How To Color Grade Images With Gradient Maps In Photoshop

Colin Smith shows you how to use gradient maps to add stunning color effects to your photos instantly and where to find the hidden treasure of gradients that ship with Photoshop.

0:00 Using the Gradient Map

1:22 What a Gradient Map does

2:03 How to make the Gradient Map look great

2:56 Accessing Photoshop’s Gradients

4:34 Creating photographic effects

Find out more from Colin Smith at Photoshop Cafe.

Learn more in my digital photography and digital printing workshops.

The Art Of Visual Storytelling

 

What makes your images yours is your point of view. To find your voice tell your story.

 

Plan Your Story

 

Storytelling    Free to Members
Every picture tells a story.

Make Plans    Free to Members
Increase your productivity and fulfillment by making a plan.

Define a Project    Free to Members
Focus your creative efforts and create an action list to achieve your goals.

Developing Personal Projects
Defining a project is one of the single best ways to develop your body of work.

Keep Your Current Projects Visible
What kinds of visual reminders would be helpful to you?

Perform An Annual Creative Review
At the beginning of every year I review the accomplishments of the past year.

The Benefits Of Performing An Annual Image Review
You’ll learn a great deal about your vision when you perform an annual image review.

The Benefits Of Selecting Your Top Images
Find your current best works and compare them to your past.

 

Work Your Story

 

Watch your thoughts develop faster and more clearly with collections.
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Finding Your Best Work  Free to Members
Find your best work efficiently.
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Sleepers & Keepers
Our strongest images combine immediate impact and staying power.

A Singular Image    Free to Members
Identify the superstars in your work.

A Dominant Impression    Free to Members
How to find the “Dominant Impression” in your work.

A Train of Thought    Free to Members
Look for the ways you approach making photographs and think visually.

A Body of Work    Free to Members
Bodies of work add depth to and extend ways of seeing.

Outliers
They’re the images that don’t fit neatly into a body of work.

7 Benefits Of Returning To Locations
With so many wonderful places, why return to the same location more than once?

 

Structuring Your Story

 

Photoessay    Free to Members
Expand your storytelling process.

Storyboarding    Free to Members
Create a guiding structure to help focus and strengthen your work.

Continuity    Free to Members
Continuity lies at the heart of the art of storytelling.

Arranging    Free to Members
Sequence your work for impact and clarity.

Transitions    Free to Members
Use transitions successfully to move from one image/idea to another.

 

Expanding Your Story

 

Variation    Free to Members
Learn key strategies for expanding your work.

Combination    Free to Members
Create synergy between existing elements in your images.

Reversal    Free to Members
Use reversal to open new doors in your creative process.

 

Your Next Story

 

Your Next Story  | Coming

 

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Photographer Dorothea Lange – A Visual Life

“Excerpts from the film, Dorothea Lange: A Visual Life. The film was produced and directed by Meg Partridge,(1994).This film is an engaging and penetrating look at a life devoted to photography, profiling the life and work of an artist who recorded some of the most evocative photographic images of the 20th century. Dorothea Lange’s artistic achievements and untiring investigations into the diversity of American life and culture are presented through interviews with her sons and assistants.”

View 12 Great Photographs collections here.

Explore The Essential Collection Of Quotes By Photographers.
Explore The Essential Collection Of Documentaries On Photographers.

