. And with this sharpness brush, I'm going to click and drag over some of this vegetation at the edge of the pond, using sharpness to direct the viewers attention to this area.

And maybe I'll do that over these trees as well making them a little sharper. And there's a kind of a little beaver dam down here and I'll do it there as well. Now you can't really see sharpness unless you zoom into a 100%, so I'll hold down at my spacebar and I'll click on the image and here you can see a couple of the areas to which I've added that sharpness adjustment layer. I'll show the selected mask overlay and you can see where I've painted with this adjustment brush. I'll uncheck that hold the spacebar and click to zoom back out.

So that creative sharpening with the adjustment brush is on top of the initial capture sharpening that we did in an earlier movie in the course. I'm all done adding adjustment brushes to this image, so I'm going to close the Adjustment Brush panel by clicking the Close button at the bottom of the panel. And if I ever want to come in and tweak any of those brushes I can do that by once again clicking the Adjustment Brush icon in the toolbar here. For example, I'll click on the Adjustment Brush icon now to open the Adjustment panel again, so that I can try to tone down some of the saturation that I added using this adjustment brush, the one represented by this pin.

I'll click on the pin, you can see that mask overlay, and then I'll come over to the Mask panel and I'll take that Saturation slider down to about there. And then I'll close the Adjustment Brush panel again. So the Adjustment Brush tool has let us get really creative about where and how we've adjusted individual parts of this photo.

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Enhancing a Landscape Photo with Lightroom

13 video lessons · 6590 viewers

Jan Kabili
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