Lightroom Video: The Ultimate Trick for Working With Skies

One of Lightroom’s best features for working with skies in your photos is the Graduated Filter. It’s a great way to realistically tame a bright sky without actually using a glass filter on your lens in the field. One of the problems with the Grad filter though (whether you use a real filter or the one in Lightroom), is that it tends to darken anything that goes above your horizon line (like trees or mountains). Well, in this week’s video I’ll walk you through one of the best tips I’ve found with the Grad Filter to help make those skies look great and bring out the detail in anything the filter may have inadvertently darkened. Enjoy and have a great weekend!


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  1. Using LightRoom’s graduated filter often works, but with some images it can cause problems. The worst is that it can smear colours. This is worst of all with reds. For example a red flower, a painted door (or a car’s brake light) can gain a faint red cloud around it, spoiling both detail and acutance as well as the colour.

    A different way to bring up the sky is to use the local,adjustment tool and, by using a variety of brush sizes, to carefully paint in the sky, then to play with saturation, exposure, contrast, highlight’s and shadows to improve it’s appearance. It is more time consuming, but the rest of the image is unaffected.

    Sometimes it is also safe to enhance the sky by increasing the blue saturation and reducing highlights generally.

    Finally adding some subtle post-crop vignetting can create nice effect. As well as further enhancing the sky it serves to draw the eye into the frame.

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  2. Top geezer. helped a lot, I have so many landscape photos!

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  3. Thanks for sharing all this content. I am fan of your work last couple of years.

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  4. Excellent trick! I had never thought of this! I purchased by first lee filter and graduated soft ND, but even that would have had a similar problem!

    Great tip!

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  5. Thanks for such a neat trick.. never would have thought about moving the other sliders, especially the shadows one.

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  6. nice trick, thanks
    i am often using nx2 and color efex pro 4 and this problem doesn’t exist. just add a minus upoint and the montains is not touched !!!
    ounce again it is a pity nikon left nx2 become so obsolete with respect to lightroom. it had a potential much more powerful than lightroom can do.
    nik plugins are similar but need multi-tiff.
    ononesuite 7.5 has nice intelligent brush but again, we need tif files.
    but as you show in lightroom this is a big problem and i am happy to see a solution exists and i don’t need using tiff and plugin all the times.
    however i am surprised the solution is so simple.
    i thought that you should had taken the brush with an “inverted effect”, hard to find with a gradient, or something like that !!!

    best regards

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  7. You can also use a little less exposure adjustment and play with the highlights as well. Great tip

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  8. Excellent video. So simple to do. Thanks Matt

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  9. Neat trick, thanks Mat! As you mentioned in the video I was one of those who missed “Shadow” slider in the Grad filter options.

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    • Wow! I’ve been frustrated over that problem for long time, resorting to brushes. This tip realy is a Killer Tip! Thanx a lot!

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