Lightroom : The Graduated Filter

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It is great to see my Long Exposure Photography presets being applied to the work of other photographers. One of my favourite Lightroom 4 Presets supplied with the eBook has to be “FlixelPix : Winter Long” it enhances the sky, smooths the grain of the water but more importantly it adds a cold chill to the image.

Lightroom AdjustmentThe sky can be one of the first areas to ‘blow out’ or overexpose in long exposure images. A simple graduated filter applied across the bright sky line allows selective exposure reduction.

As you can see by the sliders I only made a small adjustment to the exposure but by doing this in addition to an increase in saturation and clarity adds a bit of drama and tone.

The graduated filter tool is a particularly useful way of adding selective adjustments and you can add the graduation as spread or tight across the image as you like.

Using the Temperature control slider within a graduated filter temperature can also improve images captured in mixed-lighting conditions. Remember the tool can be used in any direction it doesn’t always have to be perfectly horizontal.

[box]Shortcut : Click D to enter the Develop Module. Click M to open the Graduated Filter Settings.[/box]

Graduated Filter Controls

Temp : Adjusts the color temperature of an area of the image, making it warmer or cooler.
Tint : Compensates for a green or magenta color cast.
Exposure : Sets the overall image brightness.
Highlights : Recovers detail in overexposed highlight areas of an image.
Shadows : Recovers detail in underexposed shadow areas of an image.
Brightness  : Adjusts image brightness, mainly affecting midtones. {Rarely used}
Contrast : Adjusts image contrast, mainly affecting midtones.  {Rarely used}
Saturation : Adjusts the vividness of the color.
Clarity : Adds depth to an image by increasing local contrast.
Sharpness : Enhances edge definition to bring out details in the photo. Negatives blurs.
Noise : Reduces luminance noise.
Moiré : Removes moiré artifacts, or color aliasing.
Defringe : Removes fringe colors along edges.

I use the Graduated Filter tool quite a lot on long exposure landscape photographs and they can also be saved as Lightroom presets so building a library of your common adjusts is worth considering to speed up image processing. The top image was processed with the Lightroom 4 Preset Winter Long. Also check out the other Lightroom 4 presets here.


David is a documentary and landscape photographer covering everything from dramatic long exposure landscape photography through to live music. David is a former Official Fujifilm X Photographer.

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