Photography by J.D. Magers

Using the On1 10 Adjustable Gradient Experiment, Part I

Added on by J.D. Magers.

One aspect of my processing that I want to improve at is the use of adjustable gradients, whether it be in Photoshop, Lightroom, or On1 10.  Yesterday morning I was up early, so I thought I would take some time and start playing around in On1 and the Adjustable Gradient Filter for processing.

The first thing that I'm doing to really learn how these filters work is to not open a photo at all. Instead I created a blank white .jpg that I can open within any program.  When the white photo is opened in On1, we can see what kind of impact any individual preset or filter is going to have when a real photo is opened.  This is a great teaching tool, and it's a lot like experimenting with layers in Photoshop.  This is going to be a really powerful exercise for me, and I encourage everyone to create some simple base documents that are white, black and 50% gray to start learning your processing strategies.

Anyway, I opened my white image in the Adjustable Gradients Filter and selected Lighten.  Right away it hit me that I wasn't going to be able to see anything because how can you lighten an already white image?  That's okay though, as I took the opportunity to look around the window and see what is there with this particular filter.

When the white image was first opened, the main area had the typical adjustable gradient pattern on it.  From here, we can adjust the height and tilt of the areas to be lightened. I'm going to experiment more with this in a real photograph in the coming days.

Moving over to the adjustments panel, I noticed there are five different filters that we can select from (Lighten, Darken, Detail, Vibrance, and Glow).  These same gradients are also selectable in the main list of filters over on the left.  I'm going to have to experiment in a real photo to see what happens when I select a type from the right, if it has the same effect as selecting it initially.

Beyond that, right below the slider for Glow, there is another dropdown menu where we can select five different layers (Screen, Overlay, Overlay Strong, Softlight, and Softlight Strong).  Off the top of my head, I know Screen and Overlay are layers types in Photoshop and Lightroom, so I assume Softlight is as well.  

There are also several shapes that we can create an adjustable gradient with as well.  On the top tool bar, there is the following drop down list.  

Screen Shot 2015-11-22 at 6.50.48 AM.png

The Gradient selection is the default setting when you first select this filter.  Center and Edges both give us an oval, and I suspect they are opposites of each other.  I can probably use this to create a vignette.  At this time I don't know what the Reflected Gradient is or what it does, but we'll figure it out.  A topic for another day.

The last thing I took note of is the Preset dropdown to the left of the Shape Gradient drop down.  Underneath this drop down are immediate selections for applying an adjustable vignette (both black and white), and then hard linear gradients from the four sides of the image.  These appear to work together with the Shape Gradient dropdown.  For example, when I select the Vignette Preset, if my shape is on Gradient, the program will automatically change to the Center selection.  But when you have one of the Presets selected first, and then try to change the shape, the preset defaults back to none.  So I think these two are intertwined.

This exercise has taught me a lot about the selections that are available with the Adjustable Gradient Filter.  Since I originally selected the Lighten Filter on a white image though, it wasn't really that informative.  I need to do this exercise on gray or black to really start digging in to what this filter type can do.  That and get it on a real image.  We'll get to that in the coming days. We have lots of work left to do with this filter.  

I hope this exercise has been valuable to you as well.  As I mentioned, I think looking at presets on a blank white, black, and gray image will teach you a lot about how that particular preset works. As such, we're going to be doing a lot of this in the future.  Please let me know what you think of this strategy in the comments, or shoot me an email.  Thank you for reading today.  More later...