Lightroom Presets – Focal Point Background Effects

A while back I had an idea about using the adjustment brush to create a focal point in certain parts of the photo (by darkening the rest of the photo). The vignetting controls (in the Effects panel) are great for doing this but if your subject isn’t in the middle of the photo then it doesn’t work as well. So I figured I could use the adjustment brush to darken parts of the photo and save it as a preset. Nope! I quickly found out you couldn’t save adjustment brush controls as a preset, so I went back to the drawing board and came up with this idea instead. I’ve created 8 different presets that each use the Graduated Filter to do something similar. 4 of them are for Portraits (or portrait oriented images) and 4 of them are for landscape oriented photos (top left, top right, bottom left, and bottom right). Enjoy ‘em and let me know what you think!

Here’s a couple before/afters:

Enjoy!

Author: Matt K

Matt is a full time Education Director for the NAPP and Kelby Training. He's a best-selling author of various books on Photoshop and Photography co-hosts the live weekly photography talk show "The Grid" and is co-host of "Photoshop User TV". In his spare time he practices as a 1st degree black belt in Taekwondo and enjoys spending time with his family in Tampa, FL.

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14 Comments

  1. Why don’t you just pull in 4 quick graduated filters in the Image?

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  2. Downloaded zip file will not open – says it is invalid format.

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  3. Hi. Pretty Presets offers adjustment brush presets packages on their website. When you say that you can’t save adjustment brush presets are you speaking of something different? Just curious. Thanks for all you awesome tips and presets!!! They are really helpful.

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    • You can save them as presets but not as Develop module presets that show up on the left side. You can only save adjustment brush presets and they only work when you actually go to use the brush. I wanted to actually brush on to the image and have it save my brush strokes as a preset which it won’t do.

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  4. You can really notice a big contrast between the before and after pics. The pics really do justice to the work done. Nice example!

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  5. Thanks, Matt, for taking the time to develop these Graduated Filter presets and also for sharing them with us all!

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  6. Hi Matt,
    Just wondering, do the presets work on LR 3 as well?
    Thanks :)

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  7. Hey matt not to be a pain but the zip files being downloaded do not contain presets just one file that says mattsfocalpoint. just thought id let you know.

    thanks either way

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  8. Hi.-
    Some users are complaining that after downloading the compressed (.zip) file, they are unable to open them.
    They might get a … Cannot open file: it does not appear to be a valid archive… blah, blah, blah.
    The problem is that the unzipping/uncompressing program is having trouble understanding its format… presume it’s because either 1) it was compressed using a MAC or 2) the version might be outdated. Used Winzip and had the same problem; used 7-zip and life is good again… thanks!
    Regarda, Luca.

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  9. I’m crazy about this preset! When I downloaded it months ago I didn’t think I would ever need it but I shot a birthday party at a skatepark yesterday and this preset is ideal for these types of venues! Thank you!!! I can’t wait until the seminar in San Diego… I’ll be the one “ooooing and ahhhhing” the entire time!

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  10. Hi Matt, do the resets that say LR4 with with LT5?

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