Recently, a photographer friend of mine encouraged me to consider spending a little more time doing “local brushing” on my photos to help accent highlights, deepen shadows and increase overall visual appeal.

I’m still learning how to do it (often I don’t really know where to start….what should I highlight? what should I darken?), but as you can see in the video and pictures below, it really does make a big difference!


Behind the Scenes Insights

  • Local brushing is something anyone can do. Just about every photo editing program will have a lightening/darkening brush tool of some sort. In this video I’m just using Lightroom because it’s what I have.
  • You’ll notice at the beginning I began with a 3-photo HDR merge. This allowed me to start my editing with plenty of information in both dark and light areas, which is generally a problem when shooting directly into the sun.
  • The auto settings straight from the HDR merge didn’t provide enough contrast around the sun so I started there with the radial filter and setting the white point (the sun is always pure white).
  • I struggled with the sky and vignette. I thought at first it would look nice to have the sky a little darker in the top left corner and to add an overall vignette, but after making these changes, I decided against them…there was already too much dark in the image.
  • As you can see below, the first image without brushing is nice, but doesn’t look nearly as nice as the second image that has the local brushing.

Anyone have any tips for me as I dabble more with local adjustment tools? How would you have edited this photo differently? What would you have done to make it more appealing?

Maybe I’ll ask our guest photographer Donnie Rosie on the next photo critique webinar

180514-James Staddon_847421-HDR-2

Without brushing (above). With brushing (below).

180514-James Staddon_847421-HDR

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