Apply local adjustments



The controls in the adjustment panels in the Develop module let you affect the color and tone of an entire photo. But sometimes you don’t want to make adjustments globally, to the entire photo. You want to make them locally to a specific area of a photo, much like dodging and burning in traditional photography or using a mask in Photoshop. For example, you may just want to lighten a face to make it stand out in a portrait, enhance the blue sky in a landscape, or apply a tint to compensate for mixed lighting conditions. To accomplish these tasks in Lightroom, you can apply color and tonal adjustments to specific areas of a photo by using the Adjustment Brush tool and the Graduated Filter tool.

The Adjustment Brush tool lets you selectively apply Exposure, Clarity, Brightness, and other adjustments to photos by “painting” them onto the photo.

The Graduated Filter tool lets you apply Exposure, Clarity, Brightness, and other tonal adjustments gradually across a region of a photo. You can make the region as wide or as narrow as you like.

Getting local adjustments “right” in Lightroom may take some experimentation. The recommended workflow is to select a tool and specify its options, then apply the adjustment to the photo. Then, you can go back and edit that adjustment, or apply a new one. As with all other adjustments applied in the Develop module in Lightroom, local adjustments are nondestructive and are not permanently applied to the photo.

For a video about applying local adjustments in the Develop module, go to www.adobe.com/go/lrvid2209_lrm.

Apply local adjustments with the Adjustment Brush tool

  1. Click the Adjustment Brush tool  in the tool strip of the Develop module to select it, or press K.

    Lightroom sets the Mask mode to New in the Adjustment Brush tool drawer.

  2. Choose the type of adjustment you want to make in the Adjustment Brush tool drawer by choosing an option from the Effect pop-up menu:
    Exposure
    Sets the overall image brightness, with a greater effect in the high values.

    Brightness
    Adjusts image brightness, mainly affecting midtones.

    Contrast
    Adjusts image contrast, mainly affecting midtones.

    Saturation
    Changes the vividness or purity of the color.

    Clarity
    Adds depth to an image by increasing local contrast.

    Sharpness
    Enhances edge definition to bring out details in the photo. A negative value blurs details.

    Color
    Applies a tint to the selected area. Select the hue by double-clicking the Color box under the effect names.

    Soften Skin
    Applies a combination of Clarity and Sharpness adjustments to make skin tones appear softer and more pleasing to the eye.

    Note: You can also select an effect by clicking its name under the Amount slider.
  3. Drag the Amount slider to the right to increase the strength of the selected effect; drag the Amount slider to the left to decrease the strength of the selected effect. Or, click the Plus icon (+) by the effect name to increase the effect; click the Minus icon (-) by the effect name to decrease the effect.
  4. (Optional) Click the Show Effect Sliders switch to drag sliders for each effect, and to apply more than one type of adjustment at a time.
  5. Specify options for Adjustment Brush A, which is selected by default:
    Size
    Specifies the diameter of the brush tip in pixels.

    Feather
    Creates a soft-edged transition between the brushed area and the surrounding pixels.

    Flow
    Controls the rate of application of the adjustment.

    Auto Mask
    Confines brush strokes to areas of similar color.

    Density
    Controls the amount of transparency in the stroke.

  6. Move the Adjustment Brush tool over the photo in the image display area.

    The Plus icon (+) in the center of the circle indicates the application point. The circle indicates the brush size. If the Feather amount is greater than zero, the brush cursor appears as two concentric circles. The distance between the inner and outer circle represents the feather amount.

  7. Drag in the photo to apply an Adjustment Brush tool stroke to the area that you want to correct.

    When you release the mouse, an adjustment pin  appears at the initial application point of the adjustment. In the Adjustment Brush tool drawer, the Mask mode changes to Edit, and the Effect sliders become available to refine the adjustment.

  8. To see a mask of the adjustment, position the pointer over the adjustment pin.
  9. (Optional) Refine the adjustment by doing any of the following:
    • Move the pointer over the adjustment pin and drag the double-pointing arrow to the right to increase the effect, or to the left to decrease the effect.

    • Customize the adjustment by dragging the advanced Effect sliders in the tool drawer.

    • Press the O key to hide or show the mask overlay.

    • Press the H key to hide or show the adjustment pin.

    • To undo part of the adjustment, click Erase in the Adjustment Brush tool drawer, and paint over the adjustment. When you paint in Erase mode, the Adjustment Brush tool appears over the photo with a Minus icon (-) at its center.

