Digital Production Tip – Skys

In quite a few of my photos the sky’s are added in for effect. It’s so tempting to make your selection in the image & use the Gradation Tool with a blue/white, blue/yellow or blue/blue colors to make a sky. Don’t! If you’ve done this before then you already know about the dreaded banding problems. Now you have a lot of work ahead of you using filters Blur, Box Blur & Add Noise to “hopefully” get rid of the banding. Let’s keep it simple, why not add a real sky background?

You are guarantee not to have any banding issues.

Making it happen – I usually blow out my skys when I shoot by exposing for the shadows, this most of the time gets me a near white sky. If you do not have a white sky try this method anyway, you may love the results.

  • First things first – Apple-J to float your current layer
  • Use the Color Range method   >  choose menu > Select > Color Range
  • Place the eyedropper in the sky area
  • CK: Localize Color Clusters
  • Fuzziness is fully adjustable, you’ll have to play with it
  • Range: this is your Selection range – remember the worst mistake you can do is to treat this as a Magic Wand too, it’s not, no where near it – the color range tool  selects a specified color or color range within an existing selection or an entire image. The Magic wand tool selects color within the image but leaves a very hard edge.
  • Open your Sky image – copy & then Paste the sky image INTO your selected area
  • Use your Opacity to adjust
  • After pasting your sky into the image use the Elliptical Marquee set to 250 (base on about a 60mb file) & delete the bottom of the sky where your horizon meets the sky if needed.
  • That’s it, adjust the sky to your liking using Curves, Hue Saturation etc…

I have a collection of about 100 sky images without clouds shot at different times of day. It’s best to shoot sky’s in a very large open area like at the beach or desert so you can have a the sky go all the way down to the horizon for that natural gradated look.


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