Working with graduation filters in Capture One Pro 6
February 17, 2011 3 Comments
You can easily make a Local Adjustment Layer in Capture One Pro 6 that will work similarly to a physical graduation filter.
Graduation filters can often be used to improve landscape images. Typically, the sky is too bright compared to the foreground and in a normally exposed image this will lead to loss of color intensity in the sky as well as loss of definition of the clouds. A graduation filter can balance this out in a pleasing and natural looking way.
A Local Adjustment Layer in Capture One Pro 6 can be copied to other images. A graduation type Local Adjustment Layer will often work equally well for similarly composed images, and the ability to paste the local adjustments to other images can speed up the enhancement process dramatically.
The image on the left has come straight out of the camera. It is a typical landscape example where the sky is too bright compared to the foreground and the haze makes the blue sky look muddy. The image on the right has been corrected in Capture One Pro 6 with a graduation filter like Local Adjustment Layer.
How to make a graduation filter in Capture One Pro 6
To make a graduation filter in the Local Adjustments Tool, you start by adding a new Adjustments Layer.
The secret in making a graduation like adjustments layer is to set the Hardness to 0 and to select a brush with a large Size. The effect of the graduation filter needs to blend into the image very softly in order for the image to look natural. When adjusting for the right Brush size, I place the Brush cursor almost in the upper left corner of the image. I adjust the size until the circle fills approximately 80 % of the height of the sky. Then, I draw the mask by moving the curser parallel to the upper limit of the image all the way from the left side to the right side of the image.
We have now established the graduated mask for the local adjustment layer. Now it is time to set up the needed adjustments. For this example, I bring down the brightness to around -20 to -30. It helps a lot but the sky still has a muddy blue color and an additional correction in the Color Editor is needed. I pick the color of the muddy blue sky and make a correction of the Saturation by +23 and Lightness by -15.
Often, I add a second graduation filter like adjustments layer to optimize the foreground. The principles are the same as before but this time the graduation is for the bottom and up: Set Hardness to 0 and adjust Size until the outer circle covers about 80% of the distance from the bottom of the image to the horizon. Again, draw the mask parallel to the edges of the image but this time along the bottom of the image. Often I bring up the brightness a bit and add some Color Edits.
Once you master the basic ideas of the graduation filter it is easy to experiment to see what works best for you. I often try to optimize the graduation for a better match to the actual split line between the sky and the landscape. Instead of drawing the mask straight parallel to the edges of the image I try to largely follow this split line. If you do so, then make sure that you apply the mask fully at the edges of the image. Remember that if you optimize the graduation mask for a specific image then it should only be used for this.