Here is the Raw file we will be working with. Taken with a Canon 5d Mark iv, Canon 16-35mm USM Lens @34mm, ISO 100, F11, 131 seconds. With a Haida ND 3.6 (12 stop) Filter. On the beautiful banks of Loch Assynt, Sutherland, Scotland.
To begin with we are going to make sure we’ve removed any unwanted objects. With this particular image I decided to remove the reeds in the foreground as I felt they looked messy and uninteresting. I will leave the small foreground rock as an anchor point to draw the eye into the scene. We are going to do this with the help of Content Aware technology in Photoshop.
1: Start by duplicating your background layer by holding Ctrl+J, or CMD+J on a Mac.
2: With Layer 1 selected ( highlighted in white) > Go to your Tools panel > Select the Lasso Tool and roughly draw round any unwanted objects (as seen in the image below).
3: Go to Edit > Fill. This will provide you with a pop up box. At the top of the box you’ll find a drop down menu > select Content – Aware. Check the Color Adaptation checkbox, sometimes this can give a smoother color transition. Copy my settings from the image below.
4: Just like magic! Photoshop did a great job in removing the reeds, see the results below. You now need to deactivate your selection by holding Ctrl+D, or CMD+D on a Mac. Flatten your image by going to Layer> Flatten Layer, which will collapse your Layer stack into one. You can do this sequence several times to improve results if needed.
5: The image is looking too blue for my taste. I’m going to lower the blues in Adobe Camera Raw ( ACR).
6: Open up ACR > You do this by going to > Filter > Camera Raw Filter > which brings up a new screen. >Go to the eighth tab along in the Basic Panel (right hand side) named Camera Calibration > Go to the bottom set of sliders named Blue Primary. Set the Hue slider to minus 14 or thereabouts, and the Saturation slider to minus 100. See my settings in the image below.
7: Flatten your Layer stack by going to Layer> Flatten Layer, which will collapse your Layer stack into one.
8: Again, duplicate your background layer by holding Ctrl+J, or CMD+J on a Mac.
9: Go back into ACR, this is where we are going to control the light. The light is coming from the left side of the image. Start by grabbing your Gradient filter which is the second tool from the right on the top left row. I use a bright Pink colour ( see my image below) as my Mask colour seen in the lower half of the screen, as its a colour not commonly used in nature, making it stand out to enable me to see where the actual Gradient will be rather than the Overlay option checkbox which gives you a lined area. Simply drag down the Gradient Filter with your mouse to where you think is best and click OK, which takes you back into Photoshop. Flatten your Layer stack by going to Layer> Flatten Layer, which will collapse your Layer stack into one.
10: You can see in the image below the effect its given from the settings I used.
11: Duplicate your background layer by holding Ctrl+J, or CMD+J on a Mac
12: Back into ACR, using the Gradient filter again I lowered the exposure of the water. All the time my aim is to draw the eye to the trees.The lighting is now looking more directional. See my image below of the work so far. Click OK & back into Photoshop. Flatten your Layer stack by going to Layer> Flatten Layer, which will collapse your Layer stack into one.
13: Duplicate your background layer by holding Ctrl+J, or CMD+J on a Mac.
14: Back into ACR > Take the fifth tool from the top left set of Tools named Target Adjustment Tool ( I call it the Tat Tool ). It will provide you with a movable cross shape icon > zip across to the Basic Panel (right hand side) to the fourth icon named HSL/ Grayscale. You’ll see three titles named Hue, Saturation & Luminance.> Click on Luminance, place your cursor over the area you want to work on. In my case I’m starting on the trees. > Now drag your cursor/mouse upwards, this will lift the Luminance values. You can see how my settings in the image below has lifted the shadows on the trees and made them stand out more. Also have a play around with the Saturation & Hue sliders with the same technique. Be careful as it’s a very powerful tool and has a tendency to show weird colour transitions if pushed too far. Once you’ve finished click OK. This will take you back into Photoshop and you’ll need to flatten your Layer stack.
