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.