The retouching tools in the Develop module (Figure 4.81) can be used to retouch without actually editing the pixel data. When you work with the Spot Removal, Red Eye Correction, Graduated Filter, Radial Filter, or Adjustment Brush tool, these actions are recorded as sets of instructions and the original pixel image data remains untouched. It is only when you export a file as a TIFF, JPEG, or PSD, or “Edit in an external editor” that the retouching work is permanently applied to the image.
Figure 4.81 The retouching tools. From left to right: Spot Removal, Red Eye Correction, Graduated Filter, Radial Filter, and Adjustment Brush. Shown below are the Spot Removal options.
Spot Removal tool
The Spot Removal tool () has Clone and Heal modes (use to toggle between the two). In Clone mode, the Spot Removal tool copies and repairs from a sample area with the surrounding area, but does not blend the result. The Heal mode on the other hand does blend the copied area with the image information that is just outside the area you are trying to repair. The Heal mode is nearly always successful at hiding blemishes because of the way it invisibly blends the healed area with the surrounding pixels. Subtle improvements have been made to the blending in this latest version of Lightroom. In particular, you should see better blending along the edges of an image. But only newly created spots will use the new healing method. You can use the Clone/Heal buttons in the Tool Options panel to switch the Spot Removal mode for any circle spot.
To work with the Spot Removal tool, you can start by adjusting the Size slider in the Spot Removal tool options (Figure 4.81) so the Spot Removal tool matches the size of the areas you intend to repair. You can use the square bracket keys on the keyboard (press or hold down the key) to make the Spot Removal circle spot size bigger, or use the key to make the size smaller. Or, scroll with your trackpad or mouse. If you then simply click the spot or blemish you wish to remove, this adds a new circle spot and auto-finds a source sample area to clone from. If the tool size is large enough, you will see a small crosshair in the middle of the circle spot, and you can use this to target the blemish you want to remove and center the tool more precisely. A linking arrow also appears to indicate the relationship between the target circle and sample circle areas (Figure 4.82). Lightroom then automatically calculates a suitable source area to clone from, and you can use to auto-select a new source area and recompute (see auto-find behavior on page 292).
Figure 4.82 A combined series of snapshots taken of the Spot Removal tool in action to illustrate some of the different ways you can work with this tool.
Alternatively, you can hold down the key (Mac) or key (PC) as you click and drag outward to select the image area to sample from. As you do this, you will notice that the original (target) circle disappears so you can preview the effect of the spot removal action without being distracted by the circle spot. When you have finished applying a spot removal, the target circle spot remains as a thin, white circle on the screen for as long as the Spot Removal tool is active in the Develop module. You can quit working with the tool by clicking the Close button (circled in Figure 4.81) or by pressing the key again.
Because Lightroom is recording all these actions as edit instructions, you have the freedom to fine-tune any clone and heal step. For example, you can click inside a circle spot to reactivate it and reposition either the target or the sample circles. If you click the edge of the target circle, a bar with a bidirectional arrow appears and you can click and drag to adjust the size of both the target and sample circles. If you click and drag with the keys (Mac) or keys (PC) held down, this allows you to create a user-defined circle spot scaled from the initial anchor point. And, if you click and drag with the keys (Mac) or keys (PC) held down, the circle spot scales from the center. Basically, you can define a different spot size each time you drag, and the sample circle auto-picks anywhere that surrounds the target circle area. It may seem that the auto-find selection is quite random, but each time Lightroom intelligently seeks an ideal area to sample from (this is similar to the logic used by Photoshop’s Spot Healing Brush tool). You can use the On/Off button at the bottom of the Spot Removal tool options (circled in Figure 4.82) to toggle disabling/enabling the spot removal retouching and click the Reset button to cancel and clear all the current Spot Removal tool edits. Use the key to toggle showing/hiding all the Spot Removal spots.
In Spot Removal mode, you can use the Visualize Spots feature to detect dust spots and other anomalies. If you go to the Toolbar, you will see a Visualize Spots check box () and slider. When you enable it, the image view will switch to a threshold mode preview and you can drag the slider to determine the ideal threshold point to highlight the spots that need to be removed. The slider setting you use remains sticky until you turn on Visualize Spots to treat another image.
The effects of the camera’s dirty sensor can be seen in the image it captured.
I checked the Visualize Spots box at the bottom of the Spot Removal panel options and adjusted the slider to obtain a suitable threshold preview, one that picked out the spots clearly.
I then clicked with the Spot Removal tool to remove the spots that had been identified using this method.
Creating brush spots
So far, I have shown you how to create basic circle spots using the Spot Removal tool. In Lightroom, you can also click and drag to define noncircular areas, known as brush spots, where you basically click and drag to paint over the area you wish to remove. As you do so, you will see the area you are removing covered in a white overlay. When you release the pointer, you will see a brush spot represented like the one shown in Figure 4.83. As with circle spots, Lightroom auto-selects the most suitable area to clone from, and you can use the key to auto-select a new source area and recompute. To override the auto-select choice, you can click inside a target or source brush spot and drag to reposition, but you cannot scale brush spots the way you can when editing circle spots. If you drag with the key held down, this constrains the line to a horizontal or vertical direction. But, if you click and click again with the key held down, you can create a “connect the dots” selection. Figure 4.84 shows an illustrated summary of the brush spots behavior.
Figure 4.83 The appearance of a brush spot adjustment, with the target brush spot on the left and the source on the right.
Figure 4.84 Some of the different ways you can apply brush spots.
Brush spots add really useful functionality to Lightroom, but all this comes at a cost. Heavy use of the Spot Removal tool, especially in brush spot mode, can certainly add to the Develop module processing and slow things down.
Retouching example using brush spots
The fence and wires spoil the natural look of this shot. I decided to use Spot Removal tool brush spots to retouch the fence from the shot.
I selected the Spot Removal tool in Heal mode and clicked the top of the fence post. This added a regular circle spot and auto-calculated a source area to sample from.
I then held down the key and clicked near to the bottom of the fence post. The circle spot became a brush spot, constrained to a straight line.
