Tired of bleached and boring skies? With a basic knowledge of Layers and a few other Photoshop effects you can use these professional photo editing tricks to ensure bold and dramatic skies in all of your raw images. Here’s how…
We’ve all been there: you lug your kit to a beautiful spot or come across one while on your travels, only for the sky to look lacklustre and dull. Unless you can devote all your time to landscape photography, you’ll often have to settle for a less than perfect scene.
If you don’t want to settle for a less-than-perfect sky, or if you’re being paid to produce an image that could benefit from some smart editing, Photoshop proper gives you the option to drop in a better sky.
Some may say this is cheating (and it goes without saying that you’re better off perfecting the image in-camera if you can), but if you really don’t have the opportunity to return to the scene at a later date, it’s an option that can potentially result in a stronger, more dramatic image.
What’s more, the Photoshop skills you’ll pick up can prove useful for all kinds of other image-editing tasks.
As we saw in the previous tutorial, learning how to replace a sky in Photoshop Elements is a good way to get to grips with the basics of Layers, but for a more sophisticated looking image we’d recommend working in Photoshop CS and Adobe Camera Raw. You’ll end with more professional-looking results, and as mentioned, it’s a great way to sharpen your advanced Photoshop skills.
The key is to get a good, clean cut-out of the original sky so that the new one fits perfectly. We’ll show you how to achieve this in our walkthrough by making quick, precise selections with channels, then we’ll reveal some useful tricks for removing large distracting objects.
Professional photo editing techniques for getting perfect skies: steps 1-3
01 Basic tonal tweaks
First, open this tutorial’s raw image into Camera Raw: navigate to the file in Bridge, then right-click it and choose Open in Camera Raw. Begin by making tonal adjustments in the Basic Panel. Set Contrast to +10, Highlights to -20, Shadows to +26, Clarity to +23 and Vibrance to +41.
02 Check the Channels
Click the Open Image button at the bottom right in order to transfer the image into Photoshop. Go to the Channels panel (Window>Channels), then click on each of the Red, Green and Blue channels to see which one gives you the best contrast between land and sky.
03 Copy the Blue channel
The Blue channel looks like it’s going to be the best choice here (this is usually the case when selecting skies), so drag it onto the Create New Channel icon located at the bottom of the panel to make a blue copy. Double-click the channel name and call it ‘Sky’.
PAGE 1 – Professional photo editing techniques for getting perfect skies: steps 1-3
PAGE 2 – Professional photo editing techniques for getting perfect skies: steps 4-6
PAGE 3 – Professional photo editing techniques for getting perfect skies: steps 7-9
PAGE 4 – Professional photo editing techniques for getting perfect skies: steps 10-12
PAGE 5 – Professional photo editing techniques for getting perfect skies: steps 13-15
PAGE 6 – Professional photo editing techniques for getting perfect skies: steps 16-18
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