What’s New in Lightroom 5

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Lightroom 5 radial filter

Note: Scroll down to the bottom of the article for news about Lightoom 5 Up To Speed – the latest Craft & Vision ebook.

Adobe released the full version of Lightroom 5 earlier this week. There are quite a few improvements over Lightroom 4. My focus in this article is on the Develop module, as this is where the creative process of editing Raw files occurs. The improvements I like the most are the radial filter and the improved advanced healing brush, as they make image processing much easier.

Radial filter

The radial filter is a new tool for local adjustments. It lets you select an area with a circular or elliptical shape, then make adjustments to brightness, contrast and other tonal values either within the filter or to the area outside it.

Here are some examples to show you how it works:

Portrait processed in Lightroom 5

I processed the above portrait in Lightroom 5 using global adjustments only. It’s not bad as it is, but it could be improved. The radial filter will help.

Lightroom 5 radial filter

The radial filter in action. I created an ellipse, tilted it to match the shape of my model’s face, and used the exposure slider to darken the area of the image outside the shape. Used this way the radial filter is like an advanced vignetting tool that you can centre wherever you like.

Lightroom 5 radial filterYou can also use other sliders, such as shadows, contrast, clarity and sharpness. I used temp to lower the colour temperature of the background. The idea is to suggest that the light on my model’s face has a warmer colour temperature than that illuminating the background.

Lightroom 5 radial filter

You can also use the radial filter to lift the eyes. Here I made an ellipse that covered the model’s eye, then increased clarity and exposure slightly. Tick the Invert Mask box to apply the effect inside the radial filter.

Lightroom 5 radial filter

Finally, I created another radial filter to cover the model’s face and used the highlights and shadows sliders to brighten the area inside.

Here is a before and after comparison so you can see the difference between the original and the fully processed image:

Lightroom 5 radial filter comparison

It also occurs to me that the radial filter is useful for making adjustments to tonal values for black and white processing. Here’s a black and white version of the above portrait. I created another radial filter around the face and increased clarity inside it slightly to give the contrast a lift:

Black & white portrait

Radial filters & adjustment brushes

If you have an earlier version of Lightroom, you can achieve these effects using adjustment brushes. But radial filters have several advantages:

  • Radial filters are quicker, as you don’t have to paint in the area you wish to adjust (as you do with adjustment brushes).
  • Radial filters are duplicable. You can duplicate a radial filter so you can apply the same effect elsewhere in the image or a different effect to the same shape. Or you could apply one effect outside the radial filter, duplicate it, then apply another one to the inside.
  • Radial filters can be copied and applied to other images. This helps with bulk processing and is something you can’t do with adjustment brushes.

Advanced healing tool

The spot removal tool has been improved. The name stays the same, but Adobe refers to it as the ‘advanced healing tool’ in its marketing material. In earlier versions of Lightroom, the spot removal tool has a circular shape that you can’t change. That pretty much limits its use to getting rid of dust spots or facial blemishes, as most other cloning or healing is easier to carry out in Photoshop CS.

In Lightroom 5 you can adjust the shape of the area to be cloned or healed. That makes the spot removal tool a whole lot more useful.

Lightroom 5 spot removal tool

If you hold the left mouse button down when you use the spot removal tool you can drag the mouse and paint in any shape or size area you like (above).

Lightroom 5 spot removal tool

Lightroom selects an area to use as the source for healing, but you can change it if necessary. You can also drag the area covered by the spot removal tool around (above). Here, I’ve used the spot removal tool to reduce the lines under my model’s eyes. Portrait retouching has just got a whole lot easier!

Lightroom 5 spot removal tool

Another way to use the spot removal tool is to remove annoyances like power lines. To create a ‘straight’ spot removal brush (as in the image above) just click once with the spot removal tool on one end of the cable. Then hold the shift key down and click again on the other end. Lightroom joins the two spots. You can move both the source area and the healed area around to suit.


Upright is an advanced tool that you can use to automatically level horizons or fix converging verticals.

Lightroom 5 upright tool

There are times when converging verticals improve composition, but there are also times when you get them because it is difficult to hold a camera upright when photographing buildings (above).

Lightroom 5 upright tool

The upright tool automatically straightens the building. You can tweak the settings if Lightroom doesn’t get it completely right.

Lightroom 5 upright tool

Lightroom 5 Up To Speed

Lightroom 5 Up To Speed ebook by Piet Van den Eynde

Lightroom 5 Up To Speed is the latest ebook from Craft & Vision. It will help you get to grips with all the new features in Lightroom 5.

Those of you who have read Piet Van den Eynde’s Lightroom ebooks will know that he is true Lightroom expert and a gifted writer with a knack for explaining Lightroom in simple language. If you’ve purchased Lightroom 5, or are thinking about it, this ebook is essential. It explains everything you need to know about Lightroom 5’s new features, in much more detail than I have done in this article. It’s guaranteed to save you a lot of wasted time and frustration. Best of all, it’s just $US5. You can learn more or buy the ebook here.

Lightroom 5 Up To Speed spreads



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