I repeated the process to remove the strut supporting the fence post. You can rely on Lightroom to auto-calculate the most suitable area to clone from. You can use the key to recompute a new source, or you can click and hold inside the brush spot source outline and drag to select a new area to clone from.
After much editing with the Spot Removal tool, I removed nearly all traces of the fence and wires. However, this kind of extensive retouching can easily slow Lightroom down to a crawl.
Editing circle and brush spots
The circle spots always remain editable. You can select an individual circle and use the Spot Removal Size slider to readjust the size. Or, click the edge of a target circle spot and drag to resize. As you drag, the thin circle conveniently disappears, which allows you to see more clearly the effect the circle resizing is having on the photo. If you click inside a target circle or brush spot, the thin circle/outline disappears and changes to show a hand icon. This allows you to drag and reposition the spot so that you can readjust the target position. You can also click on or inside a sample circle/brush spot and drag to reposition the sample area relative to the target so that you can select a new area to sample from. You can use the keyboard arrow keys to nudge a destination circle spot or brush spot. Hold down the key to magnify the arrow key movements. The nudging becomes more precise the more you are zoomed in.
Tool Overlay options
The Tool Overlay options can be accessed via the Develop module Toolbar (Figure 4.85), as well as via the Tools menu. If you select the Auto option, the circle/brush spots become visible only when you roll over the preview area. If you select the Always option, the circle/brush spots remain visible at all times. When the Selected option is chosen, only the active circle/brush spot is shown and all others are hidden. When the Never menu option is selected, all the Spot Removal overlays remain hidden (even when you roll over the image). But as soon as you start working with the Spot Removal tool, the tool overlay behavior automatically switches to Auto Show mode. The keyboard shortcut toggles the Tools overlay view between Selected and Never. I think the most convenient way to work here is to operate in Auto mode and use the keyboard shortcut to toggle between the Auto and Never overlay modes. This toggle action allows you to work on an image without always being distracted by all the circle/brush spot overlays.
Figure 4.85 The Tool Overlay options in the Develop module Toolbar.
You can use (Mac) or (PC) to undo the last circle/brush spot. To delete, -click inside a circle/brush spot. To delete multiple circle/brush spots, -marquee drag to select those you wish to remove. To delete all circle/brush spots, click the Reset button in the Tool Options panel.
As mentioned earlier, you can use the forward slash key () to auto-select a new source area and recompute a Spot Removal tool step, which is also available as a context menu item (Figure 4.86). The auto-calculate source feature copes well with textured areas such as rocks, tree bark, and foliage and also takes the applied crop into account. This means that if a crop is active, Lightroom carries out two searches for a most suitable area to clone from: one within the cropped area and one outside it. Preference is then given to the search inside the cropped area when computing the auto-find area. If somewhere outside the cropped area yields a significantly better result, then that is used instead.
Figure 4.86 The context menu for the Spot Removal tool.
Spot Removal tool feathering
The Spot Removal tool in Lightroom has a Feather slider (Figure 4.87). This lets you modify the brush hardness when working with the Spot Removal tool in Clone or Heal mode. You can use to decrease the feathering amount and to increase the feathering, and there is a circle spot feather visualization, which can be seen in Figure 4.88.
Figure 4.87 The Spot Removal tool panel controls.
Figure 4.88 The Spot Removal tool Feather visualization.
Although it has always been possible to adjust the brush hardness in Photoshop when working with the Clone Stamp tool, there has never been a similar hardness control option for the Healing Brush. This is because the Photoshop Healing Brush and Spot Healing Brush have always had an internal feathering mechanism built-in, so additional feathering was never needed. However, in Lightroom, the Feather slider works well and is useful for both modes of operation. The Feather slider offers more control over the spot removal blending and can help overcome the edge contamination sometimes evident when using the Spot Removal tool in Heal mode with a fixed feather edge of 0. The feathering is applied to the destination circle spot or brush spot, and the Feather amount is proportional to the size of the spot; bigger spots will use a bigger feather. For brush-type spots, you should think of this in terms of the thickness of the brush stroke (as opposed to the overall length) and the feathering range for brush spots is also slightly greater than for circle spots. The Feather setting remains sticky across Lightroom sessions.
You can synchronize the Spot Removal settings in one image with others from the same sequence. So, if you get the spotting work right for one image, you can synchronize the spot removal work across other selected photos. There are two ways you can do this. One way is to work with the Spot Removal tool on one photo and synchronize the spotting with the other photos later. The other is to Auto Sync a selection of photos and update all the selected images at once as you retouch the most selected photo.
Remember, if you simply click or drag with the Spot Removal tool, Lightroom automatically chooses the best area of the photo to sample from. As long as you don’t / -drag to manually set the sample point, or edit the sample point (by manually dragging the sample circle or brush spot to reposition it), the sample points will remain in “auto-select sample point” mode. If you carry out a series of spot removals obeying these rules, you can then synchronize the spot removal adjustments more efficiently, as Lightroom will auto-select the best sample points in each of the individual synchronized photos. This does not guarantee 100% successful spot removal for every image that’s synchronized in this way, but you may still find that this saves you time compared to retouching every photo individually one by one.
Synchronized settings spot removal
I first made sure that the photo that had all the spotting work done to it was the most selected in the Filmstrip (the one with the lighter gray border). I then clicked the Sync button.
This opened the Synchronize Settings dialog, where I made sure the Spot Removal box was checked. When I clicked the Synchronize button, Lightroom synchronized the Spot Removal settings across all the selected photos.
Auto Sync spot removal
I made a selection of photos and held down the key (Mac) or key (PC). This changed the Sync button to Auto Sync. I clicked the button to set the photo selection to Auto Sync mode.
I then edited one of the selected photos (I could have chosen any of them), and all the Develop settings were automatically synchronized to the target photo. Here, I used the Spot Removal tool in Heal mode to remove dust marks from the photo. As I did so, the Spot Removal settings were automatically applied to all the photos in the selection. When finished, I clicked the Auto Sync button to revert to the standard Sync mode behavior.
