This method allows for some dramatic effects. Use it to alter the way the lighting looks in your photo by masking out some of the brightness.
With your image open select your curves layer (one that you have used to lighten your photo to your liking). Make sure the mask is selected.
Then select the gradient in your tools on the left side. At the top of the screen open the gradient and make sure you have foreground/background selected and that your colors are white and black. Click ok….
First be sure you are using the second gradient option, the circle, at the top of your screen . Put your pointer at the center point of where you want your lighter area to be and drag it down, doesnt matter which direction. Play with it over and over again, no need to undo, just try again, till you like it. Be sure that in the layer mask the black area is the majority and the white is a smaller white circle, if it is opposite then switch your colors and try again.
The finished product. It should be brighter in the center and darker towards the edges. I started using this method originally with landscapes. You can use this method with the linear gradient and make a Photoshop Nuteral Density Filter! Make the sky darker while keeping the ground brighter or vise versa.