Graduated Filter Photoshop | Graduated Filter Tool In Adobe Camera Raw Tutorial

Ian Middleton : Photography & Travel

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Graduated Filter Tool In Adobe Camera Raw Tutorial


[music] okay. Hi, everyone my name is. Jim Middleton, I’m a travel and landscape photographer and welcome to one of my video tutorials. Now in this video, I am going to show you a fantastic tool That’s available in both Lightroom and Adobe Camera Raw when used as a plugin with Adobe Photoshop. The tool is called the graduated filter tool. You can see it up here in this top row of tools here so here. It is graduated filter tool now. If you’re not familiar with what a graduated filter is quite simply. A real graduated filter is a a glass or resin filter, usually rectangular in shape, which goes over the front of your lens. And the idea is the top half of the filter is darkened. And the idea is that when you have a scene like this where you have a very, very bright sky and a not-so-great foreground, so basically, the balance between the brightness in the foreground and the brightness in the sky is too much for the camera to handle. Now when we look at it, we would see much more detail down here or much more detail in the sky, but the camera cannot its dynamic range is much lower than our eyes so traditionally. This graduated filter was put on the front of the lens and it still is today. I still use graduated filters myself. But now Adobe have developed this graduated filter tool, which emulates the graduated filter, but it gives us a whole extra host of features and things that we can adjust. So while a graduated filter on our lens will darken down this the top of our image to help us expose for the sky correctly and the foreground correctly, that’s pretty much it exposure, whereas the graduated filter tool in Adobe Camera Raw and Lightroom can do so much more. So I’m going to show you what it can do now. I’m using Adobe Camera Raw as a plug into Photoshop here, but as I said, if you’re a Lightroom user, you have the same tools within Lightroom so you can do exactly the same as what I’m doing here, except you’re just doing in Lightroom nozzle, okay, so, as I said, Typically, we’ll use a graduated filter to balance the brightness between the foreground and the sky. So here in this photo is a classic example of when you can have these kinds of problems. This photo was shot at sunrise, and, of course the. Sun is coming up behind the mountains here. So the sky is extremely bright and because the Sun is behind and the image is backlit, so this foreground of this church here is all backlit, That means that this foreground is much darker. So if I expose for the sky, then my foreground is too dark, but if I expose for my foreground, then my sky is too bright and overexposed, but if I expose to try to get a happy medium between the two, it still doesn’t. Look, right, so what I did here was. I bracketed my exposure and I took three shots now. When using graduated filter tall, It’s very important that you haven’t overexposed the sky to the point where you’ve burned out all the detail and it’s not retrievable in this case. I haven’t done that so the first thing to do obviously is select the tool. And then you can see this cross here. This cross is where your graduation will start now typically graduated filters that you put on your lens have a variation in the graduation. So the top half is duck. The bottom half is clear, but the transition from dark to clear is either very hard or very soft, traditionally, and, of course, the filters come in varying strengths. You can have a one two three or even a four stop neutral density graduated filter, so that basically means that the top half here in its full strength would be four stops or two stops difference, and then the graduation from four stops to zero would be either hard. If you buy a hard grad or soft. If you buy a soft grade, you can also now buy medium grads and also very hard grads. So quite simply, the difference would be if you have a scene like this. Where, between the mountains and the sky, there is a bit of detail here, and if you have a very hard graduation between the two like this, it’s quite obvious it looks horrible, but if you’ve got a scene where there’s like this, for example, where the horizon is flat, then as we can see here, the graduation is not so obvious. Okay, so that’s why in the field you would choose for a scene like this, A hard grad and for a scene like this, a softer graduation between the two, so it’s not so obvious. Let’s get rid of these beauty of the this graduated filter tool with the filters that you put on your lens. The either whether it’s a soft or hard grade is fixed. You know, basically, you can move it about to position it in your frame. But the graduation itself is fixed, whereas with this tool we can choose as hard or as soft as we want. So that’s one great feature about this tool so to use this tool, what you do is you? Take this cross here and you position it where you want the graduation to start. Okay, and if you hold down, you’ll see first of all. If you bit like this, it moves very easily so what you can do. If you hold down the shift key and click, then it will keep it straight now. The green is where the graduation starts and the red is where the graduation ends. So pull this down where you want the graduation to start and end, and also how much graduation you want. Now, you can also come here and pull this down. If you wanted stop further down here we go, and once you’ve done that over here on the right, you have all of the tools that you can use. Okay now, as I said, typically, we use it for exposure, so in this case, if I want to ball down if I wanted a to stop filter on there to stop and degrade that, I can pull my exposure down to minus two, so as you can see, it’s affected everything above the green and then everything between the green and the red is affected on a gradual basis and everything underneath the red is unaffected. Okay, so again once we’ve done that I can pull this up or down to adjust it to the right just to the right amount that I want, I can even. Yeah, I could move this down if I wanted to start in a different position, so I can just play around with it like this. I can darken it more if I want to. I can brighten it more if I want to. I can do anything I want, so let’s set that to about point two. I can also use other tools down here, not just the exposure, so another thing I could also do is pull my highlights tool down to bring more of the detail back into the highlight areas. I can, also if I want boost my saturation up there. I don’t want to do that, but I can if I want to. I can adjust the shadow areas within my scene. I can pull up the whites. We’ll, darken the whites I can darken the blacks brighten the blacks. I can adjust the texture. I can use the clarity tool. I can use the D haze tool saturation as you’ve just seen sharpness noise reduction Y reduction D fringe. All of these tools that you’re probably familiar with when using your Adobe Camera Raw for editing your picture as a whole, all of these tools are available here, but in this case, rather than applying the effect to the whole image, you’re only applying it to the area where you’ve set your