Red Eye Correction tool
There are several ways you can prevent red eye from happening. Most compact cameras allow you to set the flash to an anti-red-eye mode with a pre-flash, or you can use a flash gun so the flash source is not so close to the lens axis. But for those times when you cannot prevent it, the Red Eye Correction tool can correct photographs in which the direct camera flash has caused the pupils in someone’s eyes to appear bright red.
To use the Red Eye Correction tool, place the tool’s crosshair over the middle of the pupil and drag outward to draw a circle that defines the area you wish to correct (Figure 4.89). Lightroom automatically detects the red-eye area that needs to be repaired and fixes it. Before applying the Red Eye Correction tool, you can adjust the size of the circle by using the square bracket keys: The left bracket () makes it smaller, and the right bracket () makes it bigger. To be honest, the circle size does not always make much difference because, once you click with the tool, you can drag to define the area you wish to affect. The circle size is probably more relevant if you are going to be clicking with the Red Eye Correction tool rather than dragging. Also, you do not have to be particularly accurate, and it is interesting to observe how this tool behaves even if you lazily drag to include an area that is a lot bigger than the area you need to correct. Lightroom always knows which area to correct, because the circle shrinks to create an overlay representing the area that has been targeted for the red-eye correction.
Figure 4.89 The Red Eye Correction tool design.
After you have applied the tool to a photo, the Red Eye Correction tool options appear (Figure 4.90). Here, you can adjust the sliders to fine-tune the Pupil Size area you want to correct and decide how much you want to darken the pupil. You can use the On/Off button at the bottom of the Tool Options (circled in Figure 4.90) to toggle showing and hiding all Red Eye Correction tool edits. You can revise the Red Eye removal settings by clicking a circle to reactivate it, or use the key to remove individual red-eye corrections. If you do not like the results, you can always click the Reset button in the Tool Options panel to delete all the Red Eye Correction retouching and start over again.
Figure 4.90 The Red Eye Correction tool panel options in Red Eye mode.
This feature raises an interesting question: If you know Lightroom can repair red eye so neatly, do you really need to use the anti-red-eye flash mode? This may sound like a lazy approach to photography, but in my experience, the anti-red-eye flash mode often ruins the opportunity to grab spontaneous snapshots. There is nothing worse than seeing a great expression or something special going on between a group of people in the frame, and then having to wait a few seconds for the camera to get up to speed, firing a few pre-flashes before taking the full-flash exposure. These days I prefer to shoot using the normal flash mode and let Lightroom fix any red-eye problems that might occur.
I started with close-up view of a photograph that needed red eyes removed.
I selected the Red Eye Correction tool and clicked both eyes. This automatically got rid of the red-eye effect. I then adjusted the Darken slider so the pupils did not appear too dark.
Pet Eye mode
In animals, the pupil discoloration caused by the camera flash is more likely to be a green or yellow color. To give your favorite dog or cat a more natural look, the Red Eye Correction tool also features a Pet Eye mode. The Pet Eye controls let you adjust each pupil independently by adjusting the Pupil Size slider. You can also check the Add Catchlight box to enable adding a synthetic catchlight highlight, which you can then drag to position over each eye.
As you can see in this close-up view, the flash reflected back off the dog’s eyes.
I used the Red Eye correction tool in Pet Eye mode to correct both eyes, with the Add Catchlight option enabled.
Let’s now take a look at the Adjustment Brush, Graduated Filter, and Radial Filter tools. These are more than just tools for dodging and burning, because you have (in the case of the Adjustment Brush) a total of 16 effects to choose from, not to mention dual brush settings and an Auto Mask option. Just like the Spot Removal and Red Eye Correction tools, these tools are completely nondestructive and there is no need for Lightroom to create an edit copy of the master image first. When localized adjustments are applied to an image, the adjustments are saved as instruction edits that are automatically updated as you make further Develop module adjustments, plus you can synchronize localized adjustment work across multiple images using the Sync Settings command.
Initial Adjustment Brush options
When you first start working with the Adjustment Brush (), the panel may display all its options (Figure 4.91) or be in compact display mode (Figure 4.92). To begin with, you will be in the New mode, ready to create a fresh set of brush strokes, but first you need to choose an adjustment effect by adjusting one of the sliders, such as Temp, Tint, Exposure, or Contrast. Although very similar, the sliders aren’t all exact copies of the identically named sliders in the Basic panel. For example, the Saturation slider is actually a hybrid of the Saturation and Vibrance adjustments found in the Basic panel.
Figure 4.91 The full Adjustment Brush options.
Figure 4.92 The Adjustment Brush options in compact mode.
In Figure 4.91, the Exposure effect was selected, where positive values can be used to lighten, or negative values to darken—these are your basic dodge and burn tool settings. But you can use any combination of sliders here to establish different types of localized adjustment effects and save these as custom settings, which can be accessed via the Effect menu. If you would like a simpler interface to work with, click the disclosure triangle next to the Effect drop-down menu (circled in Figure 4.92) to collapse the slider options. In Figure 4.92, there is just an Amount slider, and whatever combination of effect settings you have selected in the Effect menu are now controlled using this single slider. You can expand the Adjustment Brush options by clicking the disclosure triangle again.
