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 and the Graduated 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.

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.

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.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License  Twitter™ and Facebook posts are not covered under the terms of Creative Commons.

Legal Notices   |   Online Privacy Policy