Frequency Separation for Landscapes - Trust Me Shops
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Frequency Separation for Landscapes

Frequency Separation for Landscapes

B&H explora - All posts
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Traditionally considered strictly a portrait retouching technique, frequency separation allows you to change the texture of a particular area of an image, while maintaining the color and brightness levels of that area, and vice versa. It’s often used by fashion retouchers to achieve those perfectly smooth skin tones that are free of marks and blemishes; however, it can sometimes be overused, resulting in an unnatural look. Because of this propensity to overdo it with frequency separation, it is one of those photography techniques that has been known to draw impassioned reactions when brought up in certain company. What you almost never hear about frequency separation is that it’s an extremely useful tool for editing landscape photos and, if used tastefully, can dramatically improve a composition.

If you take a look at our example image at the top of the page, you’ll notice Central Park’s iconic Bow Bridge, on a nice, clear winter evening. To capture the ambient, serene quality of the scene, I popped my camera on a tripod, attached a 6-stop LEE ND filter, and settled on a shutter speed of 5 seconds, which gave the water the smooth look that I was going for—almost.

Now, if you would, please turn your attention to the unedited RAW image below, and specifically the bottom, left-hand corner.

This is what I saw at home when I looked at the image on my computer screen—what I thought was perfectly clear water had a huge patch of dirty ice in the bottom left-hand corner of the frame. I tried the Clone and Heal tools in Photoshop just because it’s easy, but no dice; I could not remove the dirty ice without it leaving me with an unnatural, uneven look.

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