Below this are the Brush settings, where you have three sliders. The Size slider controls the overall size of the brush (Figure 4.93). You can use the and keys to make the brush bigger or smaller. Or, you can scroll with your trackpad, mouse, or tablet to vary the brush size. The inner circle represents the core brush size, while the outer circle represents the outer feather radius. As you adjust the Feather slider, the outer circle expands or contracts to indicate the hardness or softness of the brush. Or, you can use to make the brush edge harder or to make it softer. The Flow slider is kind of like an airbrush control: By selecting a low Flow setting, you can apply a series of brush strokes that successively build to create a stronger effect. You will notice that as you brush back and forth with the Adjustment Brush, the paint effect gains opacity (if you are using a pressure-sensitive tablet such as a Wacom™, the flow of the brush strokes is automatically linked to the pen pressure). It can often help to set the Flow to a low amount to begin with and use multiple brush strokes to gradually build up a particular effect. The Density slider at the bottom limits the maximum brush opacity. At a Density of 100, the flow of the brush strokes builds to maximum opacity, but if you reduce the Density, this limits the maximum opacity for the brush. In fact, if you reduce the Density and paint, you can erase the paint strokes back to a desired Density setting. When the Density is set to 0, the brush acts like an eraser. The A and B buttons can be used to create two separate brush settings so you can easily switch between two different brushes as you work. To reset the settings to 0 and clear any currently selected color, double-click Effect, or hold down the key, and Effect will change to Reset (circled in Figure 4.94). Or, you can hold down the key and click an Effect slider name to reset everything except that slider setting. If you need to reset everything (as in resetting the image without any Adjustment Brush adjustments), you can select individual brush pins to make them active and press the Delete key. Or, if you click the Reset button at the bottom, this deletes all the pin markers that have been added to an image. To exit the Adjustment Brush tool mode of operation, you can click the Close button, click the Adjustment Brush button at the top, or press . You can use the On/Off button at the bottom (circled in Figure 4.95) to toggle showing/hiding all Adjustment Brush edits.
Figure 4.93 The Adjustment Brush brush.
Figure 4.94 When the key is held down, Effect changes to Reset.
Figure 4.95 The Adjustment Brush panel Edit mode.
Now let’s look at how to work with the Adjustment Brush. Where you first click adds an edit pin to the image. This is just like any other overlay, and you can hide it using the key (or use the View ➯ Tool Overlay options to govern the show/hide behavior for these overlays). The pin is a marker for the brush strokes you are about to add and can later be used as a reference marker whenever you need to locate and edit a particular group of brush strokes. The important thing to understand here is that you click once and can keep clicking and dragging to create a single group of brush strokes. When you edit the brush strokes, you can adjust the effect slider settings for the group as a whole. So you can come back later and say “Let’s make this series of brush strokes a little stronger,” or “Let’s add more saturation.” Consequently, you only need to create new brush groups when you need to apply a different kind of adjustment to another part of the photo. Lightroom Classic CC has some improvements that should reduce the rough, jagged edges and result in smoother curves. Although not always perfectly smooth, the overall responsiveness has improved.
Localized adjustments have the same full strength as global adjustments and the effects have linear incremental behavior except for the Temp, Tint, Highlights, Shadows, and Clarity adjustments. These have nonlinear incremental behavior, which means they only increase in strength by 50% relative to the previous localized adjustment each time you add a new pin group. Lightroom also allows for “connect the dots” type drawing. (This is similar to the way you can work using the Spot Removal tool.) When painting with the Adjustment Brush, click, hold down the key, and click again to create a straight-line brush stroke between those two points.
Editing the Adjustment Brush strokes
To edit a series of brush strokes, click an existing pin marker to select it (a black dot appears in the center of the pin). This takes you into Edit mode (Figure 4.95), where you can start adding more brush strokes or edit the current brush settings. When you are done editing, press or click the New button to return to the New adjustment mode, where you can click on the image to add a new set of brush strokes. You can erase brush strokes by clicking the Erase button to enter Eraser mode, or simply hold down the key to erase as you paint. You can undo a brush stroke or series of strokes using the Undo command ( [Mac] or [PC]).
Saving effect settings
As you discover combinations of effect sliders you would like to use again, you can save these via the Effect menu (Figure 4.96). For example, you will find here a preset setting called Soften Skin that uses a combination of negative Clarity and positive Sharpness to produce a skin-smoothing effect (see page 304). Also, if you wish to use a combination of the Adjustment Brush and Graduated Filter or Radial Filter tools to apply a particular type of effect, it might be useful to save the settings used for the Adjustment Brush so these can easily be shared when using other local adjustment tools.
Figure 4.96 The Effect settings menu.
Localized adjustment position and editing
When you add a local adjustment—an Adjustment Brush, Radial Filter, or Graduated Filter—there is a context menu for the brush pins (right-click a pin to reveal), which lets you duplicate a selected adjustment or delete it (Figure 4.97). Adjustment Brush strokes can be repositioned by selecting and dragging Edit Pins. Earlier versions of Lightroom allowed you to select a pin and drag left or right to decrease or increase the strength of an effect. To do this now, you must hold down the key as you drag on a pin. You can also use the -drag (Mac) or -drag (PC) shortcut to duplicate a localized brush adjustment. This applies when selecting and editing all types of localized adjustments.
Figure 4.97 The Adjustment Brush context menu.
Exposure dodging with the Adjustment Brush
I applied some Basic adjustments to this photograph to optimize the brightness and contrast in the image.
I selected the Adjustment Brush and chose a Dodge (Lighten) setting from the Effect menu that I modified by setting the Exposure slider to +0.50. I then clicked on the photo and painted to lighten the kitten’s face.
The Auto Mask option cleverly masks the image as you paint with the Adjustment Brush. It works by analyzing the area where you click with the Adjustment Brush and applies the effect only to those areas that match the same tone and color. For Auto Mask to work, the paint strokes in a pin group do not have to all be based on the same color. As you paint, the Auto Mask resamples continuously when calculating the mask. Figure 4.98 shows an example of the Auto Mask feature in action, and the next series of steps show in detail how I was able to use successive strokes to selectively modify the sky. The Auto Mask feature works remarkably well at auto-selecting areas of a picture based on color, but to fine-tune the edges, you may need to switch back and forth with the key held down to erase those areas where the Adjustment Brush effect spills over the edges (remember, the Auto Mask option can also be used in Erase mode). Here, I was able to carefully select the blue sky and darken it. You can hold down the key (Mac) or key (PC) to temporarily switch the Adjustment Brush into Auto Mask mode (or revert back to Normal mode if Auto Mask is already selected). Although the Auto Mask can do a great job at auto-selecting the areas you want to paint, extreme adjustments can lead to ugly artifacts appearing in some parts of the image. It is always a good idea to check such adjustments at a 1:1 view to make sure the automasking hasn’t created any speckled edges. However, when editing in Version 4, the Auto Mask edges are now much smoother.
