Updated in October 2017 release of Adobe Camera Raw

About local adjustments

The controls in the image adjustment tabs of Camera Raw affect the color and tone of an entire photo. To adjust a specific area of a photo (or make local adjustments, such as dodging or burning) use the Adjustment Brush tool , the Graduated Filter tool , or the Radial Filter tool in Camera Raw.

With the Adjustment Brush tool, you can selectively apply Exposure, Brightness, Clarity, and other adjustments by “painting” them onto the photo.

With the Graduated Filter tool, you can apply the same types of adjustments gradually across a region of a photo. You can make the region as wide or as narrow as you like.

With the Radial Filter tool, you can draw an elliptical area around the subject and selectively apply adjustments to either outside or inside the selected area. For more details, see Radial Filter in Camera Raw.

You can apply both types of local adjustments to any photo. You can synchronize local adjustment settings across multiple selected images. You can also create local adjustment presets so that you can quickly reapply an effect you use frequently.

Getting local adjustments “right” in Camera Raw takes some experimentation. The recommended workflow is to select a tool and specify its options, and then apply the adjustment to the photo. Then you can go back and edit that adjustment, or apply a new one.

As with all other adjustments applied in Camera Raw, local adjustments are nondestructive. They are never permanently applied to the photo. Local adjustments are saved with an image in an XMP sidecar file or in the Camera Raw database, depending on what’s specified in Camera Raw preferences.

Video | Creating natural-looking exposures

Video | Creating natural-looking exposures
Photoshop Principal Product Manager Bryan O'Neil Hughes explains how to adjust exposure to balance subject and background in this episode of Photoshop Playbook.
Bryan O'Neil Hughes

Apply local adjustments with the Adjustment Brush tool in Camera Raw

  1. Select the Adjustment Brush tool  from the toolbar (or press K).

    Camera Raw opens the Adjustment Brush tool options under the Histogram and sets the mask mode to New.

  2. Choose the type of adjustment you want to make in the Adjustment Brush tool options by dragging an effects slider.

    Note:

    The effects that are available depend on whether you are working in Process Version 2012, 2010, or 2003, as noted. To update a photo to PV2012, click the exclamation-point icon in the lower-right corner of the image preview.

    Temp

    Adjusts the color temperature of an area of the image, making it warmer or cooler. A graduated filter temperature effect can improve images captured in mixed-lighting conditions.

    Tint

    Compensates for a green or magenta color cast.

     

    Exposure

    Sets the overall image brightness. Applying an Exposure local correction can achieve results similar to traditional dodging and burning.

    Highlights

    Recovers detail in overexposed highlight areas of an image.

     

    Shadows

    Recovers detail in underexposed shadow areas of an image.

    Whites

    Adjusts the white points in a photo

    Blacks

    Adjusts the black points in a photo

    Brightness

    Adjusts the image brightness, with a greater effect in the midtones.

    Contrast

    Adjusts the image contrast, with a greater effect in the midtones. 

    Saturation

    Changes the vividness or purity of the color.

    Clarity

    Adds depth to an image by increasing local contrast.

    Dehaze

    Reduces or increases existing haze in a photo

    Sharpness

    Enhances edge definition to bring out details in a photo. A negative value blurs details.

    Noise Reduction

    Reduces luminance noise, which can become apparent when shadow areas are opened.

    Moiré Reduction

    Removes moiré artifacts, or color aliasing.

    Defringe

    Removes fringe colors along edges. See Remove local color fringes.

    Color

    Applies a tint to the selected area. Select the hue by clicking the color sample box to the right of the effect name.

    Note:

    Click the Plus icons (+) or the Minus icons (–) to increase or decrease the effect by a preset amount. Click multiple times to select a stronger adjustment. Double-click the slider to reset the effect to zero.

  3. Specify brush options:

    Size

    Specifies the diameter of the brush tip, in pixels.

    Feather

    Controls the hardness of the brush stroke.

