Adobe's decision to release new versions of Photoshop, through their Creative Cloud subscription model only, has caused quite an uproar throughout the photography community. I don't want to rehash all that controversy here. Everyone needs to make their own decision on the value versus cost argument. While Lightroom is included in the Creative Cloud subscription, you can still purchase it as a separate product. Mark and I have been Lightroom fans/instructors since its beginning, and the newly-released Lightroom 5 is not going to change that. In my opinion, for those who want only one photography program, Lightroom is the best program to own.
There are quite a few changes in Lightroom 5, and, over the next several weeks, we'll discuss some of them. One of my favorites is the Radial Gradient, found in the Develop module.
The Radial Gradient is great for creating custom vignettes on your photos. When you use the Post-Crop Vignetting tool, you'll get a uniform vignette. It's a great tool, but sometimes you want a little more control over the shape and size of your vignette. There are work-arounds to create custom vignettes, but they take a little time and experience to work them out. With the Radial Gradient, you gain control and ease of use.
Here is a photo with a vignette using the Post-Crop Vignetting. I've exaggerated the vignetting to make it easier to see the uniform shape and application of the vignette.
Notice the four handles around the vignette. I can adjust the size, shape, and orientation of the vignette. In fact, this tool has all the options of a brush. I can change all the basic development areas.
I can, also, invert the gradient, so the effects are applied inside the oval. You can see the check box at the bottom of the image. But, wait, there's more! Unlike the Post-Crop Vignette, you can add as many gradients as you can fit on the photo. Each one can have different settings. Don't think of it as a custom vignette tool, but another easy way to emphasize certain parts of your photo. I can create multiple gradients throughout the photo, creating little pools of light or dark.
The new Lightroom 5 is worth the upgrade for the Radial Gradient, alone. The versatility gain, with all of the brush options, will keep me experimenting until Lightroom 6 comes out. It allows you to do much more than custom vignetting. Download the free trial and see if you agree. Have as much fun as these two.