Cre­ate per­fect ex­po­sures

James Pater­son gets to grips with the Grad­u­ated Fil­ter tool and shows how to en­hance land­scape scenes within sec­onds

NPhoto - - CONTENTS -

Add a vir­tual grad to tease out ex­tra de­tail and in­ten­sity

Of all the tools avail­able in Pho­to­shop’s Cam­era Raw plug-in – or in­deed in the en­tirety of Pho­to­shop – the Grad­u­ated Fil­ter is one of the most use­ful, es­pe­cially when it comes to tweak­ing your land­scape pho­to­graphs.

The tool al­lows you to make a lin­ear ad­just­ment over part of your photo, pro­duc­ing a tran­si­tional blend of tones. Any­where be­yond the first point that is typ­i­cally de­fined will be en­tirely af­fected by the tonal set­tings that you in­put, with a grad­ual fall-off. This is en­tirely de­ter­mined by the length of the line that you drag.

As such, it en­ables you to care­fully cre­ate pos­si­ble en­hance­ments to key ar­eas of your pho­tos. It’s ef­fec­tive for balanc­ing a scene in which one part might be darker or brighter than an­other.

With land­scapes, this can oc­cur when we in­clude sky and land, as skies tend to be brighter. Achiev­ing such a bal­ance would in­volve a lens-mounted grad­u­ated neu­tral den­sity fil­ter to limit some of the light from the sky. This is an ap­pro­pri­ate op­tion for many scenes, but the Grad­u­ated Fil­ter tool in Cam­era Raw of­fers more con­trols.

Not only can we hold back ex­po­sure, we can also boost con­trast and de­tail, which is ideal for boost­ing flat, fea­ture­less skies like the one we start with here. What’s more, we re­tain a fine de­gree of con­trol over what is af­fected by the grad; once ap­plied, we can go on to tar­get spe­cific por­tions of the sky, ei­ther by free­hand brush­ing or by us­ing in­tel­li­gent tools like Range Mask­ing. Let’s take a look at some of the fea­tures of this tool…


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