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Create a digital graduated filter effect

Use the gradient tool to enhance your dull landscapes

|  Adobe Photoshop
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You don't need to shoot pictures with graduated filters if you have access to a computer and an image editing program...
Words & Pictures Peter Bargh ePHOTOzine

For years creative photographers have taken pictures using plastic graduated filters to add a colour or to tone down a bright sky. Now these filter effects are available for digital photographers using image-editing software.

First select a photograph that has a disappointing sky. In this example the sky was colourful, but when taking the photo the brightness difference meant that I either had to expose for the sky and have a dull foreground or, as I did, expose for the foreground and ignore the sky. An ND filter on the camera would have helped, but we are going to enhance the shot using a blue digital filter effect. Create a digital graduated filter effect

I used Photoshop Elements for this project, but any image editing program that has layers and a gradient filter can be used.
Create a new blank layer by clicking on the layer icon or from the Layer> New>Layer menu.

Create a digital graduated filter effect
Select the gradient tool from the toolbar and make sure the foreground colour is the colour that you want the graduated effect to be on the sky. I chose blue for this tutorial. On the horizontal menu bar that appears above the window you'll see a gradient pattern with an arrow to its right. Click on this and select the foreground to transparent (black to checkered) pattern. This will now be displayed as blue to checkered. Create a digital graduated filter effect
Now click at the top of the sky and, while holding down the mouse, draw a line so it reaches below the horizon (indicated by the tip of the red arrow in this illustration). Create a digital graduated filter effect
The blue gradation will now appear over the picture and on the new layer thumbnail Create a digital graduated filter effect

Select Multiply from the blend mode drop down list and then drag the opacity down to around 55% to reduce the hardness of the colour. That's all you have to do. Unless you want to change the colour.
  Create a digital graduated filter effect

If you select Hue/Saturation from the Adjust>Color menu you can play around with the sliders to create a multitude of colours and replicate the many variations of the optical graduate filter. Here I have created the popular Tobacco grad.
  Create a digital graduated filter effect

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