    • Remove the adjustment completely by positioning the pointer over the adjustment pin and pressing Delete.

    • Press Ctrl+Z (Windows) or Command+Z (Mac OS) to undo your adjustment history.

    • Click Reset at the bottom of the Adjustment Brush tool drawer to remove all Adjustment Brush tool adjustments and to set Mask mode to New.

  10. (Optional) Click New for the Mask mode to apply an additional Adjustment Brush tool adjustment, and refine it as desired using the techniques in step 8. Or, select the Graduated Filter tool and apply a gradient effect.

Apply local adjustments with the Graduated Filter tool

  1. Click the Graduated Filter tool  in the tool strip of the Develop module to select it, or press M.

    Lightroom sets the Mask mode to New in the Graduated Filter tool drawer.

  2. Choose the type of adjustment you want to make in the Graduated Filter tool drawer by choosing an option from the Effect pop-up menu:
    Exposure
    Sets the overall image brightness, with a greater effect in the high values.

    Brightness
    Adjusts image brightness, mainly affecting midtones.

    Contrast
    Adjusts image contrast, mainly affecting midtones.

    Saturation
    Changes the vividness or purity of the color.

    Clarity
    Adds depth to an image by increasing local contrast.

    Sharpness
    Enhances edge definition to bring out details in the photo. A negative value blurs details.

    Color
    Applies a tint to the selected area. Select the hue by double-clicking the Color box under the effect names.

    Note: You can also select an effect by clicking its name under the Amount slider.
  3. Drag the Amount slider to increase or decrease the strength of the selected effect.
  4. (Optional) Click the Show Effect Sliders switch to drag sliders for each effect, and to apply more than one type of adjustment at a time.
  5. Drag in the photo to apply a graduated filter across a region of the photo.

    As you drag, a graduated filter pin  appears at the center of the effect. Three white guides represent the center, low, and high ranges of the filter effect.

    When you release the mouse, the Mask mode in the Graduated Filter tool drawer changes to Edit, and the Effect sliders become available to refine the adjustment.

  6. (Optional) Refine the adjustment by doing any of the following:
    • Drag the graduated filter pin to move the center point of the effect.

    • Position the pointer over the center white line until a curved, double-pointing arrow appears , and then drag to rotate the direction of the effect.

    • Grab either outer white line and drag toward the edge of the photo to expand the range of the gradient effect at that end of the spectrum. Or drag toward the center of the photo to contract the range of the gradient effect at that end of the spectrum.

    • Customize the filter by dragging the advanced Effect sliders in the tool drawer.

    • Remove the filter by positioning the pointer over the graduated filter pin and then pressing Delete.

    • Press the H key to hide or show the graduated filter pin and the effect guides in the image display area.

    • Press Ctrl+Z (Windows) or Command+Z (Mac OS) to undo your adjustment history.

    • Click Reset at the bottom of the Graduated Filter tool drawer to remove all filter adjustments and to set Mask mode to New.

  7. (Optional) Click New for the Mask mode to apply an additional Graduated Filter adjustment, and refine it as desired using the techniques in step 5. Or, select the Adjustment Brush tool and apply an Adjustment Brush tool effect.

Apply multiple local adjustments

When applying and working with multiple local adjustments, keep in mind the following:

  • Click any pin to select it. A selected pin has a black center. Non-selected pins are solid white.

  • Press H once to show the selected pin; press H again to hide all pins; press H a third time to show all pins.

  • When the Adjustment Brush tool is selected, only adjustment pins are available to edit. When the Graduated Filter tool is selected, only graduated filter pins are available to edit.

  • The Adjustment Brush tool drawer allows you to specify options for two brushes, A and B. Select a brush by clicking the letter, or switch between brushes by pressing the slash key (/). Brush options “stick” regardless of the effect you choose to apply until you change them.

Create local adjustment effect presets

  1. Using either the Graduated Filter or Adjustment Brush tool, apply an effect and customize it using the Effect sliders in Edit mode.
  2. Choose Save Current Settings As New Preset from the Effect menu.
  3. In the New Preset dialog box, type a name in the Preset Name box and click Create.

The preset appears in the Effect pop-up menu.

Note: Adjustment Brush tool presets do not include brush options such as Size, Feather, and Flow.