Simulate Graduated Neutral Density Filter (Medium Density Correction)

In this tutorial, I will show you how to achieve the effect of using the Graduated Neutral Density filter to make the sky more dramatic using one simple gradient and Soft Light layer blending mode.

It is important to note, before we begin, that Photoshop is not a substitute for camera effects; if you have time in place, it is better to set the correct settings.
Often Grad ND filter darkens the bright areas of the image that can be difficult to restore.
Now I will postpone my affairs indefinitely, and we will be able to begin the lesson.

Step 1. Here is a snapshot taken by me on my way to Swan Valley, Idaho last year. I did not adjust the image, so as not to distract attention from the effect. Traditionally (because it was shot in Raw format) I would like to edit it using Photoshop Camera RAW before uploading to Photoshop, but for the sake of learning, here is an unedited image.

Step 2. Let’s add a new layer by clicking Create New Layer (Create New Layer) at the bottom of the layers panel. (* note: if you do not find this panel, add it in the Window – Layers tab (Window – Layers) or press F7)

Step 3. Although this file will contain only 2 layers, for practice it is worth renaming the new layer correctly. Double-click on the new layer (whose name is the default Layer 1 (Layer 1), change its name to something more appropriate, for example Graduated ND Filter.

Step 4. Set the default color to black by pressing the key D. If your toolbar is not displayed, open it by selecting Window – Tools from the main menu (Window – Tools from the main menu).
Switch to gradient , pressing the key G, and make sure the foreground is set to transparent in the gradient panel, which now appears at the top of Photoshop. Also make sure that the icon is selected. Linear gradient. (If you do not understand what it is about, see the screenshot below).

Step 5. Now, along with the gradient, holding the mouse button, swipe down from the top of the photo. (* note: while holding the key Shift the line will turn out perfectly smooth)

Step 6. Put the focus back on the layers panel and change blending options (Blend Mode) from Normal (Normal) to Soft light (Soft Light).The effect is similar to the glow of scattered light on the image. If the mixture of colors (light source) is lighter than 50% gray, the image is lightened, as if lit. If darker than 50% gray – darkened, as if burned. In an image with pure black or pure white, areas will become darker or lighter, but will not result in white or black.

Step 7. Sometimes this effect looks too gloomy. If this happened in your case, just lower Opacity layer (located next to the column where we just changed the blending mode). For my image, Opacity 80% is just right.

Step 8. Here is a picture of Before and After. Please note the sky has become more dramatic than the original, the blue color has become more contrasted.

Step 9. And here is the final result.

Author: Hero

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