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Gradient maps can be useful for a whole host of reasons. They’re similar to the Photo Filter command, only they can incorporate more than one colour into your picture.
The Gradient Map adjustment assigns colours to the light and dark shades of your picture, in the form of a gradient. You might want to add a simple black to white to enhance the natural light and shade of your picture, or you might want to get more creative, adding various hues to replace the duller colours in an image.
By combining a gradient map with a blend mode though, most often Soft Light, you can enable these added colours to filter into your artwork. They make a perfect final adjustment for providing all- over tone and colour correction to your pictures, and they’re great for subtly injecting a completely different shade to your layers.