Shared settings for the Local Adjustment Tools

Shared settings for the Local Adjustment Tools

Estimated reading time: 16 minutes

Learning Adobe ® Lightroom – Develop Module

For the next few months, we will explore the Local Adjustment Tools in detail. But before we dive into what the Graduated Filter, the Radial Filter, and the Adjustment Brush can do, we start by looking into the settings these three Tools share.

Adjustment Tool Overlays

Adobe ® Lightroom offers some customizations regarding the Overlays and Edit Pins for the Local Adjustment Tools. These Overlays and Pins are only visible if you have opened the appropriate Adjustment Tool. For example, suppose you have opened the Radial Filter. In that case, you will only see the Overlay for the active Radial Filter and the Pins for these types of Filters, but not for existing Graduated Filters.

Overlay Adjustments

You can enable/disable the Overlay by checking/unchecking the checkbox “Show Selected Mask Overlay” in the little Toolbar below your image, which opens when you enter into one of the Local Adjustment Tools. You can also use the Tools Menu -> Adjustment Mask Overlay -> Hide/Show Overlay or press the -Key on your keyboard to do so.

Tools Menu to adjust the Mask Overlay

However, you might be drawing a green overlay onto some grass, which means the Overlay will be hard to see, even if you allow Adobe ® Lightroom to show it. The Tools Menu -> Adjustment Mask Overlay enables you to choose between a red, green, black, or white overlay. A quick way to change the Overlay color is to hit to cycle through the possibilities. Choose the color that suits your needs for your photograph.

For example, in the next figure, I selected a white Tool overlay.

White Adjustment Tool Overlay

This choice works somewhat ok for the little river, but it does not work for the snow. Changing the Overlay color to, for example, red like in the next image will make it easier to figure out which areas are affected and which are not.

Red Adjustment Tool Overlay

Edit Pin Adjustments

The last setting that is only affecting the Overlay but not the image below is for you to choose when to show the Edit Pins. These Pins come in handy if you have more than one Overlay per type and want to make adjustments to one of them. However, occasionally these pins can get in your way, and you might choose not to show them for a while. To change this setting, you have the little selection curtain in the Toolbar below your image, named “Show Edit Pins.” You can choose between the following:

Auto: Active and inactive pins are visible if you are hovering with your mouse within the photo window, but not if you hover over any Panels or Toolbars.

Always: The pins are visible, no matter where you are with your mouse cursor.

Selected: Only the active Pin is visible.

None: Neither active nor inactive pins are visible.

I usually have it set to Auto. However, occasionally the Pin covers an area of the photograph below that I need to inspect, and in that case, I change this setting to None.

Active and Inactive Edit Pins

You can add multiple Filters of one type to one photograph. Each of these filters will be marked with an Edit Pin. However, only one at a time will be active.

Edit Pins

Clicking on an inactive Edit Pin activates it, and you will see it’s adjustment settings in the Panel at the right side. This allows you to later change settings.

If you click and drag an Edit Pin, you will move it’s adjustment selection accordingly.

Activating an Edit Pin and hitting the <Backspace> Key on your Keyboard removes this particular adjustment from your photograph.

The Settings panel of the Local Adjustment Tools

If you click on either of the three Local Adjustment Tools marked in the figure below, Adobe ® Lightroom will open a Settings Panel on the right side of the Program window.

Adjustment Toolbar with Local Adjustment Tools framed in red

These Panels have some minor differences, which we will look into when we explore the tool they affect.
Let’s have a look at the three Panels first.

Graduated Filter Settings
Radial Filter Settings
Adjustment Brush Settings

As you can see in the three images above, each consists of three or four sections. Let’s examine them briefly before we dive into the settings that they offer.

Sections in the Local Adjustment Settings Panel

Mask Section

Here you can choose if you want to create a new Mask (New), Edit an existing Mask’s settings (Edit), or if you want to change a Mask’s layout (Brush). The latter is only available for the Graduated and the Radial Filter Masks, as the Adjustment Brush already offers these settings within.

