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Tuesday, May 1, 2007

The Sky Solution

Using Photoshop to repair problem skies when the light is too contrasty for your film or sensor to record properly

The Sky Solution
Add an empty layer (Layer > New > Layer) to the photo and select the sky you want to affect. I used the Magic Wand for the selection. You also can add to a selection by holding the Shift key while selecting and remove part of the selection by holding the Alt/Option key.

Fill that selected sky area with the picked color (Edit > Fill > Foreground Color) and deselect the selection (Ctrl/Cmd D). Look carefully at the edges. They’ll be too sharp—ignore that. Look for gaps—you may have to return to the History palette before the selection is finished, refine your selection and repeat the fill.

The Sky Solution The Sky Solution

5 Soften the edge of the filled sky. I like softening the edge because it gives more immediate control; use Gaussian Blur (Filters > Blur > Gaussian Blur) and change the amount until it starts to blend. The color now will be too strong.

The Sky Solution6 Reduce the opacity of the layer. How much to reduce is subjective. Since this is on a layer, you can always go back and readjust the opacity to match later work.

It’s starting to look like the sky belongs there. The problem is the blend where the clouds start in the photo; in reality, the clouds went farther to the left. I needed to make them blend with the bright yellow light.

The Sky Solution7 Add another layer and select part of the sky to limit the changes.
I selected over the area of clouds and yellow color so I could restrict changes to the sky. You can rename layers by double-clicking the name in Photoshop CS and CS2.

The Sky Solution8 Clone texture into the selected sky area.
I randomly cloned the clouds at the right side of the sky. Use a moderate-sized brush for the Clone tool, select Sample All Layers in the Brush Options bar, and change your clone-from locations as you go so the cloned area isn’t a duplicate of the original area. Deselect the area.


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