Using the Lightroom Radial Filter for Portraits

I love using the Lightroom Radial Filter. It’s my most used of the Lightroom CC local adjustment tools. One of our clients even calls it the “instant spotlight” tool.

The Radial Filter Tool

This is the Lightroom Radial Filter icon

With the Lightroom Radial Filter, it’s possible to add that light back into the subject’s face by simply drawing a circle and opening up the shadow detail. In portrait photography, it’s not unusual for a professional photographer to use something called a “fill card” to reflect light back into the subject’s face. But the Lightroom Radial Filter can add a spot-of-light anywhere you want it  (you won’t need to learn how to use a fill card!) and a portrait is the perfect way to demonstrate exactly how I make use of the Lightroom Radial Filter.

The Radial Filter is also great for landscapes. And, when used in combination with the Gradient Filter, you can add amazing depth and contrast to specific areas of your photos. If you would like another video tutorial for using the Radial Filter, watch the “Lightroom Layering Techniques with the Radial and Gradient Filter.” In the tutorial, I develop an ordinary capture into beautiful tableaux using one of our students’ photos from Namibia, Africa.

For further reading on the radial filter, check out the online help from Adobe: Lightroom CC Manual on Using the Radial Filter.

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I like the video about layer techniques. There are a lot of things you can do in lightroom without having to switch to photoshop. You only have to know how to do it!


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