Effect Sections

This section determines which settings your Mask will change for the area you have selected with it. You can use a custom Effect, which means that you start with all sliders being in the 0 Position or use a Preset and add further adjustments to the Preset’s settings. Adobe ® Lightroom comes with a set of Presets installed that you can use with the Local Adjustment Tools. However, you can also install Presets from other vendors or create your own. Installing or creating Presets is beyond the scope of this article. We will later on in this series have a look at this possibility, though.

You will already know most of the Effect Section sliders from other parts of the Develop Module. The difference between the Exposure slider in the Basic Panel and the Exposure slider within the Adjustment Tools is that the Basic Panel’s settings affect the entire image. In contrast, here, it will only affect the masked area.

Sliders within the Effect Section

I will not go through every slider here, as I covered many of them already by the articles about the Panels in the Develop Module. However, there are some that we do not find in other places.

Hue Slider

The Hue Slider allows you to replace the selected area’s color with another color from the color wheel. For example, if you need a red blossom but the only flowers you have photographed are purple, you could use the Masking tools to select the bloom and use the Hue Slider to adjust its color. If your selection, however, contains multiple colors, they will all get replaced by another one.

Hue Slider in its initial position

The Hue Slider indicates which color you will change into which new one. If you move the slider in the bottom line of these settings, the line above will not get moved, so you will see, for example, green above a red area, meaning that what was green before gets now colored in red.

Hue Slider adjusted so that magenta becomes green

Let’s have a look at an example to clarify this.

In the next figure, I masked the inner circle with the Radial Filter Tool and selected a Hue change of 120˚.

Hue Slider used for the inner circle

The result is that the inner circle’s colors are moved by 120˚ on the color wheel, turning red into green, blue into red, and green into a blue shade.

If you mask only one color, your Hue change will, of course, only affect that one color.

Activate the Use Fine Adjustment checkbox if you want to fine-tune into which color you would change an existing one.

Sharpness Slider

This slider works in the same way as the Sharpness Slider in the Detail panel. However, there is one difference. In the Detail Panel, you can target only the edges of a subject in your photograph, whereas here, you would have to draw precise fine lines over these edges to target them. If you have a HEIC file and can use the Depth Range Mask, this slider could help blur objects farther away, creating the effect of using a large aperture with a full-frame camera. Of course, you could do the same by carefully masking over a RAW file as well.

Moiré Slider

Moiré is an effect where a delicate pattern is changed to look like a different camera’s sensor pattern. For example, if you photograph a person wearing a suit, the cross pattern from the weaving might appear as an asterisk pattern in your photograph. With this slider, you can address the areas affected by Moiré and try to, at least, reduce the effect.


With the color swatch behind this tool, you can apply a tint to the area affected by the local correction. Adobe ® Lightroom preserves this effect, even if you later convert the image to Monochrome. If you combine this with the Range Mask, you could apply one cyan tone to the highlights of your photograph and another one to the shadows, and then by converting the photo to Monochrome, create a Cyanotype.

Brush Section

Initially, this section is only available within the Adjustment Brush Tool. However, it gets activated if you choose to make changes to your Graduated or Radial Filter using the Brush Mask. The settings here determine your Brush features to mask an area or to erase parts of a mask. We’ll look into these settings in detail when we examine the Adjustment Brush.

Feather Section for the Radial Filter

The settings here decide if you have a hard or soft transition from the Radial Filter’s masked area. You can also invert the Mask to select the Elliptic selection area instead of the outside. We’ll look into this when we examine the Radial Filter.

Range Mask Section

This section allows you to adjust your Mask further so that it only affects specific areas. You can choose which areas to be affected by using a Luminance, Color, or – if you have HEIC files – Depth.

The Range Mask is a useful tool if you want to apply techniques like Dodge and Burn or if you want to change one specific color into another one. We will look into examples of how to use the Range Mask for these techniques later on.

You have now a general idea what type of changes you can make to your photos with the Local Adjustment Tools. Next time we’ll examine how to use the Adjustment Brush with some examples.

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