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Occasionally I want to add  or subtract more clarity, contrast, or some other setting to or from the whole photo than the Lightroom Basic panel slider will allow.  At this point I often turn to the adjustment brush or graduated filter. They are intended for making local changes to a photo, but you can also apply them to the whole photo. They allow you to use the following settings:

lightroom adjustment brush graduated filter settings

If, for example, I need more than 100 of clarity on the whole photo, I would set the Basics panel slider to 100, and then using the adjustment brush or graduated filter, I would add more. Continue reading »

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I posted this tip a little over a year ago when Lightroom 3 came out, but I thought I’d post it again, since surprisingly it is one of my most-read posts.

Looking to blur out a background to reduce distractions?  In Lightroom 3 or later, use the adjustment brush with Sharpness at -50 to -100.   If this is not enough blur, do it again:  click on New to start a new adjustment, and paint a second time.    If you blur out an object that you want to keep sharp, use the adjustment brush and paint back over the object with +100 Sharpness to restore its sharpness!

Also consider using the graduated filter with -100 Sharpness to simulate a shallower depth of field where the sharpness drops off gradually.

If you don’t know how to use the adjustment brush, here is a video on it.  It is a sample video from my Lightroom 3 DVD, but it is equally applicable to Lightroom 4.

Check out my Fundamentals & Beyond and Producing Great Output video series.


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Recently a colleague of mine, Kathy Eyster, wrote an article in her award-winning blog, Essential Digital Camera, on how to fix flash-filled pet eyes using Photoshop.  The red-eye tool won’t fix them, as it simply takes red out, and pet pupils don’t turn red.  Kathy points out that there are two steps, first turning the pupil almost black, and then painting back in a catch light.  Reading this led me to attempt the same in Lightroom with the adjustment brush.  Kathy was kind enough to lend me her photo.

My conclusion is that both techniques work equally well, and are equally as straightforward (assuming you know each program).

Here’s the Lightroom approach:  (If you don’t know how to use the adjustment brush, watch my Lightroom 3 adjustment brush video here. It works the same in Lightroom 4.) Continue reading »

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I am working on a Lightroom 3 training DVD, which I will be offering for sale, hopefully soon.  The concept is a “Lightroom Workshop on DVD”.  It is a series of many videos, several hours long in total, designed for beginning and intermediate Lightroom users.  I cover just about everything I teach in my two-day Lightroom Fundamentals workshop.    Since it has been a while since I have posted to this blog, I thought I would share with you one video from this series, on how to use Lightroom’s adjustment brush to make local changes to your images.

Click HERE to watch the video.

If you are interested in hearing about the DVD when it is available, click on the Facebook button at the bottom of this page to join me on Facebook, or click on the link at the top of this page to join my mailing list.

UPDATE December 2013:  Lightroom Fundamentals and Beyond for Lightroom 3, 4 and 5 are now available here, and they cover much more than I do in my two-day workshop!

While this video was recorded with Lightroom 3, the tutorial is also applicable to Lightroom 4 and 5. (I apologize for the Flash requirement to play it.)

 

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Looking to blur out a background to reduce distractions?  In Lightroom 3, use the adjustment brush with Sharpness at -100.   If this is not enough blur, do it again:  click on New to start a new adjustment, and paint a second time.

Also consider using the graduated filter with -100 Sharpness to simulate a shallower depth of field where the sharpness drops off gradually.   UPDATE:  If you blur out an object that you want to keep sharp, use the adjustment brush and paint back over the object with +100 Sharpness to restore its sharpness!

Is this cool, or what?

Here’s a video on how to use the adjustment brush in Lightroom.

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Did you know that the adjustment brush allows you to slowly build up the amount of change you apply to an image, and also slowly back off on a change you made? The secret is in the Flow and Density sliders. Density controls how much of the specified adjustment can be applied in total, and Flow controls how many brush strokes it takes on the area to reach the full effect.

Let’s say that your goal is to brighten various parts of your image. You set the Exposure slider to +1.5 stops because you expect that this is the maximum brightening you would need to apply. Setting Density at 100% will allow you to apply the full 1.5 stop effect. If you set Flow at 20%, every brush stroke you make on an area will apply 20% of that 1.5 stops. Brush once on areas where you need just a little brightening; brush over areas twice or more –up to five times — where you need more brightening.

Now let’s say that there is an area that you brightened too much, and now you want to back off on the strength. Continue reading »

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Take advantage of Lightroom 2′s  (or Camera Raw’s) adjustment brush to create images that are part black and white and part color.

I will start with the color image below, and convert all of it to black and white except the poster and the can.

Before

Before

In the Develop module, click on the adjustment brush tool (shortcut K).

Adjustment Brush Settings

Adjustment Brush Settings

Slide the Saturation slider all the way to -100.

Make sure all the other settings sliders, such as Exposure, are at zero.

Set your  brush density and flow are set to 100, so that you fully desaturate when you paint.  Adjust your brush size with the Size slider or the left and right bracket keys [ and ].   Now paint over all that you want to be black and white (all but the can and poster for me.)   Adjust your brush size as needed.   To paint with more precision, zoom in and out with Ctl/Cmd + and Ctl/Cmd – or with the Navigation Panel.     If you painted over an area you didn’t mean to, click on Erase  or hold down the alt/option key to get the eraser brush, and  paint to erase.

When you are finished, put the adjustment brush away by clicking on it again or typing K.

After

After

Done!

PS:  Yes, I wish I had turned the can around before photographing this!

