Did you know that you can erase filters in Lightroom, starting with Lightroom 6/Lightroom CC? The ability to erase the Graduated and Radial filters makes fine tuning edits like sky darkening, background blurring and vignette creating breeze.

The gradient tool, for example, has always been a great way to darken skies or make them bluer. However, if you had trees, mountains, people or anything else poking above the skyline, those elements would be darkened and blued as well. No longer, with the Lightroom 6/Lightroom CC upgrade a few months back. This is how it works.

erase filters in lightroom before

The sky in this image was blown out. It was a gloomy-ish day, but the sky did have color in it when I snapped the photo.

First, I used the Graduated Filter Tool to darken the sky and add some color to it. Do you know how to do that? Click the Graduated Filter tool or type the shortcut (M) to activate it. Dial in the approximate settings that you want using the sliders on the right. Click and drag down the sky to apply the filter.

lightroom erase gradauted filter step 1

After applying the filter, tweak your adjustments. I knew that I wanted my sky to be darker and bluer, so I started with -.50 in the Exposure field and -40 in the Temperature field (this field adds blue). While this exposure did create a nice, deep blue sky, it didn’t look natural. I moved the Temp slider to -23 and took the Tint slider to 17. I also reduced Exposure to -1.15. Adding Magenta to the temp slider increased the stormy look of the sky.

erase filter in lightroom select brush

At this point, I’m happy with the appearance of the sky. However, the sky’s adjustment is bleeding down into the foreground and midground. See that light red overlay over the sky and top of the pile of tackle boxes? Not to mention the trees in the background. You can see the dark, bluish tint over the top tackle boxes in this image:

lightroom erase filter midpoint

Using the new Brush feature in Lightroom 6/Lightroom CC, I can either apply or remove adjustments with a brush. This works just about as well as a layer mask in Photoshop or Elements.

Like that red overlay, by the way? It shows where my local adjustment is. Turn it on by typing the letter O whenever you have the Local Adjustment Brush,  Graduated Filter or Radial Filter activated. Type the letter O again to turn it off.

To erase filters in Lightroom, go into the brush mode by clicking on the word “Brush” at the top right corner of the Graduated Filter panel. You can then scroll down to click on Erase. Your cursor will have a minus sign in the center to indicate that you are in Erase mode now. Size your brush appropriately (

[ makes it smaller and ] makes it larger), and brush over the areas of the filter that you’d like to remove.

erase filters in lightroom settings

In Erase mode, note that you have access to the handy Auto Mask feature. It reads the edges of the items in your image that you are brushing over and constrains the edit to them only.

After erasing, my mask overlay looks like this image below. You can see that the red overlay is no longer over the boxes or the trees.erase filters in lightroom mask after

And my final image is here:

Lightroom Erase Graduated Filter After

You can use the same process with the Radial Filter. On the image below, for example, I wanted to add a dark, blurred vignette.
lightroom erase radial filter before-1

I created a quick Radial Filter, but didn’t like the way it was darkening her skin. The mask is below:
lightroom erase radial filter mask before

And here is the full vignette. See those dark legs?
lightroom erase radial filter mid-1

Using the Radial Filter, you enter Erase Mode the same way: click on Brush, and then Erase. My final image is below. I like that the hair and backdrop are darker, but her skin looks naturally lit.
lightroom erase radial filter final-1

Summary: Erase Filters in Lightroom

When you are using the Graduated Filter or the Radial Filter in Lightroom, click on the Brush button at the top right corner of the tool panel, and then click on the word Erase at the bottom of the panel. You  are now in Erase mode and can fine tune your Graduated or Radial filter work.