Basic Photoshop – Create a Split ND Effect with a Layer Mask

This is a composite of two images, combined using a layer mask in Photoshop.

The graduated split neutral density filter has been a must-have filter for nature photographers for years.  The filter basically has a dark gray top half and a clear bottom half, with a gradual transition from gray to clear, and comes in a variety of strengths and gradations.  Placed in front your camera’s lens it allows you to capture detail in the bright highlights in the top half of a scene (usually the sky) and still capture detail in your shadow areas (I’ll be explaining how to do this in Week 9 of my on-line course.)  With the advent of digital photography, photographers are able to simulate this effect using a variety of techniques, from HDR processing to the shadow/highlight adjustment in Photoshop to liberal use of the recovery and fill light sliders in Adobe Camera Raw.

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Basic Photoshop Skills – Layer Masks

I used to consider the use of Layer Masks in Photoshop to be an advanced technique, but it has become such a commonplace and important part of post-processing photos, that I now think of it as a basic skill that all Photoshop users need to have in their arsenals. It can seem a little confusing at first, but once you understand how it works it is really quite simple and powerful. Continue Reading