Friday, June 29, 2007


Mastering this tool will help to ensure that you have continuous tones in your images

Digital correction with gradient mask techniques replaces and surpasses using traditional graduated filters. Not only can you make more precise corrections digitally, but with gradients you can control the placement of the gradient and transitions within it more precisely. The gradient is uncoupled from the exposure and is infinitely modifiable.

Below: The two far-left images were combined into the panorama shown below right. To keep the tones smooth across the composited panorama, a gradient was used. Evening out tonality is one of the most important uses for gradients, but it's by no means the only possible use.


You can do much more with this same principle. Here are a few of the things you can accomplish using gradient masks.
• Transition between stronger and weaker settings of a correction—enhance contrast and color balance selectively, reduce falloff, neutral density filtration, color filtration, add or remove vignetting, etc.
• Transition between dark and light exposures, extending dynamic range.
• Apply filtration selectively—sharpening, blurring, noise, etc.
• Transition between exposures with different points of focus, increasing depth of field.
• Transition between adjacent exposures of the same subject, increasing format.
• Transition between more saturated and less saturated renditions of an image, accentuating atmospheric perspective.
• Transition between the same image with two different white point settings, accentuating or creating the appearance of mixed light sources.

Believe it or not, this is only the beginning of the possibilities gradients offer. Mastering gradients is an essential digital skill.

Key Commands For Masks

There are a number of key commands that make masking and selections faster and easier. The first five key commands listed toggle.
• X reverses foreground and background colors
• Command I inverts a mask
• Shift Command I inverses a selection
• Option Click displays a grayscale mask in black-and-white
• Shift Click disables a mask
• Option Shift Click displays a mask in red
• Command Click loads a mask as a selection
• Shift Command Click adds to an existing selection (gradients add at 50%, then 10% increments)
• Control Click brings up a menu to select Disable Layer Mask, Delete Layer Mask, Apply Layer Mask, Add Layer Mask to Selection, Subtract Layer Mask From Selection, Intersect Layer Mask With Selection, Layer Mask Options...

Author of Adobe Photoshop Master Class, John Paul Caponigro is an internationally respected fine artist. His clients include Adobe, Apple, Canon, Epson, GretagMacbeth, Imacon and Kodak. See a live demonstration of this and other useful techniques at the Epson Print Academy (visit for details). Learn more by visiting, subscribing to his free e-news Insights and downloading his free tips.



Check out our other sites:
Digital Photo Outdoor Photographer HDVideoPro Golf Tips Plane & Pilot