Join Michael Ninness for an in-depth discussion in this video Fixing blown-out skies with the Graduated Filter tool, part of Photoshop CS5 Essential Training.
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When you are shooting photographs on a hazy day or looking at a landscape like this or the sky is a bit hazy off in the distance, photographers often use kind of a cool little device called a Graduated Neutral Density filter and it's literally a piece of glass that you screw on at the end of your lens where it's darkened on the top and graduates out to being a clear piece of glass. And what that does is it gives you more contrasts and cuts through the haze of the sky, well the cool part about Camera Raw is that you actually have digital graduated filters and they're very flexible, you can do a lots with them. Let's take a look at that.
Up in the toolbar you'll see there is this little Graduated Filter tool, you can press the letter G for that. I am going to go ahead and click on that and what that does is switches the panels over on the right to a set of attributes that you can apply in a graduated way, so like a gradient mask if you will. So you can set things like Exposure, Brightness, Contrast, Saturation and so forth and decide exactly where you want that adjustment to occur by actually dragging out a gradient. So I want the sky to have a Contrast look a little bluer, not so washed out.
So I am going to start up here towards the top of the sky. I am going to click and start dragging, I am going to hold the Shift key down as I drag to make sure that I get a straight line. Now you can rotate this and let go the Shift key, you can make this be any angle you want. I'll hold down the Shift key and continue to drag that straight down, and I am going to drag the red line right to about the wall here, right where the horizon line of that wall in the background is, and what this has done is created a green to red. So at the beginning of the effect and the end of effect.
Right now, the only thing that's changing is the Brightness value. So I am actually going to double-click on the Brightness and take that down to back to zero. The Graduated Filter panels remember the last settings you use. So I am going to take Clarity back to its default and what I want to do is lower the Exposure to darken that sky and you can see as I move that slider to the left only the sky is getting dark and not the rest of the image, because it's only occurring where this gradient has been drawn and it's going from 100% to 0%.
So if you want to tighten up the effect you can just redraw or readjust the gradient. If I click on the red dot and drag up, again holding down the Shift key to constrain it you can see that gradient is being applied to a smaller area. I can go ahead and drag that back down and make it even come into the car if I want. So it's really up to you. It's very flexible, instead of just a rigid piece of glass that you have in the end of your camera you actually have this as a very valuable tool and very customizable tool and put it wherever you want. Then you can actually create multiple gradient filters on the same image.
If I am happy with this effect I can go ahead and lower the Brightness down a little bit as well, maybe increase the Saturation and it's really up to you what you want to do with this. I am going to drag out a second gradient and if you just click anywhere other than the inside of this gradient or if you want to be sure you can always click the New button over here, but since I am not clicking within an existing gradient range I'll just go ahead and start clicking and dragging to drag out a second one. Since I am dragging from the bottom to the top, the green is on the bottom and the Red is on the top now. So it's just going in the opposite direction and you can see it's doing the exact same adjustment but to a different region of the image now.
So it's using the same settings. The great thing about these Graduated Filters is that they are of course, non destructive and they can be edited at any time. So if you want to go back and adjust it further you can just select each gradient. If I click on one of the dots, it targets that gradient and I can further adjust it. If I want the Exposure to be just not so dark there and just lighten it up a little bit and maybe on the bottom one, I want that to be even darker. And again, you have lot of flexibility on how you want to use these Graduated Filters. Play around them, they are very interesting and fun tools.
They actually are used for very practical purposes, but you can also do a lot of creative effects with them as well, by combining a bunch of these sliders to create an overall interesting effect. As you're using the Graduated Filters and if specially if you start using more than one, the icons and lines themselves can be a little bit distracting. So you have a way to turn those on and off as well. There is a little checkbox here called Show Overlay and you can either turn off the checkbox or you can press the letter V to turn those on and off. So V to toggle them off and V to toggle them on.
It's helpful to see them if you want to edit them, but when you just want to view your image without that extra chrome, overlaying your image, just press the letter V on your keyboard to make them go away. Then of course, if I want to see the before and after I'll press the letter P, there is where we started. Press the letter P again and there is where we ended. And you can see I have a much richer looking sky that's not so hazing blown out and has a little bit more depth and color to it.
- Automating image adjustments with Camera Raw
- Adding keywords, ratings, and other metadata to images
- Filtering a large collection of images down to the "keepers"
- Cropping, correcting perspective, and straightening images
- Creating, naming, hiding, and deleting layers
- How to make selections and masks quickly
- Improving mask quality with Refine Edge
- Techniques for combining multiple images
- Non-destructive editing techniques with adjustment layers and Smart Filters
- Retouching essentials, such as blemish removal and body sculpting
- Color correcting images
- Using the essential blend modes, layer effects, and styles
- Creating contact sheets and web photo galleries