Author: Rod Lawton

How to stack filters in Color Efex Pro 4

Google’s Color Efex Pro 4 (part of the Nik Collection) doesn’t just apply individual filters – you can also combine, or ‘stack’ filters to create a cumulative effect. I’ve used it here to add a warm, dreamy glow to this minimalist landscape in order to show how this  stacking system works. The start shot is pretty uninspiring, but with the right mix of filters it should be possible to turn it into something much more interesting. 01 Adding extra filters I’ve started out by adding a Graduated Filter effect to create a blue sky. The precise settings aren’t important...

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Create a tilt-shift effect with Snapseed

Tilt-shift effects depend on two things – an understanding of how the illusion is created and the right kind of subject. The illusion is caused by a defocusing effect before and behind the subject. This is what we’re used to seeing in close-up photography, where the depth of field is limited and only a narrow region of the subject is sharp. When we see this applied to a full-size subject, it makes it look like a table-top model – but only if the subject is right. Actually, this is the tricky part. The tilt-shift effect only works well when...

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Better colours with curves adjustments

Contrast and saturation are closely related. Sometimes you can end up increasing saturation when really it’s the contrast that was the problem. That’s why it’s always a good idea to fix an image’s contrast and tonal properties before you start worrying about its colour. And one of the best tools for doing this is curves. You can apply curves adjustments in a whole range  of applications, including Photoshop, Lightroom, Capture One and here, in Aperture on the Mac. Curves adjustments work the same whatever program you use. In this case I’m applying a classic ‘S-shaped’ curve to boost both...

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Lightroom’s Graduated Filter tool in action

Lightroom’s Graduated Filter tool is great. It’s designed to replicate the effect of real-life graduated filters in landscape photography, reducing the brightness of skies so that there’s less of a contrast difference with the landscape itself. It’s not much good if the sky is so overexposed that there’s no detail left, but if you shoot RAW files it’s usually possible to claw back enough sky detail. And that’s the great thing about Lightroom – you’re working directly with RAW files, so you can pull back a bright sky using the RAW data, without any intermediate conversion process. This means...

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Boost contrast with Silver Efex Pro’s vignettes

The old-fashioned art of black and white photography went far beyond the initial picture-taking. Another, equally important creative process took place in the darkroom, where the image was dodged and burned to enhance the tones and concentrate the viewer’s gaze on the subject and composition. Dodging and burning is a bit of a lost art. It’s a lot easier with digital than it was in the darkroom, of course, but now that black and white is more of a minority interest than a mainstream technique, people seem to have forgotten how to do it, when and why. But a...

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