Join Jan Kabili for an in-depth discussion in this video Fine-tuning adjustments with Lightroom's Filter Brush, part of Photo Tools Weekly (2015).
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- Hi, this is Jan Kabili for Photo Tools Weekly. One of my favorite Lightroom adjustment tools is the Filter Brush. The Filter Brush is an option for both the Graduated Filter tool and the Radial Filter tool in the latest version of Lightroom, and also in Photoshop's Camera Raw. The Filter Brush let's you change the shape of a local adjustment, so that you're no longer limited to making only linear adjustments with the Graduated Filter tool, or oval-shaped adjustments with the Radial Filter tool. Let's take a look at how it works. I shot this photo on a day when there was a storm coming in behind the ruins of this castle.
This is actually the Marquis de Sade's castle in Provence, France. Between that fact and the coming storm, the mood was really ominous. But I don't think that this RAW photo right out of the camera is telling that story. Mostly because the clouds don't look as dark and foreboding as they really were. What I'd like to do is, use the Graduated Filter tool to darken the clouds at the top of the sky, and then have my adjustment fall off in a gradual and natural way toward the horizon. I'll select the Graduated Filter tool here in the toolstrip under the histogram.
I'll start by dragging the Highlight slider way over to the left, and I'll increase the Contrast, way over to the right. Then, I'll click in the image and I'll drag down. I'll position the pin that represents this gradient, and that's better, but it's not all that I want to do. I'm also going to add a little bit of Clarity to this pin, and as long as the pin is selected, I can add more effects. I'll take the Clarity way up. I want to add some color, too.
I'll go to the Tint slider, and I'll drag that to the right to add some magenta, getting the look of that ominous sky. I'll also warm up the temperature, just a bit. Now I'm going to toggle on and off by clicking the toggle switch. Here's how the image looked before that graduated adjustment, and here's how it looks now. I think I have a little bit too much magenta, so I'm gonna pull back on the magenta. Let's take a look at the mask representing this pin. I'll click Show Selected Mask Overlay in the toolbar, and right away you can see what the problem is.
The mask covers not only the sky, but also the ruins, here in the foreground. They shouldn't be affected by the adjustments that I've made for the sky. This is where the filter brush comes in. I can use the filter brush to erase away the effects here, on the ruins, while keeping my graduated effects in the background. To access the Filter Brush with this pin still selected, I'll go over to the Graduated Filter panel, and I'll click the word Brush, here at the top-right of the panel. Don't confuse this brush with the Adjustment Brush tool, which is a separate tool above the panel in the toolstrip.
I want the Brush, so I'll select that, and then I'll scroll down to get to my brush settings. I'm going to select the Erase Brush, because I want to erase away, or remove, part of this mask. I'm going to leave the Feather set over to zero, because I really don't need a soft edge on this brush, and I'll leave Automask checked, so that Lightroom will automatically find the edges of that ruin, as I erase away the mask, there. Then I'll move into the image, I'm going to make my brush tip a lot bigger by pressing the right bracket key on the keyboard a number of times.
I'll actually make the brush bigger than the ruin. I'll just click around on the mask where I want to delete it, and parts of the mask are being removed everywhere inside of the circumference of my brush. You can do this with the mask on like this, or with the mask not showing, I'll uncheck the mask overlay, and I think that's a pretty good result. Let's toggle the graduated filter off and on, and that looks fine. If I want to see how things looked before I removed part of this mask with the Filter Brush, I'll go to the history panel, and I'm gonna have to go way down before these brush strokes, and let's take a look here.
So that's how things looked before I used the Filter Brush to erase part of the mask, and I'll go way back up to the top, and that's how things look now, great. That's how to use the Filter Brush with the Graduated Filter tool. You can also use the Filter Brush with the Radial Filter, so let's do that. I'll go over and select the Radial Filter tool in the toolstrip under the histogram. Now, this panel represents settings for the Radial Filter tool. I'll set them all back to zero by double-clicking the word Effect. Then, I'm going to hold down the command and option keys, those are the control and alt keys on Windows, and I'm going to double-click right in the center of the image, and that creates a radial filter that's centered right in the middle of the photo.
I'll use this radial filter to darken the edges around the filter. I'll pull the Exposure slider over to the left. As I do that, I can see that this filter is darkening the area inside of the boundary. I want the filter to affect the area outside of the boundary, so I'll move down to the bottom of this panel and uncheck Invert Mask. Now, I have that radial filter in place. If I go down and show the selected mask overlay, you can see that the decreased exposure is affecting all of the image under this red overlay.
I actually think that the red overlay is too big. It's impinging on the actual photo, so I'm going to make a couple of changes. First, I'll uncheck Show Selected Mask Overlay, and then I'm going to click on the pen that represents this mask and move it over so the center is on top of the castle, so that's the brightest area now. Then, I'll take this square and I'll drag out to change the shape of the radial filter. I also want to eliminate a little bit of the mask up in this area. Things are just too dark, there. I'll use the filter brush for the radial filter.
I'll go to the top of the radial filter, and I'll select the word "Brush". Again, not the adjustment brush tool, but the word "Brush". Then, I'll come down to the bottom of the radial filter panel. Again, I'll click Erase, so that I am selecting the Erase version of the filter brush. This time, I want a lot of feather, so I'll move the Feather slider over to the right. I think I'll take it all the way over. I'm going to reduce the flow so that I can more gently erase part of this mask, and I'll uncheck Automask, because I'm not erasing in a hard-edged area.
I'm going to turn on my mask overlay again, and I'm just gonna come into this area and start removing, gently and slowly, a little bit of the mask. Now, I'll uncheck Show Selected Mask Overlay, and I'll toggle off and then on, to see the effect of this radial filter. I might do a little more erasing right up in here. Again, off and then on. Now I'm finished, so I'll click the Done button to close the radial filter panel. Let's do a before and after with all of these changes.
I'll press the backslash key on the keyboard, that's three keys to the right of the P key. That's where I started at the beginning of this movie, and that's where I am now. Having the ability to just brush away a graduated filter or a radial filter is a real time-saver when you're fine-tuning your photos with a targeted edit here in Lightroom, or in Photoshop's Camera Raw window. I hope you'll give this a try. This is Jan Kabili for Photo Tools Weekly.