graduation. So, as I said, the whole of the effect is applied above the green line and then between the green and the red line, it’s applied and a gradual basis and we can choose how hard or how soft we want that to be one other feature very quickly we can use is this range mask and what we can do here is select the luminance, and then we can actually select the luminance range, so we can actually apply this effect not only to this area, but also to either the bright parts or the dark parts, so we can choose to mask off actually, the darker parts and only affect the brighter parts A good way to see how this works is again. -, you know, in this case, you hold down the. Alt key. Now you can see here that when it’s on zero, the white part is showing you that your change is going to affect everything, but as we pull it over, we can actually mask off some areas so now we can see that the effect we apply will only be applied to some of the brighter areas. See, this is quite useful. You can see the difference here, you see when we pull the luminous mask right back the effects that I’ve applied up here are affecting everything, and if I pull this luminous mask over, then it’s affecting just the brighter parts, not so much the darker parts. Okay, you can also do the same with colors, you can select colors and, you know, mask off certain colors and just only have the effect would apply to certain colors in your image so just effectively gives you much more control. So there you have it. If you don’t like what you’ve done, you can always clear it and start again. You can actually apply multiple graduated tools as well. Not just one so. I could actually do another one here at the bottom. Let’s say it’s zero these for now and let’s say in this case, for arguments sake. I wanted to brighten the exposure in the foreground. I can do the opposite. I can bring that out. I could write in the shadows. Lift the shadows just in that area down there. There’s actually no limit. I couldn’t, I can apply multiple graduated filters to an image. But if I want to get rid of one then basically select the one you want to get rid of and here. The backspace to delete it so as an example of the flexibility of this tool and the things that you can do with it. I’ve chosen a number of photos here there, so I can show you some different examples. Okay, now as we saw on this one. Yeah, in this case. The horizon is very flat, so the transition between the bright sky and the darker foreground is very hard so in this case. I can simply use a hard grid. Let’s do dark, So if I just wanted to pull it down about this much. If we clear the tall away, you can clearly see the difference. So for this kind of scene. The hard ground is ideal again. I can adjust the highlights. Drink up the saturation to touch. Perhaps add a bit of color into that sky. I can even use the temperature tool up here, which will adjust my white balance but again only in the area. I’ve selected so I can. Even I can warm up the sky If I want. Okay, now for a scene like this a misty scene. There is no hard transition between the bright parts and the darker parts. It’s actually very soft so in the scene. I would use a soft bread on my lens. So in this case again, I could zero these best to zero. These one thing always good to remember after you’ve used this tool. Make sure when you use a new taller or you try to apply a new bread that you zero everything again. Okay, so in this case. I’m going to apply a very soft graduation Now with a real ND grad. I would never get one with such a soft transition between the two, so this is really, really good and again there we go can take this down as much as I want. Take it down to maybe one and a half clear that let’s look at before And after so, in this case, I could use it really. Soft, great now. In this scene here, there was a really great sky and believe it or not. There was some lovely pink colors in those clouds, but it was also a bit hazy so by exposing it correctly. I’ve got a bit of a washed out sky when opened in the raw file so again. I’ll use my grad tool here Zero. That the exposure is fine. I don’t need to do anything with the exposure. There’s nothing wrong there, but what I can do in this case is use my D haze tool to bring to cut through that haze and bring back some of that color. Maybe even use my highlights taller touch and even the maybe the saturation tool a little bit to bring back the color. That was there when I shot this photo there. We go so in this case. I didn’t need to use any exposure adjustment because the exposure in the sky was fine, but the haze was dampening the color in this photo. Now everything’s perfect with this guy, and everything’s perfect here, and this is really nice, but I would like to warm up this foreground area here now. If I had shot it with a cloudy or shady white balance, this would have warmed up the foreground nicely, but it would warm up the whole scene, making the green grass here, a bit dirty Brown looking and even the sky, also, so in this case again, it’s better rather than to do the whole thing to just use my grid tool. Yeah, and use the temperature slider to warm up just that foreground area again before, and after that’s all that’s needed there in this scene. I actually used a four stop grad to photograph. This and everything is fine in the sky. Here is fine, but still this area where the Sun came up is a little bit bright, so I could use the grad filter and rather than using it down like this, I could use it down like this. Let’s zero in that temperature slider for now and the D haze tool. So there we go, I could slide down my highlights tool to bring that back, but see how it’s affecting everything above and around. So if I clear that instead of actually coming down this way, I could actually just apply the grout filter to this area here. Bring it down from the side and then pull back the highlights here now, okay. I can move this around. Yeah, to try to make it look as natural as possible. So you can’t see the transition between the two. There we go now. I think that looks much better. Personally, there we go now again. I can still as I said. Apply another tool here. Take the highlights back again. I could use my temperature tool to warm up the whole of this guy, so I’ve used two tools here as I said, I don’t need to just apply one. I can apply as many graduations as I want and again in this scene if you’ve ever photographed with a polarizing filter on a wide angle, then you’ll be familiar with this. What often happens is that it darkens. One portion of the sky and one portion of the sky is very bright. So you’ve got an imbalance there so again. I can use my graduation to zero all of these and do like I did with the Sun. Pull it over here and darken this area of the sky to do balance up the brightness across the sky. There we go now. That looks a lot better, okay, so there you have it. The graduated filter tool in Adobe Camera Raw. And, as I said, you can use this same tool in Lightroom. It’s a fantastic tool and I use it all the time hope. This has been helpful. Thanks very much for watching and please like and subscribe if you haven’t subscribed already and tap that notifications Bell to make sure that you get notified of my future videos and catch you later. [music] you!