Figure 4.98 The Adjustment Brush in action in Auto Mask mode.
With the original photograph open, I began by clicking the Adjustment Brush to reveal the tool options.
I set the Exposure slider to –0.50 (to darken) and started painting. Because Auto Mask was checked, the brush darkened only the blue sky areas.
After finishing the main brush work, I fine-tuned the settings. In this step, I darkened the Exposure slider more and set the Saturation slider to –45.
Previewing the brush stroke areas
As you roll the brush over a pin marker, you’ll see a temporary overlay view of the painted region (Figure 4.99). The colored overlay represents the areas that have been painted. You can also press to switch the mask on or off and use to cycle the mask display through the red, green, white, or black overlay colors. Lightroom also has a Show Selected Mask Overlay option in the Toolbar.
Figure 4.99 An overlay view of the Adjustment Brush strokes and the Show Selected Mask Overlay option in the Toolbar (circled).
Beauty retouching using negative clarity
On page 212, I showed an example of how you could use a negative Clarity adjustment on a black-and-white image to create a diffuse printing type effect. You can also use a negative Clarity effect as an Adjustment Brush effect for softening skin tones. Personally, I have an aversion to the over-retouched look of some fashion beauty portraits, but the Soften Skin setting, which uses Clarity set to –100 and Sharpness to 25, works really well as a skin-smoothing Adjustment Brush. To illustrate how well this works, in the example opposite I used the Adjustment Brush with the Soften Skin Effect setting to retouch the skin tones in a beauty photograph. Here, I painted over the areas of the face that I felt needed softening. After adding the Soften Skin effect, I used the Spot Removal tool to clean up the photograph further.
I began with a close-up view of a beauty photograph with no localized adjustments applied.
I selected the Adjustment Brush with the Soften Skin effect and painted with the brush to soften the skin tones more.
Hand-coloring using a Color effect
The Color effect can be used to add a color overlay to your photographs (it is like working with the Brush tool in Photoshop using the Color blending mode). You can use it to change, say, someone’s hair or eye color. Or, if dealing with images that require extreme highlight recovery, using a Color effect can help burned-out highlights blend better with their surrounding areas. In the example shown here, I started with an image that had been converted to black and white and added an Adjustment Brush Color effect with Auto Mask selected. Although the image was now in black and white, Lightroom was actually referencing the underlying color data when calculating the Auto Mask. The Auto Mask feature was therefore able to do a good job of detecting the mask edges based on the underlying colors of the flower heads, stems, and leaves. You can use the color picker to sample not just from the color ramp or preview image, but from anywhere on the desktop. Click and hold in the color ramp, and then drag to anywhere you would like to sample a new color from.
Originally in color, this image was converted to black and white in Lightroom. I selected the Adjustment Brush and selected the Color effect from the Effect menu. I then clicked the color swatch to open the color picker shown here, and chose a green color to paint with.
With Auto Mask checked, I brushed along the stem and leaf.
I then created a new set of paint strokes. This time I selected a red color and began painting the flower petals, again with the Auto Mask option checked.
Localized Temperature slider adjustments
Let’s now have a look at what you can do using the Temp and Tint slider adjustments. The Temp slider can be used to adjust the white balance locally by dragging to the left to make the white point cooler or dragging to the right to make it warmer. The Tint slider lets you modify the Tint value. The Temp and Tint sliders should therefore be seen as constrained color adjustment controls that allow you to adjust the white point in localized areas. Remember that localized color adjustments, including the use of the Temp and Tint sliders, apply adjustments that are relative to everything else in the image. Therefore, as you continue working in the Develop module, the color adjustments you have made using the localized correction tools will adjust relative to any global color adjustments you might make.
For this photograph, I had already carried out most of the desired image corrections. The warm white balance that was set in the Basic panel suited the skin tones in this portrait.
Staying in the Basic panel, I adjusted the Temp slides to apply a cooler “baseline” white balance to the image.
I then selected the Adjustment Brush, adjusted the Temp slider to select a warmer white balance, and carefully painted over the face and body to apply a warm color balance that contrasted nicely with the cooler background color.
Localized Shadows adjustments
The Adjustments panel also contains Highlights, Shadows, Whites, and Blacks sliders. As you might expect, these let you manipulate the highlight and shadow areas as a localized adjustment.
In the example shown here, the photograph was shot against a black backdrop, but it was not as deep a black as I would have liked. By applying a negative Shadows adjustment as a localized adjustment, I was able to darken the background, but without darkening the subject. I also applied a second pass adjustment in which I set the Blacks slider to –30. This helped darken everything to black. Incidentally, localized Whites and Blacks adjustments are applied downstream of the global Whites and Blacks adjustments you apply via the Basic panel. These are, therefore, best used to stretch locally the tone range at the top end (using the Whites slider) or bottom end (using the Blacks slider). To perform a highlight or shadow recovery, you should use Highlights or Shadows rather than the Whites and Blacks sliders.
In this photograph, I optimized the image as usual. However, in doing so, I could not get the backdrop to go completely black.
Here, I selected the Adjustment Brush, set the Exposure slider to –0.50 and the Shadows slider to –50, and brushed over the backdrop area.
To make the backdrop even blacker, I applied a second pass painting with the brush set to –0.50 Exposure, –100 Shadows, and -30 Black. This allowed me to make the backdrop go completely to black.
Clarity and Sharpness adjustments
A Clarity setting can be used to selectively paint in more midtone contrast. In the example shown here, I used a Positive Clarity and a positive Sharpness setting to bring out more detail in the surface of the rock. I did not want to add more sharpening or clarity in the sky area, as this would have made any image noise more noticeable. With the Auto Mask option checked, I painted the rock area only, avoiding the sky area.
