The shape of the Graduated Filter tool in Adobe Camera Raw and Lightroom can be customized. Areas you don’t want to be impacted by its effect can now be erased. In the image of the coastal sunrise above, the sky needs darkening, as do the bright areas of the two sea stacks.
To do so, click on the Graduated Filter along the top of the ACR workspace. The dialog box that’s below appears. Be sure the “NEW” radial button is highlighted. Drag the filter from the top of the image two-thirds down the photo. Adjust the sliders on the panel to create the darkening effect you desire. The changes I made were to section 2 evidenced by the EXPOSURE and HIGHLIGHTS sliders. (There are many other options that can be adjusted—be sure to look at all the sliders to see how else a Grad Filter can improve the look of a photo.)
As seen below, the top two-thirds of the image is darker. The concern is that the shadow portions of the sea stacks are also darker, but I want just the sky and bright areas of the sea stacks darkened.
On the top right portion of the Graduated Filter workspace, click on the word Brush. You’ll be brought to a new tool panel, seen below, that allows you to erase the effect of the Graduated tool. Click on the minus brush (- brush icon) and begin to erase.
Check the MASK to reveal the areas where the darkening effect was painted away. Those areas are discernible as the actual image pixels are now visible. The translucent areas show where the darkening of the Graduated Filter remains.
Seen below is the image after the Graduated Filter was applied and then selectively painted away.
You can also add adjustments to other portions of the photo and not have to create another adjustment. Click on the plus brush (+ brush icon) and start to paint.
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