Using Radial Filters in Adobe Lightroom

  • Thread starter EmeraldHike
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May 10, 2021
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  • #1

Stacking Radial Filters for Cool Lighting Effects in Adobe Lightroom​

I was looking at a photo this morning of an old house near the Maine coast. I thought about how beautiful the house was with the green grass and the sun peeking from behind the roof. It really was a very nice scene and after pondering it for a few seconds, I determined that the whole attraction I had to it stemmed from its lighting. Knowing what I know, I could tell that the photo had been edited. Certain elements were brightened up and others would brought to the forefront. Whatever the editor did, they certainly made the photo look stunning. It was well worth the time taken to fix things up.

That photo got me thinking. It really is about lighting, isn’t it? Lighting creates mood and mood creates emotion. I can’t even count how many times I’ve edited a photo in post processing to enhance the lighting. Almost every single time, I brought a lifeless picture one step from the trash bin back to an appreciable something to look at. And rarely is it just one lighting edit. Oftentimes, it’s many edits. It takes many different filters either sitting side by side or on top of one another to get the effect your after.

In today’s post, I’m going to quickly edit a photo of a wedding couple by adding a few radial filters, along with some other random edits. I’ll be doing all this in Adobe Lightroom. The goal of this post is to show you just how easy it really is to take a dull looking photo and make it stand out from others in its class. There will only be a few steps in this post, so it’ll be a quick read.

The Demo Photo​

I decided to go with this photo because it’s always fun to edit how couples look on their big day. Also, because this picture is relatively low key, it’ll be interesting to bring some of the softer elements out in the open so they’re more visible. Here’s the photo.


Adding Some Radial Filters​

I’ve already got the photograph opened up in the Develop module of Lightroom. For this photo, I think I’ll apply what I call the snowman effect. This is basically two radial filters stacked on top of on another in the shape of a two-piece snowman. I’ll apply similar lighting to both filters. The reason I’m doing this is because the couple in the photo is obviously the main attraction. I want to accentuate them.

To apply the radial filters, I’ll head over to the right column and click on the Radial Filter icon.


Next, when the sliders for this filter appear, I’ll go ahead and draw the first radial around the top portion of the couple.


After that, I’ll move over to the sliders in the right column and make some adjustments.


For this post, I won’t go crazy. I’ll increase the Exposure, add a little Contrast and do a few other things.


Next, I’d like to create a new, but very similar, radial filter to sit below this current one. To do this, I’ll click the New link that’s above the sliders.


Then, I’ll draw the next radial.


I’ll then go ahead and make similar changes to the lower radial sliders.

Adjusting All Sliders Simultaneously​

Right now, I’m not sure how much effect I would like to add for each radial. To experiment with the overall amount of effect, I can collapse all the sliders so all I have to do is push one Amount slider, which will control everything that I’ve already pushed. To view the Amount slider I’m referring to here, I’ll click on the small dark triangle that sits in the upper right of the sliders.


From here, I can increase or decrease the amount of effect I’m seeing on the image. After I’m finished with everything, I’ll click the Done button that’s located underneath the image itself.

Editing in the Basic Panel​

To finish up this image, I’m going to make a few quick adjustments in the Basic panel. Nothing crazy, but I’d like to at least reduce the Exposure in the surrounding photograph so the couple stands out in the light I just added. If things in the center get too dark, I can always go back to the radial filters and increase the Exposure there. Here are the adjustments I made in the Basic panel.


Here’s the final image.


Obviously, I could have edited things a lot more, but that wasn’t my intention. I wanted to show you how to edit with the radial filters, not what I edited with it. Overall, I think things came out well.


I hope I clearly explained how to edit with multiple radial filters in Adobe Lightroom. If you have any questions or concerns regarding this post, please let me know in the comment section below. Thanks for reading!


May 10, 2021
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Editing a Photo with the Radial Filter in Adobe Lightroom​

I have covered so many filter tools on this website already, but I’m not sure that I’ve discussed the Radial Filter in Adobe Lightroom yet. I’ll do that today, but let me warn you that it’s strikingly similar to the Graduated Filter and the Radial Filter in Camera Raw. Also, it’s really almost the same thing as the Graduated Filter in Lightroom. All of these filters work the same way. They select an area that you’re able to modify by pushing sliders that are similar to those found in their respective Basic panels.