Whenever you adjust the Sharpness slider in the adjustment tools to add more sharpness, you are essentially adding a greater Amount value of sharpness based on the settings that have already been established in the Detail panel Sharpening section. A negative Sharpness setting in the 0 to –50 range can be used to fade out existing sharpening. Therefore, if you apply –50 sharpness, you can paint to disable any capture sharpening. As you apply a negative Sharpness in the range of –50 to –100, you start to apply anti-sharpening. This can produce a gentle lens blur effect, but you can always strengthen it by applying successive, separate Adjustment Brush groups. I show a further example of localized sharpening in Chapter 6.
A useful tip is to pump up the settings you are working with to produce a stronger effect than what is needed so you can see the results of your retouching more clearly. You can then edit the amounts applied and reduce the slider settings to achieve the desired adjustment strength.
Here, you can see that I selected the Adjustment Brush tool and adjusted the Effect settings to add 100 Clarity combined with 30 Sharpness. I then clicked on the rocks and started painting to apply the combined Clarity and Sharpness adjustment effect (with Auto Mask checked).
I applied this adjustment to the rock areas only, and you can see here an overlay view of the painted area (top) and close-up views that show the Before and After versions.
Graduated Filter tool
Everything I have described so far about working with the Adjustment Brush more or less applies to working with the Graduated Filter tool () (Figure 4.100), which allows you to add linear Graduated Filter fade adjustments. To use the tool, you click on a photo to set the start point for the Graduated Filter (the point with the maximum effect strength), drag to define the spread of the Graduated Filter, and release at the point where you want it to finish (the point of minimum effect strength). This allows you to apply linear graduated adjustments between these two points. There is no midtone control with which you can offset a Graduated Filter effect, and there are no further graduation options. If you hold down the key, Effect will change to Reset. Click this to reset all the sliders to 0 and clear any currently selected color. Or, you can hold down the key and click an Effect slider name to reset everything except that slider setting. You can also double-click slider names to reset them to a 0 setting.
Figure 4.100 The Graduated Filter tool options in expanded mode.
Graduated Filter effects are indicated by a pin marker, and you can move a Graduated Filter once it has been applied by clicking and dragging the pin. The parallel lines indicate the spread of the Graduated Filter, and you can change the width of the filter by dragging the outer lines. If you want to edit the angle of a Graduated Filter effect, you can do so by clicking and dragging the middle line.
To this photograph, I had applied just the main Basic panel adjustments to optimize the highlights, shadows, and contrast.
I clicked the Graduated Filter tool to reveal the Graduated Filter options, set the Exposure slider to 0.44, and dragged diagonally downward to lighten the top-right section of the photo.
I applied a second Graduated Filter, dragging from the top downward to lighten the Shadows.
I then dragged the Tint slider to the left to make the Graduated Filter effect more green. I also selected the Brush to mask out the tree (there is more on brush editing in the following section).
Lastly, I added two further Graduated Filters to the bottom half of the picture, where I applied positive Exposure adjustments.
Brush editing a Graduated Filter effect
When the Brush option is selected, you can brush paint to add to or erase from the mask. To edit a Graduated Filter effect in this way, click the Brush button to switch to brush editing mode, or use the keyboard shortcut to toggle between the brush editing mode and editing the Graduated Filter settings. You can then adjust the Brush parameter settings at the bottom, choosing either an A or B brush, or the Erase mode. Check the Show Selective Mask Overlay option in the Toolbar () to help visualize the extent of the Graduated Filter and the manual brush editing.
It is important to understand that two mask controls are in force here. You have a Graduated Filter mask (that you can continue to modify), plus a brush edit mask you can use to mask specific areas of an image. Therefore, you can enter brush editing mode to remove or restore areas to be affected by a Graduated Filter or Radial Filter adjustment and independently adjust the extent of the actual adjustment. The following steps show how to refine a Graduated Filter adjustment, but will also apply to working with Radial Filters as well.
I added a number of graduated filter adjustments to the image, including a darkening Exposure adjustment to the sky, which, as you can see here, covered the top section of the pagoda.
I then clicked the Brush button to enter brush editing mode. Using the Erase brush in Auto Mask mode, I erased the mask where it overlapped the top of the pagoda.
For the final version, I hid the Graduated Filter mask and pins.
Radial Filter tool
The Radial Filter () can be used to create off-center vignettes and has the same range of options as the Graduated Filter, except you will notice at the bottom of the tool options, there is a Feather slider for softening the boundary edge (Figure 4.101). To apply a Radial Filter adjustment, you simply drag in the preview image to define the area you wish to adjust. This adds an ellipse shape with four corner handles you can drag to refine the shape. You can also drag anywhere on the boundary edge to rotate the ellipse shape; plus, you can click and drag on the central pin to reposition it. If you initially hold down the key and drag, this adds a Radial Filter that scales from the anchor point. Holding down the key and dragging adds a Radial Filter scaled around the center point and constrained to a circle. Holding down the (Mac) or (PC) key and double-clicking anywhere in the preview area adds a new adjustment auto-centered within the current (cropped) image frame area. If you (Mac) or (PC) + double-click an existing Radial Filter, this will expand it to fill the current cropped image area. To exit working with the Radial Filter, you can click the Radial Filter button, use the shortcut, or double-click an existing Radial Filter adjustment to apply and dismiss. Use the shortcut to hide the bounding box.
Figure 4.101 The Radial Filter tool options.
By default, a new adjustment will have a zero effect at the center and get stronger toward the outer edges of the ellipse and beyond. You can switch this around by checking the Invert box just below the Radial Filter Feather slider, or use the apostrophe key shortcut () to toggle between these two modes. As with all localized adjustments, if you hold down the key and click the pin, you can drag left and right to dynamically modify the current active slider settings, making them increase or decrease in strength. Lastly, you can use (Mac) or (PC) plus a click and drag to duplicate an existing Radial Filter adjustment.
There are lots of potential uses for this localized adjustment. The most obvious example is you can use it to apply more controllable vignette adjustments to darken or lighten the corners. For example, instead of simply lightening or darkening using the Exposure slider, you can use the Highlights or Shadows sliders to achieve more subtle types of adjustments. Or, you might want to adjust the Saturation setting so that either the corners or center of the image appear desaturated or more saturated. I mostly use the Radial Filter in preference to the Adjustment Brush as a tool for applying localized adjustments to specific areas of a photograph.
