Anything Photoshop or Photography

Using Cloud Images to Fix Up a Sky

This image of the Old State Capitol Building (circa 1837 to 1903) in Jackson, Mississippi, was taken at sunset. It turned out not to be that great an image to work on but the Topaz Black and White Effect Photoshop plug-in (see link in sidebar at Tidbits Blog) using a Van Dyke Collection preset to create my own vintage feel preset created a much better image. Below is how the image looked before processing. The cloud image was taken from my backyard in the morning in May and had to be flipped to get the effect of the sun’s light on the right edges of the clouds to match the sunset light on the Capitol Building. A layer mask was added to the sky image to fit it into the sky correctly and set to 86% opacity. A Curves Adjustment Layer may need to be added to get the correct tone in the sky. Be sure to change out the sky before running any plug-ins or filters on the image.

All these images just used a new sky image posted above the original. A layer mask was then added and the sky was painted out where you do not need it. I find it easier to begin by making the layer mask black by holding the ALT button while clicking on the layer mask icon in the Layer Panel (or press CTRL+I while clicking on a white mask) – then paint in white to bring in the sky. Usually I set the opacity of the sky layer down a little to make it blend in naturally with the original image.


This beautiful daisy was processed in the new Lightroom 4 Beta that came out last week. I really love the way it looks. (For more on this, see my Tidbits Blog “Trying Out Lightroom 4 Beta” – this image uses the same flower with a slightly different texture for the background). I wanted to show that you do not have to use an actual image for the sky effect, although if you are doing a very realistic image you would. In this case the flower has a very light painterly look and by combining it with this beautiful texture by Shadowhouse Creations called Marshmellow Skies, the total effect is enhanced. OnOne PhotoFrame emulsion 21 was added to finish.  (See sidebar in my Tidbits Blog for a website link.)

This bright image of a caboose in Madison, Mississippi, originally had a totally washed out whitish sky – it actually washed out all the beautiful red and green color in the image. An bright blue sky with puffy clouds image taken in Mount Dora, Florida, replaced the original sky and it gave a totally different feel to the image. OnOne’s PhotoFrame grunge 11 was added and that was it. (This image was also used in my blog called “Different Images-Same Look Using HDR!” if you want more information how this image was processed.)

The Smithsonian Building was a Photoshop CS5 HDR image from 3 exposures. This created some really ugly almost engraved looking indistinct clouds. Therefore I took a clouds jpeg image that had that great blue color and some interesting clouds to use as a background. It definitely enhanced the image. (See my Tidbits Blog “Where Am I?” for more information on this photo and how it was processed.)

This technique can really save an image that was taken at the brightest time of day with no clouds present or with the sky blown out because of the sun placement or HDR processing. It is really handy to have a folder set up with some of your favorite sky scenes. I take a lot of sky images, especially when I see clouds that look unusual or interesting. It does not matter whether the files are in RAW or jpeg format which is nice since my little Canon only does jpegs. Give this a try and see if you do not get some fabulous results by just replacing a washed out sky…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Fun With Clouds – Brush Them In to Add Some Interest


One response

  1. Pingback: » OnOne’s Perfect Mask Works Great! Digital Lady Syd's Tidbits Blog

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