Virtual GND filter

May 16, 2009
Downey, CA
This may fall under the category of nothing new under the sun, amount to little more than a masking technique, but allows us to achieve a Graduated Neutral Density filter effect for sunsets and like exposures where we need to handle large swings in dynamic range. At any rate, you can read about VGND at
Nov 10, 2008
Make two exposures (prefered) or adjust a single raw to get one with decent shadows and one with decent highlights. Stack the two dark on top. Use a luminosity mask on the top to hide all the darks in proportion to how dark they are.

Temporarily make top blending mode difference and use arrows to get solid black.

Method two is get a selection of the sky, make a new layer with the selection active and the sky pixels appear on a new layer by them selves. The Sky selection can be made from color range selection or going to channels and selection the blue channel. Drag to bottom to duplicate icon. Alt or option ( Mac) click to move the selection to a duplicated background layer. Then go layer-layer mask- reveal selection and the sky is masked 100% perfect. Color pick the blue in the sky and add a gradient of that color. Only the sky will become blue.

You may have to use levels or something on the new channel to make it nearly black and white with no grey. Paint black by hand if necessary.

Both these work better than HDR.

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