STEP BY STEP ADD DRAMA TO YOUR LANDSCAPES
Learn how to darken an overexposed sky and pull out hidden details to boost a dull shot
01 Load the tool
Open your landscape into Camera Raw and make initial adjustments to the tones in the Basic panel, then grab the Graduated Filter from the toolbar. Click the minus icon next to the Exposure slider on the right a few times – this loads the tool with an adjustment.
03 tweak the tones
Head to the sliders on the right and alter Exposure to lighten or darken the adjustment. Next try other sliders – for dull cloudy skies like this an increase in Clarity and Dehaze can boost the details. We have Exposure -0.50, Contrast +7, Clarity +29, Dehaze +30.
05 Paint to subtract
If we need to refine what is covered by the adjustment, we can paint freehand. Click on the Brush option at top right then click the minus brush icon below. Hit Y to toggle the mask overlay on, then paint to subtract the adjustment from any areas of the land covered.
02 drag a grad
Click on the middle part of the sky and drag down towards the horizon. If you hold Shift as you drag, the lines will be perfectly horizontal. Then, you can tweak the length or angle of the lines. Hit Y at any time to toggle a mask overlay on, this shows what’s covered.
04 use range Masking
Our adjustment is darkening areas of the land we want to keep unaffected. Set Range Mask: Luminance in the settings on the right. Hold Alt and drag the black point slider across. The areas in black will be protected. Alt-drag the Smoothness slider to tune.
06 add another
We’re free to add as many grads as we like. Often with skies a second grad nearer the top of the frame can add to the effect. Click the minus icon next to Exposure again. This resets any previous settings, allowing you drag another grad as shown.