Introduced around the time of Lightroom 5, one of the best-kept-Lightroom secrets is the Radial Filter tool.
Most of the edits that we make in the Develop Module and other panels apply to the whole image. However, the Radial Filter is one of those tools that give you the option to target effects and adjustments to a certain area within your photograph.
This is super helpful in post-processing since there are so many scenarios that we need to be able to tweak one specific area, but leave the rest of the image as is.
Let’s dive into the Radial Filter and my favorite secrets on how you can use it to enhance your images.
Where to find the radial filter and how to add it?
The Radial Filter is found in the Develop Module on the right-hand side. It’s essentially just a small little circle icon at the top of your toolbox. Located between the brush tool and the graduated filter tool, just below the histogram.
Click on it to select it.
When you click the circle icon, the Radial Filter toolbox will open up.
The Lightroom Radial Filter opens up a circular adjustment tool. It’s a great way to create a vignette effect, draw attention to a specific subject within the image or a particular spot in your photograph.
To apply a radial filter, click and drag a circle over an area of your photo.
You can re-adjust the shape, size, and position of your radial filter by using the small pins on the outside of the circle or just dragging the full radial filter to a new location on your image.
Once you’ve got your selected area, this is where the magic of the Radial Filter really starts to happen.
Inverting the Mask
There is a checkbox that allows you to decide whether the adjustments you make are applied outside or inside this circle you have created. This is known as the Invert mask Checkbox.
By default, if you do not check the box, the adjustments are applied OUTSIDE of the circle.
By checking the Invert Mask checkbox, you will now be making adjustments inside the circle.
Like everything, there is a fine line between balancing necessary adjustments and going overboard with radial filters. Too much tweaking can result in unrealistic images.
One way to avoid this is using the Feather slider. This slider adjusts the softness of the edges of your radial selection.
The higher your feather value, the more blended your adjustments will appear. (I like to keep my feathering values high personally because I find that if the value is too low my radial filter adjustments start to stand out in a negative way within the image)
Lightroom allows you to brush on more or less of the effect beyond the circle you have created with the brush option.
If you select the “Brush” option at the very top of your tool panel, this opens a new section of the Radial Filter panel altogether.
The default setting automatically will be set to ADDING more effects but you can choose the “ERASE” option next to the brush settings if you are looking to remove some of the effects.
Lightroom Keyboard Shortcuts for the Radial Filter
Activate The Radial Filter tool
• Shift + M
• Press and hold Shift + drag, to create an adjustment that is constrained to a circle.
• While dragging one of the four handles to resize an adjustment, press and hold the Shift key, to preserve the aspect ratio of the adjustment shape.
• While an adjustment is selected, press the Delete key to delete the adjustment.
Adjustments with maximum coverage
• Press Command/Control and double-click an empty area, to create an adjustment that is centered and covers the cropped image area.
• Press Command/Control and double-click within an existing adjustment, to expand that adjustment to cover the cropped image area.
• Double-click without pressing the Cmd/Ctrl key commits and dismisses the Radial Filter tool.
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