Tag: Graduated filters

Looking through these tutorials I’ve realised just how many use graduated filters. These are most useful for outdoor shots where there’s a bright sky and a much darker landscape beneath it – which is most of the time, in fact.

Sometimes this difference in brightness is fine and part of the appeal of the picture. At other times you might want to tone down the sky a little so that the contrast isn’t so strong. This is why landscape photographers often use grads on their lenses when they capture images.

But adding a graduated filter digitally gives you a lot more control. You can experiment with the strength, colour and position of the effect at your leisure rather than having to decide irreversibly on the spot. And with a ‘digital’ grad you can mask out tall objects so that they aren’t darkened along with the sky.

There are two things to keep in mind. The first is that you have to judge the exposure so that you keep highlight details in the brightest parts of the picture – shooting RAW will help preserve highlights. If these details are blown out, you can’t bring them back.

The second is to remember that grads aren’t just for skies. There are many pictures that will benefit from a shaded darkening effect down one edge, across the base or diagonally across the image.

That’s not all. Physical graduated filters can only darken, but a digital grad can also be used to lighten up an area of a picture that needs a ‘lift’.



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Life after Photoshop is dedicated to the wider world of image-editing beyond Photoshop and its technical, image-by-image approach. Here you’ll find tips, tutorials, reviews and ideas for everything from mobile photography to asset management, from one-click effects to professional workflows. Rod Lawton

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