The Graduated Filter tool
Video: The Graduated Filter toolMost photographers are probably familiar with the Graduated Split Neutral Density Filter. Which allows you to for example, hold back a sky so that you can even out an exposure where the sky is very bright and the foreground is very dark. Lighroom includes a similar adjustment, the Graduated Filter. But instead of only allowing you to adjust luminance levels across the image, it allows you to apply a variety of different adjustments. With this image, for example, the subject obviously is the truck. And if you felt that the sky was distracting or maybe a little bit too washed out, you might want to apply an adjustment that only affects the sky.
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In this workshop digital imaging guru Tim Grey focuses on the Develop module of Adobe Lightroom 4. Starting with an overview of the image optimization workflow in Lightroom, Tim walks you through the process of evaluating your images and deciding what adjustments you need to make. He teaches you how to use the Develop module's presets to achieve quick results, as well as how to apply your own adjustments, from simple exposure and color adjustments to advanced options like the Tone Curve and the Graduated Filter tool. Learn techniques for cleaning up your images, applying creative adjustments, and duplicating adjustments across multiple images. Finally, get some tips for integrating Lightroom and Photoshop to create panoramas and high dynamic range images.
- Evaluating images
- Seeing a before and after view
- Correcting mistakes with the History and Snapshot features
- Develop module basics
- Fine-tuning with the Tone Curve
- Sharpening an image
- Painting adjustments into an image
- Image cleanup
- Creative adjustments
- Duplicating adjustments
The Graduated Filter tool
Most photographers are probably familiar with the Graduated Split Neutral Density Filter. Which allows you to for example, hold back a sky so that you can even out an exposure where the sky is very bright and the foreground is very dark. Lighroom includes a similar adjustment, the Graduated Filter. But instead of only allowing you to adjust luminance levels across the image, it allows you to apply a variety of different adjustments. With this image, for example, the subject obviously is the truck. And if you felt that the sky was distracting or maybe a little bit too washed out, you might want to apply an adjustment that only affects the sky.
Gradually tapering off to the foreground of the image. Let's take a look at how we can apply this sort of adjustment with the Graduated Filter. I'll start off by clicking on the Graduated Filter button at the top of the right panel in the Develop Module. You could also press the letter M to activate the Graduated Filter. When you choose this option, you'll see a series of controls that relate specifically to the Graduated Filter. Of course, these adjustment controls should look familiar because they are a subset of the adjustments you can find elsewhere in the Develop Module. We'll start off with an exposure effect.
You can see that we have a popup that allows us to choose from a variety of different effect presets. The exposure effect will just reduce exposure significantly. And I find that to be helpful because then I can see exactly where I'm effecting the image. To define the gradient, I can click and drag from the area that I want to effect down to the area that I don't want to effect. As I'm dragging that gradient, I can not only define the distance of the gradient, but also the direction of the gradient depending on which way I drag the mouse.
In this case, I want a relatively short transition. So, I'll go ahead and compress that gradient just a little bit. And once I've actually added the gradient, I can also continue to fine-tune it. So, I can go back and drag the upper bar upward or downward, for example. Or the lower bar upward or downward, or I can move the entire gradient by clicking on the button. And dragging it up or down as I see fit, and I can click and drag on the center bar in order to rotate that gradient. So, the gradient itself remains completely editable even after I've added it to the image.
I can also specify whether I always want to see the Edit Pen for the gradient. Or if I want it to, for example, automatically appear whenever I mouse over the image, but otherwise not be visible. In theory, you could also use the option to only view the currently selected Edit Pen. That, of course ,makes it a little tricky to select other Edit Pens. Or you can choose to never see those Edit Pens, which I don't think is very helpful at all. So, I generally work with the Auto option. That way, I can see the Edit Pens when I mouse over the image. This looks to be a pretty good placement for the gradient.
So now, I can come back to my adjustments and fine tune any of them as I see fit. We can adjust the overall color of that area of the image with the temperature and Tint sliders, Exposure, Contrast. We can finetune highlights or shadows. I think I'm going to reduce clarity just to sort of tone down the effect a little bit, maybe reduce the saturation to make that sky a little bit more gray. We can also adjust sharpness, increase or decrease noise, and reduce or increase the appearance of moire patterns within the image.
So, you can go through and fine tune the adjustments as you see fit. And once you're happy with the result, you can simply click the Close button in order to finalize that gradient effect. If you'd like to add an additional gradient or modify an existing gradient, you can simply go back to that Graduated Filter effect. If the option at the top is set to New, then you can click and drag across the image to create a new gradient. Let's say for example, that I wanted to darken just the bottom portion of the image. And in this case, I'm going to hold the Shift key so that the gradient cannot be rotated while I'm dragging, just to make sure that it is a perfectly horizontal gradient.
And then, I'll increase exposure with set to a relatively low value there. Maybe I just want to tone it down a little bit so I'll bring it to a negative one rather than what had been a almost negative three value. That looks to be pretty good. If at anytime, I decide I'm not happy with the current radiant adjustment, I can click the Reset button. And if I want to switch to a different Gradient, I can just click on the button, the Edit Pen for that particular gradient. So once again, in the new setting, we can click and drag to draw a new gradient. With the Edit Setting, we can edit existing gradients.
So, I'll go ahead and click on one of the gradient buttons here, for example. And perhaps, adjust the color of the sky, maybe make it just a little bit more blue. There we go. So, we fine tune that. So now, I have two gradient adjustments, one that's affecting the sky shifting the color, reducing the clarity, etc. And one that is darkening just that foreground portion of the image. As you can see, working with the Graduated Filter is actually quite simple. And it allows you to exercise a good degree of control over an image. Applying grading effects with all sorts of different adjustments to different areas of a photo.
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