Radial filter

A circular/elliptical selection, or mask, which you can move around the photo and resize to get just the effect you want. Typically, you can adjust the area inside the radial filter or outside it. It’s a quick and effective way to ‘relight’ a photo or concentrate attention on the main subject.

Graduated filter

Graduated filters are clear at the bottom but darkened at the top, with a smooth, graduated blend in between. You use them in landscape photography to tone down bright skies without affecting the land. You can also create graduated filters ‘digitally’ in image-editing software.

Gradient mask

An image mask that transitions from clear to opaque gradually using a soft gradient. It could be used to darken a bright sky in a landscape shot, for example, without producing a hard edge where the adjustment takes effect.

Dodging and burning

Classic black and white technique where certain areas of a print are held back (dodged) under the enlarger to make them lighter and others are given extra exposure (burning in) to make them darker. The terms are still used to describe the way images can be improved digitally.

Control Point

A special selection and adjustment tool used by the Google Nik Collection plug-ins, Control points operate over an adjustable circular radius and select only tones similar to the area under the central target. You can use them to adjust Brightness, Contrast, Structure, Saturation and more.


A simple manual tool for painting colour on to an image, making a selection or a mask, or applying an adjustment. You can change the size of the brush, its ‘hardness’ and its flow rate or opacity, all of which can help you adjust the effect and the way it’s built up.

Adjustment Brush

A tool used to ‘paint’ adjustments on to an image manually, and one of the key adjustment tools in Lightroom, for example. You may need to choose the adjustments you want to make, e.g. exposure, saturation, clarity and so on before you start painting although non-destructive photo editors let you make changes to these settings afterwards too. You can change the size, softness and opacity of the Adjustment Brush.