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The adjustment brush and the graduated filter tool are wonderful additions to Lightroom 2 for making local changes. But there are often quicker ways to make local changes. I will talk about HSL in this post.

In the image below I want to darken the sky. Yes, I can get the adjustment brush, set the exposure to a negative amount, and paint the sky.

Before

Before

But since the only blue in the image is the sky, it is alot faster accomplish my goal by darkening the blues in the HSL/Color/Grayscale panel: click on HSL, click on luminance (luminance refers to brightness), and slide the blue slider to the left.

Darkening the Blues in The Image

Darkening the Blues in The Image

Darkened Blues

Darkened Blues

Let’s say I now want to saturate the grass and tree more. I can use the adjustment brush with a positive saturation setting, but instead, in the HSL panel I will click on Saturation.    I’m not sure if the grass is green or yellow or some combination, so instead of guessing and fooling around with the sliders, I’ll use the handy Targeted Adjustment Tool (TAT). I will click on it, and then click on the grass and drag upwards since I want to increase saturation. I will do this in a few places in the foreground.  The TAT detects the colors you are dragging on, and adjusts those throughout the image — in this case increasing saturation of yellows and greens.    It works for us here because there are no yellows and greens in the building or sky — otherwise those would become more saturated as well.

Saturated Foreground

Saturated Foreground

tat

The yellow is a little too saturated for me, but now it is easy to go to the Yellow slider and reduce it a little. Note also that I could have darkened the sky with the TAT as well, clicking on luminance and dragging downward on the sky, rather than using the blue slider.

Finally, I am going to use the Hue component in the HSL panel to change the color of the background in this image:

Before

Before

I click on HSL, Hue and the Targeted Adjustment tool, then click and drag up and/or down on the blue background to change the color to something I like. Because there was no blue in the subjects, they are unaffected.

After Hue Change

After Hue Change

By the way, if skin is too red, try clicking on saturation, and dragging downwards on the face to take some of the color out. In this case, since purple also contains red, it will change the background a little as well, but that may be acceptable, and a big time saver over working with the adjustment brush.

The key to being able to use HSL to do local adjustments is that the area you want to darken, lighten, increase or decrease saturation of, or change the color of, is made up of colors that don’t exist elsewhere in the image. In my first image, for example, if the building had also been blue, I could not have isolated the sky using HSL. I would have had to use the adjustment brush to specifically darken the sky.

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If you have used the adjustment brush in Lightroom, you may have noticed that you have the ability to paint color on your image. After clicking on the adjustment brush to make it active, click on the color square next to the word Color to choose your color.

Adjustment Brush Color Setting

Adjustment Brush Color Setting

In this case I chose blue. Here is the image I am going to work on:

Before Painting

Before Painting

When I paint over the flower with blue, blue is added to the existing red, and the result is a bluish red:

Painting over the Flower with Blue

Painting over the Flower with Blue

What I really want to do is to replace the red with blue. Here’s the secret: in addition to selecting the color blue, I also reduce the adjustment brush saturation slider to -100.

Settings to Replace Color

Settings to Replace Color

Then the red is removed and I get what I want:

Painting with Blue AND Saturation of -100

Painting with Blue AND Saturation of -100

By the way, with auto mask turned on, painting over the flower with a large brush produced a very good selection of the flower, with just a few missing spots. I then turned off auto mask and painted in those missing spots. The auto mask check box is located right below the brush settings.

Adjustment brush settings are sticky, so next time you use the adjustment brush you will most likely still have your color selected. To unselect it, click on the color square, slide the slider down to 0%, and then close the color window.

Here’s a video on the basics of using the adjustment brush in Lightroom.

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Sometimes you want to make an adjustment to your image almost everywhere. You could use the adjustment brush and paint almost everywhere, but that could be slow. Instead, make the adjustment everywhere, with a global change in the Basic panel, and then use the adjustment brush to change back the area you didn’t want to affect. This works in both Camera Raw and Lightroom. Here’s an example. I want to give this portrait image that glow that is popular these days, but I don’t want it to affect the eyes or the mouth.

Original

Original

I will give the image the glow by reducing clarity to -60 in the Basic panel. I also boosted contrast and vibrance.

Clarity at -100 Plus Boost Contrast and Vibrance

Clarity at -60 Plus Boost Contrast and Vibrance

With the adjustment brush set to +60 on clarity (the opposite of the global change I made), I would then paint over the eyes and mouth to reverse the negative clarity change. That is the idea — but to make the change obvious to you in this small image environment, I actually painted with +100 clarity, to accentuate the eyes even more:

Paint +100 Clarity over the Eyes and Mouth

Paint +100 Clarity over the Eyes and Mouth

Note that with this technique, Lightroom (or Camera Raw) isn’t blurring the eyes and mouth and then sharpening what it has blurred — that would not in fact work. It is only applying one change to these areas — the cumulative effect of the negative and positive clarity.

Another example of applying a change everywhere and then painting back with the opposite effect where you didn’t want it is an image that needs to be brighter almost everywhere — brighten it globally, then paint back the areas that you didn’t want brighter with negative brightness. Depending on what type of adjustment you are making, you may find that the amount that you need to paint back is not exactly the opposite of your global change … after you paint with the adjustment brush, adjust the slider until it looks good visually.

Finally, note that this will not work when you want part of your image in color and part in black and white — you can’t desaturate the image (saturation of -100) and then paint color back in with +100 saturation. In this case instead start with the color image, and with the adjustment brush set to -100 saturation, paint the areas that you want to be in black and white.

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