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Gradient adjustments

From: Getting Started with Lightroom 4

Video: Gradient adjustments

When you are working with the controls on the Right panel in the Develop module, most of the adjustments are going to affect by enlarge the entire image. Some of those adjustments effect certain colors or certain tonal rages. But they can affect all areas of the image. Sometimes, you want to apply a more targeted adjustment. For example, an adjustment that effects the top of the image, but not the bottom of the image, with a smooth transition in between. An that is exactly the type of effect you can achieve, with a Graduated Filter tool.

Gradient adjustments

When you are working with the controls on the Right panel in the Develop module, most of the adjustments are going to affect by enlarge the entire image. Some of those adjustments effect certain colors or certain tonal rages. But they can affect all areas of the image. Sometimes, you want to apply a more targeted adjustment. For example, an adjustment that effects the top of the image, but not the bottom of the image, with a smooth transition in between. An that is exactly the type of effect you can achieve, with a Graduated Filter tool.

We can access the Graduated Filter by clicking its button on the toolbar at the top of the right panel, or by pressing the letter M on the keyboard. To create a Gradient effect in the image, all we need to do is click and drag on the image. The position where we initially click is where the adjustment will start to transition and the area where we release the mouse is where that transition will end. I'll go ahead and apply a dramatic boost in exposure, so we can get a better sense of what's going on. The top portion of the image is being brightened very significantly, and at the point where the gradient begins, that effect starts to taper off. And it ends where I've defined the end of that gradient. Of course, I can change the size of that gradient, the distance across which it transitions, by dragging any of the edges up or down. So, I can take the top edge downward or the bottom edge up or down, for example. And that will change the distance of that transition.

I can also adjust the rotation of the transition. In other words the angle at which the transition occurs. I can simply point to the center line and then click and drag to rotate that gradation. And I can even move this gradient around, if I click on the button at the center, I can click and drag the gradient, up or down. And even left or right, although in this case, that won't have a significant impact. Of course, in this case, I've applied an arbitrary and exaggerated adjustment.

Let's assume that I wanted to darken that background area so that it didn't stand out quite as much. I can fine tune the gradient, having applied a bit of an exaggerated adjustment makes it easier exactly where I'm affecting the image. But then I can return over to the right panel and adjust the controls for my Gradient Adjustment. For example I might tone down the exposure just a little bit, and perhaps even reduce the highlights values. And perhaps darken up the shadows just a little bit, maybe even reduce the contrast just a hair.

But overall just trying to tone down the background of the image so that it doesn't stand out quite as much. I really want the viewer's eye to come more to the boats in the foreground, for example. As you can see there are a variety of adjustments we can apply, all of these affecting the image based on the gradient you've defined. And at any time you can return to the gradient to fine tune its position, the distance across which it transitions, where it exists in the image and the specific direction of that rotation. We can even add additional gradients if we wanted to. For example, if I also want to transition an adjustment from the bottom upward, I can click the New option for the Gradient tool and then click and drag upward in this case.

Perhaps something along those lines will work well. And in this case I might want to reduce the exposure for that foreground. Basically just providing a leading in line for example so that we've got the focus really on the boats with the darkened area up above, and a darken area down below. I'll go ahead, and fine tune that gradient. An that looks to be pretty good. I can switch between those gradients just by clicking on the button, for the gradient. The button with the black center is the currently active gradient.

And so that is the area of the image that will be effected if I change any of the settings for the sliders over on the panel at the right. As you can see, working with the Gradient Adjustment is relatively straightforward. You can draw a gradient, adjust the settings that will affect that portion of the image, and then go back and change the gradient as needed. Overall, this might seem like a simple capability, but I think you'll find a variety of situations where you can put it to use, to improve the look in your images.

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Getting Started with Lightroom 4

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Tim Grey
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