As with the Graduated Filter, you can add multiple radial filter adjustments to an image. Once added, a Radial Filter adjustment is represented by a pin marker. If you click a pin, this makes it active. You will see the elliptical outline of a Radial Filter adjustment, and can then re-edit the adjustment settings.
I opened an image in Lightroom and selected the Radial Filter tool. I held down the (Mac) or (PC) key and double-clicked inside the preview area to add a new adjustment that filled the current frame area from the center pin outward. I set the Exposure slider to −1.29 to darken the outer edges.
I then dragged the handles to realign the Radial Filter effect so the Radial Filter adjustment was centered around the stamen in the middle of the flower.
Correcting edge sharpness with the Radial Filter
Another thing the Radial Filter can be useful for is sharpening the edges of a photo. If you own decent lenses, edge sharpness shouldn’t be a problem, but with lesser optics, selectively giving the edges an extra sharpening does help. For example, I sometimes like to photograph using a Sony RX-100 camera, which is a great little compact camera that shoots raw images, but the edge sharpness is not as sharp as what I am used to with my regular digital SLR lenses. To address this, I have found it helps if I use the Radial Filter to apply a Sharpness adjustment that gains strength from the center outward.
Now, it has to be said that the falloff in sharpness toward the edges is more tangential in nature, and a standard/radial sharpening boost is not the optimum way to sharpen the corner edges. For example, DxO Optics Pro features a special edge-sharpness correction that is built into its auto-lens corrections. Even so, the following example shows how you can make some improvements using the Radial Filter.
I shot this photograph using a Sony RX-100 compact camera. The image quality is very good, though there is a noticeable falloff in sharpness toward the edges of the frame. In this first step, I went to the Detail panel and applied the global sharpening settings shown here.
Having applied a global sharpening adjustment, I then selected the Radial Filter tool, held down (Mac) or (PC), and double-clicked inside the preview area to auto-center the ellipse shape, so the adjustment effect I was about to apply would extend from the center to the outer edges. I also needed to make sure the Invert Mask box was deselected so that the effect was strongest at the outer edges. I then adjusted the Sharpness slider, setting it to 66.
Here, you can see a comparison of the bottom-right corner of the image: The version on the left shows how the image looked with the global sharpening only, and on the right, how it looked with additional edge sharpening using the Radial Filter adjustment.
In addition to Auto Mask, Lightroom also offers Range Masking with Color and Luminance Range Masking controls. The Range Mask options are located at the bottom of the Adjustment Brush, Graduated Filter, and Radial Filter panels. For example, if you apply a localized adjustment and the Color Range Mask option is selected (Figure 4.102), you can add a mask to the localized adjustment based on a sampled color. To do this, select the Eyedropper tool (or hold down the key [Mac], key [PC]). With a single click you can restrict the Color Range Mask area based on a sampled color, such as a blue sky. The Amount slider can then be used to adjust the depth of the Color Range Mask selection. Dragging the slider to the left narrows the range, while dragging to the right widens, but you will notice how the Color Range Mask selection becomes smoother and more diffuse as you do this. For more precise masking, a lower Amount setting is best. To preview a Color Range Mask, you can hold down the key as you drag the Amount slider to see a temporary black-and-white mask preview. To refine a Color Range Mask selection, you can click again to sample a new color or you can marquee drag to make a broader color range selection. To add more sample points, click or drag again with the key held down. By doing this, you can sample up to five color points. However, as you exceed that number, the oldest sample points will be removed. To exit the Eyedropper mode, click the Eyedropper tool button again or press the key. Use to toggle the colored overlay.
Figure 4.102 The Range Mask Color mask controls.
Alternatively, you can select the Range Mask Luminance mode (Figure 4.103). You can then use the Range slider to control the range of luminance tones that are selected within a localized adjustment selection. To do this, drag the shadow (left) and highlight (right) handles on the slider to control the range of luminance tones. The Smoothness slider can be used to modify the smoothness of the selection, which is similar to adjusting the Amount slider in the Color Range mode. As with the Range Mask in Color mode, you can hold down the key to see a black-and-white mask visualization here.
Figure 4.103 The Range Mask Luminance mask controls.
The Color Range and Luminance Range mask controls make it much easier to selectively mask localized adjustments. Previously, only the Auto Mask was available, and the mask edges could sometimes end up being quite blocky, so you would see edge artifacts. By comparison, the Range Mask edges are more diffuse and have much smoother edge blends. In extreme cases, you are still likely to see some edge artifacts, but this can be mitigated by increasing the Color Range Mask Amount slider or increasing the Luminance Range Mask Smoothness slider.
It is also possible to combine a Range Mask with the new, improved Auto Mask, although this does add more complexity. If working with the Adjustment Brush, you should set the Develop settings and paint broadly over the subject with Auto Mask switched off and without aiming for a perfect outline. Next, select Color or Luminance from the Range Mask menu. In the Range Mask Color mode, select the Eyedropper tool and click to sample the colors you want the adjustment to affect. Having done that, adjust the Color Range Mask Amount slider to fine-tune the adjustment. Or, select the Range Mask Luminance mode and proceed to adjust the Range and Smoothness sliders. Having done that, you can revert to working with the Adjustment brush in Add or Subtract modes with Auto Mask on or off to refine the original adjustment selection.
If editing a Graduated Filter or Radial Filter adjustment, the best approach is to add a Filter effect, adjust the Develop sliders, and select Color or Luminance from the Range Mask menu. Refine the mask as usual by sampling colors/adjusting the luminance range values and then smoothing. Lastly, switch to the Brush edit mode working in the Add or Erase mode. Adding reveals (dependent on the Filter Mask and Range Mask selection), while erasing hides the adjustment completely. You can do this with Auto Mask on or off.
