Another Useful Lightroom Tip Your Mom Never Taught You

Adobe Lightroom is a program full of many different little tips and tricks just waiting to be discovered. In this short video I show you one of my favorites which allows you to apply a selective focus technique to your photo without having to open it in Photoshop. This technique is especially useful if you want to draw your viewers attention somewhere specific in the photo.

Once you've decided where you would like to draw the attention you can choose either the graduated filter (M) or radial filter (Shift-M). Reduce the Sharpness slider down to -100. Then apply the filter.

Now here's the trick. Once the filter has been applied you can duplicate that same filter by just holding down Command+Option on Mac or Control + Alt on PC and then click and drag on the filter pin. Doing that will create a duplicate copy and apply the effect for a second time. Often one filter at -100 Sharpness does not do enough to the photo to really see the effect. By using this little trick you can apply the filter many more times in just a matter of seconds. 

One thing to watch out for is if you use this effect be sure that your other sliders are zeroed out. If not, they will also have that same effect applied on the photo each time you duplicate the filter pin. In this example you can see my Exposure slider is at -0.07. As a result each time I applied the filter the exposure was affected as well resulting in the vignette around my couple. This is not ideal. Ideally all my sliders would be a zero before applying the selective focus filter.

Here are a few more examples where I used the effect in Lightroom to draw more attention to certain areas of my photo. 

Hopefully this quick tip and video will be useful the next time you are trying to apply selective focus to an area of your photo. Do you have a favorite tip you love in Lightroom or something you would like to learn? Let me know in the comments below and if I use your tip or answer your question I'll mention you with a link to your website in the next article.

Trevor Dayley's picture

Trevor Dayley ( was named as one of the Top 100 Wedding Photographers in the US in 2014 by Brandsmash. His award-winning wedding photos have been published in numerous places including Grace Ormonde. He and his wife have been married for 15 years and together they have six kids.

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Nice, thank you for sharing! I have been doing so many Lightroom Tutorials the past week, this will come in handy for sure!!

What an amazing tip!!! Thanks man!

nice tips, thanks for sharing this !

sweet! now i can sell off all my pro glass and just stick with my kit lens.

I've done this, but what I find even more useful is the ability to use increasing sizes of radial filter selections to give the appearance of depth of field. One other trick I have found useful is to use the ability to duplicate and invert and then add sharpness inside.

Can't believe lightroom doesn't have a simple blur tool built in yet

Neat quick and nifty

Am I the only one who just thinks the close up of the couple especially just looks like a cheap effect from a porno cover?

and why not use the clarity slider, it de focus a little mor than droping sharpness

Super! There's a person with a "chrome dome" in the foreground that I want to deemphasize, actually wipe out the people, for the background, which was the primary subject.

Thank you. This is great for us learning. Short and to the point!

Do you have to have Lightroom 5 or newer for this to work?