    Flow

    Controls the rate of application of the adjustment.

    Density

    Controls the amount of transparency in the stroke.

    Auto Mask

    Confines brush strokes to areas of similar color.

    Show Mask

    Toggles visibility of the mask overlay in the image preview.

  4. Move the Adjustment Brush tool over the image.

    The cross hair indicates the application point. The solid circle indicates the brush size. The black-and-white dashed circle indicates the feather amount.

    Note:

    If the Feather is set to 0, the black-and-white circle indicates the brush size. With very small feather amounts, the solid circle may not be visible.

  5. Paint with the Adjustment Brush tool in the area of the image you want to adjust.

    When you release the mouse, a pin icon  appears at the application point. In the Adjustment Brush tool options, the mask mode changes to Add.

  6. (Optional) Refine the adjustment by doing any of the following:
    • Drag any of the effect sliders in the Adjustment Brush tool options to customize the effect in the image.
    • Press V to hide or show the pin icon.
    • To toggle visibility of the mask overlay, use the Show Mask option, press Y, or position the pointer over the pin icon.

    Note:

    To customize the color of the mask overlay, click the color swatch next to the Show Mask option. Then, choose a new color from the Color Picker.

    • To undo part of the adjustment, click Erase in the Adjustment Brush tool options and paint over the adjustment.

    Note:

    To create an eraser brush that has different characteristics from the current Adjustment Brush tool, click the Local Adjustment Settings menu button  and choose Separate Eraser Size. Then, specify the Size, Feather, Flow, and Density you want for the eraser.

    • Remove the adjustment completely by selecting the pin and pressing Delete.
    • Press Ctrl+Z (Windows) or Command+Z (Mac OS) to undo your last adjustment.
    • Click Clear All at the bottom of the tool options to remove all Adjustment Brush tool adjustments and set the mask mode to New.
  7. (Optional) Click New to apply an additional Adjustment Brush tool adjustment, and refine it as desired using the techniques in step 6.

    Note:

    When working with multiple Adjustment Brush adjustments, make sure you’re in Add mode to switch between them. Click a pin icon to select that adjustment and refine it.

Apply local adjustments with the Graduated Filter tool in Camera Raw

  1. Select the Graduated Filter tool  from the toolbar (or press G).

    Camera Raw opens the Graduated Filter tool options under the Histogram and sets the mask mode to New.

  2. Choose the type of adjustment you want to make in the Graduated Filter tool options by dragging the slider for any of the following effects:

    Note:

    The effects that are available depend on whether you are working in Process Version 2012, 2010, or 2003, as noted. To update a photo to PV2012, click the exclamation-point icon in the lower-right corner of the image preview.

    Temp

    Adjusts the color temperature of an area of the image, making it warmer or cooler. A graduated filter temperature effect can improve images captured in mixed-lighting conditions.

    Tint

    Compensates for a green or magenta color cast.

    Exposure

    Sets the overall image brightness. Applying an Exposure graduated filter can achieve results similar to traditional dodging and burning.

    Highlights

    Recovers detail in overexposed highlight areas of an image.

    Shadows

    Recovers detail in underexposed shadow areas of an image.

    Whites

    Adjusts the white points in a photo

    Blacks

    Adjusts the black points in a photo

    Brightness

    Adjusts the image brightness, with a greater effect in the midtones.

    Contrast

    Adjusts the image contrast, with a greater effect in the midtones.

    Saturation

    Changes the vividness or purity of the color.

    Clarity

    Adds depth to an image by increasing local contrast.

    Dehaze

    Reduces or increases existing haze in a photo

    Sharpness

    Enhances edge definition to bring out details in the photo. A negative value blurs details.

    Noise Reduction

    Reduces luminance noise, which can become apparent when shadow areas are opened.

    Moiré Reduction

    Removes moiré artifacts, or color aliasing.

    Defringe

    Removes fringe color along edges. See Remove local color fringes.

