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16 How-To Tips for Using Photoshop Camera Raw

#39 Using the Graduated Filter Tool

The Graduated Filter is another very welcome new tool to Camera Raw CS4. This tool is based on a traditional photographic filter that helped photographers achieve correct exposure. In the same way, you can use this filter to make localized adjustments to specific areas of your image. While the Graduate Filter can be used make a wide range of adjustments (Exposure, Brightness, Contrast, Saturation, Clarity, Sharpness, Color), it is most typically used to darken bright areas of sky or to brighten dark areas of the foreground.

For starters, think of the Graduated Filter as a cousin to the Adjustment Brush (#38) because they both have similar controls. To use the Graduated Filter, click its icon on the toolbar or press G (Figure 39a). The options will appear under the histogram (Figure 39b).

Figure 39a

Figure 39a To select the tool, click the appropriate icon or press G.

Figure 39b

Figure 39b The Graduated Filter options.

Next, choose the type of adjustment you want to make in the Graduated Filter tool options by dragging the slider for any of the listed effects. After you have defined the adjustment, click and drag in the image.

Once you have dragged on the image, you’ll notice the overlay visuals, which show you where and how the adjustment will be made (Figure 39c). The green dot represents the start point at the beginning edge of the filter. The red dot represents the center of the ending edge of the filter. The black-and-white dotted line connecting the points represents the midline. The green-and-white and red-and-white dotted lines represent the beginning and end of the range of the effect.

Figure 39c

Figure 39c A Graduated Filter correction has been applied to the bottom image so that the sky is darker and more visually interesting. In addition, you can view the overlay graphics, which depict where the adjustment occurs.

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