Using the Graduated Filter in Lightroom & ACR

This quick little tutorial will show you how you can use the Graduated Filter, a tool which is available in ACR (Adobe Camera Raw) and Lightroom.  This tool can help you create a quick vignette with maximum control, or as shown here, it can be used to lighten a specific area of an image.  And this is only the beginning of what it can be used to achieve!

Here is the example image, edited in Lightroom 5 for exposure, white balance and vibrance.  As you can see, the marked area is quite dark and draws the eye away from the scene in the foreground.  There are a few ways that I could approach this issue; the adjustment brush, reducing shadows, etc.  But none of those is a fast as the graduated filter!


First, activate the graduated filter by clicking on the box icon in the tools area above the Basic panel (vertical red rectangle).  Now you will see a selection of sliders available, all of which can be used to customize how the filter will be applied.  For this particuar image, since I want to lighten the target area, I increased the exposure and decreased shadows (sliders move to the right).  Then, you simply click on the spot where you would like the gradient to begin and drag it out until it covers the desired image area.  I clicked near the little guy’s head and dragged toward the upper left corner.  The center of the graduated area is marked with a circle (white arrow), so you can see where the gradient transition has landed.  You can grab this to move the entire gradient or you can grab one of the outer lines to increase or decrease the filter area.  Once you have applied the filter, you can tweak any of the customization sliders to achieve the desired effect.


Here is the final image, with the graduated filter applied and the area lightened significantly.

Play around with the graduated filter and see what you can create!  Some common uses are making skies more blue, creating a faux tilt-shift effect and reducing moire on solid backdrops.  Now go and filter, people!!

Thursday Giveaway

It’s baaaaaack!

After a little break, Thursday Giveaway is here again to give you FREE stuff!  And that’s why you love me!

Today’s offering in a triple punch of Photoshop actions, compatible with versions CS3-CC.  First we have Sunset Silhouette Enhancer, a powerful action to make the shadows rich and the colors pop in any beautiful sunset scene!  Then we have Dark and Dangerous, an action that reminds me of a city alley at dusk, lit by the orange glow of streetlights with shadowy corners around every turn.  Finally to round out the pack, there is Painted Scene, a unique action that produces a matte, oil paint feeling that is subtle enough to use on any image.  The image below was processed using Painted Scene, with the action opacity at 75%.

So what are you waiting for?? Click the link below to grab your FREE goodies and once you realize how awesome they are, be sure to tell all of your photographer friends!!  Some suggestions for sharing this information include a 30-second radio spot, a half-page newspaper ad, a billboard, or maybe even a sign-spinner on every street corner.  Friends don’t let friends live without Flow.

Click here to download your FREE PHOTOSHOP ACTIONS!

Thursday Giveaway

It’s that time again, people!  I am going to give you some FREE stuff!!  Whooooohoooo!

This week we have a little something for the Elements gang!  We have three actions that will work seamlessly in either Photoshop Elements or Photoshop CS3-CC.  I know the Elements-ers are often under-represented in the actions market, but I am trying to make sure that you all get your fair share of FREE stuff!

The sample pack contains the ever-popular Sunshine Pop, the number one Flow favorite!  It is a quick way to start every image, with a little sharpening, a little warmth and a wee pop of contrast.  Also included are a shimmering, silvery black & white that has a very nostalgic feel (used on the image below) and Flow’s own Haze Buster, a great sharpening tool for print prep and to really clean up those soft pixels!

Don’t forget to share the word about all this FREE, good stuff on Facebook, Google + and Instagram! I am pretty sure your friends like FREE stuff too (because nothing is better than FREE!).  Tag your images @flowforphotographers and #flauntmyflow and you might just see your image featured on the Flow pages!:)

Click here to download your FREE ELEMENTS ACTIONS!

May 19, 2015 - 1:38 pm

Flow for Photographers - Hi Kim,

You need to email the image to yourself and then save it to your phone, which then gives you access to load the image to Instagram! :)

April 23, 2015 - 10:27 am

Kim - Forgive my dullness, but how do you upload an image from my computer to Instagram? I’m new to Instagram, and I can only see how to upload images from my phone.

Watch Mandy Monday!

Have you heard? Beginning March 3rd, I will be have a weekly one-hour online meeting where you can watch and listen to me edit!! And the best part? It is only $10 to sit in on the live presentation!

Each week, I will be covering a different topic, in either Photoshop or Lightroom (and Elements sometimes too!).  Topics will range from creating stunning black & white images to completing a newborn edit in less than 5 minutes! I will also be having a brief Q + A at the end of each session and I am an open book, so this will be a great opportunity to really get to the heart of each editing topic discussed.  The live meeting will run from 1:00 – 2:00 pm EST (UTC -5).

Can’t sit in on the live course due to other commitments?  Never fear!  I will be making a recording of each session, which will be available for purchase afterward.  Live participants will receive a discount on the video, but it will be available to everyone!

Course calendar and details about registration can be found HERE!


May 19, 2015 - 1:38 pm

Flow for Photographers - Hi Dena,

No, the recorded classes are no longer available – sorry!

February 6, 2015 - 10:24 am

Dena - Are the recorded classes still available for purchase? I wasn’t able to locate them.

January 1, 2015 - 7:20 pm

Flow for Photographers - Hi! I don’t think I will be offering this for 2015, but new courses will be offered! Thank you so much for you interest!
Mandy :)

November 3, 2014 - 12:51 pm

Julianne - Are you going to offer this for 2014? I’m interested.

Thursday Giveaway

It’s that time again, Flow followers!  Thursday Giveaway – whoot!

This week’s offering is a sample preset pack for Lightroom 4 & 5, which includes 3 yummy black & white conversions.  It is no secret that I am partial to an awesome monochromatic image and many have said that I am a guru of creating stunning BW conversions.  Oh, and I am SUPER modest too. 😉

So if ya want some black & white goodness, click the download link below!  The image here was converted using the included preset Slumber, which is a little moody and has a nice rich contrast.  LOVE.  Also included are Warm & Juicy, the LR equivalent of my most popular BW action in the Dream in Black & White Action set, as well as Retro Cool, which has subtle blue toning and a matte feel, to give your images a little throwback edginess.

Remember, tag your images #flauntmyflow and feel free to share on Instagram or Facebook! Happy Thursday, peeps!

Click here to download your FREE LIGHTROOM PRESETS!