Project Description

In this video tutorial, learn how to apply adjustments locally in Exposure. This enables you to apply editing changes only to the areas you designate, and seamlessly blend any of the edits you make.

Photos: Tony Asgari, April Milani, Jay Cassario


Local adjustments are editing tweaks that are selectively applied to your images. They are helpful because they give you another level of creative control during editing.

Exposure’s local adjustment tools help you work quickly at a detailed level. You can use local edits during detailed retouching like whitening teeth, or making the eyes pop.

Or you can apply any number of Exposure’s presets to precise locations on your photos. They enable you to easily transition into more advanced editing.

For example, you could remove a monochrome effect from a single spot in your image, or you can apply a different preset to the subject and the background.

In Exposure, you make local adjustments with the brush tool. This enables you to quickly create precise selections to apply adjustments. The effects will only apply to the area you designate. Essentially, you “brush” adjustments on specific areas of your photos. After you perform brushing, you can seamlessly blend any of the adjustments you make.

When making local adjustments, you can take advantage of Exposure’s non-destructive workflow. Your edits don’t make permanent changes to your photo, so you can experiment with your local adjustments as much as you’d like.

I’ll make local adjustments to this image. I’ll click the brush tool icon in the right dock to open the Brush Panel.

At any time when brushing, you can adjust the layer opacity to blend each effect in with your image.

The dropdown menu with Exposure’s brush presets is at the top. These presets cover common adjustments like softening skin, enhancing irises, dodging and burning, contrast, and more.

When working with Exposure’s brushing, selecting On New Layer ensures that each new brush preset is applied to a new layer, which is a good workflow habit to develop since it prevents you from accidently brushing over a previous local adjustment.

Use the sliders for brush size, feather, and flow.

Setting different brush parameters for the two brushes – Brush A and Brush B – can help make brushing faster. For example, you can configure Brush A to be a large brush for subtle adjustments and configure Brush B as a smaller brush for fine-tuning details. Then you’d just click A and B to switch between the two.

Exposure’s keyboard shortcuts make this easy. Hold Option (Alt on Windows) to toggle the Eraser. And use Shift-Comma or Shift-Period to rotate through Brush A, B, and the Eraser.

You can configure the size, feather, and flow for the Eraser brush to help remove brush strokes that you don’t want.

When you begin brushing, you can tell where your effect is being applied and where it’s not by checking Show Mask.

The effect is strongest in the white areas, and not visible in the black areas. Where the mask is grey, the effect is blended with the original image.

You can also see this information in the mask thumbnail in the layers panel. If you want to see a larger mask thumbnail, click on the settings menu at the top of the panel and choose Large Thumbnails.

Another way to apply an effect to part of an image is with the gradient tools, which enable you to make seamless, natural fades between effects. They come in three different shapes.

The Radial shape applies your adjustments inside of an adjustable circular region, with adjustable feathering to blend the adjustment outwards into your image. One option to quickly mention is the invert button, which changes the mask to allow adjustments to appear everywhere in my image except for the area I’ve selected.

I’ll use this radial region to make the subject pop. I’ll increase Exposure ⅓ of a stop, add contrast, increase highlights, and slightly lower the blacks, I’ll also add just a touch of clarity to ensure that her silhouette reads extra sharp.

The Planar shape applies your adjustments in both directions outwards from the center line.

The Half-Planar shape applies your adjustments in only one direction from the center line. This will let me make an adjustment to the sky, without affecting the rest of the shot. I’ll make a new layer because I want to apply a different effect to the sky. Then, I’ll make a half planar gradient.

Mainly I want to bring back some of the details in the sky, so I’ll lower the exposure and the highlights. Notice how I’ve extended the feathering edge — the dotted line representing where the effect ends — a little bit past the edge of the rocks. This blends with the left edge of the radial region’s effects, which makes it look a little more natural.

At this point we have our effects made up, so I’ll add one of Exposure’s presets in a new layer over the top. The photo has a blue tone on the water and the rocks, so I’ll apply the Ilford Delta 100 preset, because it will darken those tones to a rich darker grey. I’ll just right-click and choose new layer with preset.

In Exposure, I can combine several gradients on a single layer. I can also use them in conjunction with brush strokes. In this example, I can brush the sky gradient effect off of the model in the center for greater control over the masks.

Before I start brushing, I’m going to press the Collapse button, which will collapse the gradient into a pin, which eliminates the clutter of the mask handles. This also makes it easier to switch between gradients when you’re using more than one, and it makes brushing easier, too. Notice that this caused a brush pin to be added. You can click the pin later to add or remove brush strokes from the layer. Additionally, you can adjust the opacity separately for each gradient component.

I can adjust the mask opacity, should the effect be too pronounced for my liking. Or, if I don’t like a gradient I’ve added, I simply select it and then press the delete button.