Create Graduated Neutral Density effects in Photoshop by blending two exposures into one. In landscape photography, graduated neutral density filters help balance the bright sky and keep it from losing detail and getting overexposed while maintaining clarity and detail in the areas below the skyline. In the digital age we can use software to fix many of these problems if we don’t have a filter at hand. One way to do this is by blending two different exposures of the same image.
Blending two exposures:
Here is the same image shot with different exposure times. Notice the one on the top has more tonal variation and detail in the sky and the one on the bottom has more detail and variation below the skyline:
To give us the best of both exposures, we are going to blend the two layers using a layer mask with a gradient fill:
1) In photoshop, place the image with the best details in the sky on a lower layer
2) on the layer above, place the exposure with the best details below the skyline, then create a layer mask
3)With the mask selected, activate the gradient tool in the toolbar
With the mask selected, start from the top of your picture while holding shift+mouse about 1/5 the way down and release. You may have to do this a few times, dragging more or less down the image, to get the desired result.
That’s it! You may wish to continue editing color or whatever, but now you have an image with balanced tonality in the land and sky.
Thanks for stopping by. I hope you found this tutorial useful. Come back and see part 2 of Making the Grade.