Doing Local Corrections in Lightroom

One of the huge benefits of Photoshop is with its ability to have multiple layers. By having multiple layers on an image you can fine tune and control the image in many ways and really have full creative control to be able to make anything that your mind can think of. With Lightroom there is no concept of layers, it’s really an application more focused on organizing your images and editing them by doing simple edits. With that being said though there are some ways that you can refine only certain parts of an image in Lightroom.

Lets start with a really great tool the adjustment brush. This will allow us to adjust only a part of the image by painting on the adjustments. To get started just click on the brush icon right under the histogram in the Develop module.

Lets start with a pretty normal landscape image. With any DSLR the dynamic range that you have is no where near what our brain processes when we look at an image. So normally as photographers we are always picking to expose for highlights or shadows but can never get both exposed properly. In this same image the foreground is exposed pretty well however the sky is lacking much of the detail that was there and the depth of the clouds.

lightroom brushes

I am going to click on the brush icon to open up the adjustment brush section and then change the exposure to be a negative (to darken the sky), adjust the contrast a little to give more contrast to the sky as well as a few small changes to clarity and saturation.

lightroom brushes adjustments

Then just simply brush on these adjustments to the sky and you can quickly paint the sky in darker! One thing you might want to also do is turn on the Auto Mask which is in the brush settings. This will help to make the area you brush in be kept to the sky and not spill over to the other parts of the image. Here is the difference after we darkened in the sky and it only took a few seconds.

lightroom brushes

The really cool thing about using a brush in Lightroom is that you can use multiple brushes. So if I wanted to darken the sky but then lighten a different part of the image, or make another part of the image a little less saturation you can create as many adjustment masks as you need to. You will notice that once you started brushing in your first adjustments there was a little round pin that showed up in Lightroom. You can hover over this pin to see the mask that you have painted in and if you need to delete the changes you have done can click the circle and then hit delete to remove this entire mask and its changes. To add a new mask just click the new button and now you will see a new circle appear with a + inside it.

using lightroom brushes

Another type of local adjustment you can make is by using the Lightroom Clone/Heal Brush. This is great for removing dust spots or other little imperfections in lightroom. Just click on the circle icon to the left of the adjustment brush to open up the details of this tool.

lightroom heal brush

Here just select the size and opacity and then click on your target spot. If you choose the heal option which works great for dust spots it will pick a nearby section and blend in that section into the target to effectively remove the spot. If something on the section it is using isn’t right you can always drag and move that circle to another part of the image to use for the sample. All you have to do is click on the sample circle and move it around. You can also click on the target circle and will see it changes your cursor so that you can make the size larger and smaller on the fly.

Another really great local adjustment is the graduated filter. Check out this tutorial for more information on using the graduated filter in Lightroom.

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Author: Mark

Mark is a fine art wedding and portrait photographer from Northern California. He has been passionate about photography since childhood and started his studio 12 years ago to bring a fresh style of photography to the wedding and portrait world.

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