15:Duplicate your background layer by holding Ctrl+J, or CMD+J on a Mac.
16: We need to take this a further step as the trees aren’t popping off the screen as much as I’d hoped. So…head back to ACR and follow my settings similar to the image below. Again, once you’ve finished in ACR click OK which will take you back to Photoshop. Do not flatten your Layer stack this time.
17: The image is still looking flat and boring with no depth. So lets mask off the brighter areas which are not needed. You can also see in the histogram that some highlights are blown out which isn’t great. We need to control this, hopefully once masked off it should bring them back. If you have never used masks please don’t worry, we will work through it together in baby steps. Once you get the hang of them it will open up a whole new world for you.
18: With Layer 1 selected, go to Layer > Layer Mask > Hide all. This provides you with a black mask hiding your top layer (layer 1). Make sure your foreground and background colours are set to the default of white and black. You can do this by pressing “D” on your keyboard. Set your Brush Opacity to around 20- 30 %, its best to build up slowly to give a more natural feathered effect. Now take a large soft brush (1100px approx) using your white foreground colour (this will reveal your hidden layer) and carefully paint in the light you want to show. You can alter the size of your brush by using your bracket keys. Adjust your Opacity in the Layers panel if needed. Flatten your image by going to Layer> Flatten Layer, which will collapse your Layer stack into one.
19: Duplicate your background layer by holding Ctrl+J, or CMD+J on a Mac.
20: Go back into ACR and grab your TAT tool (Target Adjustment Tool). Im now aiming for the brighter areas of the sky around the trees. With your Cursor drag down the highlights in the area, this will help the trees stand out and blend better.
21: Whilst in ACR go to the Basic Panel> Selecting the seventh icon along named Effects> Select the Dehaze Slider and increase by around 17. This gives more definition and contrast. Press OK which takes you back to Photoshop. Flatten your image by going to Layer> Flatten Layer, which will collapse your Layer stack into one.
22: Duplicate your Background layer by holding Ctrl+J, or CMD+J on a Mac.
23: Still working on giving extra light to the trees. Select Layer one > Blend mode Linear Dodge ( Add) > Set your Opacity to around 75% and Fill to 25%. This really gives great highlights. Again you’ll need to mask off certain areas that aren’t required, (same as in step 18 above to reveal some eye popping light effects). See the results in the image below.
24: Back into ACR (Adobe Camera Raw) to the White Balance tool. This can help with not only colours but also Luminosity too. Top left you’ll see an eye dropper Tool, third icon from the left. Place your cursor over it and drag to a neutral part in your image and click. Try different areas for different effects. Click OK which takes you back to Photoshop. See the results in the image below. Not a massive difference but each little step really does help.> Flatten your Layer stack.
25: Duplicate your Background layer by holding Ctrl+J, or CMD+J on a Mac.
26: Back into ACR > Go to the Basic panel> Seventh icon named Effects> Post crop Vignetting> Add some Dehaze. Click OK and back into Photoshop. Adjust your opacity slider to what you think looks best in the Layers panel. Flatten your image. Follow my settings from the image below.
27: Back again to ACR > HSL panel> Saturation section> Take your TAT tool and drag down those brashy blues to help the trees stand out better. Click OK which takes you back to Photoshop and flatten your Layers in the Layer stack.
28: Duplicate your Background layer by holding Ctrl+J, or CMD+J on a Mac.
29: To me the Vignette is looking a wee bit too heavy, so go back into ACR and the HSL Panel. > Luminance section and lift those dark shadows. For me it actually lifted more around the trees which was great as it gave more contrast. Click OK and back to Photoshop. Flatten your layers.
30: Duplicate your Background layer by holding Ctrl+J, or CMD+J on a Mac.
31: Go to > Filter > Sharpen > Unsharp Mask>. Copy my settings from the image below. Click OK.
