The digital equivalent of a traditional photographic tool—the graduated filter—is now a part of Lightroom 2. This tool provides photographers with a unique way to make image corrections and enhancements. Using a wide range of controls, from Exposure to Sharpness, you can apply an effect that has a distinct starting point and then eventually fades or trails off. In addition, you can control where and how quickly the effect fades, which allows you to make improvements that blend seamlessly into the photo without any telltale signs.
The Graduated Filter tool helps creatively solve problems that photographers have been grappling with for ages (see sidebar “The Graduated Filter in Context”). This new tool does require a shift in thinking as it enables you to manipulate effects and to accomplish results that were previously limited to other software or to in-camera solutions.
This short chapter will help get you up to speed on this topic and show you with two specific examples how to use this tool. While the tool offers almost innumerable uses, the intent here is to show you how it works and to lead you to think about new ways to improve your own images.
#78 Introducing the Graduated Filter
The Graduated Filter tool lets you make adjustments to your images within Lightroom that were previously impossible. You can create a gradiated correction or enhancement made up of Exposure, Brightness, Contrast, Saturation, Clarity, Sharpness, or Color.
To Select the Graduated Filter tool, just click on it in the tool strip (Figure 78a), or choose View > Graduated Filter, or press M. Next, choose an Effect, or modify the Effect slider controls. Now that the tool is set, click on the area where you would like to use the effect. Continue to hold the mouse button down and drag away from the initial area that was clicked. Drag farther away to create more of a gradiated and fading transition. Drag less to create less of a transition. Drag and rotate in order to rotate the direction of the transition.
As you drag, notice the effect, the effect guides, and a small node (called a pin). The lines reveal where the effect occurs and the length of the transition (Figure 78b). Position the cursor next to the pin, and the cursor will changed into a bent line with an arrow on each end. When you see this new cursor, click and drag in order to rotate the effect. Position the cursor over the pin, and the cursor will change into a hand icon. With the hand icon visible, click and drag to reposition the effect. If you would like to make changes to the controls, simply modify the sliders. Finally, if for some reason the effect is undesirable, press the Delete or the Backspace key to delete the effect.