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Targeted adjustments with the Adjustment Brush

From: Getting Started with Lightroom 4

Video: Targeted adjustments with the Adjustment Brush

As you work toward optimizing the appearance of your photos, you may find at times that you want to affect only certain areas of an image with an adjustment. The Adjustment Brush tool allows you to do exactly that, painting an adjustment, into specific areas. Let's take a look at how it's done. I'll start off by choosing the Adjustment Brush tool over on the top of the right panel. You can also press the letter K on the keyboard to access this tool. And you'll see that we have a variety of adjustments that we can apply in a targeted way. I'll go ahead and reduce Exposure, for example, and I'm going to apply a very dramatic adjustment just so that we can see the basics of how this tool works. I'll move out into the image.

Targeted adjustments with the Adjustment Brush

As you work toward optimizing the appearance of your photos, you may find at times that you want to affect only certain areas of an image with an adjustment. The Adjustment Brush tool allows you to do exactly that, painting an adjustment, into specific areas. Let's take a look at how it's done. I'll start off by choosing the Adjustment Brush tool over on the top of the right panel. You can also press the letter K on the keyboard to access this tool. And you'll see that we have a variety of adjustments that we can apply in a targeted way. I'll go ahead and reduce Exposure, for example, and I'm going to apply a very dramatic adjustment just so that we can see the basics of how this tool works. I'll move out into the image.

I can adjust the Brush Size by pressing the Left or Right Square Bracket keys on the keyboard. The Left Square Bracket key will reduce the Brush Size, and the right square bracket key will increase the Brush Size. I can then paint on the image in order to affect an adjustment in that area. You can see, in this case, obviously, a very dramatic darkening, since I've reduced the exposure significantly. The idea is that I can paint an adjustment into the image, but then refine that adjustment as I see fit.

In many cases, instead of simply painting in an image, you can use the Auto Mask feature to make sure that you're painting as accurately as possible. I'll go ahead and reset the adjustments by clicking the Reset button at the bottom of the right panel in the Develop Module. And then, I'll scroll down and turn on the Auto Mask feature for the Adjustment Brush. So that I can see exactly where I'm painting, as I work in the image, I'll start with an exaggerated adjustment. I'll turn the Exposure down significantly, and then, I'll move my mouse out over the image.

I can adjust the Brush Size with the Left and Right Square Bracket keys, Left Square Bracket key to reduce the size of the brush, Right Square Bracket key to increase the size of the brush. And then, I can simply paint in the sky. Now initially, it looks like I'm just painting normally. But now, I can overlap with the buildings as long as the crosshairs stays out over the sky, the buildings will not be affected by my brushing, by this targeted adjustment. So, this enables me to apply a relatively automated targeted adjustment, it gives me tremendous control over the adjustments that I'm applying.

I'll go ahead and paint all along the edge of the buildings, and then paint throughout the rest of the sky. And in fact, I'm going to turn off the Auto Mask feature now that I finished that edge along the buildings. And I can continue painting throughout the sky just to make sure that I've gotten the entire sky included in this targeted adjustment. Of course, this adjustment is a bit too strong. That was by design, I want to be able to see more clearly as I was painting but now I can bring that exposure level back up. I just want to tone down the sky a little bit, maybe even increase Contrast a hair for the sky, and I might darken down, see if we've got any shadows, no, no shadow areas in the sky. I might tone down the Highlights just a little bit. So, it's something along those lines.

This might be a little bit too dramatic still. But just toning down the overall appearance of the sky to help even out that Exposure. To help make sure I've done a good job painting that targeted adjustment, I can also turn on the Show Selected Mask Overlay. This creates a reddish color over the area where my mask is defined in the image. And as you can see, I've got a pretty good mask here that defines the sky without affecting the rest of the image. That gives you a basic idea of how you can work with the Adjustment Brush tool. It enables you to apply a variety of different adjustments that only affect specific areas that you've defined within the photo.

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Getting Started with Lightroom 4

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Tim Grey
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