    Color

    Applies a tint to the selected area. Select the hue by clicking the color sample box to the right of the effect name.

    Note:

    Click the Plus icon (+) or the Minus icon (–) to increase or decrease the effect by a preset amount. Double-click the slider to reset the effect to zero.

  3. Drag in the photo to apply a graduated filter across a region of the photo.

    The filter starts at the red dot and red dotted line, and it continues past the green dot and green dotted line.

    The mask mode switches to Edit in the Graduated Filter tool options.

  4. (Optional) Refine the filter by doing any of the following:
    • Drag any of the effect sliders in the Graduated Filter tool options to customize the filter.
    • Toggle visibility of the guide overlays by selecting the Overlay option (or press V).
    • Drag the green or red dot to freely expand, contract, and rotate the effect.
    • Drag the black-and-white dotted line to shift the effect.
    • Position the pointer over the green-and-white or red-and-white dotted line, near the green or red dot, until a double-pointing arrow appears. Then, drag to expand or contract the effect at that end of the range.
    • Position the pointer over the green-and-white or red-and-white dotted line, away from the green or red dot, until a curved double-pointing arrow appears. Then, drag to rotate the effect.
    • Remove the filter by pressing Delete.
    • Press Ctrl+Z (Windows) or Command+Z (Mac OS) to undo your last adjustment.
    • Use the Mask option to enable mask visualization. Alternatively, press Y to toggle the Mask setting.
    • Click Clear All at the bottom of the tool options to remove all Graduated Filter tool effects and set the mask mode to New.
  5. (Optional) Click New to apply an additional Graduated Filter tool effect, and refine it as desired using the techniques in step 4.

    Note:

    When working with multiple Graduated Filter effects, click an overlay to select that effect and refine it.

Modify a Graduated Filter instance using brush controls

You can modify Graduated Filter masks using brush controls. Once you've added a mask, to access brush controls select the Brush option next to New/Edit. Alternatively, with a Graduated Filter instance selected, press Shift+K.

As appropriate, use the + and – brushes.

For a video description of the brush controls, see Filter Brush in Adobe Camera Raw.

Note:

The add/remove functionality is available only to Photoshop CC customers using Camera Raw 8.5 or later.

Apply local adjustments with Color or Luminance Range Mask

Introduced in October 2017 release of Camera Raw

Using the Color Range Mask and Luminance Range Mask controls, you can quickly create a precise masking area on your photo for applying local adjustments.

You begin by creating a quick initial masking selection with Adjustment Brushes or Radial Filter/Graduated Filter. Then, refining your selection using the eyedropper to sample colors within the mask area or Luminance Range Slider to set the Luminance Range endpoints of the selection mask.

Work with Color Range Mask

After making an initial selection mask on your photo with Adjustment Brushes or Radial Filter/Graduated Filters, you can refine the selection mask based on the colors that you sample within the mask area.

  1. Open a photo in Adobe Camera Raw.

    Photo to be edited in Camera Raw
    Photo to be edited in Camera Raw
  2. In the Camera Raw dialog box, select the Adjustment Brush tool, the Graduated Filter tool, or the Radial Filter tool from the toolbar. Then, create an initial selection mask over a specific area of your photo that you want to correct.

    Initial mask area created using a Graduated Filter that covers the whole photo
    Initial mask area created using a Graduated Filter that covers the whole photo
  3. From the tool options in the Adjustment panel on the right, choose the Range Mask type as Color from the drop-down list. By default, Range Mask is set to None (disabled by default).

  4. Use the eyedropper (near the Range Mask option) to sample color within the mask area. Do any of the following:

    • To sample a single color within the mask area, click the eyedropper at the required location on your photo. 
    • For more accurate color selection, click+drag an area around the colors in the photo that you want to adjust.
    • To sample colors from multiple selections, hold the Shift key while selecting a single color (Shift+click) or while selecting an area (Shift+click+drag). You can add up to five color samples.
    A Color Range Mask covering the background tones in the photo
    A Color Range Mask covering the background tones in the photo. The Color Range Mask has been created by selecting an area that includes all background colors near the upper-left of the photo. Then, using the Color Range slider to reduce the effect on the leaves.
  5. Adjust the Color Range slider to narrow or broaden the range of selected colors.