How To Reduce Image Noise With Photoshop's Filters

Antarctica LXIV
Photoshop offers several filters designed to reduce noise – Despeckle, Dust and Scratches, Median, and Reduce Noise. They’re all useful for modest amounts of noise. They may be all you need for an extra pass of noise reduction after Raw conversion.
Build yourself a safety net when using these filters. Don’t apply them to the Background layer. Apply them to a duplicate of the Background layer. Then you’ll be able to redo noise reduction at any time in the future. Noise reduction tools will surely improve as time passes. You’ll also be able to mask the effect to affect only selected portions of an image, use Layer Styles Blend If sliders to restrict an effect to shadows, midtones, or highlights, and use Blend Modes to target luminosity, hue, or saturation.
A deeper look at these four filters will benefit every Photoshop user.
PS_Despeckle_425
Despeckle. It’s a bare bones simple filter. There’s one strength and setting. There’s no dialog box. You can apply it multiple times for stronger applications. You can apply it to individual channels (i.e. if the blue channel has more noise than the others) or selectively (to low frequency smooth areas) to make it more targeted. That’s it. It’s that simple. How well does it work? Well enough to become familiar with it. It does a reasonable job for modest amounts of noise. It never performs miracles. But it can be a final touch worth applying to many images. It’s also useful for reducing noise in masks and effects layers.
PS_Median_425
Median. It’s simple. There’s only one slider Radius. Radius controls the amount of blurring. The blurring is Median provides is substantially more aggressive than Despeckle. Only very low settings are useful for photorealistic images. Be very careful with this filter. With even modest applications it can subdue important textural detail. With moderate applications, it can even smooth and reshape contours. Apply it aggressively to see just how far it can go. You’ll see it quickly goes too far.
PS_DustScratches_425
Dust and Scratches. It’s classically used to reduce the amount of retouching needed by images as it removes small artifacts, like dust and scratches, but it can also be useful for modest amounts of noise reduction. There are two sliders. Radius controls the amount of blurring; with higher Radius settings subdue more noise and may compromise detail. Threshold restricts the number of tone levels the filter is applied to, making the filter selective with respect to luminosity values; very high Threshold settings may introduce sharp transitions in texture between blurred and unblurred areas. Used aggressively, this filter will subdue small textural detail and compromise image sharpness. Used carefully, this filter can effectively reduce modest amounts of noise.
PS_ReduceNoise_425
Reduce Noise. It offers the most control of the Photoshop filters. It can deal with moderate amounts of noise relatively well. Strength controls the intensity of the filter. It’s the blurring effect. Preserve Details reduces the effect of the filter initially targeting contours and later by targeting higher and higher detail frequencies or image texture. The settings you use are entirely dependent on Strength settings and image content. Higher frequency detail merits higher settings. It’s not a panacea. High Strength and Preserve Detail settings can make some areas of an image look synthetically smooth and yet still fail to remove small artifacts, especially near contours. Reduce Color Noise blurs color without affecting luminosity. You can be relatively aggressive with this slider, but if you use it this way, guard against reduced saturation especially along dramatic contours. Sharpen Details attempts to restore image sharpness after blurring. Use it conservatively. More sophisticated sharpening can be performed with other filters in Photoshop. Remove JPEG Artifact is somewhat effective for reducing JPEG compression artifacts, such as blocky color and jagged edges. Use this check box only on JPEGs that contain artifacts. (Don’t use it on TIFFs from Raw files.) If you can’t remove all of the JPEG artifacting in a file without compromising image quality, turn to third-party plugins. While it’s the most advanced Photoshop filter for noise reduction, like all the others, when used for major noise reduction, it may compromise image sharpness.
PS_ACR_Noise_425
The best tool in Photoshop’s arsenal for noise reduction is Adobe Camera Raw. While the best place to use this tool is during Raw conversion, you can also apply it after Raw conversion as a filter. Try it first; consider these other tools as offering different blurring methods that are useful in specific situations, like Dust & Scratches. I cover this Adobe Camera Raw’s Noise reduction features in great detail in a separate article.
None of these tools are up to the task of industrial strength noise reduction. Applied too frequently or too aggressively they will compromise image sharpness unnecessarily. For aggressive noise reduction, turn to third-party software, like Imagenomic’s Noiseware. (I cover this plug-in in a separate article here.)
Let me offer you a final word of caution. Whenever you blur an image to reduce noise, don’t overdo it. Blur enough to reduce noise but no more. If you go too far with blurring effects you’ll spend a lot more time trying to restore image sharpness and may never achieve optimum results. Just as there are limits to how much apparent sharpness you can restore to a poorly focused image, there are limits to how much more apparent sharpness you can reintroduce after blurring. Use a light touch. Sometimes the noise is more desirable than reduced sharpness. Sometimes the presence of noise is even desirable; it can keep images from seeming synthetic and even make some images appear slightly sharper. (I cover this in a separate article here.)
Read more on Noise here.
Learn more in my digital photography and digital printing workshops.