How to use Graduated filter in Lightroom for Landscape Photographs

Lightroom has become the favorite software for photographers who likes to get the job done in a swift manner. In this post let us look into one tool in Lightroom known as Graduated filter in Develop module.

Graduated filter is one of the Local correction tools in Develop Module, Local correction tools helps us to adjust part of the image, whereas global correction tools helps to adjust the complete image.

Graduated filter tool can be activated by clicking the fourth icon below the Histogram, once you activated the tool there will be a bunch of sliders(adjustable) drops down right below the tool.

Tip: The keyboard shortcut to activate the Graduated filter is “M”, the tool can be activated from Library module also.

If you press “M” from Library module the most selected photograph will be opened in develop module with the Graduated filter tool activated over the Photograph, the cursor becomes a plus sign once the tool is activated.

How to use Graduated filter in Lightroom for Landscape Photographs

Once you activated the tool, the applied Graduated filters are shown as grey pins(circled in red), the tool is right below the Histogram.

If there are already some Graduated filter(s) applied over the photograph those filter(s) will be displayed as pins(a grey dot), if you click the pin which means that filter is active and the respective masked area will be displayed along with the adjustments whatever you do is applicable only to that filter masked area. If you want to apply a new filter you should start applying one over the place you want as fresh one.

How to use Graduated filter in Lightroom for Landscape PhotographsOnce you activated the tool the respective dropdown menu(red color rectangle) for the tool comes down and once you click a pin(green color circled) the respective graduation appears and the other pin which is inactive is red circled.

Once you apply the new filter you can make the adjustments as you want with the sliders on the top right side. You can adjust right from Exposure, White Balance and you may choose to apply a color over the masked area also.

How to use Graduated filter in Lightroom for Landscape Photographs

All the above sliders are adjustable in both positive and negative ways, clicking reset at the bottom will bring the slider to middle position.

Generally Lightroom tools are intuitive and gives real time visual results, it just takes sometime to learn and memorizing the keyboard shortcuts.

Here is the Before and after, the before one is SOOC(Straight Out Of Camera)

How to use Graduated filter in Lightroom for Landscape Photographs


After doing some basic corrections which includes, Cropping, White Balance, Exposure, Sharpening, Tone curve adjustments and applying Lens profile corrections below is the Final output.

How to use Graduated filter in Lightroom for Landscape Photographs

Hope this tutorial helps you using the Graduated filter in Lightroom in a best way possible. Generally this tool is most helpful in Landscape photographs but there are no rules, you can use it whatever the photograph you feel like applying it.

Happy processing.

Navaneethan Viswanathan (best known as Navanee Viswa) is a professional photographer based in Chennai. After completion of his Engineering and Management degrees he worked as a Civil Engineer for almost 10 years and slowly realised that his true passion was in building good photographs rather than building a structured construction. This made him quit his job and become a full time photographer to pursue his passion. Now he specialises in Wedding photography, he does Product photography and Industrial photography as well.

Navaneeth is a trekker and traveller, who enjoys photographing things he comes across during his travels. He contributes articles to photography websites like Digital Photography School , and he also maintains a photography blog. His works have been exhibited at the photography exhibition organised as part of Art Chennai 2012. His works have been chosen as best entries in on-line galleries like One EyelandHe maintains his own blog and write about photography and Lightroom there"