    Note:

    For a more precise view of the mask area, press Alt (Win)/Option (Mac) key area while moving the Color Range slider to get black and white visualization over your photo.

    To exit color sampling, press the Esc key or click the eyedropper (near the Range Mask option).

    Local adjustments applied to the color mask.
    Local adjustments applied to the color mask. Decreased Exposure, Highlights, and Saturation in the Effects menu to darken the background and make the leaves stand out more.

After refining the mask area, you can now make selective adjustments to create precise photographic edits.

Work with Luminance Range Mask

After making an initial selection mask on your photo with Adjustment Brushes or Radial Filter/Graduated Filters, you can refine the mask area based on the luminance range of the selection.

  1. Open a photo in Adobe Camera Raw.

    Photo to be edited in Camera Raw
    Photo to be edited in Camera Raw
  2. In the Camera Raw dialog box, select the Adjustment Brush tool, the Graduated Filter tool, or the Radial Filter tool from the toolbar. Then, create an initial selection mask over a specific area of your photo that you want to correct.

    Initial mask area created using a Graduated Filter that covers the sky in the photo
    Initial mask area created using a Graduated Filter that covers the sky in the photo
  3. From the tool options in the Adjustment panel on the right, choose the Range Mask type as Luminance from the drop-down list. By default, Range Mask is set as None.

    A Luminance Range Mask covering the lighter yellow clouds that occupy the majority of the central part of the scene.
    A Luminance Range Mask covering the lighter yellow clouds that occupy the majority of the central part of the scene.
    • Adjust the Luminance Range slider to set the endpoints of the selected luminance range. 
    • Use the Smoothness slider to adjust how smooth the falloff is at either end of the selected luminance range.

    Note:

    For a more precise view of the mask area, press Alt (Win)/Option (Mac) key area while moving the Luminance Range or Smoothness slider to get black and white visualization over your photo.

    Local adjustments applied to the Luminance Range Mask.
    Local adjustments applied to the Luminance Range Mask. Increased Temperature, Contrast, and Highlights to enhance the color contrast in the scene.

After refining the mask area, you can now make selective adjustments to create precise photographic edits.

Save and apply local adjustment presets

You can save local adjustments as presets so that you can quickly apply the effects to other images. You create, select, and manage local adjustment presets using the Camera Raw Settings menu  in the Adjustment Brush or Graduated Filter tool options. You apply local adjustment presets using the Adjustment Brush tool  or the Graduated Filter tool .

Note:

Local adjustments cannot be saved with Camera Raw image presets.

  • In the Adjustment Brush or Graduated Filter tool options in the Camera Raw dialog box, click the Camera Raw Settings menu button . Then, choose one of the following commands:

    New Local Correction Setting

    Saves the current local adjustment effect settings as a preset. Type a name and click OK. Saved presets appear in the Local Adjustment Settings menu and can be applied to any image that is opened in Camera Raw.

    Delete “preset name”

    Deletes the selected local adjustment preset.

    Rename “preset name”

    Renames the selected local adjustment preset. Type a name and click OK.

    Preset name

    Select a preset to apply its settings with the Adjustment Brush tool or the Graduated Filter tool.

When using local adjustment presets, keep in mind the following:

  • Only one local adjustment preset can be selected at a time.

  • When applying a local adjustment preset with the Adjustment Brush tool, you can still customize the brush options, including Size, Feather, Flow, and Density. The preset applies the effect settings at the specified brush size.

  • After a local adjustment preset is applied, you can refine it as desired.

  • The same effect settings are available for the Adjustment Brush tool and the Graduated Filter tool. As a result, local adjustment presets can be applied using either tool, regardless of which tool was used to create the preset.

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