I'm going to share with you three tips on using Lightrooms graduated filter that I think you're going to use every day real quick.
Now as far as the graduated filter is concerned over the years I've kind of discovered some tips and techniques on using the filter that are kind of hidden and I think will help you really process your image in a much more efficient way. The first tip I'm going to share with you is how you apply the filter itself. I'm going to open up the graduated filter and for the demonstration I'm just gonna have exposure all the way down. You could definitely see what I'm doing and typically if you have an image like this and let's say you want to enhance the sky a little bit you probably want the graduated filter around the horizon line.
You would take the cursor, put it on the horizon line, click with the left mouse button and drag down and when you do that you'll notice that the top line of the three lines stays stationary the middle line and the bottom line start moving away from that top line and when you do that then you kind of moved where the whole graduated filter is. And typically you want that middle line right on the rise on line.
You'd probably move it up and then you might like not like the graduation. You're gonna grab one of the other lines and maybe pull it down and then you're gonna have to move it up again. You have to do all this readjusting. There's really a better and more efficient way to do this if you hold the alt or option key that's all if you have a PC option if you have the Mac. While you apply the graduated filter what you'll find is that the centreline stays stationary and the two outer lines move out from the centerline.
In my opinion this is a much more effective way to apply the graduated filter in a very precise area in this case on the horizon line. Also a little kind of micro tip which you probably know already. If you hold the shift key in at the same time you will make the graduated filter. Stay perfectly horizontal so you can't tilt it. In this case I could keep it perfectly horizontal on the horizon line. Then I could just maybe micro adjust it. I think that alt/option key tip really is a better way to apply the graduated filter you could because really that centerline is the important line and you want to put that in a very specific place. And if you're not holding in that alter option line you're dragging that center line down with you or conversely if you're applying a graduated filter the bottom part of the image and you're pushing up. You're pushing that center line up if you just hold the alt or option key in while you do that and hold the shift key at the same time. You could just leave that center line exactly where you want it and I think that's a much better way to apply the filter.
The second tip is probably my favorite tip. You know that Lightroom is very limited with masking. You have some masking with the graduated filter, radial filter and brush. But it's not that super great for Lightroom Presets. There's a little trick you could do that really will help you enhance of the masking tools. Now I'm gonna work on this image here and for this demonstration. Actually I'm just gonna make it just slightly smaller.
You could better see what I'm doing. Now I have the graduated filter and I still have exposure all the way down if you'd like to apply the graduated filter. It affects every single pixel in the image equally. Go to any corner of the image and for this demo of demonstration
I'm going to go to this lower left-hand corner. Click at the lower left-hand corner and then drag off the screen or off the image. Now you can see that it affected every single pixel obviously right. This is kind of another way you could kind of double up if you're basic. Let's say you did some basic adjustments and you have shadows all the way up at plus 100 and you found that you probably want to open up shadows even more. Put the graduated filter off the corner like this and then you could come in with the shadow slider and open up shadows even more and it will affect every single pixel. But actually I think the real power of this method has to do with the masking specifically the range mask. If we go down here to the range mask and I go to color.
Let's say I want to enhance the sky. I could put a graduated filter right around here right like right in here somewhere. But it's gonna affect the buildings as well. I just want to affect the sky well, put the graduated filter as I have it off the corner. It's affecting every single pixel. Go to the range mask and in this case I'm gonna pick the color range mask. You could pick the luminance as well it depends on what you're doing but for this image I'm gonna pick the color. I'm going to get the eyedropper and I'm going to click on the blue sky.
I'm just gonna affect the blue sky in the blue sky. That's gonna be between the buildings it's gonna affect that as well and now I'm gonna go to clarity and I'm gonna pop clarity all the way up to plus 100. It's affecting that as well but it's not affecting the buildings at all. It's only affecting the sky here. Let's bring that to a more realistic level here. Maybe a better way to see it is with the DA's.
This is a great way to mask out part of the image with the very limited masking tools that are available in Lightroom and again I think this is probably my favorite little graduated filter trick. I could just enhance the sky only in this case. You don't have to use the color mask. You could use the color range mask. You use the luminance range mask if that's what your image needs and then you could come in and really adjust a very specific part of the image. Just remember put the graduated filter off a corner and just drag it out.
That it's affecting every pixel in the image and you'll be good to go now for this next and last tip. I'm going to just jump back. Let me close this for a minute. I'm going to jump back to this image and we'll go back to a fit we'll fit it to screen now. A lot of people don't know this and I really thought everyone knew this when you add a graduated filter and I'm gonna add it to the sky again. I'm gonna hold the shift key in and the Alt key in. I'm putting the graduated filter right on the sky and for the just the demonstration. This isn't something I want to really do.
I'll have exposure down to minus a stop. We had something maxed out and we needed more. You need more sharpness, you need more clarity something like that. Well, a lot of people don't realize you could double this graduated filter to do that simply right click right on the little button and you'll see duplicate and when you do that you'll notice that it's now twice as dark here. Before there's command I'll just hit command Z on my Mac. If you have a PC it's ctrl Z. It will undo your last step. There see how that's not as dark. I'll go on here again, right click, duplicate and it's darker and you could actually not just double it. You could triple it you, could quadruple it, so you could keep loop duplicating your adjustments. Now you see how dark it's getting. I'll just undo it command Z. That was four times now, it's three times.
I'll hit command Z again, that's twice. Hit command Z again and that's our single adjustment. This again probably comes in handy if you max out something like we open up shadows and bring highlights down and that just isn't doing. It good enough for us right here. Let's bring that back. Oh bring that down, bring that up.
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