In this article, I am going to take a little look at how to use the Graduated Filter in Lightroom Classic. It’s terrific for highlight and shadow recovery in landscapes, evening out backgrounds on images, bringing out foreground details and so much more.

Finding the Graduated Filter

Head over to the Develop module in Lightroom Classic. Look just under the Histogram, and on the right-hand side, you should see a row of icons. The fourth one from the left is the Graduated Filter — the keyboard shortcut is M. Once you click in, you will see the sliders, similar to what’s in the Basic editing panel.

Using the Graduated Filter

You can drag your filter from either side of your image toward the middle. Or from the top, bottom or from a diagonal direction. You can turn the Mask feature on (keyboard shortcut is O), which helps you see where the graduated filter thins out. You can even change the color of the mask (Shift + O and cycle through the options).

You can add new additional Graduated Filters to your image by tapping NEW; each new filter adds a pin. Each pin is then editable by clicking it (make sure Show Edit Pins is set to Always, at the bottom left of image panel).

Editing your filters

Once you have your filter set, you can then select from the various sliders to edit your selection. This includes Highlights, Shadows, Exposure, Contrast, etc. to add depth and dimension to your image, or to recover highlights and shadows.

You can even alter Temp, Tint, Hue and Saturation. You can grab a slider, moving it left and right, or you can adjust the amount digitally (on the right) by typing in the numeric values. Double-clicking Effect resets all the sliders to default 0. Alternatively, double-clicking the slider resets that single slider.

Using the brush

The other unique feature is the brush tool, as opposed to the Adjustment Brush tool. It appears just below the brush icon, but it is the word Brush. This allows you to brush in or out various areas of the mask. Toggle between brush and eraser mode with the Alt key (Option on a Mac), to dial in where you want the mask to appear.

Finishing off

Once you have your desired image in Graduated Filters, simply click Done on the bottom right of the image panel to revert to the main editing panels. You can revisit and re-edit your images but clicking on the Edit area in the Graduated Filter section in Lightroom.

Want to learn more about Lightroom Classic? Check out this tutorial I did on using the Print module.

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