Using the Graduated Filter tool

Today we’re talking all things graduated filter. It’s one of the best tools to apply ‘selective adjustments’ to an image. It’s perfect for fixing mix lighting situation, or for working on one area of a specific image that needs to be color corrected.

Here’s some of our favourite reasons for using the graduated filter!

Oh, and just because we love teaching keyboard shortcuts, here’s another to add to your repertoire. Just press ‘M’ to get the keyboard shortcut for the graduated filter.

Let’s get to it!

1. Correcting White Balance

The most practical use for this tool is combating mixed lighting. If you have a scenario that mixes tungsten ambient lighting with then natural light streaming in from a window, sometimes when you go to correct the white balance normally the image will still look off. So instead of leaving the two types of lighting contrast, or worse, getting bizarre colors from editing white balance normally, you can use this tool!

Using the graduated filter tool will allow you to select and control the temperate of a selected area. For this example, we could use the graduated filter tool over the window to control the temperate of that specific area.

2. Correcting Uneven Light

As photographers, we know that we often expose for a specific element in our images for a specific mood or style we’re creating. We also know, that when we do that, we might sacrifice a different area of the image. Basically, we’ve under or overexposed an image.

The graduated filter tool is perfect for these situations. You can use it bring detail back into an overexposure sky, or increasing exposure in an underexposed area.

3. Creative Effects

This is our favourite use of the graduated filter. Because the filter applies gradually, you can use the tool to add subtle effects to your images. For example, if you have light coming through a certain area of a photo, you can add extra warmth or a little bit extra light.

You can actually even use the tool to fake tilt shift. All you have to do is reduce sharpness and clarity two two sides of the image, and you’ve got the appearance of a tilt shift.

It’s a great feature to play around with and try different things! Let us know your favourite ways to play around with the tool, too!

For more tips on retouching check out this blog on Removing Distractions from your images, and this blog on using the fill:content-aware tool!

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