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In an ideal world, when we see a landscape that we want to photograph, the light would be just perfect. But in reality, many times when I'm traveling between locations, I don't have time to wait for the light to change. So, we make due with what we have. Luckily, Camera Raw has a very quick solution to fix an image like this. I'm going to select the BlackSand image, and then open it in Camera Raw using command + R or control + R. I want to darken down this sky and also lighten up the foreground area here where the rocks are. And in order to make a selective adjustment like this, I'm going to tap the G key.
The G key will automatically select my gradient filter tool. Now the first thing you'll notice is, over here on the right hand side, there are a lot of different attributes that you can load this gradient filter with. And by load, I mean you can tell it to change things like exposure, either increasing it or decreasing it. You can change the contrast or the highlights. You can change shadows, clarity, saturation. You can even change sharpness and reduce noise. You can get rid of a moire, you can also change the amount of defringing selectively, and you can even add a color overlay.
So now that I've made a bunch of changes to these sliders you might be wonderng why nothings happening in the image.i It's because I'm just telling Camera Raw what I want it to preload the brush with. Now if I want to reset these all back to their starting positions. Instead of double clicking on each slider, I can pick a single slider and then either click on the minus or the plus icon. As soon as I click on this icon, it will reset all of the other sliders to zero, except for the one where I clicked, in which case it would increase the exposure.
Well I actually want to do the opposite. So let's decrease the exposure. Again, nothing's happening in the image area. I'm just pre-loading the brush with what I want to paint. Now in order to drag this graduated filter, I'll start near the top of my image, and click and drag down. You'll notice that I'm dragging at different angles but if I want to constrain this I can hold down the Shift key, now it's constrained to a vertical motion. When I let go, I can then reposition the graduated filter by either clicking on the bar in the center and dragging it up or down.
Or I can change the fade range, basically, where it starts in this green dot and that green dotted line. That's where the effect that I've loaded over here on the right will be applied in 100% and in that effect, we'll gradually fade or drop off until we get to the red dot where there will be no more effect. So if I want to, I can go ahead and shorten that. Or we can lengthen that or we can adjust that at any point in time. Not only that, I can rotate it. Now it's helpful if you actually move your cursor further away from those dots. If your cursor's really close to the dots and you try to rotate then a very small move on screen will give you a large rotation.
So it's a little harder to control. If you move your cursor away from that red dot, now I can click and drag. And you can see, I have much more control, because it takes me a longer drag, and that longer drag will actually create a shorter rotation. All right, now all of these options of course, are re-editable. As long as I've got the graduated filter selected, I can come back in here at any time, and change the amount of the exposure for example. I can even add another parameter. So if I wanted to also decrease the highlights, I could.
Or if we scroll down, if I decided that I wanted to add a little bit of a tint to the clouds. I could click in the Color Swatch and then add maybe like a yellow tint, or we could add a very cold tint by moving over towards the blues. I like that, we'll click Okay. Now we can toggle this on and off with a preview by tapping the P key. So there's before and there's after. I can also hide the interface by tapping the V key. So now when I tap P, there is before, and there's after. Then to bring back the interface, I'll tap the V key again. Now I want to create a secondary graduated filter down at the bottom. In order to do this, I'll click on the New button, and then I'll preload this with a positive exposure.
0.5 might not be enough so I'm going to increase that a little bit. And then I'll click near the rock area and drag up towards the mountains at a little bit of a angle. Again if I need to reposition it I can click on the black and white dotted line here. If I want to change the angle or rotate it a little bit, I'll click and drag on either of these lines. Now I like the fact that I've added kind of a streak of light across the image here but I don't like that the foreground area was also lightened. So I'm going to add one more graduated filter I'm going to click new and this time I'm going to load it with exactly the opposite exposure. That way when I click and drag down from the bottom you can see that I'm adding a little bit more of a burn down there, so I'm basically removing the effect of the second graduated filter.
But I'm removing it only down here at the bottom, so again if I tap on the V key in order to hide the interface and then tap the P, we can see the preview of before and after. Now let's tap the V key again to bring back the interface, and I just want to mention that of course I can go back at any point in time and click on any of these other pins and make additional changes to exposure. Or if we click on the adjustment up here, we could even go back in. If we decide we don't like the color overlay, we can remove that. So there you go.
With just a few carefully placed graduated filters we can greatly enhance our images by adding light to the areas that we want in order to focus the viewers attention to those areas that are more important.
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