Range Masking and process versions
As I explained at the beginning of this chapter, adding Range Masking to the localized adjustment tools has meant introducing a new process version: Version 4. Version 4 and Version 3 are identical except with regard to how selective edits are masked using either the new Range Masking tools or Auto Mask (because Auto masking has also been updated). For example, if the edited image in Step 3 were to be changed from Version 4 to Version 3, it would look like the Step 2 screen shot.
Color Range Masking
With this photograph, I wanted to use the Graduated Filter tool to selectively darken the sky, but without darkening the tree.
I selected the Graduated Filter tool and added a darkening filter adjustment to the sky using a –1.75 Exposure and a +50 Saturation setting.
I went to the Range Mask menu and selected Color. I then selected the Eyedropper tool and clicked and dragged on the blue sky areas I wished to define as being part of the adjustment. This automatically added a mask, based on the sampled colors, that masked the tree from the Graduated Filter adjustment.
Luminance Range Masking
I first optimized the Basic panel settings and set Clarity to +100.
I added a darkening Graduated Filter to the left side, setting the Exposure slider to –1.85 and the Highlights slider to –100.
In the Range Mask options, I selected Luminance from the Range mask menu and dragged the Range slider shadow handle inward to the 50 setting. This refinement to the Graduated Filter masked the deep shadow areas.
I held down the key to see a mask preview as I continued to drag the Range slider shadow handle to 85, which protected more of the shadows.
I dragged the Smoothness slider, while I again held down the key. The mask preview here shows the Range Mask with a Smoothness setting of 70.
Here’s the final image. Besides the settings applied in Step 5, I also added a second Luminance Range Masked Graduated Filter to the right side of the photograph.
Every step you apply in the Develop module is recorded as a separate history state in the History panel (Figure 4.104), which is located just below Presets and Snapshots panels (Figure 4.105). The History feature in Lightroom has a unique advantage over Photoshop in that the history steps are always saved after you quit Lightroom. The History panel is therefore useful because it allows you to revert to any previous Develop module setting and access an unlimited number of history states without incurring the efficiency overhead that is normally associated with Photoshop image editing and History. However, keeping multiple history states can lead to the catalog ballooning in size. There are several ways you can navigate through a file’s history. You can go to the History panel and click to select a history step. This will let you jump quickly to a specific state. Or, you can roll the pointer over the list of history states in the History panel to preview them in the Navigator panel and use this to help select the one you are after. Figure 4.104 shows how the History panel looked after I had made a series of Develop adjustments to the image. Here, the original history state is date stamped at the time of import and subsequent history states listed in ascending order. You will also notice that the numbers in the middle column show the number of units up or down that the settings were shifted, and the right column lists the new settings values.
Figure 4.104 A close-up view of the History panel.
Figure 4.105 The steps applied to the image are recorded to the History panel in the order in which they were applied.
You can also choose Edit ➯ Undo or use (Mac) or (PC) to undo the last step. As you repeatedly apply an undo, the history steps are removed from the top of the list one by one, but you can restore these steps by choosing Edit ➯ Redo or using the (Mac) or ( (PC) shortcut. However, if you carry out a series of undos in this way and then quit Lightroom, you will not be able to recover those history steps later. Also, if you click to select a specific history step and then adjust any of the Lightroom Develop settings, this, too, will erase all the previously recorded history steps from that point onward in history. Lastly, if you click the Clear button in the History panel, you can delete all the history steps currently associated with a photo or a selection of photos made in the Filmstrip. Clearing the history can be useful if the number of history steps is getting out of control and you need to manage the history list better.
Another way to manage your history states is to use the Snapshots panel. Snapshots can be used to store specific history states as a saved image setting (Figure 4.106). It is often more efficient to use the Snapshots panel to save specific history states, as this can make it easier for you to retrieve history states that are of particular importance or usefulness, instead of having to wade through a long list of previously recorded history states from the History panel.
Figure 4.106 The Snapshots panel with a saved snapshot selected.
To use the Snapshots feature, use the current image state, or select a history state you want to record as a snapshot, and click the + button in the Snapshots panel. You can also use the context menu shown in Figure 4.107 to create a snapshot from a selected history state. This then opens the New Snapshot dialog (Figure 4.108) and lets you create a new snapshot. You can use the provided date/time stamp as the name for the new snapshot or rename the snapshot using a descriptive term, and then click Create. Snapshots are always arranged alphabetically in the Snapshots panel, and the Navigator panel preview will update as you hover over snapshots in the list. To load a snapshot, simply click a snapshot to select it. If you want to update the settings for a particular snapshot, you can do so via the context menu: Right-click a snapshot and select Update with Current Settings (see Figure 4.109) to update a snapshot with the current history state. You can therefore use the Snapshots panel to save multiple variations of a master photo, such as a color-enhanced or a black-and-white version of the original. Also, unlike history steps, Snapshots can be saved to the XMP metadata and therefore made readable in Camera Raw, or vice versa. To delete a snapshot, just click the minus button.
Figure 4.107 The History panel context menu.
Figure 4.108 The New Snapshot dialog.
Figure 4.109 You can use the context menu to choose Update with Current Settings.
The Sync Snapshots command in the Develop module Settings menu (see page 333) is particularly useful for updating existing snapshots with new settings. For example, if you have just spent some time removing blemishes or cropping an image, it can be handy to use the Sync Snapshots command to update the Spot Removal and Crop settings across all the previously created snapshots.
When I imported this image, I created a date-stamped snapshot. Then after editing the photograph, I created a new snapshot and named it “Color version.”
I then converted the image to black and white and created another snapshot, naming it “Black & white version.”
How to synchronize snapshots
In this example, the current Develop settings were saved as a new snapshot, which I named “Color version.”
I continued editing the photo and saved a new black-and-white snapshot. However, this snapshot now included a lot of spotting work that I carried out since saving the previous snapshot.
To update the other snapshots, I went to the Settings menu and chose Sync Snapshots.
This opened the Synchronize With Snapshots dialog. I made sure only the Spot Removal option was checked and clicked Synchronize to update all the other snapshots in the Snapshots panel with the most recent Spot Removal settings.