Photoshop tutorial: Digital graduated filters enhance landscapes in seconds

(Image credit: James Paterson)

Of all the tools available in Photoshop CC’s Camera Raw plugin – or indeed in the entirety of Photoshop – the Graduated Filter is one of the most useful, especially for landscape photographs. The tool allows you to make a linear adjustment over part of your photo, creating a transitional blend of tones. Anywhere beyond the first point that is defined will be entirely affected by the tonal settings you input, with a gradual fall-off determined by the length of the line you drag.

As such, it enables you to create enhancements to areas of your photos. It’s useful for balancing a scene in which one part might be darker or brighter than another. With landscapes, this can occur when we include sky and land, as skies tend to be brighter. Achieving such a balance would involve a lens-mounted graduated neutral density filter to block some of the light from the sky. This is a good option for many scenes, but the Graduated Filter tool in Camera Raw offers more controls. 

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

James Paterson

The lead technique writer on Digital Camera MagazinePhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine and N-Photo: The Nikon Magazine, James is a fantastic general practice photographer with an enviable array of skills across every genre of photography. 

Whether it's flash photography techniques like stroboscopic portraits, astrophotography projects like photographing the Northern Lights, or turning sound into art by making paint dance on a set of speakers, James' tutorials and projects are as creative as they are enjoyable. 

He's also a wizard at the dark arts of Photoshop, Lightroom and Affinity Photo, and is capable of some genuine black magic in the digital darkroom, making him one of the leading authorities on photo editing software and techniques.