32: Go to >Edit > Fade unsharp mask> this brings up a pop up box > Click OK >. In your Layers panel go to > Blend Mode Luminosity. That’s your sharpening all done but do we really want sharp clouds? I think not, so…..lets mask off the parts we don’t want sharp.
33: With Layer 1 selected, go to > Layer > Layer Mask > Hide all. This provides you with a black mask hiding your top layer. Make sure your foreground and background colours are set to the default of white and black. You can do this by pressing “D” on your keyboard. Set your Brush Opacity to around 30- 40 %, its best to build up slowly. Now take a large soft brush using your white foreground colour to paint in the sharp areas you want to show. You can alter the size of your brush by using your bracket keys. Adjust your Opacity in the Layers panel if needed. Flatten your image.
34: To save for the web, go to > Image> Image size>. Follow my settings below and click OK..
35: Go to > File > Save as >. This will bring up your personal PC Library >. Now save and name to whatever folder you wish. Remember to select in the drop down menu that you want it saved as a Jpeg.
Final image below.
Tips: You can also save as you go along which is something I’ve learned the hard way with my crazy connections here in the wilds of Scotland. My internet can oftentimes drop or slow down, and for some reason it closes Photoshop losing all my work. So if you save as you go it saves any heartache that may happen. Some people like to work in large Layer stacks which is fine, we’re all different and have different circumstances.
I do all my sharpening at the end of the process as Contrast, Clarity and Dehaze to name a few can add to the effect, so if you do it at the end you know the correct amount to add. It also depends on where the image will be shown, in this case it will be posted on social media platforms.
Try not to focus on the sliders. Place your cursor on the control and move it without looking at it. Look only at your image and how the slider is affecting it. This way it’s easier to see when something will look right.
I truly hope you enjoyed this tutorial & found it easy to understand. If you have any questions you may like to ask please feel free to give me a shout on Facebook Messenger and I’ll be happy to help. Most of all have fun and enjoy your Photography, it’s all about you, not what others may think.
My first review of the Haida 100 Series ND 3.6, ND 4.5, Pro Round Circular Polariser (CPL), Adapter Ring and Pro Holder as their UK Official Photographer. Using my Canon 5d mark iv with Canon 16-35mm USM Lens in the Northern Scottish Highlands.
When I first started my Landscape photography journey I bought a budget range of filters, but couldn’t understand how my images actually looked worse than without any filter, but other photographers who I looked up to were producing great work. The only difference I found were different brands, eventually I upped my game, bite the bullet, bought a better quality set of filters. It’s like the old saying goes, “buy cheap buy twice”, which is very true! Never skimp on anything Optical, you’ll never be happy.
The Haida adapter ring is made from good quality Aluminium with no rough edges and very sturdy. This easily screws onto the filter holder where they can stay together permanently if your using the same lens. I particularly found this a great innovation as my previous filter holder and adapter ring were separate which meant more time screwing together which isn’t always easy in freezing temperatures with gloves on, or needing to move quick as the light changes. The particular size I used was 77mm for my Canon 16-35mm USM Lens, but they come in an array of different sizes ( 49mm – 82mm) to suit most popular lenses.
100 Pro Holder
The Haida 100 Pro Holder feels solid in your hand, very fast and easy to mount. Made from the highest quality Aluminum,making it extremely robust and strong unlike some other filter companies who tend to rattle around loosely. It easily screws together with the Adapter Ring and comes with two filter slots. If you need more Haida who think of everything kindly provide spare brackets and thumbscrews so you can add more if you so wish. Not forgetting the lovely fabric pouch it comes in to keep your holder secure.
Circular Polariser (CPL)
The Haida Round CPL, a vital piece of kit every landscape photographer should have, I rarely shoot without.
I found from my testings it lost roughly two stops of light. Its very slim and made from the highest quality glass to provide great optical clarity. Not to mention the fabulous Nano Coating on both sides which gives not only protection but also improves light quality.
Comes in a very neat plastic box with padding internally for extra protection whilst on your travels. Also available in a selection of sizes ranging from 49mm – 82mm.
