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With the addition of the local correction brush in Lightroom 2.0, you can substantially reduce your time spent in an external editor. Committing these simple adjustment brush keyboard shortcuts to memory will have you working like a pro in the digital darkroom.
Lightroom offers keyboard shortcuts for painting with the adjustment brush that control the size as well as the hardness and softness of the brush as you move through the Develop module image-enhancement process.
The Develop module adjustment brush is enabled with the (k) key. When your cursor is placed within the image area, it will display two circles. The outer circle will have a distance relationship to the inner circle. This distance relationship identifies the softness, or feathering (larger distance), or hardness (smaller distance) of the brush.
To work more effectively within this workflow, learn to use the left ([) and right (]) bracket keys to control the size of the brush from the keyboard rather than using the control sliders. Pressing and holding down the left bracket key reduces the size of the brush, and doing the same with the right bracket key increases the size.
Now adding the Shift key as a modifier, you can control and adjust the hardness or softness of the brush edge as well, with just a bit of tapping on the bracket keys.
Adjustment Brush size control
Left bracket = Smaller brush / circle size
Right bracket = Bigger brush / circle size
Adjustment Mask Brush
Shift + left bracket ([) = More edge feather (softer)
Shift + right bracket (]) = harder edge
Check back here each day this week for more Lightroom tips.
And for more on Lightroom, be sure to check out my book Lessons in DSLR Workflow with Lightroom and Photoshop.