When we use the Linear Gradient tool, we are telling Lightroom Classic that we want to make a change to one side of our image. With the Linear Gradient tool, we can make changes to one side and then we can fade these changes away over a smooth transition zone so that the other side of our image remains unaffected.
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Usually when we use this tool on a typical landscape photograph, we will tell the program that we want it to change the top side of our photograph and then to fade our changes out so that they do not affect anything down near the bottom of our image.
Some of the most amazing tools inside of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic’s Masks panel are brand new inventions and others are updated versions of older features. The Linear Gradient tool in Classic v.11 is actually just an updated look for the Graduated Filter that many of us have been using to enhance our photographs since 2008.
Even though the Linear Gradient tool has been around for awhile, this is one of the more difficult features to master inside of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic. Linear Gradients, like all of the Masking features, are two-step operations. This one is harder to use than the new Select Subject or the Select Sky commands because you must specify what type of changes you want your Gradient to make plus you need to tell Lightroom where your Gradient’s transition zone should start and end.
Many Lightroom Classic users also find the Linear Gradient tool frustrating because it can be hard to drag nice straight transition zone out using your mouse or trackpad. The secret to keeping your Linear Gradients perfectly level is the Shift key on your keyboard.
If you press and hold the Shift key with one hand before you start to drag out a Gradient, and if you continue to hold that key down until after you have released the left button on your mouse or trackpad, then your Linear Gradients will always be nice and straight. Placing Linear Gradients with precision is a beast until you learn this essential keystroke!