“Spot Edits”: Radial Filter
Next, I needed to selectively modify the color qualities within a couple of (more or less) “circular” regions. The idea was to make the waterfalls a bit more bluish relative to their surroundings and tinted (very) slightly towards green to reflect the nearby mossy rocks. Another goal was to warm up the leaves (fall colors) in the central part of the photo. Taken together, these two steps would add some realism back into the scene and improve the color contrast.
These kinds of edits can be achieved by adding Radial Filter widgets to the image, positioning them, and then inverting their masks. The inversion step lets you modify what is “inside” the widget instead of what’s outside it.
Click the second icon from the right in the Lightroom 5 toolbar, or press Shift+M, to activate the Radial Filter controls. Any prior widgets that were visible—like the Graduated Filter—will be hidden. Next, click and drag on the image preview to create a vignette-like overlay, marking the boundary of your edits. Once created, you can click and drag the anchors on the widget (top, bottom, left, and right sides) to make the overlay wider or taller. As with the prior filter, you can click and drag the silver and black pin to change the position of a Radial Filter (see Figure 7).
Figure 7 The new Radial Filter in Lightroom 5 makes it easy to create oval or circular areas to modify.
Once an overlay is set up properly, click the Invert Mask option (bottom of the panel) to make sure that the changes take place inside the boundary defined by the overlay. From there, you can again use the tone and color controls to create the effect you want. Here I created two Radial Filters: one for the waterfall, and one for the leaves. Note that the default Feather value is 100 percent, which—unless you want a harder, more obvious transition in tones or color—I recommend you not change it much.
For the waterfall correction, I decreased the Temperature value, shifting the hues towards the cooler end of the spectrum. This is more consistent with the way we perceive running water, and it provided a contrast with warmer colors nearby. I also softened the water slightly using a negative Clarity value. For the leaves and rocks (right side of the frame), I took the opposite approach, increasing the Temperature value as well as the Saturation, and increasing both Clarity and the existing Sharpening levels, to make those structures “pop” a bit more as the eye is lead from the front to the back of the frame (see Figure 8).
Figure 8 Using multiple Radial Filters is a great way to modify the tones and colors throughout your image.