focal length: 29 mm
shutter speed: 1/320
aperture: f/3.2
ISO: 400
flash: none

I’ve been trying out Lightroom 2.0 for a couple weeks and there are a few new tools in Develop Mode worth mentioning. Last week, I showed you the convenience of the new Adjustment brush and today I would like to share with you the other tool I really love: the Graduated Filter.

Sure, you can slap an optical graduated filter onto your lens to help prevent blown out highlights when you take the actual shot, but this new digital tool in Lightroom 2.0 allows you to take it a few steps further. The graduated filter in Lightroom 2.0 is a digital post processing tool that gives you control over exposure, brightness, contrast, saturation, clarity, sharpness and colour using a gradient. It’s fast, easy and the changes are seamless thanks to the soft edge of the gradient.

Like the Adjustment Brush, the Graduated Filter is non-destructive, allowing you to change your settings, reposition and alter the effect size at anytime.

*click to enlarge any of the following images

You can click on the centre point of your filter and reposition it anywhere on your image. You can also adjust the height of the gradient by dragging the top or bottom guidelines.

Hover over the middle guideline until a curved double-sided arrow appears to adjust the angle of your gradient.

To add an additional filter, simply click on “new” and introduce a new gradient with different settings.

Et voila! A much nicer photo with a more defined sky and brighter foliage, which took all of 30 seconds or less to do.

I use the Graduated Filter to do quick adjustments to large areas in my photos and the Adjustment Brush to do more localized touch ups, all without opening up Photoshop. For me, these have been a real time saver with great results. Try these two new tools out and let me know what you think.

Bonus link: I was going to create a video tutorial for this, because you really have to see it in action. However, I found this great tutorial of the new Develop Mode tools in Lightroom 2.0 by Julieanne Kost who is the Digital Imaging Evangelist for Adobe Systems. The videos are a bit long but very informative.

Laura is a Vancouver wedding and portrait photographer. Visit