Adjustment layers started out in Photoshop as a way of altering the look of an image without actually changing its pixels. It was the start of non-destructive editing. Now, adjustment layers are everywhere, not just in Photoshop, and for me they are the key to successful image enhancements. There’s a second factor, though – layer masks. Without layer masks, adjustment layers … [Read more...] about The power of adjustment layers and masks
Graduated filters are used most for outdoor shots where there's a bright sky and a much darker landscape beneath it. 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'.
I felt this scene needed to be captured with a deep, brooding intensity, and I particularly wanted to hold on to the textured cloud detail in the sky. Capturing a DNG file with Lightroom Mobile gave all the processing leeway needed. Well, I actually think you can. I like taking pictures with my iPhone. It’s partly a practical thing, as it’s the camera I always have with me. … [Read more...] about Can you really take proper pictures with a smartphone?
Sunsets don’t always come out the way you want them to, so here's a quick way to enhance them with a white balance adjustment and a graduated filter effect. This picture was shot using the auto white balance on a Nikon Z6 and while the colours are a pretty reasonable representation of how the scene actually looked, I wanted a warmer ‘sunset’ tone and a bit more depth and … [Read more...] about How to enhance a sunset with white balance and graduated filter adjustments
If you want to add a dark and brooding sky to your black and white photos then a graduated filter is the obvious way to do it. As long as the sky still has a full range of tones, i.e. it's not burned out to a solid white anywhere, you can practically do what you like with it. Here's an example. This picture is already quite rich and contrasty, but it would be nice to add … [Read more...] about Improve your compositions with two graduated filters not one
The Luminar Adjustable Gradient filter is a great tool for all kinds of photography, but for landscapes in particular. It tackles that thorny old problem of bright skies and dark ground and the brightness difference between them. You can fix this at the shooting stage by using a graduated filter on the front of the lens, but this takes a little longer to set up, and once you … [Read more...] about How to use the Luminar Adjustable Gradient filter
I was lucky enough to get a Fujifilm GFX 50S on loan for two weeks to review in Digital Camera and Professional Photography and I'm really impressed by the tonal range and subtlety it can capture. This became obvious when I started working on a set of shots from a drizzle-swept day on Exmoor. The sky was heavy and flat and there was very little colour, so I decided to try to … [Read more...] about Fine art black and white with the Fujifilm GFX
01 Shoot raw You can't recover detail in an overexposed sky if it's been clipped and lost forever in the original image. With a JPEG, what you see is what you get, but with raw files you've generally got an extra 1EV of 'invisible' highlight detail which can be recovered with a good raw converter. 02 Use coloured grads If you do have an overexposed, detail-free sky you might … [Read more...] about Top 10 graduated filter tips
Maybe you wouldn't normally think of Capture One Pro as an image-editor. It's a superb RAW converter and general image enhancement tool, but most of the time you'd probably swap to a plug-in or an external editor for really detailed effects work – especially any that required localised adjustments. • Capture One Pro 11.1 review But I've been spending some time with Capture … [Read more...] about Black and white in Capture One Pro
It's all very well giving advice about how to achieve certain effects using this software or that software, but it always strikes me that no-one ever talks about WHY you should use a particular effect with a particular subject. Books and magazines are very tied up with the mechanics of photography but rarely stray into the stuff that really matters – what we're trying to … [Read more...] about Budapest parliament
Here's a technique I use quite often to add a little extra drama and contrast to a scene. I use a graduated filter effect to darken the sky, and then a second graduated filter to darken the foreground. Using two graduated filters creates a powerful lighting effect and increases the tonal contrast of the picture – it's really effective where you have an image that already a full … [Read more...] about Graduated filters can go up as well as down!