There was no vignetting at all even at my widest 16mm on a full frame camera, which you can clearly see from the image below. Your able to rotate the edges of the filter with the metal dial at any time and instantly see the effected light changing.
I should also mention how it gave amazing contrast, cutting through some of the haze especially on the clouds and foliage. Removed almost all the glare from the water, added some beautiful saturation and gave an overall instant pop to the image. Without using a CPL it would be virtually impossible to replicate this effect in post processing.
What do CPL’s do?
It works by blocking certain light wavelengths from entering the camera sensor. To achieve a maximum effect I’ve found it best to make sure your line of sight is perpendicular to the direction of the sun.They are ideal for anything with non-metallic surfaces such as glass and cutting through reflections on water. You know when you see images where you can see the rocks/stones on the river bed through the water. If a polariser wasn’t used then you can end up with one huge mess of blown out highlights. The only downside with a CPL is being careful not to take it too far, you end up not even seeing the water, I’ve had this happen in the past, not a great look.
The image below, taken without a filter and with the Haida CPL at the distinctively curved Kylesku Bridge that crosses Loch a`Chairn Bhain in Sutherland, Scotland. Canon 5d mark iv, 16-35mm USM. No CPL, ISO 100, F11, 1/10 @16mm and with Haida CPL, ISO 100, F11, 1/4 second.
Haida ND 3.6 (12 stop) and ND 4.5 (15 stop)
The Haida ND filters come in beautiful individual chunky Silver metal boxes with padding internally for protection. You may be thinking come on Jenny it doesn’t matter what the filter comes in, it’s the actual glass that matters. And, yes to be fair you’re quite right, but don’t you think attention to detail should follow through from the packaging to the actual Filter? I sure do, it gives me faith in the product that the company has taken into consideration every minor detail.
Made from quality Optical Glass, sized 100mm x 100mm and approximately 2 mm in thickness. I experienced no vignetting and very low colour cast.
I expected some slight lack of sharpness with using both these ND Filters, but as you can see from my findings there really is none at all, they gave an impressive definition.
They also come with a spare gasket if you should ever need it, this can also help with light leaks. See I told you, Haida really do think of everything! I left the gasket off as the filter slotted into the holder very snug and there was no sign of light leakage as you can see from the images below.
From past experience I’ve found it best to always insert the ND Filter in the first groove as close to the lens as possible, this really helps with the possibility of any light leaks. Not forgetting to close your viewfinder, as I do with the rubber piece attached to the Canon neck strap. I believe Nikons have a little blind you can pull down, or simply use some black electrical tape.
What do NDs do?
They allow you to lengthen your exposures in both light and dark conditions. Adds motion blur to moving subject such as water to give a smooth silky look and streaky effects to clouds. It works by reducing the amount of light from reaching the camera sensor. Therefore your able to leave the camera with a higher aperture for a longer amount of time. The results give the photographer more artistic control.
Please see the image below taken without a filter and with the Haida ND Filter 4.5 (15 stop) at Ardvreck Castle in Sutherland. Canon 5d mark iv, 16-35mm USM. No Filter @32mm, ISO 100, F11, 1/100 .With 4.5 Haida ND Filter ( 15 stop) ISO 100, F11,
The following images were taken from the beautiful banks of Loch Assynt, looking across to what we locals call Pine Tree Island. Canon 5d mark iv, 16-35mm USM. No Filter @34mm, ISO 100, F11, 1/125 .With 3.6 Haida ND Filter ( 12 stop) ISO 100, F11, 131 seconds.
Another admirable feature is the NanoPro coating. Whilst conducting this test the weather was harsh and against me with rain, strong winds and water splashing up from the Loch. What amazed me was the way the glass repelled the water, it simply beaded up and rolled off. Unlike other glass filters Ive used in the past which take forever to clean and smear when you try to wipe away any excess water. This is due to the NanoPro coating which gives great waterproofness, scratch resistant and super easy cleaning.