When one of our favorite nature photography instructors chooses one Lightroom tool above all others, we stop and take note. And in the tutorial below he demonstrates multiple ways to use this powerful technique to enhance all types of outdoor photos.
A major challenge when photographing the great outdoors is properly balancing a wide range of tones. This means avoiding blown-out skies while retaining details in foreground shadows, and accurately exposing everything in between.
So what is this singularly “amazing” tool? According to British pro Nigel Danson, it’s Lightroom’s oft-ignored Graduated Filter. As you’ll see, Danson use this tool to do much more than correctly balance exposure in scenes with a wide range of brightness levels.
Danson walks you through various methods of employing the Graduated Filter for different types of photos, and you’ll see why this technique requires less guesswork than expensive neutral density (ND) lens filters that are often used for similar purposes. We bet that after watching this 12-minute tutorial, you’ll add Lightroom’s Graduated Filter to your bag of tricks.
One of the ways Danson uses the Graduated Filter besides balancing exposure, is to selectively adjust colors in an image. Once you specify a color, let’s say the green foliage in a nature scene, it’s an easy matter to make that hue brighter or darker, pump up the vibrance, add a bit of warmth, and more.
Danson also demonstrates how to add drama to pale skies, combine luminance or color masks with the Graduated filter to adjust certain portions of an image with far greater precision, modify color temperature, and even add the appearance of fog to a landscape shot.
There’s much more to learn in this quick tutorial, so be sure and take a look. When you’re done, head over to Danson’s YouTube channel for more helpful tips.
And be sure to check out another video we shared, with what another pro says is the best Photoshop tool for making precise color adjustments to landscape photos.