Lightroom 2: Graduated Filter Tool - draw the viewer in
Rather than me tell you about it, I have included an example of the tool in use, and some screenshots of my workflow in Lightroom 2 as I was working on an image of a longtail boat in Thailand. To get a closer look at the screenshots, click on them.
This is the final image. The early mornin stillness of this lake was entrancing. As a fine mist rose from the lake's surface, a Gibbon's mournful cry echoed from the forest. It was an amazing sight to wake up to - and I wanted to do my best to recreate that atmosphere for the viewer. Hopefully, I succeeded.
The tool is exceptionally easy to use, which is its main drawcard. It has been possible for a long time to achieve the same outcome in Adobe Photoshop, however, it was always a relatively convoluted process to do so. Now, Lightroom's powerful new filter allows one to customize colour tint, sharpness, contrast, saturation, and of course brightness/exposure. What's also really amazing is that one can adjust all these features after you've applied the filter!
Without further ado, here are some screenshots which exhibit how I used the feature on a photograph taken in Khao Sok National Park, Thailand.
This is the image after is has been cropped, just before applying the Graduated filter. Note the washed out sky, the image seems very unbalanced and the viewer's eye is immediately drawn to the bright void at the top of the image. What's important in this image is atmosphere and foreground. We want our viewer focusing on those attributes, so something has to be done to that sky.
Ahhhh, much better. Now that we've darkened the sky and increased the contrast to really bring out the definition in those clouds - the image is much more balanced. The viewer's eye is drawn through the image along the curves of the boat towards the horizon.
Unfortunately, in this case, where the horizon is anything but straight and simple, we've inadvertently darkened the trees surrounding the lake. This is unavoidable using this method, so one's best bet would be to use the brush function in Lightroom 2 and selectively brighten the trees which were darkened during the process.
Well there you have it, short and simple. I hope you enjoyed this short tutorial. If there are any questions, please leave a comment and I'll do my best to answer them.
As always, all the best information regarding Lightroom 2's new features can be found at the Lightroom 2 Learning Centre.