In today’s post, I’d like to walk you through the process of adding some additional light and warmth to a couple in love. They are hugging one another in the snowfall and I feel that they should be the center of attention in a way that’s more than they are now. I’d like to work with the Radial Filter to enhance the area on top of and directly around the couple and then I’d like to use the sliders in the Basic panel to slightly reduce the visibility of the surrounding areas. All of this will hopefully accentuate the people in the photo to show that they are the most important aspects of the photograph.

Demo Photo​

Below is the photo I’m referring to. While the clarity can use a bit of help, I think I’ll be able to work with what I have. The result will be much better.


Introducing the Radial Filter Tool​

I already have the photo imported into Lightroom and selected in the Develop module. From here, I’ll go ahead and selected the Radial Filter tool by clicking on it up in the toolbar or by using the keyboard shortcut of Shift+M.


After I select this tool, I’m going to choose a preset from the Effect drop-down menu. The reason I do this is to reset my sliders and to give a small bump to the slider I’m most interested in working with. In this case, since I want to brighten the subjects in the photo, I’ll select the Dodge preset from the menu that appears.


After that, I’ll take a look at the resulting sliders.


As you can see, almost all of the sliders are centered. The Exposure slider is pushed slightly to the right. I’ll go ahead and push that slider to the right some more, just so I can see a difference between the tool and the original image as I draw my radial.

From here, I’ll head down to the bottom of the right panel and check the Invert box. From past experience, I know that this Radial Filter tool defaults to placing any slider effect outside of the radial itself. Since I know I want the effect inside the radial today, checking the Invert box is the way to go.


And finally, I’ll draw a radial to get a picture of what’s going on.


Customizing the Radial​

Before I go any further, I’d like to link to a few posts I wrote in the past that may help you with this family of tools. I’ve gone over a few different types of examples, so I think, along with this post, they’ll round out your knowledge on the topic. Remember, Adobe Camera Raw is much like Lightroom in this regard.

How to Use the Radial Filter in Adobe Camera Raw

Beautifying an Image with the Graduated Filter in Adobe Lightroom

Using the Graduated Filter Brush Tool to Erase in Adobe Camera Raw

How To Use Multiple Graduated Filters in Adobe Camera Raw

Because I’ve previously written so much about these filters, I’ll only briefly cover the next few steps.

Since I can clearly see the increased exposure in the center of the radial, I’m free to resize it any way I’d like. In this case, I’d like it if the radial almost entirely encapsulated the couple in the photo. To do this, I’ll click and drag the edges of the oval and pull outward.


To rotate the oval as I did above, I positioned my mouse pointer just outside the oval and when the pointer turned into a curved double-arrow, I clicked and dragged. It’s really that easy.

Okay, the next task I need to take care of is the softness of the radial’s edge. I want this lighting to look natural, so I’ll go really soft with this one. To do this, I’ll push the Feather slider to the right somewhat.


As I do this, I’ll notice that any effect that was inside the radial becomes somewhat diminished. I’ll head back up to the sliders to add some additional exposure as well as introduce a few other things.


That looks pretty good. Since I’m happy with my results, I’ll go ahead and press the Done button to exit the Radial Filter tool and to return to the Basic panel.


Adusting Via the Basic Panel​

Sometimes, when there isn’t a lot of differentiation between the subject of a photo and the background, we, as editors, have to create some. With regards to the image I’m currently editing, I lightened up the subjects, but I’d also like to somewhat darken the background. To accomplish this, I’ll simply reduce the Exposure value in the Basic panel to -1.25 by pushing the respective slider to the left.


Doing this truly sets the subjects of this image apart.

The Final Edited Image​

This simple editing method is a really great way to add drama to a photograph. Within just a few minutes, I reduced the visibility of the background and brought out the subjects of this photo. Let’s take a look at the result.


I think that looks really good. Let’s take a look at the before and after. It’s not dramatic, but it’s fine for my purposes.


I hope I clearly explained how to use the Radial Filter Tool in Adobe Lightroom. If you have any questions or concerns, please leave them in the comment section below. Thanks for reading!

COMMENT: I hope you can help me. I love LR - I'm using LR CC Classic. Question: in using the radial filter, any changes I make are global; they are not limited to the circle/oval that I have selected in the photo, regardless of the “invert” box selection. I can send you screen shots…but for now that is my question…I am very stuck with solving this. How do I isolate and adjustments I make to the specific radial I'm working on? Your help will be very very helpful