How to Create a Spotlight Effect in Lightroom and Camera RAW Spotlight effect the easy way

In this video, photographer Anthony Morganti demonstrates a new and very quick and simple method for creating a spotlight effect in Lightroom (this will also work in Adobe Camera RAW).

Spotlight Effect made simple

We recently published an extensive video tutorial by photographer, Glyn Dewis that shows how to add a spotlight effect in Adobe Photoshop.

Since there are always different methods of reaching similar results (some faster and some slower and some can give you more control than others) we decided to bring you another look at the same topic, this time by Morganti who demonstrates the same concept but this time with a recent version of Adobe Lightroom (mind you the same principals will work in Adobe Camera RAW).

Using the new mask tools (that recently got some important upgrades) in Lightroom/ACR you can now very easily add a spotlight behind your subject wheater it is a person, product, or something else.

Start by selecting your subject with the “select subject” tool. Now invert that selection so you will only have the background selected. Now for the really important part. Since you want the spotlight effect on the background only and not the subject what you need to do is click the three dots icon next to the “mask 1” that we created and choose “intersect mask with” and choose a radial gradient.

Now paint that radial gradient just in the middle of your subject (or whenever you want it to appear) in either a full circle or an oval shape (again depending on how you want your spotlight to look and the shape of the object that you are trying to add a spotlight “behind”; pressing the shift key will keep the circle fully round). Make sure it is the size that you want and increase the exposure as much as you need and you are done.

You can also play with the color using the hue slider (this will not work on every background color mind you). Another problem that Morganti doesn’t mention is bending and you can clearly see the bending in both the images that Morganti demonstrated and these will need to be removed in most cases.

You can check out more useful Lightroom guides and tips in our LensVid Lightroom section. You can more videos of Anthony Morganti here on Lensvid.

Iddo Genuth
Iddo Genuth is the founder and chief editor of He has been a technology reporter working for international publications since the late 1990's and covering photography since 2009. Iddo is also a co-founder of a production company specializing in commercial food and product visual content.

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